Roger Federer’s trophy-laden profession ended with defeat on Friday, however for as soon as the consequence hardly mattered because the Swiss maestro headed into retirement with tears in his eyes and cheers ringing in his ears.
With a sellout crowd of 17,500 at London’s O2 Arena keen him on, the 20-time Grand Slam champion returned after greater than a yr away to play alongside Rafael Nadal, the Spaniard with whom he shared considered one of tennis’s most charming rivalries.
If there’s one factor you watch at this time, make it this.#LaverCup | @rogerfederer pic.twitter.com/Ks9JqEeR6B
— Laver Cup (@LaverCup) September 23, 2022
With the clock previous midnight, Federer might have sealed victory within the Laver Cup doubles conflict when he served at match level in a tense deciding tiebreak, but it surely was to not be as Americans Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe ripped up the script.
Sock thumped a forehand winner and sealed a 4-6, 7-6, 11-9 win for Team World. After a short second of shocked silence across the packed area, the gang rose to salute the 41-year-old Federer, whose magnificence, charisma and sportsmanship has graced tennis and transcended sport throughout a 24-year profession.
Federer produced moments of his trademark magic throughout a fiercely contested duel and stored his feelings in examine.
But the tears flowed afterwards as Ellie Goulding sung whereas a montage of Federer’s feats was projected on the black courtroom.
When he was hugged by spouse, Mirka, kids Leo, Lenny, Myla and Charlene, and his dad and mom Lynette and Robert, there was hardly a dry eye in the home.
“We’ll get through this somehow. It’s been a wonderful day. I told the guys I’m happy, not sad,” mentioned Federer, who introduced final week that this might be his remaining occasion after struggling to beat a knee harm.
“I enjoyed tying my shoelaces one more time, everything was the last time,” he added. “Playing with Rafa and having all the greats here, all the legends.”
Federer broke down as he thanked his spouse.
“She could have stopped me a long, long time ago but she didn’t. She kept me going and allowed me to play, so it’s amazing – thank you,” he mentioned.
Federer’s eagerly anticipated remaining bow got here after British favorite Andy Murray had battled towards Australian Alex De Minaur for 2 and a half hours, however misplaced.
Murray’s two Wimbledon titles made him a nationwide sporting icon, however the evening was all about Federer – a participant who resides within the pantheon of sporting greats with the likes of Pele, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali.
Even his follow periods right here have been standing-room-only affairs, and an electrical environment greeted him as he walked out into the cavernous area alongside Nadal simply after 10pm.
“I’ve done this thousands of times, but this one feels different. Thank you to everybody who’s coming tonight,” Federer posted on Twitter earlier within the day.
The crowd included Australian nice Laver – the person who impressed Federer to create the group competitors being staged in London for the primary time.
Loud cheers accompanied Federer and Nadal, or ‘Fedal’ as they’re nicknamed, on to courtroom and The Clash’s London Calling boomed out as they warmed up.
An even larger roar went up when Federer punched away a volley within the opening recreation – his first aggressive shot since defeat by Hubert Hurkacz at Wimbledon final yr ended his dream of a record-extending ninth title on Centre Court.
During changeovers video screens confirmed iconic moments of Federer’s profession with tributes from Nadal and his mom.
But this was no exhibition match.
American duo Sock and Tiafoe, pantomime villains for the evening, examined Federer’s reactions with some lusty blows aimed on the Swiss maestro.
Federer was equal to just about every part, his silky shot-making and nimble footwork on present regardless of a very long time away from the courtroom.
The iconic pair, with a mixed age of 77 and 42 Grand Slam titles between them, edged the opening set by breaking Tiafoe’s serve. But the Americans levelled as Federer and Nadal started to fade.
Chants of “Let’s go, Roger, let’s go” resounded across the packed stands within the championship tiebreak as Federer and Nadal clawed their means in direction of a victory the event demanded.
Even the tennis gods couldn’t intervene to permit Federer one final victory, however nothing might take the gloss off an evening to have fun a participant who led tennis right into a golden period.
“It still feels like a celebration for me and that’s exactly what I hoped for,” mentioned Federer, who scaled unprecedented heights and rewrote the document books.
“It’s been a perfect journey and I would do it all over again.”