Fan StoriesHalleRoger Federer

Federer Fan Story from Halle – “I’ve left a little bit of my heart there”

Hey guys, those of you who enjoy reading Federer Fan Stories will be pleased to know just a couple of weeks after posting Alex's experience at Roland Garros I have another one 🙂 . This one comes from Ruchi who spent 4 days watching the GOAT in Halle. No more needed from me, take it away Ruchi…

“I've left a little bit of my heart there”

That's what Roger said in his interview after the Final at Halle. And that could very well express what I'm feeling right now. After spending 4 full days at Gerry Weber Open 2014, seeing 6 matches with Roger in it, seeing him lift the trophy, after meeting and talking to him… I'm in a serious state of withdrawal!!

Hello everybody! I'm Ruchi and I've been following Jonathan's fabulous blog for a few years now. Though I haven't commented or written before, believe me, you guys have supported me through Roger's ups and downs. Thanks a lot 🙂 .

I've been an avid fan of Roger for many years. I love his game, admire him tremendously as a person and as a role model. And I just love him for his extremely cute dorkiness!! It's been a dream of mine to see him play. I especially wanted to try in these last few years of his career, because there isn't so much time left. But you have to be lucky too. I missed him narrowly at US Open 2011. In 2012, the day before I was going to Rotterdam to see Roger play the semis, he lost in the quarters. At the 2013 Mutua Madrid Open, I managed to catch Roger's match with Nishikori, but he lost that too. So after reading Jonathan's post about his visit to the Halle tournament last year, I decided that I'm going to try my luck this year.

Driving down from Belgium, we reached the stadium on Thursday just in time to see Roger walk out for his match with Sousa. So that was pretty peRFect 🙂 . It was Roger's first match of the tournament on Centre Court, the crowd was just super-excited and happy to see him. In fact, that's one of the joys of seeing Roger play. The support for him is so palpable, and it's such a thrill to be able to add your voice to that roar which goes up in the stadium when he walks out!

Q: Were you nervous at the beginning considering that was one of the first finals in that atmosphere in this stadium or was it more of a motivation?

FALLA: What I see when I play Roger is how people love him when he walks on the court. It's just amazing how the crowd makes him feel. So, you feel that a little bit but when you start warming up…

I won't comment too much on the technical aspects of the game, Jonathan has already done that so well. But naturally, after my past attempts at Rotterdam & Madrid, seeing him losing the first set in the match with Sousa got me pretty worried. But I reckoned he was still getting used to the grass and the most important thing was that his body language was positive, you could see that he was ready to keep working at it. Sousa played a good match, considering that he was playing Roger Federer in Halle, but Roger was simply the better player. What I enjoyed a lot was seeing Roger hammer the overhead smashes – watching live, it's really great to see the power, speed and aggressiveness with which he attacks the ball! His serve in this game was also impeccable. Most of his service games were simply over before they began, which is always a pleasure for a (slightly nervous) RF fan! At the same time there were a lot of weak netted returns which made one cringe but in the end, he got the job done!

Federer in Halle

Next we rushed to Court 1 to get good seats for Roger's doubles match with Marco Chiudinelli. It's free seating there. So we positioned ourselves right in the front row, close to the entrance from which Roger was supposed to enter and leave (the best place to get an autograph!), thinking “Oh, we're so lucky”.. then they announced that the doubles would be played in Centre Court after all. Hah!

The doubles match was fun to watch, great rapport between Roger and Marco. Apparently, they've known each other since they were eight years old and that kind of shows in their relationship on court. I've watched his doubles with Stan as well on TV and the communication is definitely better between Roger and Marco.

Federer Doubles in Halle

Federer & Chiudinelli Halle

And Marco Chiudinelli is certainly easy on the eye as well, heh heh! There was an autograph session with him on the grounds on Friday and I was just passing by. There weren't a lot of people there, so I kind of felt sorry for him and decided to ask him for an autograph 🙂 . Really friendly guy, I gave him a tennis ball to sign which we play with at home. So he asks “Did you get this from the court?” I said no, we're sitting too far to get anything and he says “Next time, shout louder, I might throw one to you.”..haha! I told him I planned to get a signature from Roger on the same ball, to which he laughed and said “That might be a bit trickier, but you should try after his match.” (After the final on Sunday, I did manage to get Roger's autograph on that same ball 🙂 . Now it's probably one of the very few balls out there with both their signatures on it!?!)

Marco and Ruchi
Marco and I

Signed Balls

On Thursday evening, Dustin Brown's match with Nadal was certainly one of the highlights of the tournament. The crowd was really into it, roaring with approval with each flashy drop shot, lob and winner from Brown. Nadal looked totally out of sorts. Most of the points were over before he'd even moved. For a Federer fan, what better sight could there be? 🙂 Brown is great fun to watch, a real crowd-pleaser playing high-risk tennis, so I'm hoping he will do well at Wimbledon.

What a fabulous Thursday that was!! Next day, Roger got a walkover for his quarters match but to make his fans happy, played a short practice session with Christopher Kras. This was on Court 1 and it was full house! Roger in his bright yellow shorts was really relaxed and just having some fun. It was more of an exhibition than a serious practice. It was also Kras' birthday so the crowd sang for him. Afterwards, I think Roger spent as much time signing autographs as he spent playing!

Federer Practice Halle

Fans filming Roger
Fans filming Roger

I was a bit nervous about the match with Nishikori, after my experience in Madrid. But it was a quick and painless job in the end, thankfully! Roger always kept fighting and never really looked like he would lose this one. Of course, the funniest part was at the end. The crowd is on its feet, most people holding camera's aimed to capture the moment of victory, but Roger just walks back to the baseline! I remember watching his face during that point. He was waiting to see if the ball made it over the net, it didn't, he fist-pumped but kept on his game-face, he didn't look happy or anything. So I was kind of surprised because surely he should have raised his hands to celebrate at that point 🙂 . Just shows how focused and concentrated he is during each point! Well, it was nice to see Mirka actually laughing out loud at something.. she had such a grim poker face during the rest of the match.

After the added pleasure of watching the Fedinelli doubles victory over Brown/Struff, we went back on Sunday feeling really optimistic and looking forward to another day filled with more Fedtastic tennis! At least, he won the important match of the day 😀 . It was a tight match. Falla played so consistently throughout, it was just at the tiebreaks that Roger suddenly upped his game and his serve held up so well. He was moving really well and fast, looks like physically he's feeling good. But his game needs to be way better than it is now for him to get far at Wimbledon. Sunday felt a bit like a Swiss Davis Cup event with lots of Swiss flags and supporters there to see two of their players. The German crowd was all for Roger of course (they can't get enough of him in Halle!), so the atmosphere was great. The twins came out for the prize ceremony, but were looking rather sleepy and not very excited. Till Daddy looked their way and then they got pretty animated, showing him some drawings they seemed to have made for him . What a huge trophy that is, at one point Roger was massaging his arm jokingly after putting it down.

Some nice words from Falla:

Q: Before you joined Roger on the bench. What was the topic of the discussion?

FALLA: He was asking me, what I was going to play next. I told him I will drive to s'Hertogenbosch tonight and play there. He asked me who I play there and I told him I'll play Melzer in the first round. He was telling me he's going to Wimbledon, he's going to get some practice. He's just a very nice guy, he's an amazing player, he's an inspiration for every tennis player and not just for the tennis but for the kind of person he is.

Federer Halle Trophy

And now for the thing that impressed me most about Roger: his amazing kindness, patience and obliging behaviour towards his fans! Every single day, he would finish his match (or matches), finish his press commitments and then come out and meet his fans. Every day, there would be a horde of people waiting patiently for him to come out. And it wasn't even as if it was just kids or young people. Once I was standing in about the third row and there was this couple in front of me who were probably in their seventies. Almost all the fans had something for Roger to sign or had their phones out for pictures, but this couple were just standing there and looking at him with this adoring expression on their faces, like they just wanted to see their favourite son 🙂 .

Roger would spend at least half an hour, signing all the caps, balls, pictures, shoes, shirts, posters, etc. etc. He would take a selfie with every fan who asked for it, sometimes even taking the picture himself or asking the security guard to take it if someone had a camera instead of a phone, always with a smile on his face. It was pretty amazing to be part of it. There were so many people chanting his name and pushing towards him, but he just calmly went on signing, doing as many as he could. I was kind of expecting that more people would talk to him as well but there was a sort of hush, an awed silence in a way. But if any of the children said something to him, he would immediately start up a conversation with them. It's a pity I don't understand much German so I couldn't make out what he was saying to them.

Fed Signing Autographs

Fed More Autographs

And then it was my turn!! There he was, right in front of me! Close-up, he's amazingly lean and broad-shouldered with a really nice, loose-limbed athletic build. Even though it was just about an hour after his match and he was still in his match gear, he still looked absolutely fresh. Since my phone wasn't good enough for pictures, I was trying to take a picture with him with my camera. But I'm much shorter than him so I couldn't get both of us in it. So he just took the camera from my hand and started clicking. I'm asking him nervously “Do you think it's coming out alright?” and he's adjusting the camera all the time and finally says “Yeah, I think this one should be good.” I thanked him and wished him luck for Wimbledon, he thanked me and moved on. Pretty amazing, right?!!! I couldn't believe it, I've watched him play on TV for so many years and to meet him in person.. it's a dream come true 🙂 . Thank you Roger!!!

Ruchi and Roger
Me and Roger


Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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  1. Yes! First grass title this year and first since Olympics in 2012! I am really liking Roger’s chances this year! He is healthy again, always shows magic at Wimby and I think he is tired of everyone writing him off like he’s trash! I am ready for another title and a 8 Wimbledon/18 Slams/80 Titles sweep :p

    I’m really happy for you Ruchi! You are blessed to see peRFection in person! I’m really happy Roger won the title when you were there too! As what I read, it was a awesome experience!

    Here’s MCENJERK and his Nadal-biased analysis from last year…. And his take if Rafa being GOAT:

    Ps: priceless reactions to his comment, especially that guy next to John! 🙂

    1. Thanks Brandon! Yeah, after some semi-successful & unsuccessful attempts in the past to see him play, this was definitely the icing on the cake 🙂
      That ‘Mcenjerk’ is just jealous of the GOAT!

      1. I remember watching that last year. McEnroid had that, “Paid for by Nadal & Nadal” look on his face. GOAT’s don’t win 9 titles on Clay. GOAT’s win 7 titles on Grass!

  2. Wow. What a lovely article. Well written Ruchi.

    He really is such a wonderful person. It’s part of what makes him the GOAT in my mind, across all sport. The wonderful person that he genuinely is.

    1. Thks Gaurav 🙂 I felt I had to share it with you guys, only you’ll would really appreciate the experience!

  3. Really good article Ruchi, sounds like a hell of a trip. Though he can seem arrogant at times on court, there’s no doubt he appreciates his fans, great photo at the end too.

    1. Thanks Neil! Though he really didn’t have his usual aloof/ultra-professional look in Halle.. maybe cos he’s so obviously at home there.. the newspapers there were referring to him as the ‘King of Halle’, haha!

  4. Ruchi, you spoke with him? You actually exchanged words with Roger Federer?


    1. Yesss, it was totally freakin’ awesome!!! He’s quite approachable though – considering he’s one of the most well-known people on this planet & such a celebrity – it doesn’t feel like that when he’s face to face with you 🙂 But now I’m thinking of all the more meaningful things I could have said to him, except just being so focused on the picture, haha!!

      1. Well then, do it all over again. This time Roger will say, “I think I know you from somewhere” 🙂

        By the way, really good post, and very well organized.

  5. Hi Ruchi

    Lovely article – have to say really jealous that you actually got as picture with him – you lucky lady

    1. Thanks Trudi! I think there were about 12000+ people onsite at Halle, out of which maybe about 100 got pics with Roger.. so yeah, I was pretty lucky 🙂

  6. So lovely to heat your story.I was moved just reading it.You are one lucky girl.Anyway I don’t think I am ever going to see Roger play live so it is always so nice to hear fellow Fed fans’ stories.And it was extremely well written as well almost on par with professional writers I feel.

    1. Thanks Ajay. I hope you do get to see him live one day.. you never know, maybe one day Roger will come to play somewhere near where you are!

  7. Hi Ruichi, great article. Beautifully written, I really lived the whole experience thru yr words and I am Soo happy for you ( and jealous) that you met him!! How fantastic is that!
    One question, how far in advance did you get the tickets?

    1. Thanks Susie! I’m over the moon 🙂 Can’t stop daydreaming about it all since I got back!!
      About the tickets, I waited till I was sure Roger was going to play in Halle, so just after the French Open. I ordered the tickets about a month in advance (2nd week of May I think). It’s a reasonably small stadium so you get a good view from almost anywhere. There are four categories of seats, I was aiming for Category II. By May, almost all Cat II were gone but I saw that if you buy the Weekend Pkg (Thurs-Sun), you get the individual day tickets for a little cheaper than if you buy them separately. Also, they block some seats in each category for Wknd Pkgs. So even though the individual seats weren’t available, I still managed to get Cat II seats because I booked the Wknd Pkg!
      Halle is a great tournament, reasonably priced tickets, food, drinks.. you can even take your own. Its very well-organised and small enough to get close to the players. Totally recommend it if you’re planning to go next year!!

  8. Ruchi just incredible amazing, congratulations you had fulfill one of my dream moments, I have lived it through you

  9. Holly Molly, Woooooooooooo Ruchi.

    I am so happy for you. That is like the the ultimate goal for any Federer Fan which you have achieved.

    I saw him play in 2013 at Australian Open in 2nd round. I went mad as that was my first experience LOL.

    But meeting him and taking a selfie is just something else. Good for you.

    1. Thanks Phantom! I really went for it ..LOL!.. made sure I was in the front row of fans, that’s the only chance of getting a selfie with him! BUT!! a guy came up & asked whether his 10 yr old son could stand in front of me cos he was so small and of course I let him in 🙂

  10. Amazing review of your week! It’s truly amazing how patient and calm he is with his fans when you consider he does that after every single practice. The guy is just pure class in every sense of the word.

  11. Damn! Great experience and Fantastic post!

    Seems like you really enjoyed meeting the GOAT 😉

    I agree, he is great with his fans, specially the kids 🙂 I still get butterflies in my stomach every time I get his autograph 🙂

    Happy for you had that great experience!

      1. “just” twice. I got a ball from stan after his victory against Rosol in 2012, signed by both him berdych and now Roger 😉

        And I went to the WTF in 2012 and got my booklet signed 🙂

    1. Thanks Simon.. yes, its kind of like a drug isn’t it? Every time Roger came out to meet the fans, I was there waiting, got my cap signed as well 🙂 He’s so sweet, even if you ask him to sign two things at one go, he’ll do it.

  12. Oh my God Ruchi, what an awesome fedexperience! Beautifully written so that I read through the post with waves of emotions as if I was you. Great story, congratulations, thanks for sharing 🙂

    Falla also said, “Roger Federer is the king of all kings in tennis.”, didn’t he?

    How a guy in 30’s can be so beautiful? How a tennis player can be so loved and admired? Just…constantly amazed by this guy…

    1. Thanks Wanda! So glad I could share it with you guys. I love what Falla said about walking out and feeling the crowd’s love for Roger…haha..even his opponents like basking in his reflected glory!

  13. Federer Nadal semis.

    From what I managed to hear on the radio Nadal’s got a tough quarter- Monfils, Nishikori, Raonic, Karlovic, Gasquet

  14. Really tough draw for Nadal as usual. I have many doubts how he can perform but I’m just sure about one thing, if he gets to the SF Roger Federror is not gonna be the one to stop The King of Clay.

  15. Lovely story Ruchi, I am sure you must be over the moon being able to watch him play a few matches, selfie and converse with him. Don’t think I will ever able to recover from that ever, probably ruin for life now ha ha ha. I can’t wait for Thank you for sharing such an amazing story. Jonathan – thanks for posting it 🙂

    1. Thanks Dippy. it’s true life does seem a little dull right now 🙂 just waiting for next week to see the GOAT start playing again!!

  16. Wow… Both Dull and Roger have some though quarters… Dull Rosol rematch anyone?? 😀 (yeah right no way that ‘s gonna happen…)
    I thought Roger might have a chance with an easy draw, but this one looks tough… a quarter with Stan is manageable though, Wawrinka never been good on grass… Benneteau and Mahut are decent grass players, and Janowicz can always come up with something…

    On dull’s side, Rosol might catch fire again (not…) and karlovic can be annoying on grass… Potential Gasquet could be a tricky 1/8th, but anyways, we’ll see 🙂 Time for the best grand slam of the year 🙂

  17. Thank you Ruchi for sharing your wonderful Halle experience – you’ve captured so vividly and beautifully.

  18. Interesting draw, not too great from Fed point of view but could be worse. Already little concerned over potention Benneteau 2nd round. He seems to raise his game like a man possessed v Fed and did beat him in 2 straight sets in Rotterdam last year.

    Can’t believe how easy Murray gets it AGAIN!!! Last year his toughest opponent all way to the final was Janowicz? And a completely worn out Djok in the final (courtesy of Del-Potro throwing kitchen sink at him)

    Sorry Andy but that was the easiest Wimbledon draw of all time.

    This year again, Murray cannot break sweat til at least the QF, then he meets Ferrer, who IMO would be pick of the more favourable QF opponents considering he is not too great on grass. Murray must be delighted again with this draw.

    Djok has got it easy on plenty of occasions in the past but this year he gets toughest draw. Stephanek, Simon,Youzhny & Tsonga all in Djoks Quarter, all dangerous.

    Interesting if Rosol can get another crack at Nadal however that crazy match in 2012 was a 1-off. It was super human, devine intervention. Will never be repeated, would love it if it did though!

    Projected QF/SF/F appears to be: (Djok/Berd or Muzz/Ferrer) V (Wawrink/Fed or Raonic/Nadal)

    Fed opponents: R1 Lorenzi / R2 Benneteau/ R3 Granollers-Pujol / R4 Robredo or Janowicz /QF Wawrinks or Isner/ SF Raonic or Nadal / F Djok or Muzz)

  19. Great post Ruchi, and really well written. It’s lovely to hear other fans experiences meeting Roger. It was a good idea Jonathan to have fans’ experiences posts. Gives us a very different view of the man to the official articles. He’s really not an arrogant person at all is he? It’s just his tennis face that comes across badly sometimes to some people. He’s a very caring, loving, man who sincerely appreciates what his fans have done for him and the appreciation he receives.

  20. How great to hear about your trip Ruchi! You’ve given us a bit more on the waiting-around-for-his-autograph – or-even-just-to-see-him experience – that’s what’s so neat about these fan posts, they each necessarily have their own perspective. Very cool. Jonathan, thanks for posting about your trip last year to Halle, since it was not only a great read in itself, but seems to have led directly to this post by Ruchi!

  21. I created an account, planning to make my selections soon. Will have to have a good think about it!

  22. Hey Ruchi, great post, great pics (especially the last one) and a great story 🙂 But to be honest Ruchi, I am so so so so so sooooooooooooo jealous 🙂 Between you and Beatriz….. Damn 🙂

    1. Thanks Katyani! I wanted to inspire everyone to go see him play live and meet him once.. so hope I could do that through this post 🙂

      1. And you did Ruchi. Absolutely loved your post 🙂 I also almost had the chance to see him live at ATP R’dam 2013. Bought both SF tickets, but Roger lost in the QF to Benneteau……Damn

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