Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal in Wimbledon 2006 | AP File
New Delhi: After Roger Federer's announcement that next week's Laver Cup will be his final ATP event, his friend and rival Rafael Nadal said that it's a sad day for him personally and for sports around the world, adding that he wishes this would have never come.
Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam singles champion, on Thursday caught the tennis and sports world by surprise by announcing his retirement from top-level tennis.
"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 capabilities and limits and its message to me lately has been clear. I am 41 years old. I have played more than 1,500 matches over 24 years," the tennis great said in a statement on Twitter.
"Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt and now I must recognise when it's time to end my competitive career. 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," he added.
Federer's greatest on-court adversary Nadal acknowledged their rivalry, and their off-court friendship, in his retirement message written on social media.
"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 honour and privilege to share all these years with you, living so many amazing moments on and off the court," said Nadal in a tweet.
"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," he added.
For six years during the Swiss' career, the two tennis giants shared the No1 and No 2 ATP world rankings often meeting each other in Grand Slam finals, some of which have been labelled the greatest matches in history.
Notably, only Rafael Nadal (22) and Djokovic (21) have more Grand Slam trophies than Federer (20). IANS