The image is striking. Two adversaries, who have fueled one of the greatest rivalries in sports history, holding back their sobs hand in hand. The evening promised to be difficult for Roger Federer, came to bow out on Friday evening during a double of his Laver Cup. But it was also for the one he had chosen as a partner, Rafael Nadal. The Swiss and the Spaniard, who faced each other 40 times on the circuit, ended the career of the first with the same emotion.
For the Basel, who had just hit his last ball as a professional player, the tears rose quickly. Time to hug the members of Team Europe, its captain and their opponents from Team World. The former world No. 1 did not really know where to stand, hesitating to get the public's ovation before coming onto the court under "Roger, Roger" more and more powerful to greet those who had come to accompany its last fires.
Roger Federer after the game. (P. Lahalle/The Team)
"Roger leaving the circuit, it's an important part of my life that is also going away"
It was when he sat down, alongside Nadal for the performance of singer Ellie Goulding, that the two men fell in love together. “Roger leaving the circuit is an important part of my life that is also leaving, because all the times he was next to or in front of me were important moments in my life”, then explained the Mallorcan at a press conference. He has even "shaken" at the start of the game on his first service game, he admitted. And he melted in front of his rival's tears.
Federer, he had to find the words on the court to say goodbye into the microphones. His voice cracked. And when he was asked a question about his family, he wasn't really sure he could continue: “Do we really have to talk about this? ». He struggled to conclude, in a speech interspersed with sobs and which tore tears from many spectators present in the stands. The Swiss was almost surprised to manage to align three months. "In my idea, I didn't even think I was able to speak so I'm not doing too badly"he said, trying to smile.
The microphone returned, he hugged his wife, Mirka who " could have [l]'stop a long, long time ago but [l]'pushed to continue', his four children and his parents. And then he made a last lap of honor alone to salute the still very well-stocked O2 Arena 30 minutes after the end of the double, lost by the “Fedal” pair against Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe. But the important result ultimately very little, the main thing was in the moments that followed and which happened as he wanted, surrounded by his relatives and his rivals.