As the legendary duo gets ready to share a court for the final time, Rafael Nadal has opened up emotionally about playing in the same period as Roger Federer.
When Team Europe competes in the Laver Cup on Friday night, the two legends will play doubles at The O2 Arena. Federer, who revealed last week that he will be retiring at the conclusion of the team tournament, will make his final professional appearance in that match.
The two have faced off against one another 40 times throughout their careers and have combined for a whopping 42 Grand Slam victories. The “Swiss Maestro” and the “King of Clay,” despite their fierce competition, have remained good friends off the court.
Rafael Nadal opens up about Federer’s goodbye
Nadal has shared his memories of competing in the same era as his friend on the eve of Federer’s farewell: “We have always had a very easy and positive relationship since the beginning,” he told Eurosport.
“I don’t know, but since the beginning, I think the feelings have been positive. They have even grown in a better way over the years. In some way, when you have a rivalry like we have had, we have played exhibitions for our foundations, we have shared important moments in the history of this sport,” said Nadal.
“On court and off court we were together, on the council for a long time. So we were able to build this relationship in a very positive way,” he continued. “He has been a very positive example for everyone, and for me personally, without a doubt.”
Team Europe’s defense of the trophy may still hinge on the duo’s doubles match on Friday, as Bjorn Borg’s men aim for a fifth straight victory. Nadal was also questioned about how difficult it will be to handle the natural emotion that will arise.
“Well, it will be a difficult match to handle, honestly,” he said. “Let us see how the thing evolves, but I just hope to help in a small way to help make his last match even more special.”
However, he is also happy to be a part of the 41-year-last old’s performance, stating: “I think it is going to be unforgettable, and I am just proud and happy to be next to him on this very special moment.”