Roger Federer has told Rafael Nadal that he must do something he “doesn’t want to” and be the boss when they pair up for the Swiss star’s final match on Friday night. The 41-year-old will end his career in the doubles with his biggest rival by his side, and confessed that his game wasn’t good enough to take charge.
Federer will retire at this week’s Laver Cup, playing one final match in Friday night’s doubles tie alongside the biggest rival of his career. It will be the second and final time that the multi-Grand Slam champions pair up, having previously played together at the inaugural Laver Cup in 2017.
Federer and Nadal will take on Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe from Team World in the last match of the 41-year-old’s career, having beaten Sock and Sam Querrey in their previous outing on the doubles court five years ago. But the Swiss player wants his partner to take charge this time around, even though he doesn’t want to.
“This time Rafa has to be the boss,” the 20-time Major champion said during Thursday’s Laver Cup practice day in front of a packed O2 Arena crowd. “He doesn’t want to be the boss.”
And the 103-time title winner also made an admission about his own game after more than a year on the sidelines, confessing that he needed his rival’s help. He added: “My game is maybe not so good so he has to tell me where to stand, what shot to hit.”
Nadal himself revealed that he was nervous to take on the pressure of joining Federer for his last-ever match. After the pair hit with fellow Big Four members Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, he said: “Sharing with Roger his last match is something that is a huge honour for me and privilege, and I’m very excited.”
Asked whether he had any advice to help his teammate handle the nerves of his final match, the world No 3 said he had plenty of his own after being given the honour of helping Federer end his career. “I have enough with myself,” he laughed.
“So I’m not one to help Roger. It’s a very special and unique moment for him. Everyone has to leave in their own way and I think Roger knows better than anyone how to handle this.”