Federer to bow out in style with Nadal by his side

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LONDON, September 22 (Reuters) – Some of the most iconic moments in Roger Federer’s glittering career showed Rafa Nadal in the net, but on Friday his great Spanish rival will be by his side in his final bow.

Winner of 20 Grand Slam titles and for many the greatest player to wield a tennis racquet, Federer, 41, is back in one of his favorite cities to lower the curtain on a 24-year professional career that has soared to staggering heights Has .

He will accompany Nadal to a doubles match on the opening day of the Laver Cup at London’s O2 Arena – a three-day team event pitting Europe against the rest of the world.

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Federer announced last week that the Laver Cup would be his final competitive event after failing to recover from a nagging right knee problem that required multiple surgeries.

While this injury means he won’t be able to play a singles match here in London, he will finish the opening day alongside record 22-time men’s Grand Slam champion Nadal when they take on American duo Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe meeting.

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The goodbye just couldn’t be better.

Federer played 40 times against Nadal in one of the most compelling rivalries in tennis.

Who could forget the 2008 Wimbledon final when Nadal denied Federer a sixth consecutive title, the time Federer cried after losing in a brutal Australian Open final in 2009, or the 2017 Australian Open final when Federer endured a five-year wait finished on his 18th major title defeating Nadal in a classic.

Pardon has never been shown on the court, but despite the ferocity of their duels, deep respect remains.

That’s why Federer said earlier this week that playing with Nadal would be a nice way to cap off a career that caught fire when he won his first Grand Slam title in 2003 by winning Wimbledon.

Not surprisingly, Europe’s captain Björn Borg granted his wish.

“It will be a different kind of pressure to be part of this historic moment,” Nadal told reporters.

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“It will be something amazing and unforgettable for me. I’m super excited. Maybe we can create a good moment and maybe win the match.”

Federer cut a relaxed figure as he sat with his teammates, including 21-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic and two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray.

But he said the emotions could hit him on Friday.

“I’m not sure I can handle (all the emotions), but I’ll try,” Federer, whose presence made fans flock to training sessions on Thursday, told reporters.

“This one feels very different. It’s very special to play with Rafa. “Feels very different, you know.”

Nadal was asked to highlight some of his best moments against Federer and unsurprisingly he picked the 2008 Wimbledon final as one of his most treasured.

He also spoke warmly of their ongoing friendship.

“I think we’re very proud that it was a friendly rivalry,” said Nadal, who defeated Federer in six Grand Slam finals.

“Not easy because we play all the important things for our tennis career, but at the same time we were able to understand that personal relationships are more important than sometimes professional things.

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“Tomorrow will be something special.”

Rest of the World captain John McEnroe said there was some “snapping” to see who would face Nadal and Federer in Friday’s doubles – and said that whatever the outcome of the match, it was going to be a magical night for would become tennis.

“It’s a very unique situation that we’re all fortunate to be here,” McEnroe said. “It’s such an incredible moment for our sport.

Sock said he was thrilled to be part of a legendary night, while Tiafoe, who reached the US Open semi-finals, added: “I’m just excited to play against two up-and-coming players!

“Both guys are absolute legends and of course it’s Roger’s last dance.”

Sock plays US Open runner-up Casper Ruud in Friday’s first singles, while Murray warms up against Alex de Minaur in the evening.

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Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Pritha Sarkar

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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