It was surely unthinkable that Roger Federer’s trophy-laden career would end with a defeat but that is what transpired as the 41-year-old Swiss maestro lost alongside Rafa Nadal on an emotional night at the Laver Cup on Friday.
In front of a 17,500 sell-out crowd at London’s O2 Arena, 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer returned from more than a year away for a last dance in tandem with his great rival on a gripping and memorable finale by the Thames.
With the clock already well past midnight, Federer had the chance to seal victory in the doubles clash when he served at match point in a tense deciding tiebreak but it was not to be as Americans Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe ruined the script.
Sock thumped a forehand winner to seal a 4-6 7-6 11-9 win for Team World. After a brief moment of almost silence around the packed arena, the crowd erupted to salute an emotional Federer.
The London crowd had to wait for the arrival of Federer and Nadal as British favourite Andy Murray and Alex De Minaur engaged in a series of interminable rallies in a grinding opening match of the night, eventually won by De Minaur.
Murray’s two Wimbledon titles mean he is a national sporting icon but the night was all about Federer — a player who resides in the pantheon of sporting greats along with the likes of Pele, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali.
Even Federer’s practice sessions at the O2 were standing room only affairs and an electric atmosphere greeted him as he walked out into the cavernous arena alongside Nadal just after 10pm local time for what would be his last dance. “I’ve done this thousands of times, but this one feels different. Thank you to everybody who’s coming tonight,” Federer has posted on Twitter earlier in the day.
Thank you, Roger
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)