ATP FinalsFan StoriesRoger Federer

World Tour Final Fan Stories: Federer Fans Descend on the O2

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. β€œWhat'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). πŸ˜›

β€œPistol 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.

Tom SW19
Tom SW19

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, cafΓ©s, 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.

Swiss Fans Out in Force
Swiss Fans Out in Force

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!

Ivanisevic O2
Ivanisevic O2

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.

onjic / Nestor and Dodig / Melo
Zimonjic / Nestor and Dodig / Melo

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.

Fed Serving vs Raonic O2
Fed Serving vs Raonic O2

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.

Fedberg O2 Awards
Fedberg O2 Awards

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

Susie Courtside

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!

Fed Signing Autograph O2
Fed Signing Autographs O2

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!

Autograph Hunting
Autograph Hunting

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!



Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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      1. Hello Eldrin… do you have some sort of inside information. Man a life give us a chance. Lol . Looks like I will have to practice during the off season to be back to par!! Lol

  1. Thanks to both writers Fed is always on about the emotion of it all. Well you could really feel the emotions he brings out in his fans and the feeling at the O2 when he appears. It is truly uplifting reading about the Fed effect both on and off the court from a personal perspective Thanks to you all for sharing and J for providing this amazing site with all these extra dimensions!

    1. Thks Katie! Always feel privileged to see him live! Fantastic experience! I urge everyone to make the effort at least once, even it means only eating beans for a week!

      Tom! Loved yr piece, so glad u made it, and survived the height!!

    2. No worries Katie, I had great fun being there and writing this to share this with you all. I think that’s the true mark of a GOAT really, the impact he leaves on others and on the game, but that’s just me. πŸ™‚
      Well said Susie, being a student I have genuinely had to survive on pot noodles this week ha but it was well worth it!

    1. Not here it isn’t Wanda. It’s go big or go home. A bit too predatory for my liking. Eldrin’s been raking ’em up. Again.

      1. Hey Wanda, Gaurav! πŸ™‚ I just got lucky the past few days! :)) wasnt expecting apost then suddenly there it is :))

  2. Thanks Tom (nice picture of the Swiss sailor fans, what fun, I noticed them in the crowd). and Susie – you really painted a picture of what it’s like at the 02 – the atmosphere, and the swell of sound as Federer enters the stadium – it brought back some great memories for me. πŸ™‚ I was too far away to get an autograph though – so I’m still incredibly jealous Susie!

      1. ‘…when his fans outshout Muzza’s’ – yeah, it’s the only time I feel truly sorry for him. He’s never been (and never will be) Mr Popular, but it’s kinda sad that he can’t win the most cheers in the UK. The best he got was at the Olympics – but then most of them weren’t tennis fans.

      2. Tennis is a sport of the individual though so I don’t think country really comes into it much, as long as you’re from a country that doesn’t have too many negative connotations or chequered history (or no history at all) then popularity will be determined by what you bring to the court, not where you’re from.

    1. I did get goosebumps when he walked out I must say. That was the third time I’ve seen him, and that was definitely the best ovation I heard.
      The thing about Andy is (I met him once in my junior days) is that he is a very nice guy with a bright personality, but he doesn’t bring that out for everyone to see. He’s pretty much a completely different guy in the public eye with press and interviews and the like. I was quite surprised when I met him to see this huge change I must say.
      He’s also competitive to the absolute EXTREME, like a child in a way (I don’t mean that in a bad way ha). Some people will like that, some just won’t which is understandable. People forget Roger used to be quite a hothead himself back in the day.

  3. Wow guys, you two could start your own Fed blogs! I’m already a fan. Oops, watch out Jonathan πŸ˜‰
    Always pleasure to hear how awesome the crowds’ reception/reaction for Fed is, must be crazy indoors, especially in there O2. Great write-ups, thank you so much for sharing Susie and Tom.

    Hope your dream project would come true one day, all the best, Tom.
    Hey Susie, what a wonderful day you had, blessed. “I could reach out and touch him…(scary thought)” – I can imagine how you felt in front of the man. Gosh I’m totally jealous of you!

    1. Hi,

      It was slightly surreal, he has enormous presence, simply by being so calm, so still. Total opposite to Novak and Nadull with their tics, and showiness! He is MR Grounded, big time! The fact that he put his bag down to pick up someones pen they had dropped speaks volumes!

    2. Thanks Wanda for your kind words. It’s wonderful to have a space to share something so wonderful with like-minded people. Ha no worries Jonathan you’ve got nothing to worry about πŸ˜€

  4. Good stories guys.

    I have managed to miss Roger’s matches, was at the Murray match last night and have to leave on Thursday evening so can’t see him and Andy in what should be a great match. Bit gutted, as this was likely my last chance to see him live, but at least I have the memory of his match against Nadal in 2011 when he absolutely thrashed him.

    It’s great to see the Federer fans around the arena, they definitely add colour and excitment to the event.

    1. Ooh…thanks Wanda – one of my fave Federer shots – he truly is THE master of the slamdunks – love it! πŸ™‚

  5. Lovely stories Sue and Tom. Thank you for sharing them with us, and than you to Jonathan for allowing these fan stories to be posted. I love reading them.

    1. Cheers Rita, I know I speak for all of you as his fans, just very very lucky to live here, so can share my experience with you all!

    2. I can only echo Susie’s words. πŸ™‚ See the problem I have with commenting ha this is a wonderful blog filled with wise tennis fans.

  6. Really enjoyed reading. Cool and big thanks to Tom and Susie for another insightful article on seeing Federer. Plus really liked all the pictures, proper cool.

  7. Yeah really great post from both. Always fun to see what things fan pick up or run into around the venue. Would be cool next year if we could get a fan report for Fed’s entire schedule. Suppose I better start going to few myself, not seen Fed play since Halle 2013!

    Didn’t know you played Tom, which court did you play on at SW19? I would love to play on one of those courts.

    I still have a little bit of hope as the AELTC has given wild cards to no hoper British players before so I can’t rule out getting one fully πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks again for giving me the space! I played on court 16, I cried when I saw the order of play with my name on. Every blade of grass is pristine, I remember cringing when I slid and dug up some turf. I had some alright results for a couple of years but the problem was I’m only 5 foot 6 and slight, so no coach wanted me. πŸ˜› Go for it bud, I got one that year and I’m titchy πŸ˜€

  8. Wawrinka is soo getting a sick spanking. This is where I wish they allow on court coaching. He needs a few words from Magnus Norman.

    1. Oh, it was horrible wasn’t it Utch. Started off so well when he broke Djoko – he was looking good, but once he lost the break, he folded. It was awful to watch. Stan the Man…please come back.

  9. Hey Susie/ Tom. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Loved reading it. Looks like both of you had a blast.

    Is anyone watching Wawrinka flush the match down the toilet? Damn, this is a blow out. There’s no way Switzerland is going to win the Davis Cup if Stan continues his ‘rich’ vein of form.

    And no way in hell in Berdych going to grow a pair and finally figure out how to beat Novak. So looks like the No. 1 ranking is pretty much gone. Shayy.

  10. Man is it disappointing to watch guys like Wawrinka make a mockery out of an awesome tournament. Hell I prefer Nadal to what he did today. And that’s saying a lot since Nadal is like a mortal enemy to me. Might as well have a final between Djokovic and Federer right now. The others are literally useless.

  11. Mockery is a mild way of putting it. This is such a joke. What is with Wawrinka? Hot one day, stupid the next. No fight and his opponent so smug. Ughhhhh

  12. Novak deserves No.1 anyway with a slam and four masters. He was pretty awesome today, only Roger at his best would’ve beaten him. And Wawrinka hasn’t had many matches to play with lately, it was always a long shot.

    1. You’re right Tom, it was always a long shot and, barring some sort of miracle – not going to come from Berdych! – that’s it. But how great is it that our champ got so close? Enough anyway to give Djokovic a bit of a fright.

      Hope the Federer/Murray match is more entertaining, we’ve had some pretty shit matches so far.

      1. Everyone is blindly talking about how well Novak played. What did he even have to do ?? Did anyone see the match ? Warinka just about did nothing.

    2. It was a combination – Djoker being solid and Stan struggling to find the court. Stan didn’t play very smart and the serve on this surface is a point starter.

  13. Hi Susie and Tom,

    Great Post guys. It is always a fun to read the fan’s experience.
    I can relate how it is to see Federer play live and the atmosphere is always extraordinary.
    He always gets the biggest applauds when he enters into the podium.
    Great guys and look forward to see more fans post in future. Thanks to Jonathan as well : )

    Lucky you Susie to get his autograph : )

  14. Love, love, love the Fed stories. So inspiring. Thanks Susie and Tom. Perhaps I’ll do an IW story next year.
    As far as the tournament goes, not too entertaining. Cilic is playing so poorly. And mostly everyone else. The only story going here is if Fed can make it back to no. 1. Too bad Stan couldn’t help with that. Looking forward to the Fed/Murray match though.
    Anyone know what happened to Nestor/Zimonjic? Seems they had a falling out of some sort. The last few tournaments they weren’t playing together. And next year they won’t be a team.

    1. I wld love to hear an IW story. I hv longed to go there! One of my fav tourneys! Venue and surroundings look amazing!!

  15. What’s this? Nishi playing Ferrer because Raonic is injured? Does this make any difference to the possible scenarios?

    1. What’s going on? Is it in the rules? Really unfortunate that Ferrer has to carry Raonic’s bad results. I guess this is due to the format of WTF… that sets and also games count… Pretty funny though! Raonic is absolutely pathetic. I doubt whether his injury would have been so serious had he won any of his matches….

    2. What I’m reading is that he DOESN’T carry Raonic’s bad results – he doesn’t carry any results at all, ie he gets no credit for matches played by the guy he’s replacing. The only way he could have got through is if it had happened before the previous match. Not sure I like this rule, though I’m not sure just giving him credit for Raonic’s games/sets/matches is a good substitute.

      On the other hand Kei has now taken the 2nd & is up a break in the 3rd, so it doesn’t look like it would have mattered anyway.

  16. Whooo hooo! Ferrer wins the first set. Roger has reached the semi final. What a nerve wracking tournament this has been πŸ˜‰

  17. Tom, Susie, thank you so much for sharing your stories. I don’t think I would like the “thumping music” in person – living it vicariously through you guys is perfect!

  18. To my maths, for Fed to top the group (I think this is right), he needs (a) 7 games (i.e. lose in straight sets with no tiebreak), (b) 8 games if to lose in straight sets with a tiebreak, (or c) to win a single set.

    6-3 6-3 defeat, 7-6, 6-1 defeat, or worse would have him in 2nd place to play Djok, any better result, he tops the group.

    What am I concentrating on losing for anyway, I reckon he’ll beat Murray.

  19. omg.

    6-0. I have seen variously that Murray is either “listless” or “not playing badly”, but it seems Fed is imperious today…

      1. Defintely Federer played a perfect match except his first serve percentage. Much better than Djokovic yesterday !!

    1. God mode! Cld not miss! He said he realised it was going to be great when he won the 34 stroke rally on 3rd point. Everything came off ( altho 1st serve % still needs work…)

  20. Actually I was glad Ferrer got a match – some extra money as well, not that he particularly needs it of course. And it was at least a competitive match (well, at least first two sets) and the first 3-setter of the tournament. What a lovely guy Ferrer is; not a great fan of his brand of tennis, but I’ve rarely seen a poor match from him. He’s a true professional and I was happier to see him vs Nishikori than Raonic who (sorry any Canadians or fans here) is quite the dullest guy on tour.

    But what about the Murray/Feds match! My god…I knew the champ would win, but what a win. Yes, the 1st serve% was low, but he’s always had a great second serve and that was most certainly enough with all the variety of shots he brought to this match. Some of those shots were breathtaking. I really did feel sorry for Murray this time though; that’s a horrible end to the season after he’d fought so hard to get there. Maybe this is what he needs to realise that his defensive counter-punching style really is not going to win him matches against the top guys.

  21. I’m still stunned. I was listening on Radio 5, and the commentators were saying “It’s not as if Murray’s playing that badly” (although that’s what they said about Wawrinka against Djokovic yesterday, too). I saw a few points on the BBC News Channel sports coverage, and Fed looked shockingly good. Although I’d rather he’d brought that sort of form to the final, assuming he gets there. Poor Andy. As slamdunk says, it’s a horrible way to end the season, after all he’s done.

    Clearly I’ll have to look this one up on YouTube sometime.

      1. Yeah I have to agree with you Susie, it wasn’t a good match from Andy but he was, as the commies pointed out, shackled by the Federer game. He basically shut him down. I think that long rally right at the beginning was the last time Feds allowed him to get into that baseline rhythm he likes so much. I do think Murray was tired, but he was comprehensively outplayed and out-thought for the whole match. A very complete beat-down: if this doesn’t motivate him to change his game, I don’t know what will.

    1. I wondered that too Susie – it did look in that last service game of Murray’s, he took pity on him and threw in some deliberate errors!

  22. Fed made me hoot with laughter saying he even expects the Davis Cup surface ( clay!!) to be faster than this 02 court?!?!

  23. Just saw a rerun of Feds match yesterday, am I the only one who thought that he didn’t play in Goderer mode like every journalist is saying?

    Seems to me like muzza self destructed, Fed was serving fairly poorly (in terms of percentage), didn’t have a positive error/winner ratio (although he did create a lot of forced errors). His net game was top notch, but the rest looked pretty average to me…

    1. Nah you were watching a different match then. Federer’s game was firing on all cylinders. Definitely from the baseline as well. Murray didn’t play well agreed. But except his first serve Federer’s game was just perfect !!

  24. Thank you, Tom and Susie, for these reports which really convey the atmosphere. I have tickets for both semis and the final and so looking forward to it. I know I will see Roger at least once, and hopefully a second time on Sunday. I have been to this tournament in 2009 and I like the whole show around it.

  25. Hey Tom and Susie, hope you read my comment as well, since I am a little bit too late with it πŸ™‚ Great stories. Thanks for telling them.

    Tom, I loved what you wrote. Especially about becoming a teacher and maybe wanting to set up a project in Africa about education like Roger does. Hope it works out for you. And those sailor outfits…. too funny πŸ™‚

    And Susie, ahhh I loved what you wrote. Damn…. you were sooooo close to Roger….. I am jealous πŸ™‚ Seriously… I am jealous πŸ™‚

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