Hey guys, the O2 has been filled with Swiss support this week and thankfully many of his fans who visit this blog have been out in force to see Roger in his opening 2 Round Robin Matches. That means not one, but two “Fed Experiences” to add to the ever growing collection of fan stories that I started earlier this year. The first comes from Tom who saw Roger gain revenge against Raonic on Sunday evening and the second is courtesy of Tennis Aficionado Susie who was courtside for the Nishikori match yesterday. Enjoy!
Federer Takes Out Raonic at the O2
Hello PeRFect tennis fans! I'm Tom, though my friends call me ToTo. I've kept up with this blog since the winter of 2011. I don't comment much, I'm very shy even on the internet! I see all these wonderful, bright personalities here making insightful comments and I don't have too much to add most of the time. That's the highest compliment I can give of the blog, so props to Jonathan and everyone here! I leave a little something on occasion though of course, but you have to keep an eye out or you'll miss me!
We've all seen Jonathan's post of the match, so here's a little bit about me first: I'm in my late teens and first heard of Roger when I was a boy on a summer's day. My dad being a massive Sampras fan watching the tennis, had a bit of a sweat on, which was unusual. “What's wrong?” I ask him, as I look up from my Virtua Tennis 2 game, playing as Rafter of course (I was one of the cool kids clearly). 😛
“Pistol Pete's in trouble here… this Federer kid looks nice though, I like his game…”
The rest is history. Fed in his heyday I have a little recollection of, I was 12 when Darth Fed rocked up the US Open for instance. But it's the last few years as I've grown up, where I've got the most memories of watching Roger play. I've had the pleasure of seeing him live 3 times now, the first was three years ago in Bercy, where Roger put on an indoor master-class against Berdshit (that was also when I discovered this blog). The second was in Halle, just a couple of weeks before Roger lifted his final slam to date in a classic grass court match with Raonic. Probably the classiest tennis complex I've ever been to outside SW19. I'm very happy my perfect record continued on Sunday, where Roger put in a solid display to get his first win of this year's season finale.
Yes Roger is my hero. Not because of his tennis, just of the guy that he is. I'm a student primary teacher and I aspire to carry myself in the classroom the way he does on and off the court. He just floats on air doesn't he? His foundation inspires me too, I love how he really cares about education in Africa, and one day I hope to follow in his footsteps and set up a project out there myself. Maybe I could work for his foundation when I qualify as a teacher, who knows?
Tennis is a big part of my life though, I played on the junior tour for a few years, didn't quite make it pro. The margins are so small in the world of sport, I have no regrets. I was very proud to make it to junior Wimbledon and win a match one year, I've included a photo of me there.
Now onto the fan story! I'm from Sussex, south of England, so it was about a couple of hours in the car up to Greenwich. What they've done with the place really is cool, it's a great place to watch tennis. Before the match you've got shopping, cafés, bars, the lot. There's also a fanzone area where you've got loads of little extras to the main event. I got there early so I had time to take a good look around for you guys.
Probably the first thing I did was the best! I went to a bar to get something to drink and outside there's a group of Swiss fans in navy hats (which I thought was hilarious). They were all hanging around outside the door, and as I was about to go inside, one of the guys takes one look at my RF shirt, (the sky blue one he wore during practice at last year's event at the o2 in case anyone wondered) and just beckons me over, arm around me, with a massive grin on his face. A couple of songs later (Allez, allez, allez allez… HOPP SCHWIIZ, HOPP SCHWIIZ) and after a lengthy discussion of Federinka's chances, (all convinced Stan was going to destroy Tomas and they were all right!) I got a couple of photos with the group and was on my way.
Next I caught a glimpse of Ivanisevic and Cilic on the practice courts. Goran looks in great shape you know, hasn't lost any more than half a step. Cilic on the other hand didn't exactly look confident out there, netted a lot of serves and was trying to work on his backhand down the line, obviously thinking about the Novak match. I caught a bit of Holding Court Live and Colin Fleming was a really good pundit, Justin Gimelstob earned brownie points by saying that he reckoned Roger was the best player of the year. Then after quickly getting a photo with the trophy itself, it was time to head to the match court!
I had tickets for the upper bowl, not so good if you don't like heights, like me, so it's fair to say I was sweating a bit more than usual! It made Roger's match more dramatic for me I guess haha but before that it was time for the doubles between Zimonjic/Nestor and Dodig/Melo. I must say I don't watch much doubles, but it was a fun match. Ivan Dodig is an excellent player on his day and he was on fire, decided the match on his own really. At one point he hit one of the most ridiculous drop volleys I've seen, he was right on top of the net with no angle to work with, both opposing players closing in, and he manages to slice the ball across to the far sideline, the ball actually back-spinning into the net leaving both Nestor and Zimonjic bamboozled. Class.
The o2 knows how to put on a show, it's real rock-star tennis with the heartbeat, the lights, the smoke and thumping music. The entrance of the main man himself was quite spectacular! Even the Canadians were cheering, it was quite an ovation. I think Roger said after the match to Leif Shiras that it was one of the best welcomes he's had. It was spine-tingling stuff. During the warm up I was just trying to get as many good photos as I could, I think I did quite well with my budget Canon! From point one though, you could tell who the crowd wanted to win. It's going to be interesting to see Roger's match against Andy on Thursday with who gets more love.
I got a bit of everything from Roger today really, dominant first set, overall really solid play, then Raonic making things interesting in the second set. Honestly he had his chances, there were many occasions were Raonic was one decent groundie away from winning points but he ended up shanking instead. A shame he fell apart in the breaker really, since the match had a bit of an anti-climax but I'm not complaining! Great win from Roger to open his campaign up.
And at the end I, and all the Federer fans still in the stands, got a very special treat. Seeing him presented with two ATP awards with none other than his coach and hero himself, Stefan Edberg! You can see how much respect both guys have for each other, and how much positive energy there is there. No wonder Roger's enjoyed a resurgence! I really hope Stefan wants to stick around next year, 2015 is already looking to be very exciting for Fed fans.
Of course 2014 is not over yet, we've got the season finale, the Davis Cup, and the Wawrinka exho and ITPL still to go. We really are blessed to see him play so much. Thanks a lot for reading and to Jonathan for giving me this space on his great blog. All the best RFriends.
A Fans View From the O2
The O2 arena, the peRfect stage for rock stars past and present, but most importantly, home to the court of King Roger!
Well guys, I was lucky enough to go today, having grabbed a couple of tix from the internet in the lower level ( word of advice, always try for this level as upper level too far away for tennis). I travelled on the tube, saying hello to Heinz Gunthardt who happened to be into same carriage as me with his cameraman, and a few diehard Swiss fans, dressed up to the nines in the red and white kit!
Couldn't believe our luck when the tickets turned out to be court side, right at the front, by the entrance from which the players emerge into the swirling dry ice. Surely a good omen!
The audience filled up rapidly, with good natured banter between Japanese and Swiss fans. Understandable as their Flag colours are identical!!! The usual mad Swiss fans were there, head to toe in Swiss outfits, sounding cowbells, and wearing crazy wigs! Every time Feds picture appeared on the overhead screens in the pre match presentations, the crowd shouted and applauded, so great is his support here! Loved the Japanese fans as well; the mini Nishikori identikits looking like Karate kids everywhere.
The O2 is as about as far removed from Wimbledon as it is possible to be, but it is great entertainment!
Finally, enter Roger in that cardie ( he does love them) to an absolute cacophony of sound, a huge huge ovation which made the hair stand up on the back of yr neck. Adoration at the altar of the King! Total delirium, impossible to appreciate unless you hear it live! Almost lifts you off your feet!
The game itself (as Jonathan will tell you far better than me) was not much of a match, but more an occasion, an opportunity to appreciate Roger, watch his shots, his movement, his gestures as he was never really in any danger throughout! True he came up against a BP early on but snuffed that out with a big serve, and that was the pattern really. Slightest hint of a door opening for Kei, Roger slammed it shut with a big serve.
So, what were the highlights for me?
- Fed's movement was terrific, particularly laterally on his FH, as Kei can hit pretty flat and quick down that line.
- The second serve came up big when he needed it, Kei finding the kick tough to deal with.
- His slice variety was immaculate. The court plays slice very well, the ball stays v low, and a couple of times, Roger was scraping the ball off the floor, and skimming it back over the net with venom.
- Cross court FH to get BP was fab, as was the inside out FH to secure the break.
- He delivered some super pick ups, a couple of glorious stop volleys, and hit the corners well. Was clearly trying a few things out once he reached 5-2 in second set, as flashed a few errors, but the result never in doubt!
Oh, and the court! Clearly much faster than it looks on the telly, but I would describe it as medium. The balls do go thru more which really helps the slice!
Kei's game was clearly compromised by his wrist for which he got treatment early second set, but it simply staved off the inevitable. Roger was in a hurry, and didn't even need to make that many forays to the net as Kei's baseline game broke down time and time again, finding the mix of pace Fed gave him tricky to deal with.
And so, after an hour and 9 minutes, it was all over, ending again on an unreturnable serve. A good day at the office, a solid work out, and a result which has left me scratching my head as to whether Kei will get through.
Rogers game was pretty solid but needs to keep his 1st serve % higher further on in the tournament!
From a personal point of view, the fun started after the match. Loved Roger's interview saying he would be putting the little people to bed, rather than watch Andy!!! Got his priorities right there.
He then had a brief interview with Swiss TV ( Heinz Gunthardt, hello again) doing the chat with Rog), and I got myself ready for the Autograph Moment!
Well, all I can say is that I don't know how Fed stays sane. It was crazy! The crush against the barrier, grown men shouting “Roger I love you” as the poor guy approaches the exit, and then makes his customary diversion to sign for the faithful! He is quite incredible, approaching with his hands gently held up towards the delirious fans, indicating ” Ok, carefully, carefully now”, and he signs quietly, patiently, replying to the odd question here and there, acknowledging the “well played” ( hey, that was from me, so British, and reserved! ), and the thank yous! When he signs my ticket, he is so close to me, I could reach out and touch him if I wanted to ( scary thought!) but I am happy just to let his signature flow across my ticket, take some blurry photos, and emerge alive from the melee!
Seeing him so close, I am struck by how well he is put together for tennis. Powerful but lithe, very light on his feet, peRFect balance between muscle and sinew for speed and power! And terrific shoulders! Ok,enough gush…..It's been a great afternoon, a wonderful experience (again) in his presence. Thanks for the privilege Rog, and Jonathan for letting me share it!