Federer and Nadal have just emerged from the tunnel to a prolonged standing ovation in a crowded O2 arena. They will be followed by Team Europe coach Björn Borg. They have now taken the court for their warm-up and met American couple Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe (who shared a spot with Nadal not so long ago).
Two more minutes.
The tributes have arrived from all over the world in the eight days since Federer announced his retirement. Great German footballer Philipp Lahm added to the pile this thoughtful column in today’s Guardian.
Federer’s career path is in stark contrast to the present. In times of professionalization, young athletes are often treated like investments – especially in sports where there is a lot to earn, like tennis. At a young age, they are sent to academies and camps that are hotbeds of talent. Athlete biographies are increasingly being created outside of the association, outside of society. They are privatized.
The sports entertainment industry sees talent as a resource and an investment. Once it identifies the talent, it becomes a project. You take it out of the structures, do your own thing. The goal of the athlete is no longer to give back to the community, but to optimize profit and build a business.
Because more and more people are imitating this, many end up falling by the wayside. Talent is a rare gift. This is how sport distances itself from society. If it is no longer part of it, it loses its charm and credibility.
On Friday, the world can marvel at Federer’s genius for the last time. It’s time to get nostalgic. Many Federer moments come to mind. I often think of the spring of 2017, when he experienced a comeback after many injuries. He won Indian Wells and Miami. In Australia, he beat Nadal in the fifth set despite falling behind.
It was the time I ended my career. I was happy that Federer continued and watched all his matches at the time – it was a wonderful pastime. Once again he proved his skills to everyone. This is how I will remember Roger Federer.
Federer and Nadal alternated between their pitchside dugout with the rest of their Team Europe teammates and backstage during the game between Murray and De Minaur.
Not for long now. The players should be on the pitch for a moment for tonight’s main attraction.
Alex de Minaur defeated Andy Murray 5-7, 6-3, 7-10 in a 1-10 match tiebreak. A bit slow starter but in the last half hour it showed a very high quality. The 23-year-old Australian fought back after a set and delivered a much-needed point for Team World, who didn’t want to fall into a 3-0 hole right in front of goal.
A quick refresher on the Laver Cup format and where things stand ahead of today’s nightcap. A team-based, three-day event designed to be the equivalent of the Ryder Cup in golf, the competition consists of three singles games and one doubles game each day. One point is awarded per win on day one, two points per win on day two, and three points per win on day three.
Team Europe have won all four editions so far, although the title was twice decided in the 12th and final game. Federer lifted the trophy in 2017 and Alexander Zverev did the same in 2019.
The Europeans are already leading 2-0 at this year’s event after Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas clinched individual victories against Jack Sock and Diego Schwartzman respectively in today’s afternoon session.
Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic play together for the first time in Team Europe. The Big Three, as they are commonly known, have collectively won 63 of the last 77 Grand Slam championships (Nadal 22, Djokovic 21, Federer 20).
De Minaur just won the second set in his ongoing match with Murray. According to the rules, the match will be decided by a 10-point tiebreaker rather than a full third set, meaning tonight’s main event should be over on the hour.
Hello and welcome to the O2 Arena for the final match in Roger Federer’s illustrious career. The 41-year-old Swiss superstar, who has not competed since a quarter-final defeat at Wimbledon against Hubert Hurkacz in July 2021, announced this last week He is leaving professional tennis after a series of surgeries on his right knee that made his long-awaited comeback on the men’s tour untenable.
And so he bids farewell tonight in London at the team event set up by his management company alongside his longtime rival and friend Rafael Nadal. The two will compete for Team Europe against Team World doubles pairing Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock.
It’s not the first time that Federer and Nadal are on the same side of the court: they won a doubles together in the first edition of the Laver Cup in 2017. But they are far better known for their roles in one of the greatest rivalries in the history of the sport. They have met a total of 40 times in singles (where Nadal has won 26), including 14 times in Grand Slam tournaments (where the Spaniard has won 10), none more memorable than their epochal showdown in the 2008 Wimbledon final.
“I saw him play on TV before I went on tour. I saw him succeed on TV and then (we were) able to create an amazing rivalry together,” Nadal said yesterday. “And on the other hand, we’re probably very proud to have a friendly rivalry. Tomorrow will be something special. Difficult. It will no doubt be difficult to deal with, especially for Roger. But also for me. In the end, one of the most important players – if not the most important player – of my tennis career is going.”
Federer and Nadal will step onto the pitch after the conclusion of the first game of the evening, a one-on-one meeting between Team Europe’s Andy Murray and Team World’s Alex de Minaur currently in the second set.
Bryan will be here shortly. In the meantime Here is the view from Tumaini Carayol to Federer’s swan song tonight in London.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray – a group of the three greatest men’s tennis players of all time and the four defining contenders of the generation – sat tight together at their Laver Cup press conference on Thursday as they all came together for the last time as professionals.
As they recalled their old games and laughed at shared memories, glorious or devastating depending on your perspective, Federer interjected: “Sitting here, it feels good that I’m going from the boys first,” he said, smiling. “It just feels right.”
In many ways, this final chapter of Federer’s career is murky. Despite his reputation for avoiding serious injury during his career, his final years were plagued by physical problems. Unlike Serena Williams’ recent intense, competitive exit, Federer can’t trust his knee to last more than a brief doubles match. In his final battle with Team Europe teammate Nadal, he will face Team World’s Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock at the O2 Arena on Friday night, hoping to compete at a respectable level.
But the circumstances are right. He bids farewell to three of the toughest opponents of his life, players who have helped him define and advance tennis in so many ways over the last decade and a half. Together they have won 66 Grand Slam titles, competed 234 times and spent 933 weeks at No. 1. For over a decade, they’ve packed the later stages of every major event, preventing almost everyone else from succeeding.
“Tomorrow will be something special,” said Nadal. “I think very difficult, difficult. Coping with everything will no doubt be difficult, especially for Roger. For me too. In the end, one of the most important players, if not the most important player, of my tennis career is going, isn’t it?”