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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday, September 23, 2022

Rafael Nadal was an emotional wreck last night in London, and tears were flowing as he said goodbye to longtime friend and rival Roger Federer.

The pair have become close over the years, their rivalry evolving into a friendship that elevated the status of each as a part of something that is bigger than the sport.

As Federer’s tears flowed on Friday night, Nadal sat courtside by his friend, bawling his eyes out.

It was a moment that will not be forgotten, one that will be forever remembered in the annals of our sport.

At the podium in their post-match press conference, Nadal explained his feelings.

“For me, have been huge honor to be a part of this amazing moment of the history of our sport, and at the same time a lot of years sharing a lot of things together,” he said. “When Roger leaves the tour, an important part of my life is leaving too because all the moments that he have been next or in front me in important moments of my life. So have been emotional see the family, see all the people.

“Difficult to describe. But, yeah, amazing moment.”

Federer did his best to explain the connection he feels with Nadal, a player who burst onto the scene as his personal kryptonite in the 2000s. For some time, Nadal was the only man who could touch Federer, and he even expanded his empire to grass, where he famously overcame Federer in the 2008 Wimbledon final – often spoken of as the greatest match of a generation.

“I don't know how we got to this place over all these years, you know. We have been very connected, especially, I feel, especially last 10 years, I'd say,” Federer said. “I think we enjoy each other's company, and we have so much to look back on, but also just enjoy spending time together. We have a million topics to cover. I always feel like any evening we ever spent together we never have enough time.”

Nadal has his own take on what the two rivals-cum-friends share.

“Have been super long and positive journey,” he said. “I mean, we started with I arrive on the tour, and when I started to be better player, then was Roger always there in front of me. For me was always the guy to beat. So at some point we were probably the biggest rivals - I think always in a very good way. We respect a lot each other, families, teams. I mean, we never had big issues, no?”

Nadal emphasized that at a point during their careers, the friendship became personal, rather than professional.

“I think every year the personal relationship gets better and better, you know, in a daily basis. I think in some way we understand at the end we have a lot of things similar. We approach the life probably similar,” he said. “On court we have completely opposite styles, and that's what probably makes our matches and our rivalry probably one of the biggest and most interesting.

“But in the family life, personal life, probably we approach life not in a very different way, no? So that's why we can trust each other, we can speak very often, and we're able to speak very feeling free, feeling confident. Having somebody like Roger that I feel confident to talk about any personal thing, it's something that it's very beautiful after all the things that we shared together and all the important things that we fighted for such a long time.

“Very proud to be part, as I said before, very proud to be part of his career in some way. But happier to finish our career like friends after everything we shared on court like rivals.”