By Ricky Dimon
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will be on the same side of the net for doubles at the Laver Cup on Friday night. And then it will be over.
The highly-anticipated Federer-Nadal pairing will mark the final match of the Swiss’ legendary career after he announced his upcoming retirement last week. Although Federer’s ongoing knee problems will not allow him to play singles at the O2 Arena in London this weekend, it was confirmed that he is good to go for doubles when the Day 1 schedule of play was released on Thursday afternoon.
Following three singles rubbers, Federer and Nadal will represent Team Europe in doubles against Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe of Team World.
“I think [playing with Nadal] could be obviously a special moment,” Federer said during a pre-tournament press conference before it was confirmed. “For us to go through a career that we both have had and to come out on the other side and being able to have a nice relationship, I think is maybe a great message as well to not just tennis but sports and maybe even beyond. For that reason I think it would be great.”
Now it’s a sure thing.
“I am not sure if I will be able to handle it all, but I will try,” the 41-year-old Swiss commented. “I’ve had some tough moments in the past, being horribly nervous. This match feels a whole lot different. Playing with Rafa feels really different.”
“(It’s) gonna be difficult to handle everything, especially for Roger, without a doubt,” Nadal added. “For me, too. At the end, one of the most important players–if not most important player in my tennis career–is leaving. (To) live this moment will be difficult. Of course I am super excited and grateful to play with him.
“After all the amazing things that we shared together on and off court, to be part of this historic moment [will be] unforgettable for me. I hope I can play at a good level. Hopefully together we can create a good moment and hopefully win a match.”
Federer and Nadal have teamed up at the Laver Cup once before, defeating Sock and Sam Querrey 6-4, 1-6, 10-5 at the 2017 event in Prague. Team Europe is 4-0 all time in this competition after destroying Team World 14-1 last year in Boston.
Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.