Hey guys, time for another fan story on the blog this time Cincinnati. This one comes from Shannon Whitaker who was lucky enough to see Fed play Monfils and one of his practice sessions.
We've now had fan stories from Toronto, Halle, French Open, Monte Carlo and the Davis Cup tie against Kazakhstan. Hopefully we get a couple more in before the year is out 😀 . You can check them all out here.
Federer Fan Story: Cincinnati Masters 2014
Thursday was another sunny and relatively cool day for Cincinnati tennis standards. 80 degrees F with no humidity which is a very rare weather phenomenon for August in Ohio. Roger had a great practice with Alexander Zverez in front of a packed court. There was a lot of hard hitting and Roger went through his usual routine of starting at the baseline, moving forward for volleys, overheads and then a special focus on backhand service returns. Zverez serious throughout, looked poised beyond his young age. I sat with a group of Federer fans and we let out a cheer during the session when we heard the announcement from Center Court that Robredo had beaten Djokovic in two sets. Otherwise the large crowd was quiet except for the occasional oohs and ahhs for a good shot.
When the session was over, Alex broke his serious demeanor and looked like Christmas had come early, grinning from ear to ear. After the 35 minute hit, Roger stayed on court and visited with Alex and his coach for another 15 minutes. Stefan Edberg sat quietly nearby in a chair, examining his racket and phone. Roger only got the hint that it was time to leave when Stefan Edberg opened the gate and motioned at the golf cart waiting to take them back to the players lounge. Not so subtle for the Swede!
The Federer Monfils match was under clear skies and in a packed house. As the air cooled and night took over, the temperature on the court ramped up on both sides of the net. The lines people seemed to be in slow motion. At some critical times making late and often incorrect calls, and on top of that, hawkeye was a fickle date. At one point in the third set the umpire, Carlos Bernandes, was getting chastised in stereo from both Roger and Monfils. Roger displayed an unusual amount of passion and fight this match. Monfils came out to play and made Roger work for the win and as the pressure increased Roger became more irritable at times and frustrated. Exhorting himself and then cursing himself the next moment. The crowd was generally for the 5 time Cincinnati champ but most weren't too sad to see the match go three sets.
The athletic and entertaining Monfils was having an “on” night and he raised his game as the match progressed. An inconsistent first serve gave Roger fits especially in the third set; at one point smacking a ball high into the air, and then hitting himself in head several times after missing an important service point. With the inconsistent first serve Roger’s level of play was more stilted and came in fits and starts. As things progressed though, Roger began painting the lines and coming into the net. Along with the missed first serves, Roger pushed probably up to 8 volleys long after carefully constructing points which was tough to watch as well. But Roger never gave up on coming in, and there were many entertaining points up at the net.
Roger was pushing all the buttons, trying to get Monfils to mentally crumble but Monfils held firm and using his own passion to motivate himself to hang in there. There were some great showmen shots from both Roger and Monfils. They went tit for tat with volley and drop shots. Late in the third set Roger did a Sampras-like overhead smash, air born and aggressive; it got me on my feet cheering and I think it was therapeutic for Roger. Shortly after that, more net play earned Roger two break points. He broke on the second one and then served out the match for the win.
I am sure Roger was relieved to put the match behind him. Monfils came to play and pushed Roger to fight. Monfils focused on the Federer backhand and ran down quite a few shots that others would never had gotten. But Roger wanted it more, fought for it more and in the end created the opportunities he needed to give him that sliver of an edge for the win. Roger left the stadium just before midnight, signing patiently for about 100 fans that had waited after the match was over. Late but successful night at the office.