Roger Federer has lifted the lid on the circumstances surrounding Rafa Nadal’s participation at the Laver Cup in light of the dramas surrounding the Spanish champion’s pregnant wife.
Nadal’s participation at the Laver Cup had been thrown into doubt when he revealed after the US Open earlier this month that he didn’t know when he’d be back on court.
Nadal’s wife Xisca was recently hospitalised in Spain due to complications with her pregnancy, with Nadal set to become a father for the first time in a matter of weeks.
But tennis fans were delighted to see Nadal arrive in London for the Laver Cup, teaming up with Federer for a doubles clash that ended up being the final match of Federer’s career.
Nadal then flew straight home after the match to be with Xisca, highlighting how he only played at the Laver Cup so he could be a part of Federer’s farewell.
Nadal was highly emotional during the send-off for his long-time friend and rival, shedding tears with Federer after the match.
Speaking to the New York Times in an interview published on Tuesday, Federer lifted the lid on Nadal’s decision to fly to London to play with him – revealing how it came about when Federer realised he’d only be able to play one match due to his surgically-repaired knee.
“I called him after the US Open – I waited for him to finish that tournament – just to let him know about my retirement,” Federer said.
“And I just wanted to let him know before he started making some plans without the Laver Cup at all. I told him on the phone that I was probably 50-50 or 60-40 on making the doubles. I told him, ‘Look, I’ll keep you posted. You let me know how things are at home. And we’ll reconnect’.
“Rafa told me, ‘I will try everything I possibly can to be there with you.’ And that felt obviously incredible for me. And it showed again how much we mean to one another and how much respect we have.
“And I just thought it would be just a beautiful, amazing story for us, for sports, for tennis, and maybe beyond that as well, where we can co-exist in a tough rivalry and come out on top and show that, hey, again it’s just tennis.
“Yes, it’s hard, and it’s brutal sometimes, but it’s always fair. And you can come out on the other side and still have this great, friendly rivalry. I just thought it ended up even better than I ever thought it would. So, an incredible effort by Rafa, and I’ll obviously never forget what he did for me in London.”
Rafa Nadal opens up on dramas surrounding wife
Under Laver Cup rules, players must feature in at least one singles and doubles match throughout the three-day event.
However, the rules were bent for Federer and Nadal due to the nature of the situation, with both players withdrawing after their doubles match and replaced by Matteo Berrettini and Cameron Norrie.
Speaking after the match, Nadal opened up on how difficult it was for him to leave Xisca at home while heavily pregnant.
“They have been difficult weeks, few hours of sleep, a little stress in general,” he admitted.
“The situation is a little more complicated than usual at home. I have had to deal with a different pressure than what you are used to in professional life.
“Luckily everything It’s fine, much calmer, and in that sense, I have been able to come here, which was important to me.”
The 22-time grand slam champion said it was important for him to be there for Federer considering everything they’ve been through in their careers.
“Roger was always there in front of me,” he said in his post-match press conference.
“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 have never had any big issues and always respected each other and our families too.
“But our personal relationship has got better and better over the years, and we approach life in a similar way.
“I’m very proud to be part of his career in some way, but even happier to finish our career like friends after everything we shared on court as rivals.”