Former world No 1 Kim Clijsters thought the viral Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal Laver Cup moment perfectly showed the appreciation the two greats have for each other. After the US Open, Federer called Nadal to let him know he was retiring after the Laver Cup and asked him if he was willing to play doubles with him.
Nadal accepted Federer's invitation and the Swiss retired by playing alongside Nadal in the final match of his career. After the match was over, the cameras caught Federer and Nadal holding hands as the Spaniard also broke down in tears while the Swiss was giving his retirement speech.
"I was crying my eyes out, especially when Mirka walked on the court and hugged him, and obviously seeing him with the players on the court and his connection with Rafa. Okay, Rafa and Novak are still playing, but I guess the connection between Rafa and Roger, just their history and you could see the appreciation for everything that they have done, what they have been able to achieve in tennis, and then also realize that this all does come to an end." Clijsters said on the Craig Shapiro podcast, as quoted on Sportskeeda.
Clijsters on Federer, Nadal: It's a lifetime friendship
Federer, 41, and 36-year-old Nadal created one of the greatest rivalries in tennis history. However, there was never anything negative between the two. "I think it was more of an appreciating kind of night.
For me to see Rafa and Roger, without a doubt, that's going to be a lifetime of friendship. They have such nice families, their parents are great, and their coaches and teams are so respectful. I always think that it really comes from a lot of that, the background, how you are brought up, to respect your opponent.
There were definitely moments [in their careers] when they were frustrated with each other but as you get older, you realize how impressive it is what they have done," Clijsters added. With Federer retired, Nadal and Novak Djokovic remain the only active Big Three group members.