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The sight of tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal Crying together at the end of Federer’s final game quickly became one of the sport’s viral moments of 2022.
Friday night at the 2022 Laver Cup in London, Federer and Nadal played in a doubles match, losing to Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock in the final match of Federer’s illustrious career.
After the match, the two competitors – they have 42 grand slams combined — cried side by side as the end of their decade-long rivalry drew to a close.
In particular, a picture in which Nadal and Federer briefly hold hands while the tears flow made the rounds.
“Well, I mean, it was a brief moment,” Federer told the New York Times. “I think at one point I was sobbing so much, and I don’t know, it all went through my head, how lucky I am to actually be having that moment right there with everyone. And I think that was the beauty of it. I just sat there and took it all in while the music was playing and the focus was maybe more on her [the singer Ellie Goulding]. You almost forgot that you were still being photographed.
“I think at one point, just because I obviously couldn’t speak and the music was there, I guess I just touched him, and I think maybe it’s a secret thank you.”
The two have played each other 40 times in their careers, with Nadal leading at Grand Slams 24-16, 10-4. For Federer, the fact that he could play his Endgame with his longtime rival was the perfect way to end his career.
Federer called his friend after the US Open to say he was planning to retire and would try to play at the Laver Cup. Nadal, whose wife is pregnant, told Federer that he would do everything in his power to be with him.
“But on the phone it became clear very quickly and Rafa told me: ‘I’ll try everything to be with you,'” Federer told the newspaper. “And that obviously felt incredible to me. And it showed once again how much we mean to each other and how much respect we have.”
“I just thought it would end even better than I ever thought,” Federer continued. “Well, an incredible performance by Rafa and of course I will never forget what he did for me in London.”