Roger Federer: The fans are the centre of everything
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Rafael Nadal’s tears continued long after Roger Federer walked off court at the Laver Cup last week. On Friday night, in what proved a dramatic clash, the two old rivals teamed up together to play doubles for Team Europe against the Team World pairing of Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe.
Amid a frenzied atmosphere in The O2 Arena, the clash went past midnight, but there was no fairytale finish as the two icons agonisingly went down 11-9 in the deciding tie-break. Afterwards, the Swiss maestro gave an emotional speech on the microphone, with Nadal himself appearing to break down.
The pair were afforded a round of applause in the press room afterwards, before the Spaniard returned home the following morning to be with his pregnant wife. Federer meanwhile, remained in London to support his team, but it was Team World who prevailed to claim the Laver Cup for the first time.
Nadal has since admitted he had plans to withdraw from the event having struggled at the tail-end of the season with a rib injury, Federer’s impending retirement prompted a u-turn. And it seems the magnitude of the occasion was still getting to him when he left the arena.
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A post on Reddit claimed the 22-time Grand Slam champion was soon in tears again: “Rafa cried again when he went back to his hotel room and reiterated that his tears had 0 to do with his own longevity and 100% to do with Roger.”
Tennis fans seemed heartened by the post, with @seagraze saying: “I still can’t believe how much they appreciate each other. Like, it’s obvious that they like each other but it’s still surreal seeing how much Roger means to Rafa.”
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@lokeshj wrote: “Their rivalry was one of the most intense in tennis or any sport in general. If they hated each other it would have been unsurprising. A begrudging respect might be the best we can expect from such a rivalry. But to have so much love and admiration is definitely surreal.”
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