‘Sad’ Roger Federer’s touching tribute to Rafael Nadal, hopes for more ‘epic battles’

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

Roger Federer paid a touching tribute to Rafael Nadal after his rival was forced to withdraw from their BNP Paribas Open semi-final.

The two tennis greats were due to meet for the 39th time in their professional careers, but 17-time Grand Slam winner Nadal pulled out of their semi-final due to a knee problem.

The Spaniard’s injury flared up during his quarter-final match against Karen Khachanov and he decided a few hours before the Federer clash that he was not able to play.

Federer expressed his sadness via Twitter.

And later gave a bit more detail in his press conference.

“Rafa texted me a message saying ‘It’s not going to be possible, my knee is not well,” the Swiss said.

“It’s definitely a big letdown because I know the anticipation [for the match] was there and the tension was so high for the both of us.

“I’m obviously excited to be in the final, but not this way. He was playing some of his best tennis again, so I was looking forward to the match and I’m sorry it didn’t happen.”

He added: “We’ve had so many epic battles and I know every match we have now could be our last. Was this our chance for the last one? I really hope not.

“I believe at the level he’s playing and that I’m still going at, there’s going to be more. But if we keep staying up high in the [ATP Rankings], it’s more of a challenge to get to each other in the draw as well.”

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