Roger Federer to Play Doubles with Rafael Nadal in Final Match Before Retirement

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 22, 2022

Switzerland's Roger Federer (L) and Spain's Rafael Nadal share a laugh during a press conference for Team Europe ahead of the 2022 Laver Cup at the O2 Arena in London on September 22, 2022. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal (GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Roger Federer got his wish: His final official match will be played alongside longtime friendly rival Rafael Nadal in the 2022 Laver Cup on Friday.

The tournament pairings were announced Thursday, with the two tennis icons set to play for Team Europe against the Team World tandem of Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock in doubles. Federer, who confirmed his retirement after this week's event, said Wednesday he was hoping to team up with Nadal.

"Of course, no doubt," Federer told reporters. "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."

Federer and Nadal have faced off 40 times in their legendary careers, and one of those encounters, the 2008 Wimbledon final, has a strong argument as the greatest tennis match ever played. Nadal won that memorable meeting and holds a 24-16 edge overall.

Despite frequently facing off on the sport's biggest stages, the relationship remained cordial.

"After all the amazing things that we share together on and off court, [to] be part of this historic moment, going to be something yeah, amazing and unforgettable for me," Nadal said Thursday. "And yeah, super excited, I hope I can have a good answer time, play at a decent level and hopefully together we can create a good moment and maybe win a match."

Rafa Nadal @RafaelNadal

An honor and a real pleasure <a href="https://twitter.com/rogerfederer?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@rogerfederer</a> 🙌🏻 <a href="https://t.co/HMVnl1Iu9b">https://t.co/HMVnl1Iu9b</a>

Federer didn't play any Grand Slam tournaments this year because of lingering knee problems, and he admitted Wednesday there's still a level of concern about his match readiness.

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

The 20-time Grand Slam champion will be replaced by Matteo Berrettini on the Team Europe roster after Friday's doubles match.

Other members of the European squad include Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

They'll battle a Team World group featuring Tiafoe, Sock, Taylor Fritz, Félix Auger-Aliassime, Diego Schwartzman and Alex de Minaur.

The tournament runs Friday through Sunday at the O2 Arena in London.