Longtime rivals Djokovic & Nadal pay tribute to Federer | ATP Tour

For more than 20 years, Roger Federer illuminated the ATP Tour. The Swiss star spent 310 weeks at No. 1 on the Pepperstone ATP rankings and won 20 Grand Slam titles while rewriting the record books with his precise and seemingly effortless style.

On Friday, the 41-year-old will fire his final shots as he faces court in doubles Laver Cup in London. With the world watching, no one will have a better view than a longtime rival and friend Rafael Nadalwho will accompany Federer in the fight for Team Europe.

“Morning [is] walk [to] be special,” Nadal said during Thursday’s pre-tournament press conference. “I think a very difficult, difficult one. [It is] It will no doubt be difficult to handle everything, especially for Roger. For me too. Finally, [he is] one of the most important players, if not the most important player of my tennis career and [he is] Leave. This moment will be difficult. Of course I’m super excited and grateful to play with him.”

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Nadal burst onto the scene in 2005 when Federer had already won four Grand Slam titles. Although the Swiss were a dominant force at the time, Nadal worried Federer immediately, winning six of their first seven encounters. They played 40 times and pushed each other to the limit in titanic battles. For the Spaniard, his relationship with Federer is very special.

“I think the memories Roger brings to the sport in my personal way aren’t just the games against me. I saw him play comfortably before I came on tour,” Nadal said. “I saw him succeed on TV and then I was able to create an amazing, an amazing rivalry together.

“On the other hand, we are very proud of it [that it] was a friendly rivalry. Sometimes not easy because we play all the important things for our tennis career, but at the same time we were able to understand that in the end personal relationships are more important than sometimes professional things. We managed to deal with it, I think, in the right way.”

Nadal later added: “He’s probably one of the most important, if not the most important player in the history of this sport to leave after a super great and super long career.”

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Federer will end his historic 25-year career surrounded by players he has labeled rivals for many seasons. Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Kasper Ruud, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berretini and alternately Cameron Norrie are all competing for Team Europe this week and will be on the sidelines to cheer on Federer for his final dance at The O2.

Murray is enjoying the occasion and opportunity to say goodbye to a legend in the sport.

“I think tomorrow will be an incredible atmosphere,” said Murray, who will face off Alex from Minaur before the doubles game. “Obviously playing in the Night Session in front of Roger and Rafa, I think it’s going to be really special.”

Djokovic has met Federer 50 times and is looking forward to facing the Swiss star one last time.

“I think, as everyone has said, this is probably the most special moment that we have all experienced or will experience individually and collectively,” Djokovic said. “Laver Cup is the only competition where we have the chance to be teammates and not rivals and things are even more unique and special because of Roger’s last game. So the excitement is incredible.

“Most of us saw and admired Roger’s success and accomplishments before coming on the tour. Some later, some earlier. But we will do our best to contribute to the team and to a good performance, but at the same time admire and celebrate his career because he deserves it so much.”

The Serb faced Federer in his first Grand Slam final in 2007 US Open. Despite the loss, Djokovic remembered the clash as one of his most memorable against the Swiss.

“I choose my first Grand Slam final, US Open 2007,” said Djokovic. “I lost that match. That was obviously the first Grand Slam final [a] remarkable experience for me at the time. The first match, so to speak, where I could believe that I belong to this level.

Nadal revealed that the 2017 Australian Open Finale stands out from his matches against the Swiss Maestro, while Murray recalled the 2008 epic Wimbledon Final between Federer and Nadal as a personal highlight.

“I honestly think the 2017 final was in Australia [a] very special because [of the] importance,” said Nadal. “[A] A few months ago we were together, injured, we were talking about… how things are going, whether we’ll be able to get back on the tour at that level, and a few months later we’re playing the final in Australia, five -Set match.”

“I was actually in the stands and saw Rafa & Roger Wimbledon definitively,” Murray said. “I actually left when it started raining and I missed the end. I watched it at home of course but for me I went in with some of my friends to watch it live. I know it’s probably the obvious, but for me that would be a match that obviously stands out and that I was actually present at.

Federer/Murray
Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images for Laver Cup

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