Roger Federer ended his illustrious career at the Laver Cup alongside Rafael Nadal last night. The Swiss Maestro opted to end his career by playing a doubles match with his great friend while representing Team Europe.
The legendary duo played an impressive match and even took the first set. But Team World’s Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe clawed their way back and produced some stellar shots late on to defeat Federer and Nadal 4-6, 7-6(2), 11-9. The 41-year-old sobbed as he was congratulated by his team at the end of the pulsating encounter, and the camera soon cut to the Spaniard who was also caught up in the emotions of a truly special evening.
Nadal wept as they embraced one another in the middle of the court along with the rest of the players. Taking the microphone to speak to the crowd after his final match, Federer said: “We’ll get through this somehow, will we, right?! Look, it’s been a wonderful day. I told the guys I’m happy, I’m not sad. It feels great to be here. I enjoyed tying my shoes one more time – and everything was the last time.
“Funny enough with all the matches and having the guys being here, fans, family, friends, I didn’t feel the stress so much even though I did think something was going to go – pop a calf or block a back or something in the match. I’m so happy I made it through. The match was great and I couldn’t be happier. It’s been wonderful. And of course playing with Rafa, on the same team, having all the guys here and all the legends, Rocket [Rod Laver], Stefan Edberg – thank you. It is amazing, it really is [to share the court with Rafa and the others].
“I didn’t want it to feel lonely out there. It felt lonely for a second when they told me to come out one more time, it didn’t feel great. But to say goodbye in a team, I always felt I was a team player at heart. Singles doesn’t really do that a whole lot but I’ve had a team that travelled with me around the world. It’s been amazing with them. Thanks to everybody who made it work for so many years.
“Of course being on a team with Andy [Murray], Thomas [Enqvist], Novak [Djokovic], Matteo [Berrettini], Cam [Norrie], Stefanos [Tsitsipas], Rafa and Casper [Ruud] – and also the other team – you guys are unbelievable. It’s been a pleasure playing all these Laver Cups and it does feel like a celebration to me. I wanted it to feel like this at the end and it’s exactly what I hoped for, so thank you.”
The Swiss Maestro then went on to explain his journey from playing as a young boy to becoming one of sport’s all-time great athletes. “It was never supposed to be that way,” a tearful Federer added. “I was just happy to play tennis and spend time with my friends, really. It ended here. It’s been a perfect journey. I would do it all over again.
“It’s been great, it’s been so much fun, it’s been amazing. Thank you everybody. I’ve had so many people cheer me on. You guys here tonight, it means the world.” Asked about his family, Federer joked: “We have to go there? No, no it’s OK. I’ve done OK so far, I feel at least. I’ve been at least able to talk. In my vision I was never able to talk so I’m doing way better! Everybody is here tonight from my family, so it’s great. I’ve had so much fun over the last 13 years ever since everybody’s here, the girls, the boys.
“My wife has been so supportive and…She could’ve stopped me a long, long time ago but she didn’t. She kept me going so it’s amazing. Thank you!” As he tried to hold back the tears, Federer’s final words were: “I find it always funny. We always blame my mum for everything, because without her we wouldn’t be here of course. Thanks to my parents – you’ve been amazing. Thank you! And just everybody, too many people to thank, it’s just been incredible. My god. A fantastic night. Thank you everybody. Thank you everybody, thank you.”
In arguably the most moving visual in the history of tennis, both Federer and Nadal were sat next to one another courtside as they continued to cry while two-time BRIT Award winner Ellie Goulding performed two of her hit songs. It was a beautiful sendoff from one of the best sportsman the world has ever seen.