The 41-year-old told a packed press conference he will play one final match this Friday (Saturday AEST) in London before calling time on his illustrious career.
Federer, who announced his retirement last week, forged the plan in conversation with Team Europe captain Bjorn Borg.
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“It’s an event I don’t want to mess with, but I know my limitations,” Federer said of the Laver Cup, a tournament he helped co-create.
“I asked Bjorn if I could play one doubles, on Friday night, then Matteo (Berrettini) comes in. I’m nervous, I haven’t played in so long.”
The Swiss added: “It is clear that the most beautiful thing would be to play doubles here with Nadal, because it has been my great rivalry.”
His other two great adversaries Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray form Team Europe alongside Berrettini, Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas, who will face a world team featuring Taylor Fritz, Felix Augur-Aliassime and Diego Schwartzman.
Federer, whose most recent competitive match was a loss in the 2021 Wimbledon quarter-finals, admitted he had “stopped believing” that he could overcome his ongoing knee troubles.
“The last three years have been tough to say the least,” he told the BBC.
“I knew I was on very thin ice for the last year, ever since I played Wimbledon. I tried to come back but there was a limit to what I could do. And I stopped believing in it, to be honest.”
Federer said it was a scan on his knee a few months ago when he “very quickly realised this was it”.
“Then the question becomes: how do you announce and when do you announce? This is when it becomes reality. It was ok but stressful,” he said.
Federer’s next career move
Looking to the future, Federer said the immediate plan in retirement is a holiday with his wife Mirka and their four children.
While he still has to “figure things out a little bit”, he revealed he would “love to always mentor children and get a new Swiss superstar going”.
“If I can help the federation a little bit here and there, you know, I can see those things,” he said.
“I love this game and I want to stay involved in some shape or form. I won’t be a ghost or a stranger.”
Federer also anticipates a return to Wimbledon, behind the microphone.
“Funnily enough, I always thought I’ll never go on the journalist side and that commentary would never be a thing for me,” he told reporters.
“But six months ago, or maybe more, I was thinking ‘oh, you know what? Commentating the odd match or giving back in this way, I guess I could imagine it’.
“I was like ‘what? I can’t even believe I’m saying that’.”
Federer said he is “totally happy to step away” from playing professionally having “totally overachieved in my mind” during his illustrious career.
He reflected fondly on his rivalries with Nadal, Djokovic and Murray.
“All of a sudden there was this beautiful mix, we’re all winning for 10 plus years, all the same tournaments, almost nobody else could win anything else. It was like a lock on the big tournaments,” he said.
“So I think, also for the fans, it’s been a joy to watch, and I’m sure some fans will be sad I’m leaving, of course, but then again, there will always be wonderful new people.”
But he will not indulge in the GOAT debate, saying there are too many variables.
From winning old versus winning young to winning on the various surfaces – or even having dominant seasons versus titles after injury comebacks – “it really is impossible to grasp”.
“People always like to compare. I see it every day with my twins,” Federer said.
“Without wanting, you compare them. You shouldn’t – ever. Naturally, we do the same in tennis. I am my own career, my own player, that needed those challenges. They needed a challenger like myself.
“We made each other better. So at the end of the day, we’ll all shake hands and be like ‘that was awesome’.”
– with AAP