By HOWARD FENDRICH
LONDON (AP) — It was fairly a group of tennis luminaries sharing the black indoor laborious court docket for a Laver Cup doubles apply session Thursday, 66 Grand Slam titles amongst them, a gaggle collectively nicknamed the Big Four: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on one aspect of the online; Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray on the opposite.
This group occasion based by his administration firm marks the tip of Federer’s profession, and his final match will come Friday evening alongside longtime rival Nadal for Team Europe towards the Team World doubles pairing of Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock.
“I’m not sure if I can handle it all. But I’ll try,” the 41-year-old Federer stated about his sure-to-be-emotional on-court farewell after 20 main championships, a complete of 103 event titles and lots of of weeks at No. 1 throughout practically 1 / 4 of a century as knowledgeable tennis participant.
“Sitting here,” Federer stated Thursday at a group news convention, with Nadal, who’s 36, to his left, and Djokovic and Murray, each 35, a few seats right down to his proper, “it feels good that I go first from the guys. It feels right.”
Federer is ending his taking part in days following a sequence of operations on his proper knee. He hasn’t competed since a quarterfinal loss at Wimbledon to Hubert Hurkacz in July 2021.
In February of this 12 months, when phrase emerged that Federer can be in London this week, he stated Nadal messaged him suggesting they play doubles collectively once more. They teamed as much as win a doubles match in the course of the first Laver Cup in 2017.
“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 stated Thursday. “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.”
They performed one another in singles 40 instances (Nadal received 26), together with 14 Grand Slam matchups (Nadal received 10). Nadal got here out on prime of their traditional 2008 Wimbledon last, thought of by some the best match in historical past; Federer received their final showdown, within the 2019 semifinals on the All England Club.
“To be part of this historic moment,” Nadal stated about Friday, “is going to be something amazing, unforgettable.”
Tiafoe, a 24-year-old American who beat Nadal en path to his first Grand Slam semifinal on the U.S. Open this month, deadpanned: “Yeah, I’m just excited to play two up-and-comers tomorrow.”
Added Tiafoe: “It’s going to be iconic to be a part of that. Both guys are absolute legends. And obviously, (it’s) Roger’s last dance.”
The full lineup for Day 1 of the three-day Laver Cup was introduced Thursday.
The singles matches will probably be Sock towards two-time 2022 Grand Slam finalist Casper Ruud of Team Europe, Diego Schwartzman of Team World towards 2021 French Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas of Team Europe, and Alex de Minaur of Team World towards three-time main champion Murray, earlier than the Federer-Nadal doubles match closes the schedule.
Everyone is aware of what the primary occasion will probably be: Federer’s goodbye.
“For me,” Murray stated, “it feels right seeing him and Rafa on the same side of the net together.”
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