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Federer Retires with Emotional Farewell at Laver Cup an Inspired Team Europe takes the lead

Switzerland’s Roger Federer sheds a tear during an interview after playing his final match, a doubles with Spain’s Rafael Nadal of Team Europe against USA’s Jack Sock and USA’s Frances Tiafoe of Team World in the 2022 Laver Cup at the O2 Arena in London, early on September 24, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

By Ricky Dimon

Much to the chagrin of the packed O2 Arena crowd, Roger Federer lost the final match of his career on Friday — and from match point up, in fact.

But the disappointment may not have lasted more than a minute. Perhaps it didn’t last much more than one second. Federer’s retirement quickly flowed into a sea of tearful celebration, one that the Swiss was able to share with the likes of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Rod Laver, and a throng of other Laver Cup participants.

Although Federer and Nadal of Team Europe dropped their doubles match against Team World’s Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe 11-9 in the super-tiebreaker, it was otherwise a perfect night.

Or peRFect, as some would say.

“Playing with Rafa on the same team, and having the guys, everybody here, all the legends…. Thank you,” Federer concluded. “I didn’t want it to feel lonely out there. It felt lonely for a second when they told me to go out…but to be saying goodbye on a team, I always felt I was a team player at heart. Singles doesn’t really do that, but I’ve had a team that traveled with me around the world. It’s been amazing with them, so thanks to everybody who made it work for so many years.

“And then of course being on the team with Andy (Murray), Thomas (Enqvist), Novak, Matteo (Berrettini), Cam (Norrie), Stefanos (Tsitsipas), Rafa, and Casper (Ruud), and also the other team, you guys are unbelievable. It’s been a pleasure playing all these Laver Cups.

“It does feel like a celebration to me. I wanted to feel like this at the end, and it’s exactly what I hoped for.”

It was not, however, the end of the 2022 Laver Cup. The show must go on, and that is exactly what it did on Saturday. With Federer still in London as a spectator, Djokovic and Berrettini picked up the slack to pace the Europeans to an 8-4 lead. After the score was tied 2-2 following Day 1, both Djokovic and Berrettini won their singles match and then teamed up in doubles to defeat Sock and Alex de Minaur.

Team Europe, which is 4-0 all time in the Laver Cup, needs to win only two of the four matches on Sunday to clinch victory. Team World must take at least three.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.