Rafael Nadal has made a painful admission about Roger Federer after the Swiss star confirmed that he was retiring from professional tennis.
News of the 41-year-old’s retirement has sparked an outpouring of tributes from right around the world, in a fitting salute to a man who has brought so much joy to millions.
More than 19 years after winning his first grand slam title at Wimbledon in 2003, which set him on the road to be being one of the greatest players of all time, Federer took to social media to announce that his career had come to an end.
“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,” Federer said.
“But I also know my body’s capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear.
“I am 41 years old. I have played more than 1500 matches over 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognise when it is time to end my competitive career.”
Like fans all around the world, the Swiss maestro’s great rival Nadal admitted that he hoped this inevitable day would never come.
The Spaniard described news of Federer’s retirement as a “sad day” for himself and sporting fans around the world.
Nadal’s beautiful tribute to Federer on social media also included a series of incredible flashback photos of their time together – both on and off the court.
“I wish this day would have never come,” Nadal said in his social media post.
“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.
“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 the @lavercup.”
Lleyton Hewitt among those to pay tribute to Roger Federer
Australia’s Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt – whose enjoyed some legendary battles against Federer over the course of his career – also congratulated the 41-year-old on a phenomenal career.
Reflecting on their time on tour together, Hewitt described the Swiss as “nearly unbeatable” and marvelled at the legacy he will leave behind for tennis.