Tennis fans erupted in anger on Sunday after Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal from the Laver Cup robbed them of a much-anticipated doubles pairing with Roger Federer.
Federer and Nadal were scheduled to team up in the final doubles match of the three-day team event in Geneva.
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It would have been just the second time in their storied careers that the tennis legends have played on the same side of the net.
However Nadal left everyone feeling a bit flat when he was forced to withdraw from his final two matches - the other a singles showdown with Nick Kyrgios.
"I've had an amazing time playing at the Laver Cup and I'm so disappointed I'm not able to play again today, but I have some inflammation in my hand and I need to rest," Nadal said in a statement.
"The atmosphere has been amazing in Geneva and of course I'm going to be there courtside today for all my teammates and do everything I can to support them and help Team Europe win the Laver Cup."
Federer instead played with Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas, the new pairing beaten by the Americans 5-7 6-4 10-8.
While fans understood that Nadal wouldn’t want to risk further injury, they were left raging at the decision to have him play four matches in a row.
The World No.2 teamed with Tsitsipas for a doubles clash with Kyrgios and Sock on Saturday before backing up for a singles match against Milos Raonic.
He was then scheduled to play the first two matches on Sunday - which evidently proved too much.
Fans felt the scheduling should have been done differently to have Federer and Nadal’s doubles match earlier in the event.
Some took to social media bemoaning the fact they’d paid good money for tickets just to see a ‘Fedal’ doubles pairing.
I’m really loving this #LaverCup especially those moments between Roger & Rafa but I seriously don’t get the schedule. Yesterday Rafa played 2 consecutive games in the night session & he starts today with 2 games. Guess it’s a bit unfair, will be more exhausted. 4 in row.— Rayane Moussallem (@RioMoussallem) September 22, 2019
So the Logical-Obvious question is why did you put him in playing 2 consecutive matches yesterday and schedule the same today, instead of protecting him so we could watch #Fedal??— Stella. E. (@EL_Tamv) September 22, 2019
This is on you. It’s absurd having him play back-to-back matches last night and a meaningless doubles match with Tsitsipas. Should’ve rested him for today, the match EVERYONE wanted to see.— Saoud (@SaoudSays) September 22, 2019
Why did he play so many matches? It was Saturday and you need big crowd pullers to play. Why will he not play today? Injured and must give a chance to rest of the world to make this event look more competitive and logical. I don't understand the LaverCup logic? #Playershealth— Sandeep Mohanty (@amisandeep1) September 22, 2019
Sorry but @LaverCup = Fedal. People pay/watch not to see who wins but to watch Fedal interact and play together! Seeing that his wrist was strapped from day 1, they should have saved him for the ONE MATCH THAT MATTERS -- Fedal doubles 😭😭😭— agnesdominique (@Agnes_Dominique) September 22, 2019
Wishing @RafaelNadal a speedy recovery. In hindsight, playing Rafa in back to back matches last night wasn’t a good idea.— Rich Jacobs 🎾 (@richardjacobs1) September 22, 2019
Who’s decision was it ? The mute statue “captain” Borg?? EVERYBODY paid hundreds or thousands of Euros to see Fedal!! This was the most waited game ever regardless who wins this meaningless tournament! Next time save Rafa and Roger and put that Roberto Augut Batista to sweat 🤨— rogerio carvalho (@rogercarv) September 22, 2019
We only wanted to see Roger n Rafa play together. So unfortunate 😢— CR7 Rap Rhymes (@cr7raprhymes) September 22, 2019
why put him back to back matches? Now we don't have Fedal!— Fevva (@Feevva) September 22, 2019
4 matches within 24 hours were too much anyway. He’s only human after all.— Özge (@ozgeymz) September 22, 2019
Zverev and Federer orchestrate stunning comeback
Alexander Zverev snatched the Laver Cup for Team Europe as he beat Raonic in the final rubber of three days of action.
With Australia's Nick Kyrgios and Rafa Nadal both withdrawing at the start of the day through injury and Roger Federer suffering a doubles defeat, it looked as though John McEnroe's Team World would take the title.
But after Federer beat John Isner, Germany's Zverev kept his cool in an electrifying atmosphere to beat Raonic 6-4 3-6 10-4.
It gave Europe a 13-11 overall win and sparked wild celebrations with captain Bjorn Borg, Federer and Nadal racing on to the charcoal-coloured court to swamp Zverev.
"It was an unbelievable weekend," Zverev told ATP.com.
"My team was screaming at me in the locker room before the match tie-break, saying this is how I could turn my season around.
"Without all of these guys on the bench, I couldn't have done it. This is very special, especially playing in front of those guys and having them trust me to play the last match."
Borg's Europe have now won the title in each of the three years the team event has been staged.
"Team World came once again very close but we won the right points and had maybe a little bit of luck," Swede Borg said.
"I'm very proud of my team, they did a hell of a job. I'm a very happy captain."
The event, sanctioned by the men's ATP tour for the first time this year, will be staged in Boston in 2020.