Roger Federer has revealed that Rafael Nadal was the first person outside his family and team to find out about his plan to walk away from tennis. The Swiss ace made the call to his long-time rival and close friend to request one final outing at the 2022 Laver Cup in September.
The Swiss ace described the emotional phone call with the Spaniard, who he revealed was shocked at first, but made it clear that he will do “whatever it takes” to be in London for the Laver Cup. At the time, Nadal was also nursing an injury, while also waiting for the arrival of his first born child with wife Xisca Perello.
Federer’s retirement announcement, when made public, was received with a considerable amount of shock and surprise. Tributes poured in from across the sporting world with many commending the Swiss maestro, not only for his achievements on court, but for also being an inspiration away from the game.
“My hope was I could play doubles with Rafa,” Federer told Trevor Noah during his recent appearance on The Daily Show talking about his final wish before retirement.
“I had to call him up and tell him ‘hey Rafa, just before you make any other plans, I would love you to be at the Laver Cup and play maybe one last doubles with me.”
“It would be amazing. Unfortunately, my knee is not good anymore and I think, it’s the end, you know?'” he added. Nadal’s answer? ‘”Okay, oh my god, okay, yeah I will be there whatever it takes.”‘
Despite his injury and family commitments, the 22-time men’s singles Grand Slam champion joined Federer for an emotional evening at the O2 Arena. The duo took to court together for one last time, and despite losing the match, it was a fitting tribute to a player, who is widely regarded as the greatest to ever play the game.
Nadal and Federer have shared one of the greatest rivalries in sport as a whole. The duo have competed for the biggest prizes in tennis for over a decade with only Novak Djokovic being able to break their stranglehold over the game. They have faced each other 40 times, with the Spaniard holding a slight advantage with 24 wins.