Rafael Nadal revealed Roger Federer told him about his retirement plans 10 days before announcing his decision to the public. On September 15, Federer revealed his intention to retire from professional tennis at the Laver Cup.
When Federer revealed his intention to Nadal, he made it clear that he was hoping to play doubles with him in his final match. At the time, Federer wasn't even sure if he would be able to play one doubles match. But Nadal accepted the invitation and from that moment it was just up to Federer to confirm he would play.
"He told me ten days before announcing it but I didn't even know if he could play the doubles, because of the knee. We postponed the conversation a week later, and he also knew that, due to my situation, I couldn't be away from home for a long time," Nadal told COPE.
Nadal granted Federer's wish
On Friday night in London, Federer retired by playing doubles with Nadal. In their second appearance as a doubles duo, Federer and Nadal fell short in three tight sets to Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe.
But it was a memorable night and a great send-off for Federer. After the match was over, Nadal got very emotional and broke down in tears while Federer was giving a speech. Federer was Nadal's biggest rival, but there was always a great level of respect between the two.
"Our rivalry has evolved as our friendship has," Nadal said. "When you're young you just want to win, be the best, and over the years, I think the two of us, being athletes, as we have had experiences together and have shared moments of sadness or disappointment competing with each other, and there comes a point where that we've appreciated what these matches are."