Rafael Nadal is used to pressure, but even he will feel the nerves when he lines up alongside Roger Federer for the Swiss great’s final match.
Federer will lift the curtain on his illustrious career by partnering Nadal in doubles at the Laver Cup after European team captain Bjorn Borg granted the 20-time Grand Slam champion his wish to compete alongside his oldest and biggest rival.
The ‘GOAT Dream Team’, with 42 major titles between them, will face Americans Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe of Team World in London 02 on Friday night.
“It’s a different kind of pressure,” Nadal said. “After all the incredible things we shared together on and off the court, being part of this historic moment is going to be something incredible, something unforgettable for me.
“Hopefully I can have a good chance to play at a decent level, and hopefully together we can create a good time and maybe win a game. So let’s see.
“Of course, being on the pitch, having Roger next to me once again will be something I’m looking forward to. I’m just very happy for that.
“It’s going to be difficult to manage everything, especially for Roger, no doubt. For me too. You know, at the end, one of the most important players, if not the most important player, of my tennis career is leaving.
“I’m going to try to do my best in every way, to help make this moment even more special than it’s going to be.”
The Ryder Cup-style event also opens up the intriguing prospect of two other former world number ones, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, resuming their short-lived and wholly unsuccessful doubles partnership.
The golden pair teamed up as teenagers at the Australian Open in 2006 and in Miami five years later – and lost in the first round both times.
“We were talking about it last night, about different combinations and partnerships in the squad, and obviously that’s up to the captain to decide that, but we have a lot of great options in the squad,” Murray said.
“Me and Novak would be good, yes, but if we don’t, whoever comes out on the doubles court will be a top team.
“Obviously it’ll be fun to play with Novak again. Yeah, 2006 feels like a long time ago. We were talking about that last night. I had hair, like, here. Yeah, it would be fun to do that.
The ‘big four’ all trained together on Thursday afternoon, with Murray and Djokovic on the other side of the net against Federer and Nadal.
However, Djokovic has doubts whether Borg would select him.
“I’m probably the worst doubles player on the team, so I don’t know if I’d be picked,” he said.
“But if we have the chance to play, we hope to win a game, because we lost both.”
Murray, making his debut at the event, will face Australian Alex De Minaur in the first match of the evening.
On the day, Casper Ruud faces Sock and Stefanos Tsitsipas meets Diego Schwartzman.