Roger Federer will play his last professional match alongside the biggest rival of his career, Rafael Nadal.
The legendary Swiss announced his retirement last week and will play his final professional match at the Laver Cup.
Playing alongside Nadal, he will represent Team Europe, facing Americans Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock representing Team World.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion said he will only play one match, and that 26-year-old Matteo Berrettini from Italy will take his place for the rest of the competition. This is due to Federer’s ongoing injury issues.
Friday will not be the first time Nadal and Federer find themselves on the same side of the court. They played together at the very first Laver Cup in 2017, and Sock was also one of their opponents.
Before that, they had only practiced together once, because, as Federer said back then, they were “always and forever be rivals” as long as they were both active.
On Thursday’s press conference, Nadal described their tennis relationship as a “friendly rivalry” and said seeing Federer leave won’t be easy.
“Tomorrow is going to be a special thing,” Nadal said. “I think a very difficult one. It’s going to be difficult to handle everything especially for Roger without a doubt, for me too. One of the most important players, if not the most important player in my tennis career is leaving. This moment is going to be difficult. Of course, I am super excited and grateful to play with him.”
In total, Federer and Nadal have met 40 times over the course of their careers, 14 of those in Grand Slams. They gave fans instant classics such as the 2008 Wimbledon Final.
“Most of us have watched and admired Rogers’ success and achievements… we will do our best to contribute to the team and have a good performance, but at the same time, marvel and celebrate his career because he deserves it in a great way,” Djokovic said.
Federer and Nadal are set to play on Friday’s night session, which begins at 2 p.m. ET. Their match is likely to start around 4 p.m. ET.