The True Story of Federer and Nadal Shaking Hands Photo: ‘Almost Forgot’

The photo of Roger Federer shaking hands with Rafa Nadal on the bench during Switzerland’s retirement celebrations has become iconic. The ex-Master explained how he lived those moments and what happened.

Author: Marco Beltrami

The curtain has fallen on the professional career of Roger Federerbut behind the scenes sneakers will continue to be an important part of your life. He still doesn’t know how and in what role, but one thing is certain: there will always be a special place in the future for the sport that “gave him everything”. Every now and then, also because now the emotional wave of what happened on that memorable night at the O2 Arena in London is still going strong. It will be hard to forget his retirement, definitely at the height of an absolutely unique and incredible tennis court.

We will see for a long time the images and videos of what happened after the double play challenge alongside Rafael Nadal against Sock and Tiafoe, content destined to become historic and iconic in terms of beauty and intensity. The choice of the Laver Cup as the farewell tournament for tennis played was perfect: Roger was joined by his all-time rivals and by some of the strongest players of the moment, in that London that recalled the successes and records of Wimbledon, then surrounded by his friends and family.

As much as Federer thought at that moment, and as much as he prepared for the exit, emotions then took over. Impossible to hold back tears for the 41-year-old, who never expected to find himself on the bench cry with Rafael Nadal. The two in their careers faced each other, hated each other in sports, grew up together, one was a stimulus and a goal for the other, always with infinite respect and esteem, to the point of becoming friends off the field. If there is a perfect definition of a sports rivalrythis one is certainly theirs, with the Spaniard admitting he was emotional even after returning home.

Despite his wife’s pregnancy, Nadal struggled to be by Roger Federer’s side on the night of his farewell. A situation that made their bond even more special, as the Swiss revealed to the New York Times: “I called Rafa after the US Open, waited for the tournament to end to let him know of my retirement before I started making plans for the Laver Cup. I told him on the phone that I probably had 50/60% to double: ‘Look, I’ll keep you posted. Let me know how things are at home and we’ll hear from you.’ He was very clear and told me ‘I will do anything to be there with you'”.

Federer and Nadal smile during the last couples of their career
Federer and Nadal smile during the last couples of their career

The former Swiss world number one appreciated very much what Rafa did, which once again proved to be special, as well as the relationship that unites the two players: “For me it was amazing, and it proved once again what we mean to each other and how much respect we have. I thought it would be a beautiful and extraordinary story for us, for the sport, for tennis and beyond, where we can coexist despite a tough rivalry and prove that ‘hey, it’s just tennis'”.

The rest is history, with laughter on the field during the match to underline the great complicity, and then tears at the time of celebrations. Inevitably, Rafa also collapsed, thinking about how important Federer was to his career as an opponent and as a “player to beat”. An epilogue that for Roger emotionally went beyond all expectations: “I just thought that turned out even better than I ever thought it would be. Rafa made an incredible effort to be there and of course I will never forget what he did for me in London.”.

Nadal comforts Federer on the bench
Nadal comforts Federer on the bench

An uncontrollable mix of sensations, thoughts and emotions, summarized by the photo in which Federer’s hand seeks rival friend’s hand on the bench always Nadal, as they both dissolve in tears: “I think I’ve always had a hard time keeping my emotions in check, winning and losing. At first it was more about anger and sadness. Also, I was crying with joy”.

In reality everything happened by itself, with Federer letting himself be carried away by the moment: “I saw the picture. I think at one point I was crying a lot, and I don’t know, everything was going through my head about how happy I was actually living this moment right there with everyone. And I think it was so nice to sit there, listening to everything as the music played. I I almost forgot I’m still being photographed.”

What is behind this gesture? What does that handshake mean? For Roger it is a form of gratitude: “A at some point, just because obviously I couldn’t speak and the music was there, I think I just played it, and I think maybe it was a secret ‘thank you’. I don’t know what it was, but for me maybe this is it and how I felt, and some pictures showed that.” And all the rest is history.

Source: Fan Page IT