Federer's emotional grand finale ends in defeat

STORY: Tennis maestro Roger Federer's trophy-laden career ended with defeat on Friday.

But for once the result barely mattered, as the Swiss player headed into retirement with tears in his eyes and cheers ringing in his ears.

“...and it does feel like a celebration to me. I wanted to feel like this at the end, and it’s exactly what I hoped for, so, thank you.// It’s been great. It’s been so much fun, it’s been amazing. Thank you everybody. I’ve had so many people cheer me on, and you guys here tonight, means the world.”

Federer's Laver Cup finale drew a sellout crowd of 17,500 people at London's O2 Arena.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion was returning after more than a year away to play in a doubles match alongside Rafa Nadal - the Spaniard with whom he shared one of tennis's most captivating rivalries.

But the pair lost a clash against Americans Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe.

Tears flowed after the match as a montage of Federer's feats was projected on the black court.

He thanked his family for their support during his impressive career.

“...my wife’s been so supportive, and she could have stopped me long, long time ago, but she didn’t. She kept me going and allowed me to play, so, it’s amazing. Thank you.”

Nadal cried as his great rival bid an emotional farewell.

He later said an important part of him was also leaving the men's Tour with Federer's retirement.