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Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal shed tears after the Swiss' final professional match.

Nadal On Federer's Retirement: 'An Important Part Of My Life Is Leaving Too'

Spaniard reflects on his friend and rival's last match

It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. The image of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal sitting together in tears on their Team Europe bench in the early moments of Saturday morning was worth a million.

For years, Federer and Nadal have contested one of the most captivating rivalries in all of sports. But with their competition has come a great mutual respect and with that, friendship. That showed before, during and after their doubles match on the first day of the Laver Cup.

Nadal explained after the match, the last of Federer’s career, why the moment meant so much to him.

“At the end everything became super emotional. For me, [it has] been [a] huge honour to be a part of this amazing moment of the history of our sport, and at the same time a lot of years sharing a lot of things together,” Nadal said. “When Roger leaves the Tour, an important part of my life is leaving too because [of] all the moments that he [has] been next [to] or in front me in important moments of my life.

“[It] has been emotional see the family, see all the people. Difficult to describe. But, yeah, [it was an] amazing moment.”

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It was fitting after playing each other 40 times, with many of those battles on the world’s biggest stages, that Federer’s career came to an end by Nadal’s side. It felt right that that Nadal called a “super long and positive journey” came to a conclusion that way.

“When I started to be [a] better player, then Roger was always there in front of me. For me [he] was always the guy to beat. So at some point we were probably the biggest rivals - I think always in a very good way. We respect a lot each other, [our] families, [our] teams. I mean, we never had big issues,” Nadal said. “But it’s true that the personal relationship… when we were getting older, I think every year the personal relationship gets better and better [on] a daily basis. I think in some way we understand at the end we have a lot of things similar. We approach life probably similarly.”

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Nadal pointed out that part of what made their rivalry so enthralling was how different their games were. Off the court, that is not the case.

“In the family life, personal life, probably we approach life not in a very different way. So that's why we can trust each other, we can speak very often, and we're able to speak feeling very free, feeling confident,” Nadal said. “Having somebody like Roger that I feel confident to talk about any personal thing, it's something that it's very beautiful after all the things that we shared together and all the important things that we fought for such a long time.

“[I am] very proud to be part of his career in some way. But even for me happier to finish our career like friends after everything we shared on court like rivals.”

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This was Federer’s special retirement moment. But for Nadal, it was an experience he will never forget. Nobody will.

“Since I arrived here yesterday, everything was special,” Nadal said. “Tonight was unforgettable.”

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