Roger Federer vs. Rod Laver at Australian Open

Story highlights

Roger Federer and Rod Laver delight Melbourne crowd by playing a few rallies

Federer was playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a charity match to raise money for his foundation

Australian Laver won 11 grand slam titles during his 13-year playing career

The Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne plays host to the Australian Open finals

CNN  — 

Roger Federer is not often upstaged.

But ahead of a charity match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Melbourne, the 17-time grand slam winner played second fiddle to a bona fide Australian sporting great.

In the arena which bears his name, Rod Laver – a former world No. 1 and winner of 11 grand slam singles titles – returned to the court.

Before facing Frenchman Tsonga in a match aimed at raising money for the Roger Federer Foundation, the Swiss exchanged a few rallies with the 75-year-old who retired in 1976.

For Federer it was an opportunity to hit with his hero, even if Laver isn’t the athlete he once was.

“Hitting with Rod Laver for me clearly is an absolute dream come true,” Federer, who will be bidding for a fifth Australian Open over the next fortnight, told reporters.

“It’s in his arena as well, it’s named after him and he deserves it so much. He told me that his wrist was hurting less on the forehand so he asked me to play there a bit more often.

“While I was playing my racket was feeling extremely heavy, that means I was very nervous which I really was because you don’t want to miss a shot.

“I was happy we had some rallies. What an honour it was for me and I hope that the crowd enjoyed it and I’m very thankful that he was willing to do something like this because it’s not normal in any way and that’s why I really appreciate it.”

While Federer will be competing for a winner’s check $2.3 million winner’s check at Melbourne Park, Laver earned a comparatively modest $1.5 million during his glittering 13-year career.

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