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Roger Federer set for farewell doubles with long-term rival Rafael Nadal in London

Roger Federer is set for a farewell doubles with long-time rival Rafael Nadal in London… as the two legends team up for the Swiss star’s Laver Cup swansong at the O2 Arena

  • Roger Federer, 41, hits his final shots at the Laver Cup on Friday night
  • The Swiss maestro will only play one doubles match due to a long-term injury
  • It could well be in the company of his oldest rival Rafael Nadal at the O2 Arena
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An emotional Roger Federer contemplated 15 months of pain and a likely farewell to playing alongside Rafael Nadal.

The Swiss champion, 41, will hit his final shots, with that serene kind of anger, on Friday night at the Laver Cup in London. It could well be in the company of his oldest rival.

Federer confirmed that he will play only one doubles match in the Team Europe versus Team World match, where his right knee cannot survive anything more severe.

Roger Federer set for farewell doubles with long term rival Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer set for farewell doubles with long term rival Rafael Nadal

Roger Federer tweeted a photo with teammates with the caption “ready to take on the world”

It may seem bad, but it must be pointed out that this will be another case of tennis bending its own rules to accommodate its superstars. These stipulate that each player in the six-man team must play singles for the first two days of the event.

The star attraction can no longer do that, and despite all of this event’s pretensions to being a serious tournament, he has been given permission by everyone involved to avoid it. It could stop a kind of genteel tumult among those who will flock to London’s O2 Arena, all wanting one last glimpse of the player who can claim to be the most popular in history.

“This is an ATP event and I don’t want to mess with it, but at the same time I know my limitations,” Federer said. ‘That’s the reason why I asked Bjørn (Borg, the European captain) if it was OK if I only play one double. Then I think Matteo (Berrettini) would come in and play on Saturday for me. Bjørn said it’s perfectly fine.

Federer is set for a farewell doubles with long-time rival Rafael Nadal in London on Friday
Federer is set for a farewell doubles with long-time rival Rafael Nadal in London on Friday

Federer is set for a farewell doubles with long-time rival Rafael Nadal in London on Friday

1663802726 569 Roger Federer set for farewell doubles with long term rival Rafael Nadal
1663802726 569 Roger Federer set for farewell doubles with long term rival Rafael Nadal

‘I also spoke to John (McEnroe, Team World captain). They asked the tournament and the ATP if it was OK and everyone said it was fine. So here I am trying to prepare for one last double. I’m nervous because I haven’t played for so long. I hope I can be somewhat competitive.’

A repeat of the last set Federer played, a 6-0 reverse against Hubert Hurkacz at Wimbledon last year, is unlikely.

Nadal would be a fitting partner given their extraordinary history together. Reflecting on this rare partnership, Federer said: ‘As long as we fought together and always had this respect for each other, the families, our coaching staffs, we always got along really well.

Federer is playing only one doubles match in the Laver Cup due to a long-term knee injury
Federer is playing only one doubles match in the Laver Cup due to a long-term knee injury

Federer is playing only one doubles match in the Laver Cup due to a long-term knee injury

‘For us to go through the career we had and to come out the other side, it’s also a good message to be able to have a good relationship. Not just for tennis, but for sports and maybe even beyond.’

Federer plans to play exhibition matches in the future if his body is up to it. Either way, he won’t disappear from view like many of the elite have.

“I don’t want to be a ghost,” said Federer, who appeared to have a small lump in his throat. “I feel like tennis has given me too much. I’ve been around the game too long, fallen in love with too many things. That’s what I wanted to tell the fans, you want to see me again.’

Norrie, Djokovic, Murray, Berrettini and Tsitsipas will feature for Team Europe this week
Norrie, Djokovic, Murray, Berrettini and Tsitsipas will feature for Team Europe this week

Norrie, Djokovic, Murray, Berrettini and Tsitsipas will feature for Team Europe this week

Federer has already reflected on what he considers the highlights of an astonishing career. Three came to mind: beating Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001 (their only meeting), his solitary triumph at Roland Garros in 2009 and winning the 2017 Australian Open immediately after coming back from injury.

Above all, however, it is the longevity of his success that has given him the greatest satisfaction.

‘It has a special meaning for me. I always looked to Michael Schumacher, Tiger Woods, the other guys who stayed so long at the top. I didn’t understand how they did it. Next thing you know, you’re part of that group and it’s been a great feeling.’

Meanwhile, Emma Raducanu advanced to the second round of the Korea Open in Seoul with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Japan’s Moyuka Uchijima. The 19-year-old said: ‘My aim is to keep trying to swing freer and freer every game. My other goal is to try to stay in Korea as long as possible.’ Raducanu faces former world number 12 Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium today.

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