Tennis legend Roger Federer did not hesitate to ask longtime rival and friend Rafael Nadal to play the last doubles match of his career.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion reflected on the heartfelt moment of calling the Spaniard star after this year’s U.S. Open, requesting his participation at the 2022 Laver Cup.
"It was a very emotional phone call actually because it was one of the first times I told someone outside of my team and family,” Federer told Trevor Noah on The Daily Show. “I had to call him up and tell him, 'Hey Rafa, just before you make any other plans, I would love for you to be at the Laver Cup and play one last doubles with me – it would be amazing because unfortunately my knee is not so good anymore and I think it's the end.’”
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Federer recollected Nadal’s emotional response to being, “Uh yeah, ok, I'll be there, whatever it takes.”
Because the 36-year-old was due to become a father soon, Federer said he wasn’t totally sure if they would be able to create this iconic moment.
Ultimately, the dynamic duo took on the American tandem of Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe, who won 4-6, 7-6, 11-9.
Federer’s farewell ceremony took place after the loss on Sept. 23 with a moving speech from the Swiss star surrounded by his iconic teammates – Nadal, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud and coach Bjorn Borg.
A moment that caught the tennis world’s attention was when Federer and Nadal were seen gripping hands and sobbing.
Nadal wasn’t the only player in tears from Team Europe. Djokovic quickly joined the bandwagon.
"This is a very unusual situation for us to be on the same team number one so I think that changed the whole dynamic of my farewell,” Federer said.
Federer recollected the farewell, something he had envisioned for some time, to be just what he had hoped for
“I was happy to be in tennis clothes, not in a suit because that was in my vision when having to make a retirement speech,” he said.
The 40-year-old will always be remembered as a tennis legend that made an impact both on and off the tennis court.
While his smooth one-handed backhand and unbreakable serve and volley will always be the best of tennis, his sportsmanship, class and kindness to all will always be unmatchable