Roger Federer on Monday spoke about his Laver Cup photograph with Rafael Nadal that has gone viral.
Shortly after playing his final professional tennis match, partnering Nadal in a doubles loss to Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe at the Laver Cup at The O2 Arena in London, the Swiss maestro could be seen crying and holding the Spaniard’s hand while the two were sat on the courtside bench.
In an interview with The New York Times, Federer said, “It was a short moment. I think at one point, I was sobbing so hard, and I don’t know, everything was going through my mind about how happy I am to actually experience this moment right there with everybody. And I think that’s what was so beautiful about just sitting there, taking it all in while the music was playing, and the focus was maybe more on her [the singer Ellie Goulding].
“So, you almost forgot that you’re still being taken pictures of. I guess at one point, just because obviously I couldn’t speak and the music was there, I guess I just touched him, and I guess it’s maybe a secret thank you. I don’t know what it was, but for me, that’s maybe what it was and how it felt and some pictures came out of it. Different ones. Not just that one but other ones, too, that were just completely crazy, you know, so with different angles, and I hope to get those because they mean a lot to me.
Federer also mentioned how Nadal agreed to come for his farewell match despite his wife’s pregnancy. He said, “I called him after the US Open — I waited for him to finish that tournament — just to let him know about my retirement.
“And I just wanted to let him know before he started making some plans without the Laver Cup at all. I told him on the phone that I was probably 50-50 or 60-40 on making the doubles. I told him, ‘Look, I’ll keep you posted. You let me know how things are at home. And we’ll reconnect.’
“But it very quickly got clear on the phone, and Rafa told me, ‘I will try everything I possibly can to be there with you.’
Federer and Nadal had an iconic rivalry on-court but off-court, the two have always maintained a friendly relationship. “Yes, it’s hard, and it’s brutal sometimes, but it’s always fair. And you can come out on the other side and still have this great, friendly rivalry. I just thought it ended up even better than I ever thought it would. So, an incredible effort by Rafa, and I’ll obviously never forget what he did for me in London,” said the 41-year-old Federer.