Earlier Nadal and Federer went down 6-4, 6-7, 9-11 in the Laver Cup to the American pair of Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock in what was the 41-year-old’s farewell game. The result is irrelevant. While the match itself had moments of Federer magic, including one at the start of the campaign, where the 41-year-old on a dodgy knee threaded the needle, the hole-like gap between post and net. The Americans won the point, even if Federer got the applause.
When Federer entered the Arena, a little behind Nadal, a tempest of emotions blew across the Greenwich Peninsula. The acoustics of a love song. “We’ll get through this somehow,” Federer told spectators after the closing notes that accompanied his last dance. “Everything was for the last time (today), tying my shoelaces one more time… I didn’t want to feel alone tonight. I wanted it to be a celebration at the end, it is exactly what I hoped for.”
Federer, who made crying an acceptable expression on the tennis court, was doing well until he came to address his wife Mirka. “She could’ve stopped me a long, long time ago, but she kept me going,” he said.
Later in his last post-match media interactions, which finished past 2 am (BST), the Swiss gave himself a thumbs up for the way he handled emotions on the court. “I wanted to have an evening where I did not have to take the mic. I know how impossible I am on the mic when I’m emotional,” Federer said. “I was able to remind myself on the court how wonderful this is. I was able to get a second wind and at least say everything I have wanted to say. This is not the end-end, life goes on. I’m healthy, I’m happy, everything’s great, and this is just a moment in time.”
And what a moment it was, with his other great rival Novak Djokovic, directing the FeDal partnership, urging them to close in, attack more against the American combine. Bjorn Borg cheered relentlessly and up in the stands Rod Laver applauded.
“Looking around and seeing how everybody got emotional, it’s even better, or even worse, I’m not sure what to say,” Federer said, adding, “What I will remember is the faces I saw, Rafa was one of them.”
The post-match festivities were wrapped up with Ellie Golding singing, ‘still falling for you’. “No one can lift me, catch me the way that you do I’m still falling for you…”
If Federer cried hard, Nadal cried harder. “When Roger leaves the Tour, an important part of my life is leaving too,” the 36-year-old said. “On court we have completely opposite styles, that’s what probably makes our rivalry interesting. But we approach life in not very different ways. I’m very proud to be part of his career in some way. But even happier to finish like friends after being rivals on the court.”
Tennis then came together for Roger Federer. One last time.
Roger Federer embraces retirement amid tears
<p>Roger Federer described his tennis career as a “perfect journey” despite being denied a fairytale endin</p>