After numerous close battles against each other over the years, Roger Federer said it would be a “special moment” to accompany Rafael Nadal in the last game of his career.
Federer, who wants to retire from tennis after this week’s Laver Cupconfirmed he would play just one doubles match at London’s O2 Arena on Friday – the final act of his long, decorated career.
That raises the possibility of the Swiss star collaborating with Nadal 18 years after they first faced each other on the ATP Tour in Miami.
The pair have met 40 times during their careers – including nine Grand Slam finals – and also played together at the 2017 Laver Cup.
“As long as we fought together and always had that respect for each other – our families, our coaching teams – we always got on really well,” Federer told reporters when asked about the possibility of playing with the Spaniard.
“To go through the careers we both had, to get to the other side and be able to have a nice relationship, I think that’s maybe great news too – not just for tennis, but for the sport beyond that.
“For that reason, I think it’s great. I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but I think it could obviously be a special moment.”
Federer said he had to get permission from Team Europe captain Bjorn Borg and tournament organizers to play in just one doubles game at the Laver Cup this week.
In this competition, teams from Europe and the rest of the world compete against each other in nine singles and three doubles matches over three days.
“Here I’m trying to prepare for one last double,” said Federer. “We’ll see who it is with. I’m nervous because I haven’t played for so long. I hope I can be reasonably competitive.”
The 41-year-old has had to undergo multiple knee surgeries in recent years, with his last appearance last year in the Wimbledon quarter-finals meaning a straight-set loss to Hubert Hurkacz.
He said he was still planning to return to the sport next year two months ago before making the decision to retire.
“I just wanted to let the fans know that I will not be a ghost,” said Federer when asked how he will stay in tennis after his retirement.
“I feel like tennis has given me too much, I’ve been in the game for too long and I’ve fallen in love with too many things.
“I love seeing people again and that’s what I wanted to say to the fans – that you’ll see me again… What it could be, in what capacity, I don’t know. I still have to think about it a bit and give myself time.”
Among the many accolades of his tennis career, Federer has won 103 singles titles and 20 Grand Slam titles – a tally behind only Nadal (22) and Novak Djokovic (21) in the men’s all-time list.
He became the oldest world No. 1 at the age of 36 and spent a record 237 consecutive weeks at the top of the world rankings between 2004 and 2008.