Roger Federer’s illustrious tennis career will come to an epic end on Friday.
The Swiss legend will team up with Rafael Nadal in doubles on Friday in what will be the final match of Federer’s career. He will pair up for Team Europe against the Team World duo of U.S. Open semifinalist Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock at the Laver Cup.
Federer, 41, has not been on the court in quite a while after undergoing knee procedures. His third knee surgery in around one-and-a-half years came in July, so the setbacks that he faced trying to get back healthy on the court just did not pan out. He announced his retirement last week via social media.
“You try to go to the next level in training, and I could feel it was getting difficult,” he explained. “…Then, I guess, I was also getting more tired because you have to put more effort into it to be able to sort of believe that it was going to turn around. You start getting too pessimistic. Then I also got a scan back, which wasn’t what I wanted it to be. At some point, you sit down and go, ‘OK, we are at an intersection here, at a crossroad, and you have to take a turn. Which way is it?’”
The partnership with Nadal appeared to be months in the making.
Federer said in February that Nadal messaged him about playing doubles together again. The athletes teamed up to win a doubles match during the first Laver Cup in 2017.
“If we’re able to possibly share the court one more time as a doubles pairing then this would be a truly special experience for us both at this stage in our careers,” Nadal said in February.
Federer and Nadal played against each other 40 times with Nadal playing 26. Federer won their last showdown in 2019.
“It could be quite, I don’t know, a unique situation, if it were to happen,” Federer said Thursday before the pairing was official. “For us, as well, to go through a career that we both have had and to come out on the other side and being able to have a nice relationship, I think, is maybe a great message, as well, to not just tennis but sports and maybe even beyond.”
Federer captured 20 Grand Slam men’s singles titles over two decades worth of exceptional tennis. Nadal holds the men’s record with 22 Grand Slams under his belt. And at 36 years old, Nadal continues to push himself to add to that record.