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Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to team up at Laver Cup: ‘It’s going to be unbelievable’

Roger Federer wants to be fit and firing again at next year’s Australian Open after missing the second half of this season through injury.
Roger Federer, left, is targeting a return to full fitness in time for the start of the 2017 season. Rick Rycroft / AP Photo
Roger Federer, left, is targeting a return to full fitness in time for the start of the 2017 season. Rick Rycroft / AP Photo

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will play doubles together in a new competition pitting Europe against the Rest of the World in a Ryder Cup-style tennis team event.

The Laver Cup was launched in New York on Wednesday with Federer and Nadal, who have won 31 grand slam titles between them, both committed to the event which will be held for the first time in Prague from September 22-24 next year.

Former heavyweights Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe will be the captains.

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Organisers of the tournament, named after Rod Laver, the last man to achieve the calendar Grand Slam in 1969, are hopeful that the current top two in the world, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, will also be persuaded to play.

The new tournament would likely be played just a week after the Davis Cup semi-finals.

“It’s going to be unbelievable to be on the same side of the net as Rafa finally. It’s a great feeling not facing the big forehand,” said Federer, who attended the launch despite injury ruling him out of the US Open which starts in New York on Monday.

Nadal, who has won 23 of his 34 career meetings against Federer, was equally appreciative when asked to list the qualities of his rival.

“Every one,” Nadal, 30, said.

Under the format of the Laver Cup, which will be played every year except in an Olympic season, there will be four matches each day, three in singles, one in doubles.

Europe would start as favourites based on current rankings, at the moment there are only five non-Europeans in the world top 20.

The leading player outside of Europe is Canada’s world No 6 and Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic, currently coached by McEnroe.

“Milos sees these all-time greats and trying to bridge that gap, trying to figure out a way that he can get closer to the (top) guys,” McEnroe said.

Australian Open return

Meanwhile, Federer wants to be fit and firing again at next year’s Australian Open after missing the second half of this season through injury.

Federer, 35, has chosen to sit out the rest of 2016 to recover fully from his knee surgery in February, as well as a back problem that ruled him out of the French Open in May.

His last match was his semi-final defeat to Milos Raonic at Wimbledon and, as well as the Olympic Games in Rio, he has dropped out of the US Open.

“It was a tough decision to say the least, but in some ways a simple decision because your health is the most important thing,” Federer said.

“I don’t see it as the end of something, it’s the beginning of something. When I come back to the Hopman Cup and then to the Australian Open — that’s what I’m working for now.”

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Updated: August 25, 2016 04:00 AM

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