Roger Federer hopes to leave doubles tennis alongside Rafael Nadal | Roger Federer

After spending so many of his best years fighting on the biggest stages of men’s tennis, taking the sport to unforeseen levels, Roger Federer is looking forward to playing the final match of his illustrious doubles tennis career alongside his longtime rival Rafael Nadal. “Of course. Without a doubt,” Federer said after being asked on Wednesday whether the partnership with Nadal would appeal to him.

“For us, too, to go through a career that we both had and come out on the other side and be able to have a good relationship is maybe a great message not just for tennis, but for the sport and maybe even beyond.”

Having announced last week that he would retire from professional tennis this week at the Laver Cup in London, Federer has confirmed he will only be able to compete in doubles because of limitations in his surgically repaired knee. He will play one match on Friday, the competition’s opening day, and then end a legendary tennis career that has spanned more than 1,500 matches and yielded 20 Grand Slam titles since his debut in 1998.

“I was very worried and afraid to face the music, the media, the fans and everything else,” Federer said. “Being able to talk about it in a normal way without getting emotional, just because I know how much it means to me.”

No retirement is easy, but the later stages of Federer’s career were particularly difficult. His final singles match will be a brutal defeat to Hubert Hurkacz in last year’s Wimbledon quarter-finals, with his knee giving way as he lost the third set 6-0. Federer underwent surgery in August and began rehab with the goal of to return to full competition, only for more complications to arise.

“You start to get very pessimistic. So I also did a back scan which wasn’t what I wanted it to be. At some point you sit down and say, ‘OK, we’re at an intersection here, at a crossroads, and you have to make a turn. Which way is it? I wasn’t willing to go in the direction of, ‘Let’s risk it all.’ I’m not ready for that.”

For much of Federer’s career, he was known and admired for the way he managed to avoid serious injuries. He said he always thought he would end his career without undergoing surgery, but has now had to settle for three knee surgeries since 2020. He says he feels no pain when playing, but the last few years have left mental scars that have helped guide him. for retirement.

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While considering announcing his retirement ahead of the US Open, Federer decided he wanted to be there and complete his career the right way. The Laver Cup, the event owned by his management company Team8, was a fitting venue. It’s in the O of Londontwo Arena, where he won two of his ATP Finals titles, in the city that defined his tennis career after winning his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003 and a men’s record eight Wimbledon titles.

“Having all the other guys around felt like I wouldn’t be alone announcing my retirement,” he said. “Not that I wanted to hijack this event or anything, but I just felt – I always feel sorry for players who sometimes retire on the circuit, say, ‘I’m going to play one more game,’ then at one point you lose and then you’re alone. .”

In his last tournament, that won’t be the case, as it all boils down to a final doubles match before ending one of the greatest careers tennis has ever seen. “Here I’m trying to get ready for one last duo, and let’s see who it is with,” he said. “I’m nervous because I haven’t played for a long time. I hope to be a little competitive.”

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