The crowd at London's O2 Arena witnessed history last Friday night. The 20-time Major winner Roger Federer picked the Laver Cup as the final event of his career, gathering his friends and rivals in a tennis festival. Roger has been dealing with a knee injury for almost three years, undergoing three surgeries and deciding to end his tennis journey after failing to recover.
Federer did not want to risk his knee in London, entering only one doubles match and picking his great rival Rafael Nadal as his partner. Nadal could not reject the call, arriving in London on Thursday despite not being at his best after an abdominal injury.
Federer recently explained that he called Nadal after the US Open, informing him about his retirement without making any Laver Cup plans. Roger still did not know if he would play in London, but he made it in the end and competed alongside his great friend and rival one more time.
Rafa and Roger faced Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe and squandered a match point in a 4-6, 7-6, 11-9 loss in two hours and 13 minutes.
Roger Federer retired at the Laver Cup, with Rafael Nadal playing by his side.
Nadal and Federer made a good start and pulled the break back in the second set to reach a tie break.
The Americans claimed it in style and overcame an early deficit and a match point in the match tie break to emerge at the top. Rafa struggled in his games more than the other players. He faced a break point at 4-4 in the opener, and he and Federer saved it before breaking Tiafoe in the next one to clinch the opener 6-4.
The Spaniard lost serve at 1-1 in the second set, and he and Roger pulled it back after Frances' double fault in game six for 3-3. Nadal was in trouble again at 5-5, struggling to gain free points and facing six break chances.
Team Europe saved them and wrapped it up with a service winner for a massive boost. Jack and Frances stayed calm and claimed the tie break 7-2 to remain in contention and gain confidence. Nadal took charge at the start of the match tie break before the red squad rattled off four straight points for 4-3.
The legends fought well and created a match point at 9-8. The Swiss failed to seize it on his serve, and Frances fired a return winner for their first match point. Sock landed a forehand down the line winner to send Roger into a well-deserved retirement.
"I called Rafa after the US Open to tell him about my retirement. I just wanted to let him know before he started making some plans without the Laver Cup at all. I told him on the phone that I was probably 50-50 or 60-40 on making the doubles.
I told him, 'Look, I will keep you posted. You let me know how things are at home, and we will reconnect,'" Roger Federer said.