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Federer-Nadal, from on-court rivalry to heartfelt friendship

Federer-Nadal, from on-court rivalry to heartfelt friendship

  • The Spaniard assured that it was a pleasure, an honor and a privilege to share with the Swiss on and off the field | Photo: EFE

The notice of Roger Federer’s retirement from the tennis courts 41 years old and at the end of the Laver Cup, a team tournament that will be played from September 23 to 25 in London, has had a great impact on the Spanish island of Mallorca and in the environment of the Rafael Nadal academy in Manacor before the competition turned into a friendship between the Swiss and the Spaniards.

The intense rivalry on the tennis courts between Federer and Nadal – the greatest in the history of the sport with 20 and 22 majors respectively – turned into a close friendship that lives on.

Federer present when Nadal inaugurated his academy

Federer answered Nadal’s call when the Spaniard opened his academy in 2016 when both were recovering from injuries. He inspected the facility with a friend and was amazed at what he saw.

It was a prelude to 2017 full of success: Federer lifted six titles against Nadal, who won Roland Garros and the US Open that year, as well as titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid. That year, the Nadal Sports Center celebrated its first birthday, and Federer did not miss the appointment.

“I want to teach kids and I want to do it at the Rafa Academy,” the Swiss tennis player told SportWeek (La Gazzeta) in 2019 to announce what he would do when he retired. “If any of my children wanted to play tennis, I would definitely send them there,” he said.

Nadal responded to Federer’s statements by joking with him on social media: “Send us your CV and tell us what you are in Spanish,” he wrote to his great friend. In 2019, it was revealed that the Rafa academy has two suites named after the man from Manacor and the Swiss.

When the man from Basel was asked in Manacor why he didn’t dare to create an academy like the Majorcan’s hometown Rafa, he replied: “Things don’t work like that in Switzerland”, referring to the large area he would need to build a similar complex in his homeland .

Federer also answered Nadal’s call in May 2007 on the occasion of the inauguration of the Palma Arena sports center in the capital of the Balearic Islands – today the Illes Balears Velodrome – in the so-called “battle of the surfaces”. The hybrid pitch was divided into clay and grass. Rafa won in three very tight sets: 7-5, 4-6 and 7-6 (10).

Nadal to Federer: ‘I wish this day had never come’

Rafael Nadal has expressed his sadness at the retirement of Swiss Roger Federer, his arch-rival on the court for almost two decades, in a message on social media.

“Dear Roger, my friend and rival,” Nadal writes. “I wish this day had never come.” This is a sad day for me personally and for the whole world. It’s been a pleasure, but also an honor and a privilege to share all these years with you, living such incredible moments on and off the pitch,” he adds.

Federer and Nadal on court

Federer-Nadal, from on-court rivalry to heartfelt friendship

The first clash between the two on a tennis court was in Miami (2005). Nadal was 17 years old and won in two sets: 6-3 and 6-3. The last match between the two was in one of the semi-finals at Wimbledon 2019, where Federer won 7-6 (3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.

This year, Nadal already spoke forcefully about Federer’s long absence: “Of course I miss him; me, the fans and the whole tennis world,” said the Spaniard at the last Wimbledon tournament.

All indications are that the great farewell of two eternal rivals on the slopes, united in a strong friendship over the years, will take place with one great duel in the next Laver Cup.

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