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Roger Federer says Rafael Nadal is his dream doubles partner at Laver Cup

The pair will play on Bjorn Borg's Team Europe at the 2017 Laver Cup.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 29:  Rafael Nadal of Spain and Rod Laver look on as Roger Federer of Switzerland poses with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup on stage after the Men's Final match on day 14 of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 29, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
The legends themselves: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with icon Rod Laver at the 2017 AO

What’s the story? 

Roger Federer has revealed that he would like longtime rival and close friend Rafael Nadal to partner him at the Rod Laver Cup, to be held in the Czech capital of Prague this September. 

“I’ve always wanted to play with Rafa,” he said, “because our rivalry is so special.”

The tournament, named after Australian tennis great Rod Laver, will pit a team from Europe – led by icon Bjorn Borg – against the John McEnroe-led Rest Of the World, with Federer in Prague to promote the event with local hero Tomas Berdych. 

In case you didn’t know...

2017 will be the inaugural year for the Laver Cup, an international tournament that is due to be played annually, except during Olympic years, two weeks after the conclusion of the year’s US Open. 

Two sides will play the tournament, one team from Europe and the other from the Rest of the World, with six players on each side. Tennis icons Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, who shared one of the most iconic rivalries in the history of the sport, will captain each side. 

Four players on each team will be picked according to the ATP singles rankings at that point of time, while the two remaining players on each side will be picked by their respective captains. 

The heart of the matter

Federer, who has repeatedly spoken of his respect for Nadal, said the Spaniard would be his dream partner; the two have a now 35-match rivalry, that most recently culminated at the finals of the 2017 Australian Open, with Federer winning a record 18th Major, his fifth Australian Open title overall. 

Last year, both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal confirmed they would be part of the event, with both representing Europe as the captain’s picks. 

Federer, who is currently enjoying a break after his Australian Open win, is in Prague to promote the September event ahead of the ATP500 event in Dubai. 

Although the team features both former No. 1s, Federer said he would not get complacent. "I think Team Europe are going to be big favourites but because of the setup of the Laver Cup I think the margins are always going to be very slim," he told reporters at a press conference for the event.

What’s next? 

Federer is next scheduled to play at the ATP500 event in Dubai, previously known as the Dubai Duty Free tennis championships. He has won seven titles there in the past, a record highest for the event – incidentally, of seven finals, giving him a 100% success rate there. 

He last won the title in 2015 with a straight sets win over Novak Djokovic, although 2016 US Open champion Stan Wawrinka is the reigning champion here. 

Sportskeeda’s take

The Laver Cup promises to be the biggest exhibition tournament of them all on the sheer basis of billing alone. Bjorn Borg, who retired at only 26, will come back against his favourite rival – and in the years after retirement, close friend John McEnroe, giving fans who may have been too young to watch them firsthand a chance to see the rivalry again. 

It is not certain yet if the two will actually play a match – truncated or otherwise – on court, but given both are still very fit, that would not be a big surprise. 

With the conclusion of 2017’s final Slam, this will be a tournament to watch out for. 

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