Last Updated on 24 Sep 2022 3:37 pm (UK Time)
On Friday evening, Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer and long-time rival Rafael Nadal joined forces in an epic Laver Cup doubles match which lasted until the early hours of Saturday morning. The emotional match was dubbed as Roger Federer’s ‘last dance’ after the 20-time Grand Slam champion announced his retirement plans after the US Open last week.
The star-studded duo who have a combined total of 42 Grand Slam singles titles, united to represent Team Europe in the first doubles fixture of the Laver Cup tournament. Federer and Nadal or ‘Fedal’ as more commonly known by fans, broke down in tears after losing to Team World’s Frances Tiafoe (USA) and Jack Sock (USA) in what was the Swiss-maestro’s last ever professional tennis match.
After more than two hours of thrilling tennis, Team World and Team Europe were at one set a piece. Despite Team Europe having a match point, Team World clawed back and won the match-deciding tiebreak to claim two sets to one victory (4-6, 7-62, 11-9). The win was important for Team World as it brought the overall Laver Cup team score to 2-2 after Stefanos Tsitsipas (Europe), Casper Ruud (Europe) and Alex de Minaur (World) all picked up points in their singles matches.
Once the match was over, there was an absence of the usual over-the-top celebrations from Team World. Instead, Sock and Tiafoe quickly approached the net to hug their rival and hero Roger Federer. Sock later posted on social media, calling Federer his “idol and role model for both the game of tennis and myself”.
After the match, Roger Federer received massive applause from the O2 Arena crowd and after an emotional farewell speech, the tennis great was reduced to tears. His teammate Nadal was also spotted fighting back tears in what was a memorable moment for tennis and professional sport.
Federer: “This city has been special to me”
The Laver Cup is a three-day Ryder Cup-style event that pits top tennis players from Team World against players from Team Europe in a variety of singles and doubles matches. Although named after the great Rod Laver, the Laver Cup was in fact the brainchild of Federer. This made it the perfect event for the so-called ‘greatest of all time’ to play his last professional match.
Roger also felt that London was the perfect city to say his goodbyes given its connection to tennis. Fed stated: “This city has been special to me, maybe the most special place with Wimbledon down the road and here at the O2, having played here and qualified for so many years“.
The Laver Cup will continue until Sunday with plenty more blockbuster matches scheduled, including Matteo Berrettini vs Felix Auger-Aliassime and Novak Djokovic vs Frances Tiafoe. Team Europe will look to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup win and defend their title which was won in Boston last year after defeating Team World by a whopping 13-1. Team World on the other hand is hoping to end their Laver Cup drought.