Rafael Nadal felt he and Roger Federer had "a very healthy rivalry" from Day 1 and he was glad that their rivalry never negatively impacted their relationship. Nadal, 36, and 41-year-old Federer met for the first time at the 2004 Miami Masters.
That was the start of a rivalry that eventually went down as probably the greatest rivalry in tennis history. For his final match, Federer wanted to team up with Nadal for a doubles match. Nadal granted Federer's wish as the Swiss retired by playing with the Spaniard at the Laver Cup.
Nadal on his rivalry with Federer for Onda Cero Radio
"It has always been a very healthy rivalry in every way since the beginning of everything, since the first match we played in 2004, if I am not mistaken, in Miami, where I was not yet a rival for him at all, but well, from that moment we had a good feeling.
We first met in 2002 in Wimbledon, at Nike's house," Nadal said, as translated from Spanish to English by Twitter user Genny SS. "And from there, we already know the whole story. In that sense, for me he is someone who, apart from being a very important part of my professional life for everything he has meant in my career, is someone I've always admired, someone from whom I have also somehow learned things that have helped me progress in my sporting life without a doubt and also it's leaving someone with whom, especially in these last, I'd say, 10-12 years, a strong bond has been created."
After their doubles match at the Laver Cup, Nadal got very emotional and broke down in tears over Federer's retirement.
Although I've seen some quotes here & there, I thought translating Rafa's full interview on Roger's retirement for Onda Cero Radio on Sep 25, 2022 -> https://t.co/aw8lbcRUxW was worth the effort [tho real life is a b*tch & it's taken me long than expected to post it]
Enjoy it!👇 pic.twitter.com/c08uO12Lck — Genny SS (@genny_ss) September 27, 2022
That moment perfectly showed how much of respect Nadal has for Federer. Nadal, who is 36, has been struggling with injuries a lot over the last year. But Nadal still loves the game and is refusing to simply quit.