Doubles a one-off for Roger, Rafa

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer (right) in action on the same side of the net for once. The duo combined for Team Europe to beat Team World pair Sam Querrey and Jack Sock in their Laver Cup doubles match on Saturday.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer (right) in action on the same side of the net for once. The duo combined for Team Europe to beat Team World pair Sam Querrey and Jack Sock in their Laver Cup doubles match on Saturday.ST PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PRAGUE • The tennis world stopped for 81 minutes to watch Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer feature on the same side of the net at the Laver Cup on Saturday. But after they played doubles together for the first time, the duo ruled out a full-time partnership on the Tour.

The world's highest ranking duo handed Team Europe, skippered by Bjorn Borg, a 9-3 lead over Team World, captained by John McEnroe, after two days of action in Prague.

With all eyes at Prague's sold-out O2 Arena on the two legends' doubles match against Sam Querrey and Jack Sock, they started on a high, earning a break in the first set to win 6-4. They visibly enjoyed the experience, with Federer laughing off a massive air shot halfway through the set.

However, they were far more serious in the second set as both lost service games, allowing the American pair to level 6-1.

Much to their relief, the world's top two players, with 35 Grand Slam singles titles between them, regained their composure in time to sweep their rivals 10-5 in a super tie-break. But they both denied planning a future as a doubles pair, saying it was "not a good idea".

"I don't want to kill your expectations," Federer told Nadal.

Nadal, 31, said he will remember teaming up with his old rival and close friend for the first time.

"It was unforgettable for both of us after the history we have behind us as rivals. Something we really enjoyed a lot," said the Spaniard.

"To have the possibility to have Roger next to me is a huge privilege... something I wanted to make happen at some point and today I made it happen."

Federer, 36, who last played men's doubles in 2015, added: "For me personally it was a great moment too. After this we'll be rivals again, thank God or unfortunately, however you want to see it."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2017, with the headline 'Doubles a one-off for Roger, Rafa'. Print Edition | Subscribe