Home Emotional music Roger Federer bids emotional farewell to doubles defeat alongside Rafael Nadal | Roger Federer

Roger Federer bids emotional farewell to doubles defeat alongside Rafael Nadal | Roger Federer

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Over the past decade plus, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have thrived no matter the circumstances. They have faced each other in the finals of the biggest tournaments in the world and they gave their best every time, even when the tension was at its most suffocating. Their rivalry, with the rampant popularity it has generated and the level it has displayed, has played a fundamental role in the recent development of men’s tennis.

Yet nothing could have fully prepared them for the feelings they experienced on Friday. After enduring 40 tense and pressure-filled battles against each other, strangely the best moments of Federer’s career have often been Nadal’s worst, but they stood together on the same side of the net when they were defeated 4-6, 7-6. (2), 11-9 by Team World’s Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe at the Laver Cup. In the process, one of the greatest sports careers of all time came to an end.

After match point, a visibly emotional Federer spoke to Jim Courier on the court. “I enjoyed tying my boots one more time…the match was great. I couldn’t be happier. It was wonderful. And of course playing with Rafa in the same team and having the guys – everything the world here, all the legends – thank you.

After reflecting on the “perfect course” of his career, Federer paid a tearful tribute to his wife, Mirka. “She could have stopped me a long, long time ago, but she didn’t. She supported me and allowed me to play. It’s incredible. Thanks.”

It was an emotional evening from the start. Federer and Nadal emerged before the sold-out crowd of 17,500 at the O2 Arena to a standing ovation.

From their team bench, Novak Djokovic took out his phone to record as he supported his two great rivals and during the first change of sides a tribute video was played around the stadium with contributions from Nadal, the mother of Federer, Lynette and others.

Roger Federer is applauded by his Team Europe colleagues, including Novak Djokovic. Photography: Andrew Boyers/Action Images/Reuters

Having not competed for 14 months following his 6-0 fourth-set loss to Hubert Hurkacz at Wimbledon and subsequent knee surgery, even Federer was unsure how his game would handle both the occasion and its rust.

He did extremely well. While Federer was unable to move at full speed, his hands remained delicate. His first touch of the night was a solid forehand volley victory and that set the tone. After being neat at the net throughout the first set and serving quite well, it was Federer who stepped up the first set on the line and sealed it with a forehand winner.

There was also a lot of joy. There were countless jokes and laughs between Nadal and Federer even though they played hard for a final win. Djokovic and Murray, meanwhile, the only players qualified to give tactical advice to the pair, frequently took part in their discussions during changes.

Federer’s storied career ended with the pair playing a mediocre tiebreak after an intense and close second set. With the match up for grabs in the 10-point tiebreak of the final set, Nadal implored himself to play aggressively.

Federer’s storied career ended in a flat tiebreaker at the end of an intense second set that sent them to a deciding match. Despite an early push and then a match point at 9-8 on Federer’s serve, they settled for the loss.

At the end of the match, Federer’s composure finally broke. After starting to cry, Nadal cried alongside him throughout. Federer hugged his teammates and former rivals several times during the ceremony, before finally embracing his tearful family as he walked off the pitch.

“The last two days have been difficult to say the least,” Federer said in his post-match press conference. “Fortunately, at times I totally forgot, I slept very well, everything was wonderful, I could enjoy it, I feel it. And because of that, I think I will be able to have a better memory of how it happened.

“Because if it’s all just stress and I want it to be perfect, I know I’ll remember half of it. Because I felt like I felt, I feel like I got managed my retirement well last month.

Nadal, whose career has been defined by his ability to rise to big chances, later explained how difficult the night had been for him. He said he entered the field shaking and double faulted on the first point of the game.

“When Roger leaves the tour, an important part of my life also leaves because of all the times he was next to or in front of me in important moments in my life,” Nadal said. “So I was moved to see the family, to see everyone. Hard to describe, but incredible moment. Nadal said.

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There is no perfect goodbye. Federer entered the O2 Arena physically compromised after 14 months trying to return as a full-time player and he later said he was not always sure he would even be healthy enough to play two fold. In the end, however, it didn’t matter. He has already given so much, for himself and for the sport, and he is leaving at 41 having completed a career as complete as any other.

“I was able to remember always on the pitch how wonderful it is,” Federer said. “It’s not the end, life goes on. I’m healthy, I’m happy, everything is fine and it’s just a moment in time.

Federer played some of the greatest tennis ever, performing with grace and style. But he complemented the ease with courage and resilience, qualities rarely discussed but essential to all his successes.

His presence will continue to be felt around the tour. Whether it’s through the fans who continue to support him, to the many other players who have turned into weak fans in his presence.

Many have tried to learn aspects of his greatness in order to succeed, and his influence on other players is undeniable. But there will never be anyone like him.