September 24, 2022
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal sat together to shed their tears at London’s O2 Arena.
What a poignant and fitting sight it was to see these two great men express themselves so freely.
The Swiss genius had finally called it a day after playing his last professional match.
Nadal must know that his own retirement isn’t far away.
And the Spaniard also realised a great rivalry had come to an end, even if their friendship never will.
So they sat there, crying unashamedly. And no one could say they hadn’t earned the right.
Roger Federer won’t play Wimbledon 2023. But Rafael Nadal should be still there.
And now we know we have to take our chances to see the last of the all-time greats, while we can still enjoy this closing window.
Nadal beat Federer in arguably the greatest Wimbledon final of them all back in 2008. He could yet win his third Wimbledon title in 2023, before he eventually bows out.
Novak Djokovic will have something to say about the destination of the trophy, of course.
And Novak was there to see Federer’s last match in London – a dramatic doubles defeat to Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe.
Federer served to win it. Agonisingly, he couldn’t quite close out on match point. Just as he was thwarted in that memorable and epic Wimbledon final against Novak in 2019.
No matter. We had seen flashes of the old Federer magic – and even Djokovic had marvelled at one acute cross-court volley on this, Roger’s unforgettable farewell night.
The Americans paid Federer the ultimate compliment by doing everything they could to beat him – and succeeded 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 11-9 on behalf of Team World.
Andy Murray, the last member of the Big Four, was part of Team Europe and became another Federer cheerleader on the night – despite his defeat earlier in the evening to Alex de Minaur.
At one stage the veteran Scot was almost overcome by tears himself, as he came to terms with the moving professional end of Federer. Like Nadal, Andy knows this will be his own destiny soon enough.
On the night, Murray recovered his composure and smiled repeatedly as Federer came to him for strength. And that, in truth, was just what Roger needed as the tears threatened to overwhelm him completely.
Andy Murray should join Nadal at Wimbledon 2023 for one last Grand Slam adventure before he retires.
But you have to doubt whether we will see either man playing at Wimbledon 2024.
This is it. This is the time to secure your seats at the biggest tournament of them all. Three of the Big Four should be there. By the following year, you suspect only one – Djokovic – will be left.
Last night it was fitting that the great quartet were together in London. It was the perfect send-off for Federer.
Roger said: ‘It’s been the perfect journey. I’d do it all again.’
And we’d watch every moment of it, Roger. No question.