Tennis world erupts over Rafa Nadal act during Roger Federer farewell

Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were both in tears after their match at the Laver Cup. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were both in tears after their match at the Laver Cup. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

The sight of Rafa Nadal breaking down in tears during Roger Federer's farewell has sent tennis fans over the edge.

Federer and Nadal teamed up in a doubles match at the Laver Cup on Friday for the last match of Federer's storied career.

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The Swiss legend was unable to bring the curtain down on his illustrious career with one final victory, after he and Nadal suffered defeat at the hands of Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock.

Federer saw his 'dream' finale ruined in a 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 11-9 loss to dampen the spirits of fans at the O2 Arena in London.

The 41-year-old broke down in tears as he embraced his European teammates, including long-time friend and rival Nadal.

However there were staggering scenes when Nadal also burst into tears while sitting alongside Federer.

The Spanish champion appeared to feel the full weight of the emotional scenes as he wept into his hands while Federer farewelled the sport that has given him so much.

"It's been a perfect journey," Federer said as he again cried during an on-court interview.

"I would do it all over again. It's been a wonderful day. I told the guys I'm happy, not sad.

"I am so happy I made it through. The match was great and it's been wonderful.

"Having Rafa here and all the legends - Rocket (Rod Laver), Stefan Edberg - thank you."

Roger Federer in heartbreaking scenes after final match

There were more emotional scenes when Federer embraced wife Mirka and their four children, before his Europe teammates hoisted him on their shoulders to the adoration of spectators.

While Laver Cup rules state that every player on each roster must play at least one singles match, Federer bows out after only playing doubles.

He will make way for Matteo Berrettini after bending the rules at the tournament he helped create in Rod Laver's honour.

The match was Federer's first in 14 months after he underwent a third knee surgery following a loss in the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2021.

Roger Federer, pictured here being applauded by his teammates after the final match of his career at the Laver Cup.
Roger Federer is applauded by his teammates after the final match of his career at the Laver Cup. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

The 20-time grand slam champion had initially planned to keep playing beyond the Laver Cup, even hinting at one final swansong at Wimbledon next year.

However it became apparent to Federer that the knee wasn't going to hold up to the rigours of singles tennis, forcing him to announce his retirement before he wanted to and only play doubles in London.

A couple of hours before Friday's match, Federer tweeted: "I've done this thousands of times, but this one feels different. Thank you to everybody who's coming tonight."

Federer's substantial resume includes 20 grand slams, 310 weeks at No.1 in the ATP rankings, a Davis Cup title and Olympic medals.

Beyond the elegance and effectiveness he wielded with a racquet, his persona made him an ambassador for tennis, someone whose immense popularity helped attract a plethora of new fans to the game.

with AAP

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