Roger Federer’s retirement is a “sad day” for the sport, says rival Rafael Nadal

Federer and Nadal played each other 40 times, with Nadal winning 24 of those matches

Roger Federer’s decision to retire from tennis is a “sad day”, his great rival Rafael Nadal has said.

Only Spain’s Nadal, with 22 majors, and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, with 21, have more men’s Grand Slam singles titles than the 41-year-old.

“Dear Roger, my friend and rival. I wish this day would never come,” Nadal posted on social networks.external link

“It’s a sad day for me and for sports around the world.”

Nadal defeated Federer 24 times in 40 matches in one of the most famous rivalries in tennis history.

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

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

“For now, I really wish you all the best with your wife, Mirka, your children, your family and whatever you enjoy ahead of you. I’ll see you in London.”

‘The most complete game of its generation’

Federer made his professional debut at the age of 16 in 1998 and won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003.

All England Lawn Tennis Club president Ian Hewitt congratulated Federer on “a truly outstanding career”.

“He will be celebrated as one of our greatest Wimbledon champions of all time, having lifted the trophy eight times from 22 appearances at the All England Club,” added Hewitt.

Billie Jean King, a 12-time Grand Slam winner, called Federer a “champion of champions”.

“He has the most complete game of his generation and captured the hearts of sports fans around the world with his amazing speed on the court and his strong tennis spirit.” he tweeted.

ATP President Andrea Gaudenzi said: “He ushered in an incredible new era of growth and increased the popularity of our sport. Few athletes have surpassed their field in this way.”