Behind the ‘raw’ photo of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal that captures their enduring friendship, is a story and history that has a profound effect on tennis today and the way in which Federer has been viewed by his peers.
It’s just a couple of years ago that Nadal and Federer first became friends when the Spanish superstar invited the Swiss star to come and train at his facility in Spain. In the years that followed, Federer played a number of clay court tournaments, and Nadal appeared to have a ‘great time.’
However, Federer never forgot his friend’s generosity and thought that Nadal should have kept his good mood going.
He knew Nadal had had a rough year and was dealing with serious injuries. Federer asked Nadal to drop out of the Davis Cup. Nadal refused. Federer then said he would rather see him retire in order to ensure Nadal’s safety. Nadal didn’t want to retire and Federer was determined to see him play. Nadal’s decision put Federer in a tough spot.
“You’ve got to be honest,” Federer says. “I felt for Rafael. I thought it was an honest thing to do. But he said ‘I’m going to retire’ and everything is just going to be fine. I thought ‘No, this is bulls—‘ I felt sorry for him, I felt sorry for all the people coming to his matches, it’s a pretty hard thing to do, especially when you think you’re one of the best players on the planet.”
But Federer had a reason for thinking of Nadal’s predicament.
“He’s one of the most talented players on the planet,” he says. “He has a lot of talent and more than talent he has heart. He is a great guy. He’s a great friend. This was a tough one.”
At the time, Federer was only 23 and Nadal 27 years old. Nadal’s career was going well, Federer says