Along with Novak Djkovic, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal have battled to become among the best tennis players in the world.

The 40 meetings between the Swiss and Spanish stars, with Nadal winning most of them and always in the championship rounds of tournaments, did not result in any off-court animosity between them.

Off the court, Rafa and Roger have a close friendship and respect for one another.

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Because of this, Nadal’s answer to Federer’s retirement announcement on Thursday was especially anticipated, and his written words clearly reflect his true feelings.

Nadal’s message to Federer:

“Dear Roger, my friend and rival.”

“I wish this day had never come. It is a sad day for me personally and for sports around the world.”

“It has been a pleasure but also an honor and a privilege to share all these years with you, living so many incredible moments on and off the court.”

“We will have many more moments to share together in the future, there are still many things to do together, we know that.”

“For now, I really wish you all the happiness with your wife, Mirka, your children, your family and enjoy what lies ahead.”

“I will see you in London at the Laver Cup.”

Since July 2021, Roger Federer has not participated in an official match because of injuries that prohibited him from being ready to play in Grand Slam competitions and retire at the top as he had hoped.

Rafa Nadal has long been a favourite of the Swiss, and one of the last occasions he mentioned the Spaniard was following the most recent Roland Garros.

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“It’s incredible what Rafa has achieved. Pete Sampras’ record, which I beat, was 14 Grand Slam titles, and he already has 22,” he said.

“Rafa has won Roland Garros 14 times. It’s unbelievable. I’m very happy that he did it. I take my hat off to him.”

“After the tenth, the eleventh…I was already thinking, ‘This can’t be.’ But he keeps raising the bar. He’s gigantic.”