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It’s the end of an era in tennis.
Roger Federer played his last game in the Laver Cup in London on Friday night, losing a doubles match to Rafael Nadal as part of Team Europe.
The two legends played together against Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock, who defeated them 4-7, 7-6, 11-9.
Both Federer and Nadal wept as the audience gave the former a rousing ovation and gushed “Thank you.”
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An emotional Roger Federer of Team Europe acknowledges the crowd after playing Rafael Nadal in a Laver Cup doubles match against Team World’s Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe at the O2 arena in London, Friday, September 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung )
“It was a perfect trip,” Federer said after the game. “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
The 41-year-old announced his retirement last week, citing injuries in recent years that have held him back.
Roger Federer waves to the crowd after playing with Rafael Nadal in a Laver Cup doubles match at the O2 arena in London on Friday, September 23, 2022. Federer’s losing doubles match with Nadal marked the end of an illustrious career. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
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“As many of you know, the last three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries,” said Federer. “I’ve worked hard to get back to full competitive form. But I also know the capabilities and limits of my body, and the message I’ve been giving me lately is clear. I’m 41 years old. I have more than 1,500 games played in 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I could have ever dreamed, and now I have to recognize when it’s time to end my competitive career.”
Federer spoke to the audience after the game and recorded everything in one sitting.
“It was a great day. I told the boys I’m happy, I’m not sad. It feels great to be here. I enjoyed tying my shoes one more time. Everything was the last time,” he said.
Team Europe is blessed with the top three grand slam winners together: Federer, Nadal (22) and Novak Djokovic (21).
“It was great. And of course playing with Rafa in the same team and with the guys, everyone here, all the legends… It’s great. It really is,” said Federer.
Roger Federer, left, of Team Europe, sits next to Rafael Nadal after their Laver Cup doubles match against Team World’s Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe at the O2 arena in London, Friday, September 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
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“It feels like a party to me,” he added. “I wanted it to feel that way at the end, and it’s exactly what I was hoping for.”
Federer spent 310 weeks as the top-ranked tennis player in the world and is retiring with 20 grand slam titles, the third-most all-time. His titles: eight Wimbledons, six Australian Opens, five US Opens and one French Open.