It was fairly a group of tennis luminaries sharing the black indoor laborious courtroom for a Laver Cup doubles follow session in London on Thursday.
A gaggle collectively nicknamed the Huge 4, with 66 grand slam titles between them: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on one facet of the web; Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray on the opposite.
This workforce occasion based by his administration firm marks the tip of Federer’s profession, and his final match will come on Friday night time alongside longtime rival Nadal.
They may signify Workforce Europe towards the Workforce World doubles pairing of Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock.
“I am unsure if I can deal with all of it, however I will attempt,” the 41-year-old Federer stated about what is certain to be an emotional farewell after 20 main championships.
“Sitting right here,” Federer stated at Thursday’s information 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 am going first from the fellows. It feels proper.”
Federer is ending his enjoying days following a collection of operations on his proper knee. He hasn’t competed since a quarterfinal loss at Wimbledon to Hubert Hurkacz in July 2021.
In February this 12 months, when phrase emerged that Federer could 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 throughout the first Laver Cup in 2017.
“I noticed him enjoying on TV earlier than I arrived on tour. I noticed him having success on TV, after which (we had been) capable of create an incredible rivalry collectively. And however, one thing that in all probability we’re very pleased with is having a pleasant rivalry,” Nadal stated.
“Tomorrow goes to be a particular factor. Tough. Going to be troublesome to deal with all the pieces, particularly for Roger, undoubtedly. However for me, too. On the finish, one of the vital gamers – if not a very powerful participant – in my tennis profession is leaving.”
They performed one another in singles 40 occasions (Nadal gained 26), together with 14 in grand slams (Nadal gained 10).
Nadal got here out on high of their traditional 2008 Wimbledon remaining, thought-about by some the best match in historical past; Federer gained their final showdown, within the 2019 semifinals on the All England Membership.
“To be a part of this historic second,” Nadal stated about Friday, “goes to be one thing wonderful, unforgettable.”
Tiafoe, a 24-year-old American who beat Nadal en path to his first Grand Slam semifinal on the US Open this month, deadpanned: “Yeah, I am simply excited to play two up-and-comers tomorrow.”
He added: “It may be iconic to be part of that. Each guys are absolute legends. And clearly, (it is) Roger’s final dance.”
The total line-up for Day 1 of the three-day Laver Cup was introduced on Thursday.
The singles matches will probably be Sock towards Casper Ruud of Workforce Europe, Diego Schwartzman of Workforce World towards 2021 French Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Australia’s Alex de Minaur of Workforce World towards three-time main champion Murray, earlier than the Federer-Nadal doubles match closes the schedule.
Everybody is aware of what the principle occasion will probably be: Federer’s goodbye.
“For me,” Murray stated, “it feels proper seeing him and Rafa on the identical facet of the web collectively.”