Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock will face Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to open the Laver Cup

Jack Sock attends a training session ahead of the 2022 Laver Cup on September 20, 2022 in London.

Frances Tiafoe thrust himself into the spotlight of world tennis earlier this month when he made his first run to a Grand Slam singles semi-final at the US Open.

The 24-year-old from Maryland is back in the world’s attention this week, albeit for slightly different reasons.

Tiafoe and fellow American Olympian Jack Sock are set to meet two of the sport’s all-time legends, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, in a doubles match on Friday at the Laver Cup, a men’s team tournament taking place in London.

And oh by the way, this happens to be Federer’s last competitive tournament.

The 41-year-old Swiss, holder of 20 Grand Slam singles titles, announced last week that he was retiring. It’s only fitting that he would end his career playing alongside longtime rival Nadal of Spain, who holds a men’s record 22 Grand Slam singles titles.

“Yeah, I’m just excited to play against two newcomers tomorrow,” said deadpan Tiafoe.

Tiafoe and Sock are among six players in Team World, led by American tennis great John McEnroe. Bjorn Borg is the head of Team Europe, which has, shall we say, only a bit of star power. As well as Federer and Nadal, the European squad also includes 21-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Britain’s Andy Murray, giving Bjorg the sport’s ‘big four’ who have collectively dominated the past two decades of the sport. male tennis.

With Federer’s retirement looming, much of the focus this weekend will be on his game on Friday.

“It will be iconic to be a part of it,” Tiafoe said. “Both guys are absolute legends. And of course, (this is) Roger’s last dance.

While Team Europe boasts four of the best players of all time, the Laver Cup is also a showcase for some of the sport’s best young stars, including US Open runner-up Casper Ruud of Norway, Taylor Fritz of the United States and, of course, Tiafoe.

The son of immigrants from Sierra Leone, he started hitting balls while his father worked as a maintenance worker at a local tennis center. Officials there noticed his talent and he was soon on his way to stardom. Tiafoe made his Olympic debut last year in Tokyo and earlier this month became the first American to reach the US Open semifinals since Andy Roddick in 2006.

The Laver Cup continues through Sunday with doubles and singles matches. Lineups for the final two days will be announced later.

“Obviously tomorrow night is going to be a more than iconic night, a doubles match,” said Sock, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in men’s doubles. “I’m just thrilled to be a part of it with my guy Foe, you know, next to me.”

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