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Federer beaten in farewell match as he and Rafael Nadal lose Laver Cup doubles thriller
The 41-year-old played superbly but was denied a win as he and Nadal were beaten in a deciding-set match tiebreak
Roger Federer‘s last ever professional match ended in defeat at the Laver Cup on Friday as he and Rafael Nadal were edged out 4-6, 7-6 (2), 11-9 by Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe in a late-night thriller at London’s O2.
After 24 years on Tour, with 20 Grand Slam titles to his name and 103 tournament wins worldwide, the Swiss bowed out with a strong performance, more than holding his own despite the right knee issues that caused him to announce his retirement last week.
The loss means the Laver Cup is level at 2-2 after day one. Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas put Europe 2-0 up but Alex de Minaur edged out Andy Murray before Sock and Tiafoe made it 2-2.
Despite having not played for more than a year, Federer didn’t drop serve throughout and more than played his part in an enthralling match. One break was enough to give he and Nadal the first set, two stunning groundstrokes from Federer clinching the vital break of the Tiafoe serve.
Nadal dropped serve in the third game as the American pair began to assert their authority but Federer and Nadal broke back, a little contentiously, when Tiafoe was adjudged to have hit a bounce ball on a half-volley. Replays showed Tiafoe had actually hit the ball twice but in one motion. The point should have been replayed but Federer and Nadal were awarded the point and the break back for 2-3.
Federer remained impervious on serve as he and Nadal led 5-4. Tiafoe held under pressure for 5-5 and in the next game, the Americans had 0-40 on the Nadal serve. It went to a tiebreak but it was the Americans who were stronger, taking it 7-2 to force a deciding 10-point tiebreak.
The deciding match tiebreak was dramatic from the start. Federer and Nadal led 3-0 but Sock and Tiafoe hit back and after levelling at 3-3, Sock produced an incredible reflex half-volley to get the mini break.
Federer and Nadal got the mini break back and a Federer ace put them 6-5 up. The pairs changed at 6-6 and Federer needed to play a brilliant forehand volley to stay level at 7-7 only for Tiafoe to rifle a forehand straight at the Swiss to make it 8-7 to the Americans, two serves to come.
But Federer and Nadal were not done. Each hit a superb return to force match point but Federer couldn’t find the ace he wanted and the Americans levelled at 9-9. Tiafoe then smashed a forehand return for a winner – through Nadal – and Sock won it with a forehand down the line.