After numerous close battles between them over the years, Roger Federer will enjoy what he called a “special moment” by partnering Rafael Nadal for the final match of his career.
Federer, who will retire from tennis after this week’s Laver Cup, confirmed he would play just one doubles match at London’s O2 Arena on Friday, the final event of his long and decorated career.
And on Thursday, it was announced that the Swiss star would be partnering Nadal, 18 years after they first met on the ATP Tour in Miami.
The pair have met 40 times in their careers, including nine Grand Slam finals, and have also played together at the 2017 Laver Cup.
“As we fought together, always having that respect for each other, our families, our coaching staffs, we always got along really well,” Federer told reporters on Wednesday when asked about the possibility to play alongside the Spaniard.
“Going through the careers that we’ve both had, coming out the other side and being able to have a good relationship, I think, maybe that’s a big message as well — not just in tennis, but in sports beyond.
“Because of that, I think it would be great. I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but I think it could obviously be a special moment.”
Nadal said in a press conference Thursday that he was “super excited” for Friday’s doubles match.
“After all the amazing things we shared together on and off the court, [to] Be part of this historic moment, it will be something yes, incredible and unforgettable for me,” said Nadal, “and yes, super excited, I hope I can have a good response time, play at a decent level and I hope that together can. create a good moment and maybe win a game.”
Federer and Nadal will face American pair Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe on the first day of the Laver Cup on Friday.
Federer said he needed permission from European team captain Björn Borg and tournament organizers to play in just one doubles match at the Laver Cup this week.
In the competition, teams from Europe and the rest of the world face off in nine singles and three doubles matches over three days.
“Here I’m trying to prepare for one last doubles,” Federer said on Wednesday. “I’m nervous going in because I haven’t played in so long. I’m hoping I can be a little competitive.”
The 41-year-old has undergone multiple knee surgeries in recent years with his latest loss a straight sets loss to Hubert Hurkacz in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year.
He said he had still planned to return to the sport next year two months ago before reaching the decision to retire.
“I just wanted to let the fans know that I’m not going to be a ghost,” Federer said when asked how he would stay involved in tennis after his retirement.
“I feel like tennis has given me too much, I’ve been around the game too long, I’ve fallen in love with too many things.
“I love seeing people again and that’s what I wanted to let the fans know – that you’ll see me again… What it could be, in what capacity, I don’t know. I still have to think about it a bit and give me time”.
Among the many accolades of his tennis career, Federer won 103 singles titles and 20 Grand Slam titles, second only to Nadal (22) and Novak Djokovic (21) on the men’s all-time list.
It became the no. 1 at the age of 36 and also spent a record 237 consecutive weeks at the top of the world rankings between 2004 and 2008.