When It’s Time to Say Goodbye …

Everything has an expiry date – including life and the individual chapters in life. This fact also applies to the world stars of sports. For that reason, 41-year-old Roger Federer’s official farewell match in international top tennis a few days ago became an event with lots of emotions, both on and off the court. It wasn’t just Federer, who has won a total of 20 Grand Slam titles, been No. 1 on the ATP’s World rankings for 310 weeks, named “World Sportsman of the Year” as many as 5 times and earned more than 10 billion DKK in prize money and personal sponsorships – throughout his more than 20-year career. Federer’s biggest rival and good friend throughout his career – Rafael Nadal from Spain – was also very affected and let his emotions at Federer’s farewell to international top tennis.

It’s “only” tennis

A few days after Roger Federer’s farewell matches, the likeable Swiss said the following to the New York Times (28’th of September 2022): “Of course I was very touched when “Rafa” said to me: “I will do everything to be there with you when you playing your last international tennis match – even though my wife is pregnant”. His words and actions showed how much we mean to each other and how much respect we have for each other. It would just be a beautiful, amazing story for us, for tennis and for sports. And maybe we could also show how we can compete in a strong rivalry. But also show that it is “only” tennis. “Rafa” and I have always had very tough matches, but always fair. We have also shown that you can come out on the other side and still have a strong personal friendship. I will never forget what “Rafa” did for me in London”.

Rafael Nadal – The pride of Mallorca

Rafael Nadal was born and raised in Manacor on Mallorca. His parents were wealthy and very passionate about sports, just like the rest of his family. One of his uncles – Miguel Ángel Nadal – was a professional footballer who played for RCD Mallorca, FC Barcelona and 62 caps for Spain. However, it was another uncle – Toni Nadal – who quickly discovered “Rafa’s” unique talent of ballgames, both in football and tennis. When “Rafa” was 12 years old, football was rejected and all time was then spent on tennis, both nationally and internationally. Nadal’s international career started in 2002, where he was already among the world’s 50 best players as a 16-year-old. And three years later he – still as a teenager – won the first Grand Slam title at the French Open. Subsequently, the 36-year-old left-hander has won a total of 22 Grand Slam titles – more than any other tennis player in the world. And like Roger Federer, Nadal has won all four Grand Slams: Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open. The French Open in particular has been Rafael Nadal’s favorite tournament, which he has won no fewer than 14 times – most recently in June 2022 with a final victory over Casper Ruud from Norway. In addition, Nadal has won Olympic gold both in singles (Beijing 2008) and in doubles with compatriot Marc Lopes (Rio de Janeiro 2016) as well as the World Championship for national teams (Davis Cup) a total of 6 times for Spain.

Federer vs. Nadal – matches between two different playing styles

From their first match in 2004 until today, the two tennis legends have met a total of 40 times, of which no less than 9 matches have been Grand Slam finals. It can be difficult to single out some matches over others, but most tennis experts agree that the Wimbledon final in 2008, which lasted almost 5 hours before Nadal was able to win the last ball for 9-7 in 5 sets, is one of the most exciting and well-played tennis matches in history. Over the years, the matches between the two legends have also been a battle between two different playing styles: Federer as the “all-round player”, who masters both offensive and defensive play with elegant footwork and mental calmness against Nadal’s aggressive playing style with unique topspin in the forehand, fast footwork and a strong will to fight.

Rafael Nadal Academy – an impressive sports center

Yesterday I visited the “Rafael Nadal Academy”, which is located outside Manacor in Mallorca. The sports center, which was opened in 2016, contains a total of 26 tennis courts – both indoor and outdoor courts – Olympic-standard swimming pool, soccer field, medical clinic with doctors, physiotherapists, physical trainers and other professional experts. The center also includes a hotel, restaurant, bars and wellness with a spa, where both top athletes and talents can relax after training. Nadal still lives with his family in Manacor and he often invites young tennis talents, both from Spain and other countries, to training camps at the sports center. Among these is the 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, who a few weeks ago won the US Open and who is currently is No. 1 in the world ranking – just ahead of his role model: Rafael Nadal.

Life and sports career include everything

When the “accounts” of life and the sports career are to be calculated, it is essential that everything is included: Victories and defeats, losses and gains, joys and disappointments, diligence and laziness, realities and emotions, lifelong friendships and superficial acquaintances and much, much more. A few days ago, two of the world’s most professional and richest top athletes – Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – showed with an emotional handshake in a short moment that (elite) sport can lead to one of life’s greatest and strongest qualities: A lifelong friendship.

Further information:

Roger Federer’s website: https://www.rogerfederer.com

Rafael Nadal’s website: https://rafaelnadal.com

Rafael Nadal Academy: https://www.rafanadalacademy.com