Portugal's most successful male player, Joao Sousa, had a retirement ceremony to remember at his home tournament in Estoril this week as Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal joined force to pay tribute to the man they each dubbed a friend in a special video tribute.

Sousa, 35, announced his plans to retire at his home country's sole ATP tournament, which he won in 2018, in February, and his career officially ended when lost his opening match at the tournament to Frenchman Arthur Fils, 7-5, 6-4.

In the "Obrigado, João" clip show, Djokovic hailed Sousa's trademark on-court effort, saying that it was "something that I really admire."

"You always brought a fighting spirit, a tenacity, never giving up," Djokovic said.


"Congratulations on your incredible career, you did incredible things for Portuguese tennis and you will be an inspiration for many children in the future," Nadal said in Spanish. "As a friend, I wanted to thank you for all the fun moments we had on the circuit, they are unforgettable."

The Big 3 were joined by other ATP stars including Andrey Rublev, Gael Monfils, Casper Ruud, Frances Tiafoe and Stefanos Tsitsipas to salute the 35-year-old, whose name will forever be in the history books as the first Portuguese player to win an ATP singles title.

Sousa, a winner of four career titles in all, also reached the second week at a pair of Grand Slam tournaments, and peaked at a career-high ranking of No. 26 in 2016.


"Many congratulations ... not only for your achievements on the court, but especially off it," Federer closed the video by saying. "You were always someone nice to have around. You're a great player, I loved spending time with you on and off the court.

"I hope you enjoy your retirement. Portugal must be very proud to have you."