'Without Federer, Nadal would've been known only as clay-court player. He'll feel empty': Tennis great's massive claim

Published on Sep 16, 2022 12:50 PM IST

Federer on Thursday announced his retirement from tennis with the Laver Cup next week slated to be his final appearance. He is however set to reunite with Nadal for Team Europe in the three-day contest.

Rafael Nadal; Roger Federer
Rafael Nadal; Roger Federer

Rafael Nadal may have played most of his career matches against Novak Djokovic as it has been for the Serb with the rivalry being neck-and-neck and having more close matches. In fact, in ATP history, no two players have played more times against each other than these two. Yet for tennis fans across the globe, the rivalry between Roger Federer and Nadal has been the most watched and celebrated. They have remained fierce competitors on the court and against each other, but off the court, the two share a great friendship, the reason why is rivalry is looked upon.

Federer on Thursday announced his retirement from tennis with the Laver Cup next week slated to be his final appearance. He is set to re-unite with Nadal for Team Europe in the three-day contest.

ALSO READ: 103 titles, 20 Grand Slams, 0 retirements: A look back at Roger Federer's incredible career in numbers

Speaking to Eurosport after Federer's big announcement, tennis great Mats Wilander opined that Nadal would surely miss the Swiss tennis legend because his greatness in the sport was built around their rivalry. He further made a massive claim that Nadal would have remained only a clay-court player had there been no Federer.

“I think for Rafa, especially for Rafa, I think there is something that's going to feel empty to him because his greatness was built upon the rivalry with Roger Federer. Without Roger, Rafa would have been most probably known as a clay court player," he said.

“Roger took him to the level of 'okay, I want to be able to compete with the greatest player of all time' who is Roger Federer, and then Rafa did that for Novak having no luck has just lost one of his opponents that he loves to play against. And they're both going to miss him, I think tremendously.”

Nadal had paid a heartfelt tribute to his “friend and rival” on Twitter post the big announcement. “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 honour and privilege to share all these years with you, living so many amazing moments on and off the court,” Nadal wrote. “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 at Laver Cup.”

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