Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the Laver Cup after being paired with Roger Federer for the final match of the Swiss star's career on Friday.

Federer had announced he would be retiring following the tournament and was then only fit to feature in one doubles match.

But that gave the Swiss great the opportunity to team up with Nadal, with the duo falling to a narrow and entertaining 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 11-9 loss to Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe at the O2 Arena.

That defeat marked the end of Federer's involvement in the Laver Cup, and Nadal's participation is over for this year, too.

Nadal has been dealing with an abdominal injury in the second half of this season, with the issue notably seeing him miss a Wimbledon semi-final against Nick Kyrgios.

However, the Laver Cup, announcing the Spaniard's absence from the weekend's play on Saturday, made no reference to any ailment, saying he had pulled out "for personal reasons".

Cameron Norrie took Nadal's place in the tournament and was set to face Taylor Fritz.

A tearful Rafael Nadal said "an important part of my life is leaving" after partnering Roger Federer for the final match of the Swiss great's career at the Laver Cup in London.

The last match of Federer's career saw him partner with his great rival Nadal to play doubles for Team Europe on Friday, taking on American duo Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe at the O2 Arena.

Despite taking the first set, Nadal and Federer ultimately fell to an entertaining 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 11-9 loss before watching a series of tributes to the Swiss maestro, who also had an on-court interview and was embraced by his team-mates, opponents, family and friends.

Nadal, one of just two male players with more grand slam wins than Federer's 20 (22, also Novak Djokovic with 21), was seen to be in tears as he sat next to the retiring star during the post-match tributes.

During the match, he also showed signs of nerves due to the scale of the occasion and later declared he would hugely miss his long-time rival. 

"It has been a difficult day to handle every single thing, and at the end everything became super emotional," Nadal said. 

"For me, it has been a huge honour to be a part of this amazing moment of the history of our sport. 

"When Roger leaves the tour, an important part of my life is leaving too because of all the moments that he has been next to me or in front of me in important moments of my life.

"So, I have been emotional to see the family, see all the people. Difficult to describe, but amazing moment."

An emotional Roger Federer bid farewell to the game he loves following Friday's Laver Cup doubles loss alongside long-time rival Rafael Nadal, calling his send-off "exactly what I hoped for".

Federer and Nadal went head-to-head with American duo Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe in the 20-time grand slam champion's last ever match, but after taking the first set, the megastars lost a second-set tie-break as well as the match tie-break for a 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 11-9 result.

The 41-year-old was then given the stage to reflect on his incredible journey to becoming one of the greatest players to ever grace the court.

After sharing his fear that he would not be able to get any words out due to the emotions of the moment, he said it was a perfect way to wrap up a perfect career.

"It's been a wonderful day," he said. "I told the guys I'm happy, I'm not sad. It feels great to be here, and I enjoyed tying my shoes one more time, and everything was the last time.

"Funny enough, with all the matches, and having the guys, and being here with fans, family and friends – I didn't feel the stress so much, even though I did think something was going to go. Pop a calf, or lock my back or something.

"I'm so happy to make it through, the match was great, I couldn't be happier. It's been wonderful.

"Of course, playing with Rafa on the same team, and having the guys all here, the legends… thank you."

With Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray among those in the Team Europe corner, Federer said it was a special feeling to get to share his finish line with other icons of the sport.

"It's amazing, it really is," he said. "I didn't want it to feel lonely out there… to be saying goodbye in a team, I always felt I was a team player at heart.

"Singles doesn't really do that a whole lot, but I've had a team that travels with me around the world, that's been amazing with them.

"It does feel like a celebration to me. I wanted to feel like this at the end, and it's exactly what I hoped for, so thank you."

When asked to reflect on his legacy and standing in the game, Federer became overwhelmed with emotion, saying "it was never supposed to be that way".

"I was just happy to play tennis, and spend time with my friends really," he said. "And it ends here. It has been a perfect journey and I would do it all over again.

"It's been great. It's been so much fun. It's been amazing."

A tearful Roger Federer bid goodbye to a 25-year career with defeat at the Laver Cup in a doubles contest that went past midnight in London.

Federer teamed with long-time rival Rafael Nadal against American duo Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock as Team Europe face Team World at the O2 Arena.

After winning the first set, the Swiss and the Spaniard were faced with a spirited fightback from Tiafoe and Sock, who won a second-set tie-break before also clinching the match tie-break to seal victory 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 11-9.

There had been a great atmosphere in London on Friday for the fifth edition of the three-day competition.

Federer, 41, had not played a match since he was knocked out of Wimbledon by Hubert Hurkacz at the quarter-final stage last year due to knee injury.

There were huge cheers when Federer and Nadal came onto the court and loud roars for the Swiss great when he came up with his first winner.

There was a sensational moment in the first set when Federer appeared to have won a point after his shot hit the top of the net and bounced in, only for a replay to show the ball had somehow been hit through a small hole between the net and the post, meaning Team Europe lost the point, despite the remarkably unlikely event of the ball passing through such a gap.

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were among Federer and Nadal's team-mates offering some tactical input between games, and the legendary duo had to save a first break point of the match before the Spaniard held to put them 5-4 up.

It was two of the all-time greats that took a tight opening set when Sock put a volley into the net, prompting Team World captain John McEnroe to tell his doubles pair they appeared to be getting "caught up in the hoopla." 

A determined Team World managed to level it up after a back-and-forth second set went to a tie-break, with Tiafoe and Sock coming out on top with their superior power and pace.

That took it to a dramatic deciding match tie-break, with every point keeping fans holding their breath, including some trademark Federer magic at 6-7 when he diverted a Sock shot across court for a crowd-pleasing winner.

It looked like the dream script was being followed as Federer served at match point for himself and Nadal, but the former could only hit a shot into the net, before Sock and Tiafoe won the next two points to secure the win for Team World.

It was then hugs all round as respect was paid to the 20-time grand slam winner at the conclusion of a phenomenal career. 

Earlier in the day, Casper Ruud drew first blood for the Team Europe, beating Sock 6-4 5-7 10-7, before Stefanos Tsitsipas doubled their advantage with an emphatic 6-2 6-1 defeat of Diego Schwartzman.

There was drama after the first set of that second singles match when a protester, wearing a T-shirt with the message, "END UK PRIVATE JETS" on, set their arm alight on court before being escorted out by security. 

Alex de Minaur then got Team World on the board with a 5-7 6-3 10-7 success over home favourite Murray before the late-night main event under the lights.

A protester set their arm alight on court after breaching Laver Cup security at London's O2 Arena on the day of Roger Federer's final tennis match.

The incident occurred after the first set of the singles contest between Team Europe's Stefanos Tsitsipas and Team World's Diego Schwartzman.

The person who dashed onto the indoor court was wearing a white T-shirt that carried the message, "END UK PRIVATE JETS".

Another item on the court was also ablaze by the time security reached the person.

The protester put out the flames on their right arm, while a tournament official quickly smothered the fire on the court.

The End UK Private Jets campaign group said on its Twitter page: "Kai, 20, set their arm on fire at #LaverCup. The liveable climate of our planet is collapsing. No one is taking it seriously. Is humanity not worth saving? Let's get into resistance against this death machine."

Swiss great Federer was due in action later in the day in doubles, teaming up with Rafael Nadal for the last match of his career, as they took on Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe.

 

Rafael Nadal is "definitely the next on the list" to retire as middle age catches up with the 'Big Three' of men's tennis, according to Marion Bartoli.

Former Wimbledon champion Bartoli expects Nadal to call it a day in 2023, following the lead of Roger Federer who has chosen the Laver Cup as his farewell tournament.

This weekend's showpiece in London is marking the end of the Swiss great's stellar career, after complications with a knee injury left the 41-year-old resigned to his fate.

Amid the attention on Federer, conversation is turning to how long his great rivals might have left at the top, with Nadal's ongoing foot trouble seemingly making him a prime candidate to step off the tour and give his body a rest.

Speaking to Stats Perform, Bartoli said: "I think he's very much definitely thinking about retirement. His wife is also about to give birth to his first child; that's a huge change in life for anybody.

"And he very much has his fair amount of injuries as well over the years, and especially lately with his foot which is really something that can stop him at any moment from now on.

"I think he will give it another chance at Roland Garros next year, but I don't see him going further than 2023. I think that would be probably about it. I think Rafa is closer to retirement than Novak.

"I think Novak has been able, with being vegan and taking care of his body and obviously because of COVID reasons, he hasn't played that much for the last three years really."

Nadal and Djokovic have inched ahead of Federer on the list of men's all-time grand slam singles champions. Federer was the first to reach 20, but Djokovic has 21 now and Nadal leads the way with a haul of 22 majors.

Bartoli, who was a shock Wimbledon winner in 2013, pointed out that Djokovic, who at 35 is a year younger than Nadal, could have several years left to push the slam record ever higher.

"He monitors those records so badly that I think he will be probably more looking to 2024, maybe 2025 [for his retirement]," Bartoli said of the Serbian. "I think Rafa is definitely the next one on the list."

Bartoli expects Djokovic to finish top of the pile in the men's game, providing he is allowed to compete at future editions of the Australian Open and US Open, having been barred from both in 2022 because of his refusal to accept a COVID-19 vaccination.

"From a tennis analytics point of view, and looking obviously at the strengths of Novak on hardcourts and at the Australian Open and at Wimbledon, it looks like he will end up at the top," said the Frenchwoman.

"But then the problem is about the vaccine, and this is something I just can't reply on. Because if he keeps on having only two chances out of four every single year, that's a totally different story.

"So there is that question mark on such an important thing. If he plays four out of four every single year, yes, I think he will finish on top of everybody. If he can play a full schedule because everything reopened normally then I sincerely think he's going to end up on the top."

Djokovic is hopeful he will be allowed into Australia in January of next year, having been deported from Melbourne at the beginning on this season amid high controversy.

There was previously considered to be a 'Big Four' at the peak of the men's game, but Andy Murray could not keep pace with the slam-winning feats of his rivals.

Bartoli said she remembered how "the whole country exploded" in Britain when Murray won in 2013 at Wimbledon, a first home champion in the men's singles for 77 years.

She was "so happy" Murray could carry on his career after undergoing hip surgery, having at one point planned to retire after Wimbledon in the 2019 season.

Now Bartoli suspects three-time slam champion Murray, 35, could last longer than Nadal on the ATP Tour.

"His fitness level has really improved, so I think he looks to retire for me further than Rafa," Bartoli said. "I think Rafa will be the first one, and probably Andy and then Novak."

Novak Djokovic does not regret missing out on the US Open due to his vaccination stance and is waiting to discover if he will be allowed to compete in the 2022 Australian Open.

The 21-time grand slam winner missed two of this year's four majors owing to his decision to not be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Though Djokovic was able to extend his record at Wimbledon, he lost joint control of the outright Open Era title for most men's single majors to Rafael Nadal, after the latter won in Australia and then at the French Open.

Carlos Alcaraz, meanwhile, won a maiden grand slam to become the new world number one with victory at Flushing Meadows earlier this month.

Djokovic was barred from entering the USA on vaccination grounds, but speaking ahead of this week's Laver Cup, the Serbian says he does not rue his choice.

"No, I don't have any regrets," he said. "I mean, I do feel sad that I wasn't able to play but that was a decision that I made, and I knew what the consequences would be. I accepted them and that's it."

Djokovic was quick to hail teenager Alcaraz, congratulating the Spaniard for his victory, and adding: "He did it in an incredible fashion. He's 19 years old and already the number one in the world.

"I think he's a great addition to our sport, a great star in the making. We can't speak about him as the future because he is already the present."

Djokovic's 2022 started in less than auspicious circumstances when, having been granted an exception to compete in Australia despite the nation's strict COVID-19 protocols, he was subsequently deported.

Questions over whether he would even be allowed back in the country remain up in the air, but the Serbian is hopeful of a reprieve.

"I'm waiting for the news," he added. "It's really not in my hands right now. So I'm hoping I can get some positive news soon."

Rafael Nadal is thrilled to have the chance to play alongside the retiring Roger Federer in the Laver Cup on Friday.

Swiss ace Federer will partner fellow all-timer Nadal in the doubles, the man from Basle bringing an end to an illustrious career in the company of his greatest rival.

The prospect of being a team-mate on court with Federer in London is something that will be "unforgettable" for Nadal.

"After all the amazing things that we shared together on and off the court, to be part of this historic moment, it's going to be something amazing and unforgettable for me," Nadal said in Thursday's press conference.

"I hope I can have a good time playing at a decent level and hopefully together we can create a good moment and maybe win a match.

"But I hope that the crowd will be supporting a lot. I'm super excited to be here with the team and of course to be on the court and having Roger next to me one more time will be something that I am very looking forward to.

"We were able to create an amazing rivalry together, and on the other hand, something that we are probably very proud [to have had], I have been a friendly rival which is not easy sometimes because we are playing for such important things for our tennis careers.

"But at the same time, we were able to understand that in the end personal relationships are more important than sometimes professional things, and we were able to handle it I think the proper way.

"Tomorrow it's going to be a special thing. I think it will be difficult to handle everything, especially for Roger, without a doubt, but for me too. One of the most important players, if not the most important player, in my tennis career is leaving and to leave at this moment will be difficult."

Federer is also looking forward to the match and partnering with Nadal, though he concedes it will be a difficult test as the Team Europe pair tackle Team World's Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock.

"Of course, it's super special playing with Rafa," Federer said.

"It feels really different. Also just walking out on the court and having the chance to play with the likes of Rafa or Novak also in the past has been an amazing experience for me.

"So, to be able to do that one more time, I'm sure it's going to be wonderful. I'll try my very best and I hope to be good out there. And of course, I'll enjoy it but it will be hard."

Roger Federer's final match of his tennis career will see him pair up with Rafael Nadal in doubles at the Laver Cup on Friday.

Swiss great Federer made clear in a press conference on Wednesday that the tie-up with Nadal was the one he wanted for his finale.

That made it practically inevitable they would be paired together, and it was confirmed on Thursday that Federer and Nadal would indeed join forces for Team Europe, to take on Team World's Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock.

Federer had said ahead of the announcement: "I think it could be quite a unique situation if it were to happen, for as long as we battled together, to having always this respect for one another, the families, our coaching teams. We always got along really well.

"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. For that reason I think it would be great."

By the time Nadal emerged as a teenage prodigy, Federer was already a grand slam champion, and their rivalry will go down as one of the greatest in tennis history.

They have met in nine grand slam finals, with Nadal winning six of those on his way to a career 24-16 winning record against Federer.

Federer, 41, is retiring after deciding the knee trouble that has plagued him in recent years will not allow him to extend his career any further. He will sign off with 20 slam singles titles, two behind Nadal, who has won the most of all men.

Federer is playing just one match at the Laver Cup, the tournament he was involved in setting up, with his big send-off coming in London, where he won eight Wimbledon titles.

This weekend's tournament is being staged at the O2 indoor venue, where Federer has previously twice won the ATP Finals.

He said of his farewell to tennis: "I'm happy to do it here in London. This city has been special to me. Maybe the most special place with Wimbledon down the road and here at the O2.

"[Having] played here and qualified for so many years and won here as well. I just thought it was very fitting."

Rafael Nadal has declared his career is "far from" over despite an injury-plagued 2022.

The 22-time grand slam champion has won both the Australian and French Opens this year despite suffering numerous injuries, while seeing other stars hang up their rackets.

Serena Williams announced her intention to retire ahead of the US Open, with Roger Federer following suit as he prepares for a farewell at this week's Laver Cup.

However, speaking after receiving the 'Camino Real Award' from King Felipe VI at the University of Alcala, the 36-year-old made it clear he does not intend to do likewise.

"It is also true that it has been a complicated year, not only because of injuries, which have followed me throughout my career, but also because of personal and family news, which in this case is very good news," he said.

"It is for this reason that, in a year full of joys and difficult moments, to receive recognition like today's is a great joy.

"I hope that this event does not imply that my career is over, far from it, or at least that is not the intention.

"The intention is to continue to carry the name of Spain around the world while I am still active and competing."

Nadal is set to compete alongside Federer at the Laver Cup in London, with Team Europe also featuring Casper Ruud, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

Team Europe have won all four previous editions of the Laver Cup, including a 14-1 thrashing of Team World in Boston last year.

Roger Federer looks set to play the final match of his tennis career on Friday after opting to only take part in doubles at the Laver Cup, and has described his great rival Rafael Nadal as his "dream" partner.

Federer is set to join the likes of Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray – the other members of tennis' 'Big Four' – in representing Team Europe at the O2 Arena in London, but his fitness issues have led to doubts over the extent of his involvement.

On Sunday, fitness coach Pierre Paganini said Federer would make "a last-minute decision" regarding the nature of his participation in the Laver Cup.

Paganini added: "His aim is to play something, though whether it's singles or doubles we'll have to see," and Federer appears to have opted for the latter option.

On Tuesday, Federer told the Swiss press he would only be appearing in doubles at the event, though his partner is yet to be revealed.

"I'm happy and surprised at how good my shots are. But I won't be able to play singles, that was pretty clear beforehand," he told NZZ.

"That's why it was no longer an option to compete at the Swiss Indoors at the end of October. I guess I'll play doubles here on Friday night and that's it."

Nadal, one of just two men's players to have won more grand slam titles than the Swiss maestro (22, also Novak Djokovic with 21) appears the most obvious candidate, with Federer telling SRF: "Maybe I can play doubles with Rafa, that would be an absolute dream."

Asked whether he had any regrets at the end of his career, Federer added: "Of course, there are smaller things, but I can't think of any examples. I see it as an absolute dream career.

"I had a relaxed childhood. If I had been a bit more professional when I was younger, I might have been more successful. 

"But then I might have burned out earlier because it would have been too serious for me." 

The Swiss great, who has won 20 grand slam singles titles, announced last week that he was to retire from tennis after battling knee injuries.

When revealing the end of his career was imminent, Federer said: "I've worked hard to return to full competitive form. But I also know my body's capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear".

 

Casper Ruud expects to be "a bit nervous" when he features alongside childhood heroes Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and the retiring Roger Federer at the Laver Cup.

Ruud is the world number two heading into the tournament, which sees Team Europe take on Team World in London, after his efforts at the US Open.

The Norwegian fell just short against Spanish teenage superstar Carlos Alcaraz in the final at Flushing Meadows.

Ruud featured at last year's Laver Cup, held in Boston, and this year is due to join up with the 'Big Four' of Djokovic, Nadal, Murray and Federer, who has announced his impending retirement at the age of 41. The quartet have won 66 grand slam titles between them.

While there are some doubts over whether Federer will be fit enough to play in his farewell tournament, with the action starting on Friday, Ruud is "honoured" to have the opportunity to play alongside his idols.

"It's going to be so special this year, having the biggest four tennis players in my childhood," Ruud said in an interview on the Laver Cup's official website.

"It's going to be an honour. [I'm] probably going to be a bit nervous when I'm out there playing in front of them, but I'll do my best and I'm very happy to be able to represent Europe in front of a crowd full of cheerful fans, and a European bench of legends."

 

Ruud has played six matches against the illustrious quartet who will now be team-mates, winning only once – against Murray in San Diego last year.

The 23-year-old has lost three times to Djokovic and once to Nadal – in the final of the French Open this season – while his sole meeting with Federer, back in 2019 at Roland Garros, went the way of the 20-time major champion.

Federer helped to create the Laver Cup but did not play in the 2021 edition due to injury. He was, however, present to support Team Europe from the stands in Boston.

"I was playing the first match of the whole [2021] Laver Cup against [Reilly] Opelka," Ruud said. "It was the first time they showed Roger on the big screen in TD Garden in Boston, and the whole crowd erupted like I never heard before.

"I can only imagine what it will be like when he's on the team and when he will enter the court."

Federer announced the decision to bring the curtain down on his 24-year playing career on Thursday, having not competed since making the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year.

Roger Federer ranks among sporting greats such as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Tom Brady.

That was the message from 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, who hailed Federer after he announced his appearance at September's Laver Cup would be his last in professional sport.

The 41-year-old won 20 grand slam titles across a legendary 24-year career, only Novak Djokovic (21) and Rafael Nadal (22) can boast more major crowns in men's tennis.

Federer has also won more men's singles main draw matches in grand slam tournaments than any other player in the Open Era (369), leaving behind a magnificent legacy as he prepares to step away from the court.

Bartoli has experienced retirement herself, having called quits on her career after a failed comeback from injury in 2018, and asked by Stats Perform whether Federer was a GOAT – greatest of all-time – Bartoli said: "Yes, he is very much in there – absolutely.

"Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, they are people that transcend their sports – they are icons.

"You go in the streets, you say Roger Federer. I'm in Dubai right now [and if] you say 'Roger Federer' everyone would know who he is. And the same for LeBron and Michael Jordan.

"When you transcend your sport and you become an icon and everyone knows who you are, that's when you know you have been one of the greatest of all time across every sport.

"Same for Serena [Williams], you can put Novak and Rafa in there as well. But it's just that amount of fame and that amount of inspiring [the next] generation."

Having spent 237 consecutive weeks ranked as number one, Federer holds the record for the longest such streak in men's singles history after a four-and-a-half-year spell at the summit.

Federer was also present in the top 10 of the men's singles rankings for 750 weeks, an unmatched number for a male player since the rankings were first published in 1973.

Regardless of Federer trailing Djokovic and Nadal for grand slam titles, Bartoli believes the Swiss remains the best of the trio due to his elegant playing style.

"It's very much depending on your own taste in a way. If you like beautiful, elegant, smooth tennis you have to go for Roger Federer," she added.

"Now obviously with Novak having 21 and Rafa having 22 grand slams, if we speak numbers only then you have two players on top of him.

"But I think it's very much a debate because it depends on the style of play you like and, that said, I absolutely love to see Novak play and win.

"I absolutely loved to see Rafa winning again at Roland Garros this year, I think it was one of the most incredible sports achievements that you can possibly witness.

"But in terms of game style, and the way he has revolutionised tennis, I think Roger was the first one. And then they pushed each other to new heights and I think that was really special to see."

While many youngsters look to emulate Federer, Djokovic and Nadal, Bartoli highlighted the importance of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, too.

"You can tell how much impact a player [has] when you see a new generation trying to copy your style. I think Pete Sampras had that impact as well as Andre Agassi on the generation of Roger, Rafa and Novak," she continued.

"Roger has had that impact on the new generation with Carlos Alcaraz. So that's why I say that he was really the first one to elevate the game to another level because he brought that dimension of his forehand when he was really almost able to play the ball wherever he wanted.

"I always remember that sentence from Andre Agassi, when he started to play against Roger saying, 'well, I never felt against anybody that I had to play on a 20-centimetre square because that's the only safe spot I can play, which is deep to Roger's back. If I play anywhere, he will take the game away from me'. [Federer] was the first one to [do that] and then obviously Rafa and Novak arrived and sought to change that and they pushed each other to new heights.

"When you have the pinnacle of the 2008 Wimbledon final and all those matches in between them that was just beyond epic for me."

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