The tennis world has erupted after Roger Federer has taken to the court with his three biggest rivals ahead of his farewell match at the Laver Cup.
Federer and Team Europe announced that the 20-time grand slam champion would team up with Rafa Nadal for his final ever competitive match.
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While excitement for Federer's final ever tournament has ramped up, many were awaiting Nadal's arrival in London to complete the 'Big Four' along with Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.
Nadal was back in Spain receiving the 'Camino Real Award' from King Felipe VI at the University of Alcala on Tuesday.
And for the first time ever at the Laver Cup, and the last time, Nadal arrived in London to greet Federer and the rest of Team Europe.
Then, in a tennis first for the crowd, Nadal and Federer teamed up in a practice session against Murray and Djokovic in front of a raucous 02 Arena.
Fans were in meltdown as the four tennis legends - who have a combined 66 singles grand slam titles - enjoyed a hit to prepare for the Laver Cup.
The tennis world was in awe having been granted a glimpse of the longtime rivals sharing a laugh in a moment that will resonate with fans for years to come.
But in another moment, which has sent the tennis world into a spin, Federer posted a selfie of the four heading to the Gala dinner.
In what will be the last time the four play at the same tournament together, the tennis world erupted over the nostalgic moment ahead of Federer's retirement.
Former players such as Andy Roddick and Kim Clijsters all praised the photos that mark the end of Federer's career.
Djokovic added that it was a unique experience sharing the court as teammates with his longtime rivals.
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) September 22, 2022
Man, someday these four are gonna take the show on the road on their own exhibition tour, and it’s gonna absolutely rule. https://t.co/HdCP1LKxsk
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) September 22, 2022
Once in a lifetime experience to be on the same court with these legends and rivals. Thank you @LaverCup for making it possible. Looking forward to a great weekend of tennis and a celebration of @rogerfederer’s career. @RafaelNadal @andy_murray pic.twitter.com/eMAGnbHxle
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) September 22, 2022
This makes me smile 😀 this picture is tennis history at it’s finest 🙌🏽
— Holger Rune (@holgerrune2003) September 22, 2022
This picture is awesome
— Kim Clijsters (@Clijsterskim) September 22, 2022
This is so cool
— andyroddick (@andyroddick) September 22, 2022
A Roger Federer/Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic/Andy Murray training session at the O2.
- 66 slams
- 234(!) singles matches played between them.
- 933 weeks at no.1 pic.twitter.com/LVICh5vi4K
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) September 22, 2022
What. A. Photo. ❤️
— The Olympic Games (@Olympics) September 22, 2022
Bit of a collectors’ item. Amid a cacophony of screaming Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray practising together. pic.twitter.com/5h9QhJqXaX
— Mike Dickson (@Mike_Dickson_DM) September 22, 2022
Massive Standing Ovation as Roger Federer enters Center Court at the O2 Arena for Team Europe’s open practice alongside Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Goose bumps. #Federer #LaverCup pic.twitter.com/SjCKaDWjhl
— Simon Häring (@_shaering) September 22, 2022
— Laver Cup (@LaverCup) September 22, 2022
already one of the most iconic photos in tennis https://t.co/wViDQHQX0s
— 𝕝𝕠𝕔𝕜 (@vvlockdown) September 22, 2022
— Andy Murray Fan Club (@MagicMurrayFans) September 22, 2022
Roger Federer on Rafa Nadal doubles match
The 41-year-old Federer is retiring after the Laver Cup following a series of operations on his right knee.
He hasn't competed since a quarter-final loss at Wimbledon to Hubert Hurkacz in July 2021.
Back in February of this year, when word emerged that Federer would be in London this week, he said Nadal messaged him last year suggesting they play doubles together again.
Before his final ever match, Federer admitted he was a little nervous to be playing with Nadal.
"I'm not sure if I can handle it all, but I'll try," the 20-time grand slam champ said at the press conference.
"Sitting here," Federer said at Thursday's news conference, with Nadal, who is 36, to his left, and Djokovic and Murray, both 35, a couple of seats down to his right, "it feels good that I go first from the guys. It feels right."
Nadal also admitted that tomorrow marked a special occasion for him as he says goodbye to a longtime friend on the tour.
"I saw him playing on TV before I arrived on tour. I saw him having success on TV, and then (we were) able to create an amazing rivalry together. And on the other hand, something that probably we are very proud of is having a friendly rivalry," Nadal said.
"Tomorrow is going to be a special thing. Difficult. Going to be difficult to handle everything, especially for Roger, without a doubt. But for me, too. At the end, one of the most important players - if not the most important player - in my tennis career is leaving."
Before it was officially announced the duo would play doubles, Federer added the pair share a unique friendship in the sport.
"It could be quite, I don't know, a unique situation, if it were to happen," Federer said.
"For us, as well, 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."
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