Federer loses doubles match with Nadal, last of his career

Federer loses doubles match with Nadal, last of his career

Tennis legend Roger Federer announces retirement

Tennis legend Roger Federer announces retirement

04: 18

This day, this match, had to come, of course, for Roger Federer, and for tennis, just as it inevitably must for every athlete in every sport.

Federer bid adieu Friday night with one last contest before he heads into retirement at age 41 after a superlative career that included 20 Grand Slam titles and a statesman’s role. He ended his career as a professional player by losing in doubles against Rafael Nadal, Team Europe’s rival, and Jack Sock, Team World’s member of the Laver Cup.

Switzerland’s Roger Federer reacts after playing his final game a doubles with Spain’s Rafael Nadal of Team Europe in the 2022 Laver Cup at the O2 Arena in London, early on Sept. 24, 2022.

GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images

The truth is that the victors, the statistics and the score — 4-6, 7-6 (2), 11-9 — did not matter, and were all so entirely beside the point. It was all about the farewell. Or, better yet, the plural farewells: Federer’s to tennis to the fans, his competitors, and his colleagues. Each of these entities will bid Federer farewell.

When the match, and with it his time in professional tennis, ended, Federer hugged Nadal, then Tiafoe and Sock. Federer started to cry as he went out to greet Team Europe’s members. Federer leaned forward, his chest rising, and put his hands on his hips as a show of affection. Federer said, “Thank You,” and applauded right back at the crowd who had chanted “Let’s Go Roger!” Let’s go!” during the concluding moments of a match that lasted more than two hours and ended at about 12: 30 a.m.

The Swiss star announced last week that the three-day team event, which was founded by his management company, would be his final event before retirement, then made clear the doubles outing would be his last match. His surgically repaired right knee — the last of three operations came shortly after a loss in the Wimbledon quarterfinals in July 2021, which will go down as his final official singles match — is in no shape to allow him to continue.

“For me, just personally, (it was) sad in the first moment, when I came to the conclusion it’s the best decision,” Federer said in an interview with The Associated Press this week about his emotions when realizing it was time to go. “I held it in at the beginning, then I fought it off. But I could feel it. “

A couple of hours before Friday’s match, Federer tweeted: “I’ve done this thousands of times, but this one feels different. We are grateful to everyone who came tonight. “

I’ve done this thousands of times, but this one feels different. I’m grateful to everyone who came tonight. pic.twitter.com/lmPWTNzjbn

— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) September 23, 2022

It was poetic that Federer would close things out by sharing a court with Nadal, who was often an on-court nemesis but became an off-court friend.

Before Federer, the men’s mark for most major tennis championships was 14 by Pete Sampras. Federer went on to surpass that mark, scoring eight at Wimbledon, six at Australian Open and one at French Open.

His substantial resume includes 103 career singles trophies in all, 310 weeks at No. He is ranked No. 1 in the ATP rankings and has won the Davis Cup title and Olympic gold medals. Federer was more than his tennis skills and elegance. His immense popularity drove fans to the sport.

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