It was quite a nice, cosy room at the Hard Rock Café in Dubai only open for VVIP guests who had come to watch a special AC/DC concert. And believe it or not I was ensconced there with… yes you guessed it. Roger Federer. After his loss at the Australian Open, Fed was in Dubai training hard to defend his title and in between had managed to squeeze in some time to watch AC/DC over the weekend and of course to talk to me, the caveat being no tennis questions. So here is the free-wheeling interview with Sheikh Roger Al-Federer.
Me: Roger, I have seen you play at Dubai many times but it is unbelievable that I am face to face with you and that too interviewing you. I am truly amazed to hear that you have come to watch AC/DC. I know you are a Gwen Stefani fan but Hard Rock Café & AC/DC?
Fed: (Laughing or more giggling I would say) Gwen is a very close friend but I love hard rock, always have ever since I saw John McEnroe play the guitar after winning Wimbledon. And I am a great fan of AC/DC too.
Me: Wow, that’s real cool. No doubt they are a great band, any specific reason why you like them?
Fed: You know, at one time we were planning to settle in Australia which never happened. But I love Australia and these guys are like from Down Under and I love their guitarist Angus Young, the guy with the schoolboy uniform. Imagine, he is past 60 and still goes around in that uniform with the same energy. My idol absolutely. He is the reason why even at 33 I still have the same schoolboyish enthusiasm. I love their song Highway to Hell, which is where I want to send any guy across the net.
Me: Great Roger. You do have excellent taste. Any other favourites?
Fed: Of course. I love McEnroe’s originals ‘Dude, you can’t be serious’ and ‘You are the pits, douchebag’ and his covers ‘Hey Borg’ and ‘While my racket gently weeps’. John is the best left-handed guitarist after Jimi Hendrix & Paul McCartney. Thank God Rafa hasn't picked up the guitar. (And Roger giggled and giggled at his little joke – the schoolboy Roger)
I was quite amazed at Federer's interests apart from tennis, a true rock star that he is. Moving on, I continued…
Me: Roger, we have heard you are a great Hollywood fan. Who is your favourite director?
Fed: Quentin Tarantino without a doubt. That inglorious basterd makes glorious movies. Hey can you not add that quote. I have a rep to protect as a guy who never swears and I meant it as a compliment really.
Me: Don’t worry Roger. Nobody is gonna take offence. But why Quentin?
Fed: You know, back in Switzerland, they always referred to Quentin as my clone, then I heard in the US they referred to me as a Quentin clone. Larry introduced us at Indian Wells and now we are great pals. In fact Quentin has promised to make a movie with me in the lead after I retire. The script is ready for a superhero movie called ‘The Amazing Racketman’. And Novak has been signed on to play ‘The Djoker’ – the diabolical bad guy. But can’t tell you more details now. You will have to wait till 2025 at least.
Me: 2025. Really Roger. Isn't that pushing it too far?
Roger just looked at me with that famous Fedface to even think that I could have any doubts. Had to let that go.
But ‘The Amazing Racketman’ – what an apt name I thought. Vanquishing baddies with 200 mph thunderbolts.
I then quickly made a paradigm shift from Hollywood to Bollywood as Fed had danced with Bollywood celebrities during his recent sojourn to Delhi.
Me: Roger, I heard you had a ball dancing with Bollywood celebrities. Did you learn anything new?
Fed: ( For a moment the GOAT looked sheepish ) Yeah Yeah, but I had an awesome time dancing with the stars. I have two left feet on a dance floor but I have now learnt your Bollywood dance. In fact now, Stefan has advised me to do some of these steps after putting away a nice volley. Sure to unsettle opponents. Strategy for 2015… Serve & Volley… then Song & Dance.
I couldn't help imagining Fed doing the Bhangra on the court.
Me: Roger, the Bollywood buzz is also that you are getting into production of Bollywood movies. Any truth in that?
Fed: (A bewildered look) My God. Your Bollywood grapevine is amazing. Between you and me, yes. Roped in Stan too. Rogerstan Productions is the name. You know like Hindustan, Kazhakstan etc. We already shot a lovely dream song & dance medley called ‘Maria Maria’, where the Indian hero ‘courts’ Maria Sharapova on a tennis court. That girl can surely act and dance, yaar.
Me: (I was amazed at Fed’s capacity to imbibe cultures, him calling me yaar which means mate / pal in Hindi. ) Wow. Fast work Roger. You have really got into the Bollywood groove.
Fed: (with a smile) Yeah My name is Roger Federer Khan in Mumbai.
I was amazed at Fed’s excellent sense of humour. We then moved on to another pet topic – cuisine.
Me: We have all heard that you are a huge foodie Roger. Any particular favourites?
Fed: Well I am a Dubai boy at heart now. Nothing but Shawarmas for me. I call my post-practice session as the ‘Shower & Shawarma’ routine. My dad loves it. He’s opened a joint in Basel. ‘Serving Shawarmas’ it's called.
Me: That’s awesome Roger. A Swiss guy loving shawarmas!!!
Fed: You know what. Nowadays I carry a shawarma to a match as well and I take a bite during change-overs like Boris who started the banana routine. When I beat Novak in Dubai, the local Arabic newspapers headlined ‘Shawarma better than Banana’.
I couldn't help admiring this global soul that Fed is. From Hard rock to Hollywood, from Super-hero to Shawarma.
Me: Last question Roger. The band is getting ready to rock. So you must be itching to get in. You are a father of four. Not gonna ask you how does it feel etc. as many would have asked you that before. Hope you won’t find my question very intrusive but seriously how do you do it, amidst a hectic and tiring tennis schedule. (I was thinking that Roger may get pissed off but pat came the reply)
Fed: Spanish Fly. (And then winking conspiratorially) Recommended by you know who.
And the affable GOAT vanished into the night to rock with his favourite band AC/DC.
After all, Rock & Roll ain't no noise pollution and Groaning & Grunting ain't no tennis solution.