After Roger Federer announced his retirement on Thursday, Rafael Nadal wrote an emotional note to his on-court rival and off-court friend saying that the duo have “lots of things to do together” in the future.
Novak Djokovic on Friday also hailed the “incredible moments and battles” with Federer in his tribute to him.
Federer (20), Nadal (22) and Djokovic (21) have won 63 Grand Slams between them and comprise the famed Big Three that shapes a unique tennis legacy. Nadal and Federer duo – dubbed as FeDal – share a great camaraderie off-the-court. And Djokovic and Federer also share immense mutual respect, whenever they have addressed the era.
Hours after the eight-time Wimbledon champion announced his retirement, Nadal wrote:
“Dear Roger, my friend and rival. I wish this day would have never come. It’s a sad day for me personally and for sports around the world. It’s been a pleasure but also an honor and privilege to share all these years with you, living so many amazing moments on and off the court. We will have many more moments to share together in the future, there are still lots of things to do together, we know that.”
“For now, I truly wish you all the happiness with your wife, Mirka, your kids, your family and enjoy what’s ahead of you. I’ll see you in London.”— - Rafael Nadal on Twitter
While he wished Federer well and congratulated him for a storied career, he also hinted at the possibility of collaborating with him in some capacity in the future saying that there are still lots of things to do together.
Federer, in his retirement statement said that he will continue to play tennis, after playing in his last ATP event at the upcoming Laver Cup.
He wrote: “The Laver Cup next week in London will be my final ATP event. I will play more tennis in the future, of course, but just not in Grand Slams or on the tour.”
Nadal, at 36, has been playing with a chronic foot injury and has often said that his body struggles to recuperate. Federer too admitted to not feeling a hundred percent after being surgically operated for a persistent knee injury.
He wrote: “As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries. I’ve worked hard to return to full competitive form. But I also know my body’s capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear.”
Meanwhile, Djokovic paid tribute to his long-time rival in an Instagram post on Friday, saying:
Roger, it’s hard to see this day and put into words all that we’ve shared in this sport together. Over a decade of incredible moments and battles to think back on. Your career has set the tone for what it means to achieve excellence and lead with integrity and poise. It’s an honour to know you on and off court, and for many more years to come. I know that this new chapter will hold amazing things for you, Mirka, the kids, all your loved ones, and Roger fans still have a lot to look forward to. From our family to yours, we wish you much joy, health, and prosperity in the future. Looking forward to celebrating your achievements and seeing you in London.— - via Novak Djokovic's instagram
Djokovic and Federer played each other 50 times, with the Serb holding a 27-23 winning record.
The duo played 17 matches at Grand Slam tournaments, including five finals, with Djokovic leading that head-to-head 11-6.
(With inputs from AFP)