A tearful Federer denied the adventure ended in the final match of his decorated career at the Laver Cup

A tearful Federer denied the adventure ended in the final match of his decorated career at the Laver Cup

A tearful Federer denied the adventure ended in the final match of his decorated career at the Laver Cup

A tearful Roger Federer bid farewell to a 25-year career with defeat at the Laver Cup in a doubleheader that went past midnight in London.

Federer teamed up with long-time rival Rafael Nadal against American duo Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock as Team Europe take on Team World at the O2 Arena.

After winning the first set, the Swiss and Spaniard were met with a spirited fightback from Tiafoe and Sock, who won a tie-break in the second set before also managing to win the match tie-break to secure victory 4-6 7- 6 (7) -2) 11-9.

There had been great excitement in London on Friday for the fifth edition of the three-day competition.

Federer, 41, had not played a match since being knocked out of Wimbledon by Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals last year due to a knee injury.

There were big cheers when Federer and Nadal entered the court and loud roars for the Swiss great player when he came up with his first winner.

There was a sensational moment in the first set when Federer appeared to have won a point after his shot hit the top of the net and bounced in, only for a replay to show the ball had somehow been hit through a small gap between the net and the post, meaning that Team Europe lost the point, despite the remarkably unlikely event of the ball passing through such a gap.

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were among Federer and Nadal’s teammates to offer some tactical input between games, with the legendary duo saving a first break point of the match before the Spaniard held to put them 5-4 up.

It was two all-time greats who took a tight opening set as Sock volleyed into the net, prompting Team World captain John McEnroe to tell his doubles pair that they appeared to be “caught up in the pile”.

A determined Team World managed to level it after a back-and-forth second set went to a tie-break, with Tiafoe and Sock coming out on top with their superior power and pace.

It took it to a dramatic deciding match tie-break, with every point holding the fans’ breath, including some trademark Federer magic at 6-7 when he headed a Sock shot across the court for a crowd-pleasing winner.

It looked like the dream script was being followed when Federer served on match point for himself and Nadal, but the former could only hit a shot into the net, before Sock and Tiafoe won the next two points to seal victory for Team World.

Then there were hugs all the way as respect was paid to the 20-time grand slam winner at the end of a phenomenal career.

Earlier in the day, Casper Ruud drew first blood for Team Europe, beating Sock 6-4 5-7 10-7, before Stefanos Tsitsipas doubled the advantage with an emphatic 6-2 6-1 defeat of Diego Schwartzman.

There was drama after the first set of the second singles match when a protester, wearing a T-shirt with the message “END UK PRIVATE JETS” on it, set his arm on fire on the court before being escorted off by security.

Alex de Minaur then got Team World on the board with a 5-7 6-3 10-7 success over home favorite Murray before the late-night main event under the lights.

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