Roger Federer


I was in Dubai yesterday and I called Federer.

He remembered me from my last interview and was glad to meet up. I picked him up from Palm Jumeira and we went out to down some tequilas at Music Room in Bur Dubai.

Fresh from his exploits in Hollywood and basking in the glory of his new Nike emoji, Fed was glowing. He downed a tequila faster than his fastest serve and the first thing he asked me was “How's Jonathan and the rest of the PeRFect gang?”

I was amazed that he looked so serenely mischievous after the stupid interview given by one Mr. Srdjan Djokovic. Well how do you pronounce Srdjan? I can only pronounce him stupid at this point of time.

I said “The gang is all good Roger, but are desperately missing you. With you out of action, the gang is out of sorts, nothing to watch, nothing to blog, nothing to comment. But we all do understand and are waiting for your return.”

Federer looked so beatific at this and said “Couldn't help it, my friend. But will be back soon. Am getting better all the time.” Reminded me of the Beatles song Getting Better.

That's great Roger, but to talk about a recent news item, what do you make of the statements of one Mr. S. Djokovic (pointless trying to pronounce the first name).

Federer laughed and laughed for quite a while, while I patiently waited for his mirth to die down. Then he said “I read about it too, me calling Novak a ‘joke'. I sure did and did you know, ever since, he has been called Djoker.” And Fed reached out for the next tequila shot giggling away at the thought.

I let that pass as I queried him about his reaction to Big Daddy asking as to why Fed is still playing at 34.

Fed winked and said “Actually, the gentleman has a point there. He does not expect Novak to be playing at 34. So he thinks that no one should play till they are 34.  You know, I called up Djokovic Sr., soon as I was told about the interview (I don't think Fed also can pronounce Srjdan, so he referred to him as Djokovic Sr.)

Oh really, Roger, did you have it out with him, I asked. Roger laughed again and said “No No. I only told him that when I decide to retire, he will be the first person I will inform so that he can make the announcement.” I couldn't help admiring Federer's tongue-in-cheek attitude and was sure that Mr. SD would have taken it seriously and would be ardently waiting for that call from Federer.

Meanwhile after a few more tequilas and saying the goodbyes and the all the bests and he wishing the entire PeRFect Tennis gang, I was thinking less about this meeting but more about the interview.

I thought it would be a good idea to talk to some parents.

So I called up Sebastian Nadal.

Now Sebastian is not that involved a parent as the elder Djokovic,  as he lets Toni handle everything, but he was quite funny and forthright when I asked him about Djokovic Sr. asking as to why Fed is still playing. “Let him play, poor man. Or else he will have to sit at home and look after four kids. Jokes apart, I really don't worry about whether Roger is still playing or not. I am more keen to see Rafa continue playing.” This I found more logical as his priority was setting his house in order.

But I persisted, Mr. Djokovic had also said earlier that Rafa & Novak are no longer friends. Is it true?” To which the Spaniard bellowed “What nonsense. In fact Rafa & Novak play Candy Crush every night. That close they are, he concluded.

Next call Judy Murray.

Before I could kick off with a question, she hollered “Don't even talk about Mr. Djokovic's condescending comments. Let Novak win the Olympic Gold before his Dad talks any further. Andy and Novak may be amazing friends, but I am no friend of Novak's dad” All I could say before hanging up was Keep calm, Madam. Keep Calm.

Judy's reaction did unnerve me a bit. So I decided to call Mr. Robert Federer, the affable Swiss.

When I queried him about the whole thing, he was unperturbed. His statement summed up the whole thing, “Novak has matured more than his dad in the last 10 years.” I couldn't help agree with him more and I told him that I will visit him when he comes to Dubai next.

A few days later….

Just received a call from Srjdan Djokovic.

Hello. I just read your lousy article in Perfect Tennis. Now that's a right name for a Novak Fan Blog not Federer's.

I told him in my politest fake voice “Sir, that is something  you have to tell Mr. Jonathan”

“Jonathan?” he spluttered “Now let me ask you one thing. Why is this guy Jonathan still continuing with this blog?”

Murli Pillai

Fanatic Federer fan. Watch all his matches on TV if shown ( outside working hours ! ), and quite often drive down to Dubai from Muscat to watch him live. Apart from being an IT / Telecom sales professional, am a quiz-master, classic rock & blues fan, movie buff and a veteran tennis-ball cricketer. Love to research on Fed’s on-court & off-court doings – the Fedberg quiz an outcome of that.

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  1. Hi all! It’s been a long time since I last commented, not that I lost interest but life can be messy when u resume studies after a long break 😀
    Love your piece Murli! Hilarious as always!

  2. Haha… great article, Murli!!
    Anyway, Ruan may name his blog as “the ultimate griNDer blog”… 😀

  3. What a witty post, thanks Murli. We are the peRFect gang, hah? The last part – funny! And a good question, too 😆

  4. What’s with the t-shirt? He looks like Donald Trump. I have a theory about Djokovic Snr’s tantrum. He accidentally ingested some of Djoker’s meldonium and had a “roid rage”.Murli, you might have also asked Roger about Nadal’s tantrum over the comments by the French sports minister. The rain in Spain. I think ‘Old Man Roger’ will outlast them all.

    1. Speaking of t-shirts, you are yet to receive yours from Color13 which is embarrassing. I have been chasing this up for weeks and all I get is poor excuses about being busy so can only apologise and I just emailed you about it.

      I wouldn’t normally post publicly as not really my style but it is beyond a joke now so may as well put it in the comments

      I like Laurent but to say he has been useless for the last 10 weeks is an understatement. Fortunately I don’t generate many sales through the blog as I’d have a list of unhappy customers as long as Federer’s career achievements but the last few have all been disasters in terms of wait times and poor customer service to the point where I might just take them off if it doesn’t improve.

      Had no issues with the first orders last year but in 2016 it’s a different story. Paying customers waiting weeks to receive what is a relatively simple product to produce and send. This particular order was placed on 22nd February and we are now on the 18th of March and it has yet to be posted. Unfortunately there’s very little I can do about it other than try chase it up.

      I’m not privy as to why it’s turned into a mess there but I would guess badly organised combined with commercial orders worth larger amounts so the decision to put single order customers to the bottom of the pile in terms of priority.

      In which case – why take the order in the first place? Especially considering for this particular order I explicitly asked – “can you fulfil this order in a reasonable time frame?”

  5. Very amusing and on point. Running the Nole shrine restaurant serving gluten full pizza and pancakes hasn’t given the dad anytime to mature I suppose but what a statement on player longevity, for which he will be reminded forever. Kimd of ironic he is pushing crap food and his kid espouses purity of inputs , bit like the pre diabetic Maria pushing candy.

    The first quarter of 2016 has certainly been quite revealing and why it is so good to have this special place to share our Tennis reactions. Thanks Murli and Jonathan

  6. Jeez, what a choke by Zverev today. The match-point volley was a shocker. Nadal should have been out of there. The 18-year old should have had his scalp. I guess it will now fall to Djokovic, who can be counted on to stop the Spaniard 9 times out of 10.

      1. Indian Wells happens to be as big a tournament as Miami. And who plays well in the desert will also be a portent for Miami – including who Roger could be up against. If you only follow the fortunes of one player you won’t have much of an understanding of the game he plays. Roger himself could never be accused of taking a narrow view of the sport. Unlike some of his fans, perhaps.

      2. I’m really surprised at that, but … oh well … A quick trip to the USA again.

        Guess that’ll put paid to rumours of a silent ban, then …

      3. Roger was never serving a silent ban, that was wishful thinking by haters who resent his popularity.

      1. It’s the modern game. Huge serves and groundstrokes but all amateurs anywhere near the net.

    1. I only watched set #1 and saw the final score the morning after.
      The bagel in set #2 puzzled me much more than the botched volley on the SP.
      I mean, one failed shot is normal, but Zverev losing 0-6 after serving so well is odd.
      What the heck happened there?…

  7. Hey guys, I’m back home from Indian Wells. Catching up with the news of the world. Djokovic was “sent from God”. Man, I never knew that.

    So many forlorn RF hats bobbing aimlessly in the crowd there. Happy and sad Roger is playing Miami. Wished he had that extra time to play IW.

    I could write a Fedless blurb if you’re interested!

      1. Had a great…well good time. Feeling sick…cold drafty plane ride home. Will write a bit of a story though.

  8. Yay! Federer’s back earlier than expected! It’s been torture waiting for him to return.

    I thought he might come back sooner, since he’s been maintaining his schedule–flying to LA even though he wasn’t participating in IW, presumably to keep his circadian rhythms adjusted to the US time zones. Guess he was leaving things open-ended in case he felt ready to compete sooner than he expected.

    Just hope he has a good tournament in Miami. Doubt he will win on his first tournament back but it’s important to get some match play, even if it is on a super-slow hard court in soggy, humid conditions. Good thing is that he was able to resume practice about three weeks ago so he should be good to go in terms of movement, conditioning, and his shots.

    I suspect he will play all the clay Masters to get more matches under his belt before RG/Wimbledon/Olympics. Go Roger!

    1. Well I doubt he would win Miami even if he was fully into the season, so winning it after an injury comeback seems unlikely lol. But good to see him back.

      I think Miami is actually faster than Indian Wells from what most players say even though it looks the opposite when you watch. IW flies through the air but dies off the court. I think Miami is slower through the air but doesn’t lose as much off the court…

  9. Murali can’t imagine you playing any cricket even the tennis ball one or gully cricket . You’re better off spending your time in ”The Wet Wicket’ the watering hole at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai

  10. I see that Roger has said he considers Nadal has more talent than he does (along with Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Martini Hingis). The comment was made in a Eurosport interview. Commendable modesty, Rog, but some of us may think you are under-rating yourself a little. You will outlast them all. As for “talent”, I am sure Dr Fuentes could have helped you – as he has helped Nadal and so many other of the Spaniards.

    1. Agree, Richard, but – speaking of modesty I remember an interview when Roger (again) was put on to this ardently talked about subject of the GOAT status, – he said after blowing his lips – “Well this is rather impossible to appoint – all players are so different and several might be reckoned greatest in so many different aspects of the game..” IMO a very healthy and respectful point of view, and realistic too, although RF is my tennis favorite of all time, and I don’t think that will change ever!

      1. Whatever Roger truly thinks he is a diplomat. And he does genuinely respect the great champions of the past. More than any other player current he represents a continuity with the best traditions of the game. He is tennis. The others are merely players – no matter how good they may be.

    2. The context in that interview- I think it’s the one for the 40th anniversary of Tennis Magazine (French) – is that he was saying he was not one of those players for whom it was apparent at a very young age that they would probably be great champions. Hingis & Nadal both won Slams as teenagers.

  11. Yes well said Richard, it is that innate sense of the history of the game and his place in it that RF seems to have understood so well from the outset. Displaying his great love and respect for the game, it’s pioneers and his coaches he has been ambassadorial yet delivered a unique and timeless style of game linking the eras and making us want to share in his sport and its future.
    Welcome back on tour.

  12. Hi all. .. Ha ha ha very funny and witty account of another day and in the life of Federer. Really enjoyed reading this Murli.
    As I was reading I kind of got a view and perception of your mind concocting a possible alternative dimension with a Federer and your input of conversations, replys with your cauldron of wit, sarcasm and comedy. So this piece has put a smile on my face and the fact Federer will be back in Miami , so yes yes yes.
    Cool. Cheers Murli.

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