Tennis legend Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the Laver Cup after playing alongside Roger Federer in his farewell game on Saturday.
The historic duo couldn’t get the job done in Federer’s final match, falling to Team World’s Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 11-9 at the O2 arena.
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Tears began to flow in the stadium and across the tennis world as Federer bid farewell to the game.
“We’ll get through this somehow,” a tearful Federer said.
“It’s been a wonderful day. I told the guys I’m happy, not sad.
“It feels great to be here. I enjoyed tying my shoelaces once more, every thing was the last time.
“I didn’t feel the stress so much even though I thought maybe something was going to go, like a calf, but the match was great.
“Playing with Rafa and having all the greats here, all the legends, thank you.”
Shortly after the tearful farewell, Nadal’s withdrawal was announced. The Spaniard withdrew from the Laver Cup for personal reasons.
The tears from the court quickly made their way into the media room as Nadal and Federer answered questions from the strong media contingent.
But it was one question that left eyes the world over watery as the legends were asked what they meant to each other on a personal level.
“Yeah I mean, I don’t know how we got to this place over all these years, you know,” Federer said.
“We have been very connected, especially, I feel, especially the last 10 years I’d say. I guess maybe also since I have children, who knows?
“I don’t know if that’s helped me or that’s changed me in any way or our rivalry evolved. I have no idea.
“Anyway, I’m very happy it is where it is today, that I can call up Rafa and talk about anything. I hope he feels the same way. It’s not like we do that on a frequent basis.
“But just also having Rafa’s family here this weekend shows that this is not just, okay, Rafa is coming here to play and nobody cares of his surrounding team, you know, I can feel their passion, I guess, for me, who I am as a person. That obviously resonates big with me.
“I think he feels the same way when he sees my parents, my children, my wife, everybody. That is a nice thing.
“He’s got a lot to look forward to with his hopefully many children you’re going to have. I can give you some advice, because it’s not easy (smiling). But as parents we always try our best.
“No, it’s been great. I think we enjoy each other’s company, and we have so much to look back on, but also just enjoy spending time together. We have a million topics to cover. I always feel like any evening we ever spent together we never have enough time.”
If all eyes in attendance weren’t teary, Nadal made sure of it when he took over the microphone.
“I think I said everything about how I feel. Have been super long and positive journey,” he said.
“I mean, we started with I arrive on the tour, and when I started to be better player, then was Roger always there in front of me. For me was always the guy to beat.
“So at some point we were probably the biggest rivals – I think always in a very good way. We respect a lot each other, families, teams, I mean, we never had big issues, no?
“But is true that the personal relationship the last, I mean, when we were getting older, I think every year the personal relationship gets better and better, you know, on a daily basis. I think in some way we understand at the end we have a lot of things similar. We approach the life probably similar.
“On court we have completely opposite styles and that’s what probably makes our matches and our rivalry probably one of the biggest and most interesting.
“But in the family life, personal life, probably we approach life not in a very different way, no? So that’s why we can trust each other, we can speak very often and we’re able to speak very feeling free, feeling confident. Having somebody like Roger that I feel confident to talk about any personal thing, it’s something that it’s very beautiful after all the things that we shared together and all the important things that we fighter for such a long time.
“Very proud to be a part, as I said before, very proud to be part of his career in some way. But even for me happier to finish our career like friends after everything we shared on court like rivals.”