(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – Roger Federer ended his illustrious career with a doubles match in the Laver Cup in which he paired up with his great rival Rafael Nadal. The match was followed by a speech from the Swiss great as he bid an emotional farewell.
Roger Federer brought the curtain down on his illustrious career in an emotion-packed Friday night session at London’s O2 Arena, finishing his final match at 25 minutes past midnight and leaving the court just before 1am amid a sea of love, tears and music in front of a capacity crowd.
The fairytale ending of a victory in his final match fell agonizingly short of coming true, Federer and his great friend and rival Rafael Nadal failing to convert a match point before losing a knife-edge doubles to Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe 4-6, 7-6(2) 11-9.
The result leaves Laver Cup 2022 poised at 2-2 at the end of the opening day, providing ample scope for drama over the weekend. But Friday’s story was all about Federer and the final chapter of a career that signs him off him as one of the greatest athletes in the history of sport, not just tennis.
He was given a standing ovation as he walked into the arena at just after 10pm after a two-and-a-half-hour singles between Andy Murray and Alex de Minaur, and as if to emphasize the enormity of the occasion, Tiafoe shook hands with Federer after the coin toss. It ended two-and-a-quarter hours later with Sock wrong-footing Nadal with a forehand up the alley, but from then on the American pair took a back seat as the show belonged to Federer.
He struggled through a tearful on-court interview with Jim Courier, though he insisted, “It’s been a wonderful day – I’m happy, not sad. I enjoyed tying my shoes one more time, I knew everything I did was going to be for the last time. I feared something would go wrong – my calf would go or my back would lock – but I made it through.”
With the 17,000-seater arena filled to capacity with the clock ticking past midnight, Federer was serenaded into retirement by the pop singer Ellie Goulding, who sang “Still falling for you” and “Fire and ice”.