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Rafeal Nadal bid a classy farewell to one of his fiercest competitors Thursday after 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer shook the tennis world with news of his retirement.
The announcement was no surprise with Federer’s recent status on the ATP Tour, but it was a day Nadal wished “would never have come.”
“Dear Roger, my friend and rival,” Nadal began in his open letter to Federer.
“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.”
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Federer’s dominance in the sport is matched only by a few, including Nadal. On the ATP Tour, the Spaniard is 24-16 in head-to-head matchups, but Federer’s 103 career titles tops Nadal’s 92.
“We will have many more moments to share together in the future, there are still lots of things to do together, we know that,” Nadal added. “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.”
Questions about his looming retirement have picked up over the years as Federer’s game has been hampered by injuries. He didn’t play any pro events in 2022 and only competed in 19 matches from 2020-2021. His last tournament title came in 2019 at the Swiss Indoors Basel.
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“As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries. I have 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. 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 recognize when it is time to end my competitive career,” Federer wrote in a lengthy statement.
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“This is a bittersweet decision, because I will miss everything the tour has given me. But at the same time, there is so much to celebrate. I consider myself one of the most fortunate people on Earth. I was given a special talent to play tennis, and I did it all at a level that I never imagined, for much longer than I ever thought possible.”
Federer will no longer compete in any tour events or Grand Slams. His last tournament will be at the Laver Cup beginning next Friday.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.