Hey all, following on from Wanda's Monte Carlo post and Simon / Rita's Davis Cup experience this new Roger Federer Fan Story post is from multiple first comment Grand Slam Champion and live chatter, Alex, who got to see Roger for the first time at this years French Open in the second round.
It's another great fan story from the court-side perspective and is just another reinforcer of what Roger brings to tennis. In fact Jim Courier even called him the most under paid athlete of all time on ITV last week which sadly confused a few people.
Courier wasn't debating actual numbers here or trying to suggest that Federer has a tough time paying his bills or feeding the twins. What he meant was Federer makes far less than his market value based on the value he adds to Tennis as a whole; and when you read fan recaps like this it's easy to see what he was talking about. Take it away Alex 😀
One RF Fan Story
A few years ago, if you had asked me to watch a tennis match on TV, I would have laughed at your face and sent you away. What? Tennis? That boring sport? No thanks! I have better things to do! Let alone asking me to spend money and buy tickets for a live tennis match.
However, one afternoon – the afternoon of Sunday, June, 7th 2009 – this changed for me.
I was preparing for an Operating Systems exam that was stressing me out and everybody else in the room was watching some tennis match.
I hated tennis. I hated that they cancelled some of my favourite TV programs in order to broadcast boring tennis matches where two players would send a ball I couldn't even see sometimes over a net, over and over again.
I hated those very polite crowds, with their immaculate clothes and behaviour. I hated the grunting and the umpire calls.
I hated that I didn't understand a single rule of the game, but still was obliged, when I needed to concentrate on my lessons, to sit through one, just because it was the only children-free room where I could study, and they were watching a tennis match.
I was sitting back to the TV, trying as hard as I could to resolve a difficult exercise but unable to do so.
Frustrated, I decided to take a break and see what's so interesting in this tennis game that got everyone else in the room so excited. A tennis game!! Pff…
After a few minutes, I thought about leaving the room but something kept me there, eyes fixed on the screen.
The player in blue had something special about him that kept me watching. And as the match neared his end, the commentators started enumerating some Swiss player's achievements (I still didn't know which one of the two he was – everybody was so concentrated and wouldn't answer my questions). They said how he won everything a tennis player could dream of, except for this one trophy he was playing for.
I started praying that they were talking about the guy in blue. Because I felt for the champion they were describing and wanted him to complete his collection, but I wanted THAT guy to win. No matter if I didn't understand a single thing of the game.
Then the match ended. The guy in blue went to his knees, overwhelmed. So that was him. The Genius they were describing, the one and only Roger Federer.
I was happy for him. Really happy. He won me that day.
Not tennis. I still hated the sport.
I missed Wimbledon'09, and AO'10. I barely knew Rafael Nadal from the sports news, and for me, Djokovic or Murray were nobodies.
I saw a few matches now and then, but not enough to understand or appreciate the game. Still, it was enough to confirm that I liked seeing Federer play and loved seeing him win. It was enough to confirm that even if I respected his fighting spirit, I didn't like that Nadal guy's playing style as much.
In a total position of ignorance, I still would cheer for Nadal against any other player, but whenever Federer was involved, I would support him with all my soul.
I reconnected with tennis again in 2011 when I watched the FO final with some friends.
By that time, I had understood the game. I appreciated tennis more and the more I watched Roger play, the more I liked the sport.
I wouldn't miss a tournament from that time forward.
And this year I decided that it was time to experience it live. All of your statements helped me take the decision and having a friend who is as crazy as I am and who was willing to go with me sealed the deal.
Anna – my friend and a perfect-tennis regular visitor, who was actually the one to introduce to me this amazing community 😉 – and I started the hunt.
We chose Roland Garros.
First, it is a Grand Slam. And, as we live in Morocco, it is the nearest for us. We won't have much trouble getting a visa and affordable plane tickets, we speak French fluently and the accommodation won't be that big a problem as we have many friends living in Paris.
We missed our shot the day they opened the tickets sale for the public but we wouldn't surrender. We practically lived in front of the official tickets exchange web page until we found an opportunity: two 2R tickets for the 28th of May on the Philippe Chatrier. Sure, nothing could have assured that we would see Federer play, but it was our only chance and we bought the tickets.
We checked the schedule Tuesday evening and to our big disappointment, they had scheduled Fed on the Suzann Lenglen!
We were devastated not to be able to watch Federer live, but still excited to be there. At least we could see Djokovic, Tsonga or even Sharapova play on Center Court.
The first scheduled match on Philippe Chatrier was Venus Williams Vs Anna Schmiedlova, but we preferred watching Eugenie Bouchard Vs Julia Görges on Court N°7. Genie didn't deliver the best first set and as Venus looked like she was about to win her match (one set and one break up), we left for Centre Court to be on time for Djokovic.
Well, we had to wait more than an hour for that, but I should admit that I liked what I saw from the ladies. It wasn't near as boring as I thought it would be.
Then it was time for Nole Vs Chardy. And the truth is that he didn't look as impressive as on TV. Or maybe it is that Chardy didn't give him much trouble.
Anyway, I was only half in his game as all I could think about was how to get into Suzann Lenglen.
Right after the first set, Anna and I left Philippe Chatrier and raced to one of Suzann Lenglen gates hoping that somebody was willing to exchange his tickets with us. Unfortunately, we weren't the only ones who had this idea.
It seemed that by the end of Serena's match, everybody left Philippe Chatrier to try to find a way to watch the Genius at work. Not that the court was that crowded in the first place…
There we were then, two girls running right and left, asking everybody who was leaving Suzann Lenglen if they wanted to exchange tickets.
One woman gave us hope after the first two games of Federer's match, but changed her mind for no reason and denied us our first chance…
The first set ended, and we were still there moving from one gate to the other, and following the match on the big screen.
We could have abandoned and gone back to watch Djokovic win but seeing some people succeed gave us hope. Plus, there wasn't much to watch in a one way match…
The second set ended too and we were still out, while Federer was playing a few meters away.
Maybe it would have been easier if he wasn't playing that day, but knowing he was there and hearing the crowd shout his name and still not being able to be part of it made it so hard for us.
We finally found a French man with his little girl who was coming out from Suzann Lenglen sometime mid third set. I asked him without much conviction if he wanted to exchange tickets with us. He then returned the question to his daughter and asked her if she wanted to see Tsonga and Sharapova. As she nodded, I felt so happy I wanted to kiss her.
Anna and I gave them our tickets and took theirs to catch the last fifteen minutes of the Maestro.
For the first time, I wanted Federer to lose a set, just to be able to watch him longer. He didn't of course, but the little I saw was just peRFect.
If we weren't that impressed by Novak, Roger didn't disappoint us. As many of you already know, watching him on screen is nothing compared to actually being there and watch him live. He's so elegant and graceful. Even the outfit that I didn't like very much on the pictures looked better.
It was the beauty of his movement that first attracted me to his game. His peRFect touch, his wondeRFful approach, his fluidity, his creativity, the genius shots only him can produce are all things that were spoken of since many years. These were the things that made me love him so much and love tennis because of him.
That 2R match wasn't his best and no magical shots were displayed during the time I saw him play. But the thing with Federer is that he makes the simplest gesture seem exceptional. I could see the degree of his concentration on his face but his movement never seemed forced. It looked effortless, easy and at the same time precise and powerful. It was something words can never really describe. I felt so blessed to be able to witness his mastery live and couldn't take my eyes off of him.
At that moment, I was a happy girl.
His on court speech was hilarious and he really took a long time to speak to journalists and sign autographs. We unfortunately were a little too far to compete for one.
After all we did to have the tickets, we decided to stay for the last match between Alizé Cornet and Taylor Townsend. And we didn't regret it. It was a great match. The crowd support for the home player and some clever playing by the young American made it a very nice way to finish a very special day.
It is so sad Roger couldn't go further than 4R, but I like to joke about it and tell my friends who tease me about his loss that after all I went through just to see him for 15 minutes, when he knew I was leaving Paris on Monday, he said that he couldn't stay behind one more day 🙂 At least this way I am not as sad as I tend to be when he loses.
He wasn't winning this FO anyway, so onto the grass now, and may he have the Wimbledon we all wish for, with n°18 happening by July, 6th.