It always hurts when Roger loses. Disappointed, annoyed, frustrated, sad, anticlimax, however you feel, we suffer, don’t we?
But I had a great day at Monte-Carlo Country Club on Friday. Surprise!
I managed to take a day-off and jumped on a train in the morning. I got a second category seat in the Court Rainier for €90 (no other choice) and saw Fed in action. At the gate, there were around 20 people before me in the queue and more than 40 people after at 9 am. I had a pair of 1st category tickets for Wednesday but unfortunately I had to miss. I definitely wouldn't have given up if Fed was due to play on the day. But I had too many things going on for past weeks, particularly the first few days of the week were impossibly hectic and I was exhausted.
Therefore when Roger showed up in the practice court No.11 at 3 minutes past 11am with Ivan and Daniel, I was just…no words can describe the joy.
At some point he was a metre away. It was the closest I had seen him as I was lucky enough to be in the front row. Didn't care the fence was between us. I heard his voice in person for the first time…it sounded deep and sexy, oh my god. Hey gorgeous! I forgive you for the haircut. You know, generally I am a calm and quiet person with dignity but I couldn't help myself not to bubble like a 17 year old. There’s no practice schedule clearly available to public like IW. So nobody seemed to know who would come to practice there. But I told a British lady who sat next me while we all waited patiently why I was sure it would be Roger.
The first in the morning I went to the Rainier because Roger practised last year. There was Andy Murray practising the serve endlessly making his usual funny noise. I waited until the next player. It was Rafa. No more practice session before the first match, I figured out. So I rushed out to the practice courts hoping to catch Roger.
There I saw Jo Tsonga hitting the volley at the court No. 7 but no sign of the Swiss anywhere. Half an hour later I spotted some movements of the people around the court No. 9 so I followed some fans with RF caps and T-shirts and managed to sat in the front. My heart was beating crazy with excitement. Then the flushing yellow came into my sights, it was the other Swiss! I hoped that Roger might still come and hit with Stan but he didn’t. I was happy though and enjoyed watching him practice. He seemed relaxed and smiley, looked well-built. Oh boy, he hits such powerful BHs. Though he shanked quite few balls into next door. That time I had no idea he was going to have a bad day in the office later.
I thought Roger would come after Stan but some Fed fans started to move to next door, No.11, while Stan was still hitting. But I must follow them. People, many Italians were asking around if Roger would practice here or not. But I was pretty sure he would come soon. The reason I told the lady next me were:
A) Other top guys had practiced already except him.
B) Security guards and stuff had started gathering.
C) The court had been swept and the players’ bench had been carefully wiped.
D) Photographers had come in. I actually recognised one who publishes some of the best photos of Roger during the tournament every year.
It has to be VIP. Got to be Roger! I was gushing. And I was right. Amazed to witness that he was one who’s got the loudest cheer for just appearing to practice. Nadal also had some claps as his name was called out but not so much for others.
The lady was fidgety because Andy was due for his match in the Rainier Court but wanted to see Roger despite she was a Nadal fan. Hah, no such worries for me. I was there for the one and only. I never took my eyes off from the man. Because of that, sorry guys, I didn't take many photos. Though I filmed him hitting BHs with my old mobile. Later at home in the evening my daughter teased me, “Mum, how many times you’re watching that?” I was on cloud nine all day. Ah yes, despite that he lost the match.
In retrospect, he probably wasn't physically great, I think. He looked subdued. You often see in the media that he is laidback, chatty, playful during the practice session, sometimes even being dorkerer. But he was rather quiet and wasn't twinkling. And I think he hardly practiced serve, hit only a few. When I saw he was bending the left knee at the start of serve motion in the first set of the match, I was freak out if his knee was hurting. Remember he played 2 days in a row on Friday for the first time after the injury. Quite possibly he was tired and struggled. Sure it's natural after being out from the game for long. Just happy he came back. Hope he will be fully fit soon. Perhaps more matches he needs.
I see some criticism in the comment section on the blog but Fed’s match against Jo was far the best match of the day. Andy played very well but it was too easy for him. (What’s wrong with Raonic, by the way?) Stan wasn’t himself and Rafa didn’t have to try hard, did he? By the time I watched a half of Monfils' match, had enough of tennis.
Anyway, after the practice he waved at us and said Bye-bye. I sat there alone for a few minutes like a stargazer. Thank you Roger, you've already made my day.
At the Rainier, I was next to a Canadian gentleman who came to see Rafa. He asked me why I liked Fed. Oh, does he really want to hear? All 1,000 reasons? Such as his lovely curls? No kidding, I said simply I loved him for his style of play, then this and that I continued. He did listen to my every words with great fascination and then he rooted for Roger, too. He told me that he was disappointed in Rafa-Stan match and enjoyed Roger-Jo match better. He asked if Fed looked restrained from moving, though he had no idea that Fed had a knee injury. So he was't surprised to hear he had an operation as he also had a bad knee himself playing the basketball when he was young.
The other side of me was a Frenchman who was a big fan of Tsonga. Each time Jo missed the 1st serve, he was so annoyed. We applauded each other for each players’ good shots which was lovely way to watch the game. We three were sandwiched by two diehard Roger Armies with RF kit so I put RF cap on without feeling embarrassed and kind of enjoyed being a part of the group. The cap was essential for keeping the beauty, ladies! And the guys were pleased to see a RF logo on my head. While I chanted ‘Hold’ and ‘Break’ mantra quietly, they were loud cheering, encouraging and shouting “Grojaaaaa!” all the time. Even called Stan ‘Roger’, though they were supporting Stan, too. It was such a fun, even at the very tense moments.
The weather was peRFect. The venue was stunning in sunshine. Got a ticket to see Fed. Managed to catch him practice and the match stretched to a 3rd set. All his match in the past went swoosh in the blink of an eye so I felt the money was well-spend this time. (But a 33cl bottle of water costs €4? Outrageous!) The most important thing – to get to see him play live whatever the outcome. And I made it. Now you see why I had a ‘Paradisiaque' – Heavenly day.
Having said that, he lost two years in a row. Am I his bad luck charm? Hope not!
By a Fed Fan Called Wanda