Federer eyes dream farewell with Nadal

federer eyes dream farewell with nadal

GRAND FINALE In this file photo taken on July 12, 2019, Switzerland’s Roger Federer (right) speaks with Spain’s Rafael Nadal after Federer won their men’s singles semifinal match on day 11 of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London. Federer said he wants to team up with long-time rival Nadal for the final match of his career at the Laver Cup in London. PHOTO BY ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP

LONDON: Roger Federer wants to bring the curtain down on his glittering career by teaming up with long-time rival Rafael Nadal at the Laver Cup in London on Friday (Saturday in Manila).

The 20-time Grand Slam winner announced last week he intended to retire after the three-day tournament at London’s 02 arena, which starts on Friday.

Federer, whose most recent competitive match was a loss to Hubert Hurkacz in last year’s Wimbledon quarterfinals, has been struggling with a knee problem.

The Swiss great confirmed on Wednesday that the final match of his long and illustrious career will be in the doubles on Friday evening.

Italian Matteo Berrettini, the first alternate for the tournament that pits Team Europe against Team World, will then take Federer’s place over the weekend.

The Swiss great does not yet know whether he will be able to link up with Nadal but said it would be the dream scenario.

“Of course, no doubt,” he told a packed press conference at the O2. “I mean, I think it could be quite a unique situation, you know, if it were to happen.”

Federer said he and Nadal, 36, had always maintained a respect for each other even as they vied for the biggest trophies in the sport.

“For us as well to go through a career that we both have had and to come out on the other side and be 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,” he said.

“For that reason I think it would be great. I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but I think it could be obviously a special moment.”

Nadal, who holds the record for Grand Slam titles in men’s tennis with 22, Novak Djokovic, who has won 21, and three-time major winner Andy Murray are all part of the six-man Team Europe, captained by Bjorn Borg.

Their opponents, Team World, skippered by John McEnroe, include Taylor Fritz, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Diego Schwartzman.

Federer said he was happy to step away from tennis at the age of 41 but admitted it was a “bittersweet decision.”

“You always want to play forever,” he said. “I love being out on court, I love playing against the guys, I love travelling.

“I never really felt like it was that hard for me to win, learn from losing, it was all perfect. I love my career from every angle.”

The Swiss said he was happy with his place in the debate over who is the greatest of all time in the men’s game even though his tally of Grand Slam titles has been eclipsed by Nadal and Djokovic.

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