The 20-time Grand Slam champion, 41, and Nadal, playing for Team Europe, went down 6-4, 6-7 (2/7), 9-11 against Team World’s Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock.
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“We’ll get through this somehow,” said Federer while being interviewed on court at London’s O2 Arena by fellow Grand Slam winner Jim Courier.
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“It’s been a wonderful day,” added the Swiss star, playing for the first time since Wimbledon 2021 because of a knee injury.
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“I told the guys I’m happy, not sad. It feels great to be here. I enjoyed tying my shoelaces one more, every thing was the last time.
“I didn’t feel the stress so much even though I thought maybe something was going to go, like a calf, but the match was great.
“Playing with Rafa and having all the greats here, all the legends, thank you.”
Having paid tribute to his wife and parents for their support, Federer added: “It does feel like a celebration…It’s been an amazing journey.”