LONDON – Long-time opponents in the race for titles and the world No. 1 spot, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are set to meet side by side to play a doubles on Friday in London at the Laver Cup, tennis’ farewell from the Swiss conductor.

On Wednesday, Federer, 41, appeared for the first time since announcing his retirement last week in a lengthy social media post to the press for a press conference that would have a special atmosphere.

Dressed in a dark blue suit and white shirt with an open collar, the 20-time Grand Slam champion didn’t want to give his answers an overly serious tone.

“I really didn’t want it to be like a funeral…with people going, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry, are you okay?’ “, he explained.

“I’m happy. I’m happy that I made this decision, because it’s the right one,” he insisted.

The Swiss spoke with justifiable pride and a touch of nostalgia, already, about his fantastic career and especially the last “really special moment” he hopes to experience on Friday, taking his bow.

Obviously, his unruly body will upset his farewell a bit and he has been given the go-ahead by European team captains Bjorn Borg and “Rest of the World” team John McEnroe, as well as the tournament management he helped out. create, to play only one double.

“I hope to be competitive”

“It’s an event I didn’t want to disrupt but, at the same time, I know my limits,” he explained, with each team’s six players normally expected to play one or two of the nine singles they were dealt over three days.

To these nine singles is added a double a day. “I think it has to be Friday night,” Federer said.

“Obviously I’m nervous that I haven’t played for so long, hopefully I can be competitive,” he slipped after a year and a half away from the pitches trying to heal his right knee.

Casper Rudd, Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas or Andy Murray are possible partners, but all only dream of a relationship with Rafael Nadal, as the rivalry between the two men has scarred the circuit for years.

“Obviously it could be a very unique situation if that happens,” Federer admitted.

“We’ve fought for so long, but there’s always been this respect between us, our families, our teams coacheswe’re doing really well,” he said.

“To be able to maintain that good relationship is also a big message for the sport and beyond and for that reason it would be great to have it happen. It would be a really special moment,” he admitted.

“I will not be a ghost”

A moment even more special as it will take place in London, the scene of some of his greatest feats with eight wins and four Wimbledon finals, as well as two Masters successes at the O2 Arena which hosts the Laver Cup.

“I’m happy to do it here in London (…) This city was very special to me. Perhaps the most special of all (…) It is absolutely appropriate, “he explained.

“Having Bjorn Borg on the bench with me for my last game also had something very powerful in me. Having all the guys around me also means I won’t be alone in my retirement,” he continued.

While he has already stated that he will remain in the world of tennis after his retirement from the sport, he has remained evasive about his duties.

“I just wanted the fans to know that I’m not going to be a ghost,” he clarified.

Borg “didn’t come back to Wimbledon for 25 years, I think. And, to some extent, that hurt tennis fans. It’s quite respectable, his life, his reasons, you know. But I don’t think I’ll be that kind of person,” he continued.

“Tennis has given me so much. I’ve been in this sport too long. I fell in love with so many things (…) I just want the fans to know that they will see me again. »