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Tennis

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in tears as the Swiss legend ends glittering career with emotional farewell

Rory O'Callaghan

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Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in tears as the Swiss legend ends glittering career with emotional farewell

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were both left in tears as the 20-time major champion bid an emotional farewell to professional tennis at the Laver Cup.

Earlier this month, Federer, 41, announced that he would be retiring from top level tennis after this weekend's event at the O2 Arena in London.

Federer teamed up with his great rival Nadal to play his last competitive game on Friday - a men's doubles match against American pair Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe in the annual team event between Europe and the rest of the world.

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But there would be no fairy-tale ending for Federer, with Sock and Taifoe winning 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 11-9.

After the match, both Federer and Nadal fought back tears as the Swiss icon addressed the crowd.

"It's been the perfect journey. I'd do it all again," said Federer, retiring after the 1,750th professional match of a career that spanned more than 24 years.

"The match was special, sure, but it's really everything that happened after," Federer added, struggling to contain his emotions.

"Looking around and seeing how everybody got emotional. That's what I will remember: the faces I saw. Rafa was one of them.

Federer and Nadal were left in tears after the Swiss icon's final match at the Laver Cup (Image: Alamy)
Federer and Nadal were left in tears after the Swiss icon's final match at the Laver Cup (Image: Alamy)

"We have been very connected, I feel, especially in the last 10 years.

"I think we enjoy each other's company, and we have so much to look back on, but also just enjoy spending time together."

Only 22-time major champion Nadal and Novak Djokovic, with 21, have more men's Grand Slam singles titles than Federer.

Nadal played Federer 40 times during his career, including in nine Grand Slam singles finals.

"It has been a huge honour to be a part of this amazing moment of the history of our sport and at the same time a lot of years sharing a lot of things together," said Nadal.

"When Roger leaves the tour, an important part of my life is leaving too."

Federer also said he had no specific plans for exhibition matches following his retirement, but hinted he would return to tennis as a "thank you" to his fans across the world.

"I have no plans whatsoever, where, how, when. All I know, I would love to go and play places I have never played before or go say thank you for years to come to all the people that have been so supportive of me," he added.

"The hard part about the Laver Cup was that tickets were already sold out. The people who maybe would have also loved to be here couldn't make it.

"Maybe there is another way down the stretch we can party all together."

SPORTbible Stories is the brand-new podcast from the SPORT team at LADbible. The latest episode features a chat with WWE legend Triple H who opens up on his long in-ring career, his rivalry with The Rock during WWE's Attitude Era and Logan Paul's fledgling wrestling career. You can watch the episode here.

Featured Image Credit: Eurosport

Topics: Tennis, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal

Rory O'Callaghan
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