Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal received an apology from their Laver Cup opponents after confirming they would take to the court together for one last time. The Swiss star will play his last-ever match alongside his biggest rival when they pair up in the doubles on Friday night to face Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe. And the American duo were full of fighting talk ahead of the monumental match.
Federer is set to retire at this weekend’s Laver Cup, playing his last match alongside Nadal in the first doubles tie of the tournament on Friday. It will be the second and final time they pair up after joining forces at the 2017 edition of the tournament, and they will face Team World’s Sock and Tiafoe.
While the rival team captain John McEnroe said that “everyone” wanted the chance to be a part of Federer’s final match, it was the American duo who got the call-up. And they showed why they were the right men for the job as they told the world No 1s they were ready to cause an upset to get the win.
“Obviously tomorrow night is going to be a beyond-iconic evening, doubles match,” Sock said during Team World’s joint press conference. “I’m just stoked to be a part of it with my guy Foe, you know, next to me.”
While they were relishing the chance to be part of Federer’s legacy and act as his opponents in his final match, the four-time Grand Slam doubles champion was ready to bring his A-game. “We will go out and enjoy the moment, but not going to hold anything back. Sorry, Roger. Don’t want to spoil the night,” he smiled.
Tiafoe was the last man to beat Nadal, handing the Spaniard his first and only loss at a Grand Slam this year during the recent US Open, and he cracked a joke as he previewed the highly-anticipated match. “I’m just excited to play two up-and-comers tomorrow,” he laughed.
“Should be good. No, it’s going to be iconic to be part of that. Both guys are absolute legends, and obviously Roger’s last dance. Again, as Jack said, we are definitely just out there trying to get a win.”
Meanwhile, Team World’s captain was left unhappy at the suggestion that his men would be playing the pantomime villain roles on Friday night as Federer’s final opponents. Addressing the room, McEnroe said: “I just want to say that these guys aren’t villains. I earned that reputation. That’s unfair to them.”
The seven-time Major champion also claimed that the result was irrelevant for Federer, with the weekend set to be a celebration of his career rather than placing the emphasis on whether he won or lost. “They are opponents to, you know, a very unique situation that we are all fortunate enough to be around,” he said of Sock and Tiafoe.
“This is like an incredible moment for our sport. I mean, the good news is that if they win, they are not going to be villains either. This is about the celebration of what Roger has accomplished and him ending it and hopefully not hurting himself, is what I’m thinking. So whether he wins or loses I believe is beyond the point.”