A few thoughts from our chief sports writer Oliver Brown
At the O2 for Federer’s farewell. It feels more like a celebration of a luxury lifestyle brand. Even the Swiss tourist board has a booth here at the Laver Cup. Moet & Chandon everywhere, plus leather sofas for the players at courtside.
— Oliver Brown (@oliverbrown_tel) September 23, 2022
Federer’s dad hanging out with fashion royalty
81 minutes later…
…Murray takes the opening set 7-5. That was a gruelling first set which ends with De Minaur hitting a double fault.
In case you missed it
The day session was disrupted by a protester who set their arm alight.
Read more here.
Federer gets limber
More sensational tennis from Murray leads to a break back. It is 3-3 in the early stages.
The stars are in the building
Lengthy opening game on the Murray serve. Could be a theme of the match.
Incredible point by both players, Murray on the defence somehow keeps himself in the point but De Minaur hits a forehand winner to break.
Here we go…
…Murray will serve first and get the match underway!
Time for Team Europe
Bjorn Borg and Thomas Enqvist lead out the European squad.
Unsurpsingly the biggest receptions come for Murray, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and of course Federer.
Here we go!
We are having the captain and player introductions.
Team World’s John and Patrick McEnroe lead out their squad which includes Alex De Minaur, who will be in action tonight.
How things stand
In the day session, world No 2 Casper Ruud got Team Europe off to the best possible start when he beat Team World’s Jack Sock in a third set match tiebreak.
In the second match, Stefanos Tsitsipas eased past Diego Schwartzman.
It means Europe have raced into a 2-0 lead.
Laver Cup rules
The Laver Cup is a three-day tournament pitting a team of six of the best tennis players from Europe against six of their counterparts from the rest of the World.
The tournament is named in honor of Australian tennis legend Rod Laver, the only man to win two calendar year grand slams.
Each match win will be worth:
Great rivals have become great friends
Nicknamed ‘Fedal’, Federer and Nadal have a legitimate bromance together. And it is fitting that Federer’s final match as a professional tennis player will be with the man who he has shared so many special moments with on a tennis court.
It’s a different kind of pressure. After all the amazing things that we shared together on and off court, to be part of this historic moment is going to be something amazing, unforgettable for me. I hope I can have a good chance to play at a decent level, and hopefully together we can create a good moment and maybe win a match. So let’s see.
Of course being on court, having Roger next to me one more time will be something that I am very much looking forward to. I’m just very happy for that. It’s going to be difficult to handle everything, especially for Roger, without a doubt. For me, too. You know, at the end one of the most important players, if not the most important player, in my tennis career, is leaving. I’m going to try to do my best in every single way, to help to have this moment even more special than what it’s going to be.”
Andy Murray kicks off the night session
Andy Murray returns to the O2 for the first time since winning the 2016 ATP Finals. He will open the night session for Europe against World’s Alex de Minaur.
De Minaur won the last meeting in 2019 and the Australian, nicknamed Speed Demon, will be a stern test for the Briton.
Who is on Team World?
From left to right: John McEnroe, Tommy Paul, Frances Tiafoe, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Jack Sock, Diego Schwartzman, Taylor Fritz, Alex de Minaur and Patrick McEnroe
Who is on Team Europe?
From left to right: Bjorn Borg, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Thomas Enqvist, Casper Ruud, Matteo Berrettini, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Cameron Norrie
The Fab Four
Roger Federer’s farewell
By Simon Briggs
Roger Federer has admitted the realisation that he would never win another Wimbledon title reduced him to tears last summer.
The 41-year-old, who announced last week that he would be retiring after the ongoing Laver Cup, revealed he broke down after losing to Felix Auger Aliassime in the build-up to his final Wimbledon in 2021.
Feeding off the majesty of his serve, he could still come forward and win short points. But once his opponent gained the upper hand in a rally, he was no longer able to scramble balls back for long.
“When I lost to Felix in Halle [in June 2021], I cried after the match [as] I knew I will not win Wimbledon,” Federer explained. “You come to a certain point where against certain players that are of the good level, you create too many moments of having to defend. [But] there’s nothing left in defence. So I had to play extra offensive and just try to weasel my way through the matches this way.”
It might seem strange to imagine Federer – the male record-holder for Wimbledon titles – having to “weasel his way” through matches, especially on grass. But if we look back at that 2021 Wimbledon, he needed a bit of help in his first-round meeting with the awkward Adrian Mannarino, only moving through when Mannarino fell and sprained his knee while leading by two sets to one.
After more encouraging victories over Richard Gasquet, Cameron Norrie and Lorenzo Sonego, Federer’s singles career ended in the quarter-finals, where Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz stopped him in straight sets.
It is testimony to the ruthlessness of sport that Federer went out with a 6-0 bagel set, just as Donald Bradman registered a duck in his final innings and Usain Bolt pulled a hamstring in the 4x100m relay.
“The end of that match was one of the worst moments of my career because I really felt awful,” said Federer. “It was over, the knee was gone, and then knowing I had to face the media right afterwards in a short amount of time was really hard. But for me, it is what it is. You know you can’t turn back the time and go, ‘Oh, we should have changed this.’
“And that’s why I’m so happy that on my left knee [which had undergone a similar operation four years earlier] I was able to come back and win another three slams, including that comeback win in 2017 in Australia.
“Because I’d had a good experience with my left, I figured, ‘Okay, my right is a very similar surgery. We’ll do that and maybe I’ll get another chance.’ Look, it wasn’t to be, and then obviously the last three years have been pretty tough. You deal with it. Going through rehab, daily progress is small, but I want to be healthy for life. So it was definitely worth it.”
Federer admitted that he regrets his decision to undergo surgery on his right knee in February 2020. As he told reporters at the O2 Arena this week, he has never regained the fluid movement of old, despite the best part of 18 months rehab.
“When I came back [from the 2020 Australian Open] I was so unhappy with my knee and I had been unhappy for several years,” Federer explained. “So maybe doing that surgery, maybe I shouldn’t have in hindsight. But then maybe what could have happened is I would have played and it would have exploded at some moment.
“In that moment, I was 100 per cent convinced it was the right thing to do. I did the surgery, which was successful, and then six weeks later, I have to do another one because something’s wrong again. I mean, this stuff you just can’t predict. There’s always a risk when you open something. That’s why I always said, ‘It’s the beginning of the end once you have had surgery.’”