Federer Laver Cup retirement had knock-on effect to team’s emotions

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Team Europe’s captain Bjorn Borg has admitted that the nerves were high as Roger Federer played his final match at the Laver Cup on Friday. The former world No 1 brought his 24-year career to a close with his biggest rival Rafael Nadal by his side as the pair teamed up for a doubles match, losing to Team World’s Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe.

A week before the start of the Laver Cup, Federer announced that he had chosen to end his career at the team tournament in a lengthy statement posted to social media. After three knee surgeries in the span of 18 months and more than a year away from the game, the 41-year-old said he was being forced to listen to his body.

It was still touch-and-go for the Swiss star, who didn’t know whether he would even be able to play a match at the Laver Cup until the last minute thanks to his troublesome right knee. In the end, Federer opted to play one doubles match before withdrawing from his required singles tie the next day with alternate Matteo Berrettini subbing in.

And Team Europe’s captain Bjorn Borg has now revealed that Federer had some nerves going into his final match, as he chose to have his long-time friend and rival Nadal by his side for his last dance. “He was a bit nervous,” the 11-time Grand Slam winner told Eurosport. 

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Although ‘Fedal’ suffered defeat in the 41-year-old’s final match and cost the team a point on day one, their captain was still full of pride despite Team Europe eventually losing the Laver Cup for the first time in its five-year history. Borg added: “He hasn’t played a match or a tournament for so long. But he did incredibly well.”

“They had a good chance of winning. But he was just supposed to enjoy himself. In that situation with the fans, so many people around the world watching him, I just told him to enjoy and be happy.”

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And the Swedish icon also touched on the emotions displayed after his match, with the now-famous scenes of Federer and Nadal holding hands and crying together on their player bench. “It’s completely normal,” the 66-year-old said after Federer and his rivals were left in tears when his career finally came to a close. 

“He’s been in the tennis business for so many years. But this guy was amazing and he’s such a great person too. Roger is a good friend and he’s one of the greats. He has always promoted tennis in an incredible way around the world.”

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