UNITED KINGDOM: Roger Federer’s legendary tennis career is officially over. Roger Federer broke down in tears during his post-match interview. Nadal, who was listening to Federer speak, couldn’t hold his tears as well. The 20-time Grand Slam champion lost alongside his longtime rival Rafael Nadal in his last match.
The Swiss maestro left the stage with tears in his eyes and cheers in his ears. After more than a year away, the 20-time Grand Slam champion made his return to compete against Rafa Nadal, the Spaniard with whom he developed one of the sports’ most exciting rivalries, in front of a sold-out crowd of 17,500 at London’s O2 Arena.
When he served on match point in a tense tiebreak, Federer had a chance to win the Laver Cup doubles match after the clock struck midnight. However, the Americans Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe shattered the script.
A forehand winner from Sock helped Team World win 4-6 7-6 11-9. The fans rose to honour the 41-year-old Federer, whose grace, charisma, and sportsmanship have graced tennis and transcended sport throughout the course of his 24-year career, after a brief period of surprising silence in the packed arena.
Throughout a highly contested match, Federer displayed flashes of his signature brilliance while controlling his emotions.
But the tears started to fall as Ellie Goulding sang and a video highlighting Federer’s achievements was shown on the pitch in the pitch-black stadium.
When his wife Mirka, children Leo, Lenny, Myla, and Charlene hugged him, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. His parents Lynette and Robert also gave him a big hug.
“Somehow, we’ll manage to overcome this. Wonderful day, it’s been. I assured the guys that I am joyful and not depressed “Following a battle with a knee injury, Federer announced last week that this would be his farewell match.
Everything was the last time, he added, “I relished fixing my shoelaces one more time.” Playing with Rafa and being surrounded by all the legends and greats.
Federer began to cry as he expressed gratitude to his wife. “Long ago, she had the opportunity to stop me, but she chose not to. She encouraged me and let me play, so it’s fantastic – thank you”, he stated
Federer made his much-awaited exit after Andy Murray, the favourite from the United Kingdom lost his two-and-a-half-hour match with Australian Alex De Minaur.
He and Nadal entered the enormous arena together just after ten o’clock. A frenzied atmosphere greeted them both, even during his practice sessions here, which have always been standing-room-only occasions.
“Even though I have done this countless times, this one feels unique. All of you who are coming tonight, thank you,” Federer published online earlier in the day.
Laver, an Australian icon who offered Federer the concept for the first-ever team match held in London, was among those in attendance.
As Federer and Nadal, or Federer, warmed up on the court, London Calling by The Clash played. They both received raucous cheers.
It was Federer’s first competitive shot since Hubert Hurkacz‘s victory at Wimbledon the year before ended his chances of winning a record-breaking ninth championship on Centre Court, and the fans screamed even louder when he blocked a volley in the first game.
During the commercial breaks, video screens played highlights from Federer’s career along with tributes from Nadal and his mother. This match, however, was not an exhibition.
American colleagues Sock and Tiafoe, the evening’s pantomime villains, put Federer to the test by giving the Swiss master a few lusty blows.
Federer was able to compete in almost every situation despite spending a lot of time away from the court by demonstrating his silky shot-making and deft footwork.
With a combined age of 77 and 42 Grand Slam victories, the illustrious pair claimed the first set by breaking Tiafoe’s serve. The Americans levelled the match, though, as Federer and Nadal began to struggle.
Chants of “Let’s go, Roger, let’s go” reverberated throughout the crowded stands as Federer and Nadal battled their way to the victory the occasion merited during the championship tiebreak.
Nothing could take away from the pleasure of a night spent honouring a man who helped bring in a golden age of tennis even though even the tennis gods were helpless to grant Federer one final victory.
Federer, who broke all prior records and accomplished previously unimaginable feats, said, “It still feels like a party for me and that’s exactly what I hoped for. I would embark on this journey again in a heartbeat.”