Roger Federer hinted at a possible farewell tour after playing the final professional game of his illustrious career in the early hours of Saturday morning at the O2 Arena in London.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion failed to close the curtain with a final win in the competition after he teamed with doubles partner Rafael Nadal to defeat Team World pair Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe 6-4, 6-7 (2nd place) at the Laver ), 9: 11 had lost cup.
Both Federer and Nadal were in tears at the end of a two-hour and 14-minute bout in which the former world number one wasted a match point to the disappointment of a lively crowd of 17,500.
Not that the end result mattered as the 41-year-old was treated to a standing ovation during his ‘last dance’ and plenty of highlights including a 186-mile ace and a sensational drop-shot winner in the crucial tie-breaker.
Federer had announced last week that the doubles competition on the first night of the Laver Cup, the Ryder Cup-style team competition he created, would be his last on the ATP Tour, but the door was left open for more chances to see him see tennis courts all over the world, just not in a professional capacity.
“I have absolutely no plans where, how, when. All I know is that I would love to play places I’ve never played before or say thank you to all the people who have been so supportive over the years,” he said during a press conference that only ended after 2am on Saturday.
“Because the difficult thing about the Laver Cup was that the tickets were already sold out. You know, the people who might have wanted to be here couldn’t make it.
“Maybe there’s another way we can all celebrate together.”
Defeat in a comeback was finally publicly admitted by Federer last week after a series of surgeries on his right knee over the past two and a half years proved unsuccessful.
It meant the last singles competition of his career came at Wimbledon last year, where he lost to Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals, but he insisted the retirement he opted for last month was no longer a scary concept.
He added: “I could keep reminding myself on the pitch how wonderful that is.
“It’s not the end, end you know, life goes on. I’m healthy, I’m happy, everything is great and this is just a moment. That’s obviously how it’s supposed to be.
“Weeks ago I was actually so terrified of this moment that it really worried me.”
While Federer was emotional during his on-court interview paying tribute to his wife Mirka, he was happy to say goodbye in Nadal with a friend by his side.
The duo shared a long hug after Socks Sieger confirmed defeat before breaking down in tears after a retirement video was shown on the big screens, followed by a performance by British singer Ellie Goulding.
“Not being alone on this pitch for a whole evening helped a lot,” admitted Federer.
Nadal, who will always have the upper hand over Federer 26:14 in singles, spoke at length about their “beautiful” friendship.
“Wow, difficult. I have to say that the first few serves were super difficult for me,” said the Spaniard.
“I was shaking a little. It was a difficult day to deal with every single thing and it all got super emotional by the end.
“It was a great honor for me to be part of this amazing moment in the history of our sport while sharing many things with each other for many years.
“When Roger leaves the tour, yes, an important part of my life also leaves.
“We have completely different styles on the pitch and that probably makes our games and our rivalry one of the biggest and most interesting.
“But in family life, in personal life, we probably don’t approach life very differently, do we? Because of this we can trust each other, we can speak very often and we are able to speak very freely and confidently.
“Having someone like Roger that I’m confident to talk to about personal things is something very beautiful after all the things we’ve shared together and all the important things we’ve fought for for so long.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/tennis/roger-federer-rafael-nadal-swiss-jack-sock-frances-tiafoe-b2174394.html “We can all celebrate together”: Roger Federer hints at a farewell tour