Roger Federer had to hold back tears as the Laver Cup defeat alongside Rafael Nadal ended his illustrious career, but the 20-time Grand Slam winner insisted he was not sad.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion announced last week that he would retire from competitive tennis with a final match in the Ryder Cup-style competition, which was his brainchild.
London was the destination for the fifth edition of the Laver Cup, the city of some of Federer’s greatest triumphs, but the Swiss superstar was unable to add another win to his illustrious resume.
Team World duo Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe proved to be the villains of the pantomime with a 4-6, 7-6(2), 11-9 victory in 02, but it was still a celebration for the man 41 years old.
Federer enjoyed a long hug with his old sparring partner Nadal at the end of the match before receiving one last standing ovation from a packed crowd despite the clock being well past midnight.
“We’ll get through this somehow,” Federer said on court.
Tennis legend Roger Federer had to fight back tears after his final match on Friday night.
The 41-year-old ended his illustrious career with a double loss in the Laver Cup
Federer was lifted into the air by members of the European and world teams.
Federer and his playing partner Rafael Nadal were defeated by Jack Sock (left) and Frances Tiafoe
‘Look, it’s been a wonderful day. I told the guys I’m happy, I’m not sad. It feels great to be here and I enjoyed tying my shoes once again.
‘Everything was the last time. Quite fun with all the games, being with the guys and having family and friends, I didn’t feel as much stress even if I felt like something was going to happen during the game. I am very happy that I did it and the match was great. Could not be happier.
“Of course, playing with Rafa in the same team, having all the guys here, the legends, Rocket (Rod Laver), Stefan Edberg, thank you.
Despite his tears, Federer insisted he was happy, not sad, to retire from tennis.
Federer expressed his joy at having played alongside Rafael Nadal (right)
‘It feels like a celebration to me. I wanted to feel like this at the end and it’s exactly what I expected, so thank you.
‘It’s been a perfect trip and I would do it all over again…’
Federer had to hold back tears before thanking his wife Mirka, who watched him struggle through a succession of knee operations before finally admitting defeat in his quest to come back last week.
He added: ‘Thank you all. Many people encouraged me and you here tonight mean the world.
‘My wife has been so supportive… she could have stopped me a long, long time ago, but she didn’t. She kept me going and allowed me to play, so thank you. She is amazing.’
Even Federer’s playing partner and former rival Nadal struggled to keep his emotions in check, as he was also seen crying alongside the Swiss star after the match.
Following Federer’s announcement last week, the Spaniard greeted his old rival, saying the news of his retirement is “a sad day for me personally and for sports around the world.”
Nadal, a 22-time Grand Slam champion, has enjoyed numerous duels with Federer over the years, with thrilling finals and agonizing defeats at the hands of the Swiss.
Along with Novak Djokovic, they have proven to be a dominant ‘Big Three’ in men’s tennis and the news of Federer’s retirement prompted Nadal to write an emotional tribute.
Nadal (left, pictured in 2006) paid tribute to his longtime rival Federer on Twitter
Writing on Twitter, Nadal described it as a “sad day” for him and the rest of the sporting world.
‘Dear Roger, my friend and rival. I wish this day had never come,’ he tweeted. ‘It is a sad day for me personally and for sports around the world.
It has been a pleasure, but also an honor and a privilege to share all these years with you, living so many incredible moments on and off the pitch.
We will have many more moments to share together in the future, there are still many things to do together, we know.
“For now, I really wish you all the happiness with your wife, Mirka, your children, your family and enjoy what awaits you. I’ll see you in London.