Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will play doubles together on Friday as part of the Laver Cup. A rarity, but one that has happened before.

So it is 23 September. Today, Roger Federer, one of the best tennis players of all time, will leave the very big stage. The Swiss chose the Laver Cup as the venue for his last match. Since last summer in Wimbledon, he has not been able to play a match due to injury. So far it has not been enough for a comeback, which he is now giving for a match in the doubles.

The Swiss maestro had wanted to play his last match together with his long-time rival and now good buddy Rafael Nadal. And of course, Björn Borg, the captain of Team Europe, complied with this wish.

The match between the two tennis superstars is the fourth on the first day of competition at the Laver Cup and the second of the evening session (play starts around 9.30 pm German time). Andy Murray will provide the opening act with his duel against Alex de Minaur before Federer and Nadal then take to the court to provide the main act. Opponents are Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe, who, with all due respect, is probably expected by the entire tennis world to lose.

In any case, dinner is served, and the O2 Arena in London will be boiling, since the announcement of Federer’s retirement, tennis fans have been hotter than ever for the Laver Cup. The best grass court player of all time will play alongside the best clay court player of all time. Federer and Nadal have won 42 Grand Slam titles between them, Nadal holds the record with 22.

A repeat of 2017 – successful again?

Federer and Nadal have almost only played singles in their careers, which is why they have hardly ever had the chance to play together, but it did happen once. It was also at the Laver Cup. Back then, too, in 2017, the fans could hardly wait for the duel, and the two exceptional players were frenetically celebrated by the crowds. They are probably the two players with the most fans on the tour.

The first side-by-side match worked well. Opponents then were Sam Querrey and, as on today’s Friday, Sock. Federer and Nadal won the first set 6:4, but lost the second 2:6. The match tie-break to ten had to decide the match. And there the two tennis icons showed exactly what they have shown countless times in their careers: They are there when it matters – and finally won the match 10:5.

“It’s very special to play with Rafa in the last match. I’m sure it’s going to be wonderful, I’m going to give my best out there,” said Federer, who admitted it was going to be tough to focus his emotions. Nadal added: “It’s been a rivalry between friends, not always easy because we’ve played against each other for such important things in our careers. It’s going to be a very special thing on Friday, a very tough one at that. It’s going to be hard to deal with everything, especially for Roger, of course. It’s not easy for me either. One of the most important players in my tennis career is retiring. But I’m also very happy and very grateful to play with him.”