Roger Federer was in tears despite tasting defeat in the last game of his professional career alongside his doubles partner Rafael Nadal at the Laver Cup in London.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion teamed up with longtime rival Nadal for his last match in London, but saw his dream final ruined by Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe, who finished 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 11-9 won to temper spirits for a packed house at the O2.
Federer enjoyed a long hug with longtime opponent Nadal at the end of the match before receiving a final standing ovation despite the clock being well past midnight.
“We’re going to get through this one way or another,” Federer said on the track. “Look, it was a great day. I told the boys I’m happy, I’m not sad. It feels great to be here and I enjoyed tying my shoes one more time.
“Everything was the last time. Funnily enough with all the matches, being with the boys and having family and friends, I didn’t feel that much stress, even if I felt something was going to go on during the match. I’m so glad I did through and the match was great I couldn’t be happier.
“Of course playing with Rafa in the same team, with all the guys here, the legends, Rocket (Rod Laver), Stefan Edberg, thank you.
“It feels like a party to me. I wanted to feel that way at the end and it’s exactly what I was hoping for, so thank you.
“It was a perfect trip and I would do it again…”
Federer had begun to turn back the years, but he was unable to maintain a strong start with Team World improving the scores after Team Europe took a 2-0 lead early in the day.
This Ryder Cup-style team competition was the brainchild of the Swiss star and began in 2017 with a format that pitted six of Europe’s best players against six counterparts from around the world in a mix of singles and doubles matches. three days.
Federer had to bend his own rules to only play in doubles due to his troublesome knee injury, but produced several highlights in two hours and 14 minutes of action before leaving competitive tennis.
American duo Sock and Tiafoe, pantomime villains for the night, tested Federer’s reactions with some lustful blows aimed at the Swiss maestro who would have demanded nothing less.
Federer was right on pretty much everything though, his silky smooth shots and nimble footwork were very intact despite such a long time away from the competition field.
The pair, also known as ‘Fedal’, with a combined age of 77 and 42 Grand Slam titles in between, managed to beat the opening set by breaking Tiafoe’s serve.
After taking a break early in the second, Federer and Nadal stormed back and looked set for a straight sets victory, but were instead swept up in a tense deciding tie-break.
Chants of ‘Let’s Go Roger, Let’s Go’ echoed through the hall as Federer and Nadal battled their way to a victory that demanded the opportunity and despite the Swiss sending down an ace of 216 mph and a delightfully agile drop shot, they eventually fell short.
The Swiss great thanked wife Mirka, who watched him fight through a succession of knee surgeries before finally admitting defeat in his bid to come back last week.
He added: “Thank you everyone. I’ve had so many people cheering me on and you guys here tonight mean the world.
“My wife has been so supportive…she could have stopped me a long time ago, but she didn’t. She kept me going and let me play, so thank you. She’s amazing.”
Federer’s career in numbers
- 20 – Grand Slam titles
- 31 – Grand Slam Final
- 23 – Consecutive appearances in the Grand Slam semifinals from 2004 to 2010, an all-time record
- 36 – Consecutive appearances in the quarterfinals of the Grand Slam
- 65 – Consecutive Grand Slam appearances from the 2000 Australian Open to the 2016 French Open
- 8 – Wimbledon titles, most of all men
- 6 – Australian Open titles
- 5 – US Open titles
- 1 – French Open title
- 1,251 – career games won from 1,526
- 369 – Match wins in Grand Slams
- 22 – Consecutive appearances at Wimbledon
- 310 – spent weeks at world number 1, 237 of them consecutively
- 36 – At 36 years and 320 days, Federer was the world’s oldest No. 1 in ATP history
- 5 – Federer has reached the final at least five times in each Grand Slam
- 103 – career titles, second in the Open era behind Jimmy Connors
- 6 – titles won at the ATP Finals, an all-time record
- 10 – titles won at the ATP events in Basel and Halle
- 12 – titles won in 2006, his most successful season
- 92 – won games out of 97 played in 2006
- 65 – consecutive matches won on grass from 2003 to 2008
- 3 – Federer reached the finals of all Grand Slams in three different seasons
- 2 – Olympic medals; gold in doubles with Stan Wawrinka in 2008 and silver in singles in 2012
- 24 – losses to his great rival Rafael Nadal from 40 matches
- 130,594,339 – career prize money (US dollars)
- 550 million – estimated net worth (USD)
A two hour 29 minute marathon between Andy Murray and Alex de Minaur kicked off the evening session with the Team World player winning 5-7 6-3 10-7 to get the visitors on the board.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Murray had displayed much of his signature defense during a long battle, but it was the Australian who kept his nerves in the 10-point tie-breaker.
“I just wanted to do everything I could to get the win for my team and I found a way,” said de Minaur on the pitch.
“I don’t know how many tactics there were. It was ready for a fight and however long it took. Andy is a great player, he’s done so much for the sport and it’s just great to have him around.”