There was likely not a dry eye inside The O2 Arena when Roger Federer’s tennis career came to a close in the 2022 Laver Cup.
While the Swiss superstar had prepared fans with an announcement of his retirement more than a week ago, it did not stop the flow of tears running from the many eyes of spectators. Federer and his biggest rival, Rafael Nadal, lost in a doubles match to Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock in a dramatic tiebreaker, 4-6, 7-6 (2), (11-9) in Day 1 of the tournament on Friday. It marked the second time the two paired up with each other as they did so during the 2017 Laver Cup.
But as the moment sat in for emotional Federer that his career was ending, Nadal was also lost in emotion.
“With Roger leaving the tour, yeah, an important part of my life is leaving too because all the moments that he has been next or in front of me,” Nadal said following the match. “So [it’s] been emotional to see the family, to see all the people.”
Federer and Nadal shared a long history in competition with each other. The two met 40 times on the court. Nadal won the all-time series, 24–16, but Federer won six of the final seven meetings between the two, including the 2019 Wimbledon semifinal.
As Federer heads into retirement, the 22-time Grand Slam titles winner told reporters he has enjoyed the healthy yet competitive relationship he and Nadal have shared over the years. “We have so much to look back on,” Federer said. “I always feel like any evening we ever spent together we never have enough time. … I’m very happy that I can call up Rafa [Nadal] and talk about anything.”
While the two have different styles of play, their relationship off the court is one of a kind. “Our styles make our matches and our rivalry probably one of the biggest and most interesting,” Nadal said. “I think every year, the personal relationship gets better and better. … It’s something very beautiful after all the things that we shared together and all the important things that we [fought] for such a long time.”
Federer ends his career with the third-most Grand Slam titles for male players, a record number of Wimbledon titles and previously held the world No. 1 ranking for a historic 237 weeks.
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