Frances Tiafoe felt the wrath of the crowd at the O2 Arena last night during his Laver Cup doubles match against Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The US Open semi-finalist produced some aggressive returns during the Swiss maestro’s farewell, including a fearsome forehand late in the 10-point match tiebreak.
Federer was hit on the arm by a 98mph winner from the young American to go 8-7 up in the match tiebreak. The world No 19 was then subject to boos from the raucous audience and the star put his hands up to apologise.
On a separate point, the 24-year-old nearly took out Nadal with another speedy forehand, this time while returning a Federer serve. The shot went down the line and the Spaniard, who was standing at the net, was floored as he narrowly escaped being caught in the face.
That brought up a match point and Tiafoe, along with Jack Sock, defeated the legendary duo 4-6, 7-6 (2), 11-9 and levelled the score for Team World at 2-2 at the end of day one at the 2022 Laver Cup. Federer’s last ever match was complete and he sobbed as he was congratulated by Team Europe at the end of the pulsating encounter, and the camera soon cut to Nadal who was caught up in the emotions of a truly special evening.
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Nadal wept as they embraced each other in the middle of the court and the 20-time major winner shared a moment with the rest of the players from both teams. Then, in arguably the most moving visual in the history of tennis, both Federer and Nadal were sat next to one another courtside as they continued to cry while two-time BRIT Award winner Ellie Goulding performed.
After a sensational 24-year year career, Federer has now bowed out from the sport and gave one of the most emotional on-court interviews ever to be seen as he thanked his colleagues and loved ones. “It’s been a wonderful day. I’m happy, not sad. It feels great to be here. I’m happy I made it through,” he said.
“It’s been the perfect journey. I’d do it all again. Everyone’s here, the boys and girls. My wife has been so supportive. She could have stopped me a long, long time ago but she didn’t. She kept me going and allowed me to play, so it’s amazing – thank you.
“Being with the guys and having family and friends, I didn’t feel the stress so much even if I felt something would go during the match. I am so glad I made it through and the match was great. I couldn’t be happier.” Earlier in the evening, Andy Murray contested the first Laver Cup match of his career against Alex de Minaur.
The Brit, who enjoyed one of his best career achievements at the O2 by winning the ATP Finals in 2016 and becoming the world number one, attempted to channel some of that energy against his Australian opponent. But like his fellow tennis icons after him, the three-time major winner just fell short as De Minaur won 5-7, 6-3, 10-7.
The final member of the ‘big four’ Novak Djokovic will take to the court this afternoon against Tiafoe in singles, and will team with Matteo Berrettini to face Sock and De Minaur on Saturday night. British number one Cam Norrie will make his bow at the Laver Cup against Taylor Fritz in the second match of the day session.