Roger Federer will partner Rafael Nadal for the final match of his career

Roger Federer will partner Rafael Nadal for the final match of his career

Roger Federer speaks ahead of the tournament - Roger Federer to disappoint Laver Cup ticket holders - but could partner Rafael Nadal - James Manning/PA

Roger Federer speaks ahead of the tournament – Roger Federer to disappoint Laver Cup ticket holders – but could partner Rafael Nadal – James Manning/PA

Roger Federer’s last appearance as a tennis professional will be in a doubles match partnered with old rival Rafael Nadal.

At a press conference in London on Wednesday morning, Federer said it would be a “special moment” if he and Nadal met at the Laver Cup this weekend.

Much to the disappointment of fans who left thousands of tickets for Sunday’s Laver Cup final, Federer will instead take his final bow on Friday night.

His appearance probably contradicts the rules previously established by the Laver Cup, in which you are obliged to play singles if you want to be present on the doubles court as well.

But this whole event is the brainchild of Federer and his personal fiefdom. Bending the rules and playing doubles for the European Team – captained by Bjorn Borg – was perhaps not such a difficult task because he made it known.

“Obviously this is an event, an ATP event that I don’t want to mess with,” Federer told reporters at the O2 Arena in southeast London. “But at the same time, I know my limitations. That’s why I asked Bjorn if it was okay if I played maybe one double, and I think it would have to be one on Friday night.

“Then I guess Matteo [Berrettini, the world No15 from Italy] would come in and I would have to play on Saturday for me. Bjorn said plainly, ‘Of course, that’s great.’ Bjorn spoke to Sean [McEnroe, the Team World captain] too. They talked to the tournament and the ATP if that was okay and everyone said that was okay.

“So here I am trying to prepare for one final doubles…I’m nervous going in because I haven’t played in that long. Hopefully I can be a bit competitive.”

Nadal – whose wife Maria Francisca Perello is expecting their first child – was expected to fly into London on Thursday morning.

Asked at the event’s press conference if he would appeal to compete with Nadal, Federer replied “Of course. Without a doubt. I think it could be a unique situation, if it happened. As long as we were fighting together, and we always had this respect for each other, for the families, for our coaching staffs, we always succeeded very well.

“For us to both go through a career that we’ve both had and come out on the other side and be able to have a nice relationship, I think it’s a great message, not only with tennis but with sports and maybe even beyond in the distance. . For that reason I think it would be great. I don’t know if it will happen, but I think it could be a special moment.”

Roger Federer of Switzerland talking to Rafael Nadal of Spain at Wimbledon 2019 - AFP

Roger Federer of Switzerland talking to Rafael Nadal of Spain at Wimbledon 2019 – AFP

Earlier, speaking to the Swiss press about his decision to retire from professional tennis after this event, Federer said his children were emotional at the news.

“I told them the day before,” Federer said. “It depends how you put it. If you say to some friends, ‘Hey, I’m quitting smoking’, the response is, ‘Great decision’. But if you say, ‘Hey, I think I have to stop,’ everyone starts crying.

“I told them nothing will change much. We have seen what it will be in the last few years. Somewhere they are sad that I will stop. But they always wanted: ‘Stop playing tennis, we want to go skiing.” I said it to the four at the same time and three out of four cried.

“It’s a process for them too. The past few years have been tough on me, but I think it’s been even tougher on her [his wife Mirka]. With all her injuries, she didn’t like looking at me anymore. I felt sorry for her too. She is very relieved now that it is over.

“At first I was sad, but then I pushed it aside and started the whole process with the letter and telling people. That was really good for me. Even if it separates you, I have to say that I can give interviews without any problems for this reason. If you told me three or six weeks ago that I had to go out with the microphone and tell people – impossible. I wouldn’t have a word.”

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