Rafael Nadal has admitted that “a part of his life stayed” with Roger Federer when his tennis great rival retired – with both players leaving emotional wreckage on the court after the Swiss played his last ever competitive match in September at the Laver Cup.
The two, who between them have won 42 Grand Slam singles titles, were united in their doubles match as Federer’s swansong at the Laver Cup in London.
After that match ended, pictures of both players crying as they sat side by side during the post-match party went viral.
“Someone whom I admired, who competed with him and who also shared a lot of beautiful things on and off the court was leaving,” Nadal told reporters before an exhibition match in Argentina.
“In that sense, all those moments, those feelings you have before you play a Grand Slam final, an important tournament, everything that was in the air before those matches. It was different from the other matches.
“You know you’re not going to live that again and part of my life stayed with him (when he retired). It was also the feeling of saying goodbye to someone who was so important to our sport.”
The pair have faced each other 40 times over the past two decades in one of sport’s most enduring rivalries, with the Spaniard leading the encounter 24-16.
After suffering a number of injuries and illnesses in recent years, Nadal’s future in the sport also remains up in the air despite winning the season-opening tournament.
He followed up his Australian Open victory by capturing an extended 14th French Open title in June – though he required multiple injections to numb the pain in his left foot.
An abdominal injury forced the 36-year-old Spaniard to withdraw from Wimbledon ahead of his semi-final clash with Nick Kyrgios.
While he did not elaborate on his retirement plans, Nadal said, “My time will come when the time is right.” I am fully prepared for my next life outside of tennis. “I don’t think it will be a problem for me beyond adapting to the changes.
My life has things equal or more important than tennis.” Nadal is on an occasional tour of South and Central America with Norwegian Casper Ruud.
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