Roger Federer’s final competitive tennis appearance took place at the Laver Cup. An emotional occasion saw his major rivals Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray all in attendance to say goodbye as Team Europe were beaten by Team World at the O2 in London. Serbian Djokovic admits he would hope for something similar when he too eventually hangs up his racquet.

After 24 years on the ATP Tour, with 20 Grand Slam titles and 103 tournament wins worldwide to his name, Roger Federer played his final professional match on Friday night, when he partnered with his old rival Rafael Nadal in doubles at the fifth edition of the Laver Cup.

While he and Nadal ultimately lost the match to Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe, it was as entertaining as expected.

“It’s been a wonderful day,” Federer said on the court after the match. “I said to the guys I’m not sad, I’m happy. It feels like a celebration to me. It’s exactly what I had hoped for.”

Images of Federer and Rafael Nadal – who shared one of the sport’s most enthralling rivalries – sitting together and crying after combining in a Laver Cup doubles defeat at London’s O2 Arena on Friday went viral on social media.

“I’m not good, I’m not good,” Nadal told reporters after the match on Friday, according to ESPN. “The truth is these have been difficult weeks in that sense. Few, very few hours of sleep, a bit of stress in general, slightly more difficult situations than usual at home.

“As a result, well, I’ve had to deal with all that, which is a different pressure to the one you’re used to in your professional life. But, well, luckily everything is good and we are much more calm. And in that sense, I’ve been able to come here, which for me was the most important thing.”

Djokovic and Andy Murray – two of Federer’s other main rivals – were also present for the 41-year-old’s final bow.

Novak Djokovic wants to follow in the footsteps of Roger Federer by having all his tennis rivals present when he retires.

“It was just a very touching, very emotional moment,” Djokovic told reporters on Tuesday in Tel Aviv, where he will play an ATP 250 event this week.

“Seeing his kids and his family, it got me emotional as well. I also must say I was thinking about how it would look for me when I say goodbye to tennis.

“There is definitely one thing that I will wish to have – other than, of course, my family and the close people in my life – I would love to have my biggest rivals and competitors there. Because it added something more special, added more importance to that moment.”

“We played the most matches against each other of any other rivalry in the history of tennis,” said Wimbledon 2022 winner Djokovic of Nadal.

“The rivalry is very special and keeps going. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to play against each other more times. Because it’s exciting for us and also for tennis fans and sport fans around the world.”

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