After numerous close battles with each other over the years, Roger Federer said it would be a “special moment” to be able to accompany Rafael Nadal in the last match of his career.
Federer, who will retire from tennis after this week’s Laver Cup, confirmed he would play just one doubles match at London’s O2 Arena on Friday, the final act of his long and decorated career.
That opens up the possibility of the Swiss star teaming up with Nadal, 18 years after they first met on the ATP Tour in Miami.
The pair have met 40 times throughout their careers, including nine Grand Slam finals, and also played together in the 2017 Laver Cup.
“During the time that we fought together, having always had this respect for each other, our families, our coaching teams, we always got along very well,” Federer told reporters when asked about the possibility of playing alongside the Spanish.
“Going through the careers that we both have had, coming out the other side and being able to have a good relationship, I think that is also a great message, not only for tennis, but also for sports.
“For that reason, I think it would be great. I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but I think it could obviously be a special moment.”
Federer said he had to get permission from Team Europe captain Björn Borg and tournament organizers to play in a single doubles match at the Laver Cup this week.
The competition sees teams from Europe and the rest of the world go head-to-head in nine singles and three doubles matches over the course of three days.
“Here I am trying to prepare for one last doubles,” Federer said. “We will see who he is with. I’m nervous because I haven’t played in a long time. I hope I can be somewhat competitive.”
The 41-year-old has undergone multiple knee surgeries in recent years and his last outing was a straight-set loss against Hubert Hurkacz in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year.
He said he still planned to return to the sport next year just two months ago before coming to the decision to retire.
“I just wanted the fans to know that I will not be a ghost,” Federer said when asked how he would remain involved in tennis after retiring.
“I feel like tennis has given me too much, I’ve been in the game for too long, I’ve fallen in love with too many things.
“I love seeing people again and that’s what I wanted the fans to know: that they will see me again… What it could be, in what capacity, I don’t know. I still have to think about it a bit and give myself time.”
Among the many accolades of his tennis career, Federer won 103 singles titles and 20 Grand Slam titles, second only to Nadal (22) and Novak Djokovic (21) on the all-time men’s list.
He became the oldest world number 1 at the age of 36 and also spent a record 237 consecutive weeks at the top of the world rankings between 2004 and 2008.