Roger Federer Wants to Play Doubles with Rafael Nadal at Laver Cup Before Retirement

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 21, 2022

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal (Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Laver Cup)

Roger Federer said he's hopeful the final match of his legendary career will be playing doubles alongside longtime rival Rafael Nadal at the 2022 Laver Cup.

Federer, who didn't play any Grand Slam tournaments this year amid knee problems, said Wednesday he's hopeful he'll be fit enough to compete in doubles Friday night before giving way to Matteo Berrettini on the Team Europe roster, per ESPN's Simon Cambers.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion added it would be nice if Nadal was his partner, though captain Björn Borg will make the final decision.

"Of course, no doubt," Federer said. "I think it could be quite a unique situation, if it were to happen. For as long as we battled together, having had always this respect for one another, our families, coaching teams, for us as well to go through a career we both have had, come out the other side and have a nice relationship, is maybe a great message to tennis and beyond. For that reason, it would be great, I don't know if it will happen, but it would be great."

With all due respect to Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and the rest of the stars of men's tennis over the past couple of decades, there was nothing more enticing than a clash between Federer and Nadal.

Their five-set instant classic in the 2008 Wimbledon final is the best tennis match ever played, a distinction that has a chance to stand the test of time.

While there are countless reasons their matches were must-see TV, the biggest is probably the simplest: the clear difference in style.

Federer made everything on a tennis court look simple, rarely breaking a serious sweat while wearing down opponents with laser-like precision.

Nadal was always the opposite, often sweating profusely before the end of the first set as he grinds out every rally as if its match point, a workmanlike approach buoyed by his outstanding defense.

Since Friday will be Federer's final official match—he's expressed plans to play tennis again, just not in an ATP Tour competitive environment—it's hard to imagine Borg won't give him the opportunity to line up next to Nadal as desired.

The 41-year-old Swiss sensation is hopeful his body will be up to the task.

"So here I am, trying to prepare for one last doubles," Federer said. "We'll see how it is. I am nervous, because I haven't played for so long. I hope it goes well."

Team Europe is a heavy favorite in the Laver Cup thanks to a roster that also features Djokovic, Murray, Casper Ruud, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Berrettini.

They'll face off against Team World, which includes Taylor Fritz, Félix Auger-Aliassime, Diego Schwartzmanm, Frances Tiafoe, Alex de Minaur, Tommy Paul and Jack Sock.

Play is scheduled to take place from Friday through Sunday at the O2 Arena in London.


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