Watch: Roger and Rafael Nadal Can't Hold Back Tears as Federer Retires
Roger Federer played the last match of his career with Rafael Nadal, at the Laver Cup
Tennis legend, and one of the most loved sportspersons of his generation, Roger Federer played his last competitive match late on Friday night at the O2 arena before bidding farewell to a glorious career in front of his contemporaries, his family and his fans.
Tears rolled down the eyes of the 20-time Grand Slam champion, "We'll get through this somehow," he said after playing the doubles match for Team Europe with Rafael Nadal.
"It's been a wonderful day. I said to the guys, I’m happy, not sad. It feels like a celebration to me. It was exactly as I hoped for.
"It feels great to be here. I enjoyed tying my shoelaces once more, everything was the last time.
"I didn't feel the stress so much even though I thought maybe something was going to go, like a calf, but the match was great.
"Playing with Rafa and having all the greats here, all the legends, thank you."
Nadal and Federer played the men’s doubles match against Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock of Team World, and were defeated 4-6, 6-6, 11-9.
Rafael Nadal, Federer’s greatest rival on tour, also couldn’t hold back his tears as he watched the 41-year-old deliver his farewell speech.
The Swiss Master has not played an ATP match since Wimbledon 2021, following which he had a third knee operation. He has announced last week that the Laver Cup would be his last outing before retirement, taking the tennis world by shock.
"As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries. I've worked hard to return to full competitive form, but I also know my body's capabilities and limits and its message to me lately has been clear. I am 41 years old. I have played more than 1,500 matches over 24 years," the tennis great had said in a statement on Twitter.
Federer held the World number one spot in the ATP Rankings for 310 weeks, his reign only second to Novak Djokovic. However, Federer held the top spot for a record 237 consecutive weeks from February 2, 2004 until August 18, 2008.
He served the sport as president of the ATP Player Council from 2008-14 and later re-joined the council from 2019-22. He was influential in securing significant prize money increases for players. Through the Roger Federer Foundation, the Swiss has assisted almost two million underprivileged children in Africa.
At Roland Garros in 2009, Federer completed the Career Grand Slam and at Wimbledon one month later, he broke Pete Sampras' Open Era record by lifting his 15th major trophy. He went on to claim 20 Grand Slam trophies, which now trails only Rafael Nadal (22) and Djokovic (21).
The Swiss earned six Australian Open triumphs, the 2009 Roland Garros title, eight Wimbledon trophies and five consecutive US Open victories (2004-08).
The Basel native claimed a record six titles, 59 wins and 18 qualifications at the Nitto ATP Finals. He also excelled at the ATP Masters 1000 events, where he won 28 titles.
Federer became the oldest World No 1 in the history of the ATP Rankings on 19 February 2018 at age 36. He would then win a record eighth Wimbledon title later that year and then a sixth Australian Open trophy in 2018.
The tennis great, who made his professional debut aged 16 in 1998, has struggled with a knee problem for the past three years that has restricted him to only three of the 11 Grand Slams staged since the start of 2020. He has not played a competitive match since losing to Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last summer.
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