Roger Federer bowed out of tennis as the Swiss ended his iconic career with  4-6, 7-6(2), 11-9 loss in doubles alongside longtime rival Rafael Nadal at the Laver Cup early Saturday. 

The exit of the 20-time Grand Slam champion who is retiring at age 41 after three knee surgeries in recent seasons, leaves Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the Tour mix.

Federer and Nadal, playing for the Europe side against the World, went down in a thriller to Americans Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe after holding a match point in the tiebreak third set.. 

Fans at the sold-out O2 arena greeted the Federer-Nadal combination with  rapturous cheers from the moment they stepped onto the court in East London as the end of a tennis era approached.

On the Team Europe bench were Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, remaining two members of the fabled Big 4 which has dominated the sport for a tennis generation.

Europe go into Day two of the weekend level 2-2, with Saturday wins yielding two points each instead of one as on opening day.

Federer, always emotional, shed some tears at the end as he engaged with multiple hugs with teammates and opponents alike.

The 41-year-old with 20 Grand Slam titles will remain a presence in the sport in an as-yet undefined capacity.

His parting speech during an emotional on-court tribute was an exercise in controlling his flowing emotions.

“I’m just happy to play tennis and spend time with friends,” Federer said “It’s been the perfect journey – I’d do it all over again

“With so many people cheering me on tonight, it means the world,” he told 17,500 fans packed into the sold-out arena.

The Swiss who is father of two sets of twins, broke down when thanking his family and his parents.”The girls are here, the boys are here and so is my wife, who has been so supportive.

“She could have stopped me a long time ago, but she kept me going, it’s amazing. 

“There are too many people to thanks, it’s just incredible.”

“It’s been a wonderful day, I’m happy, not sad,” he said. “It feels great to be here.

“I enjoyed tying my shoes for the last time – everything was the last time.

“With my teammates, friends and family here it didn’t feel like so much stress.

“It’s been wonderful. playing all these Laver cups, it’s been a pleasure, it feels like a celebration for me.

“This is exactly how I hoped it would be.”

Federer and Nadal secured the opening set with a break in the final game, but Nadal lost serve in the second to give World a 2-1 margin. But Federer and Nadal clawed that back for 3-all.

The veteran crowd-pleasers fought off six break points in the 11th game to lead 6-5; but the eusing tiebreak went to World 7-2/

The deciding third set was played in the Laver super-tiebreak format, with Europe failing on a match point at 9-8 before World took advantage of their first winning chance.

Main photo:- Roger Federer losing his iast match – ATPTour


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