Here it is everyone! The final post of the Gillette Federer Tour series. To enjoy the shenanigans of ‘Exo Roger’ one last time, we headed to Colombia. And as expected, our hero didn’t disappoint. Even though Roger Federer played only one match, I would say he saved the best for the last and gave us plenty of moments to cherish and giggle over. So without further ado, let’s dive in!
#1. Roger thought Colombia has magnificent sunsets. He took a photo to show us and I must say, we agree!
#2. Federer rocks a Peruvian ‘chullo’, even a light yellow one. Anna Wintour would probably have some scathing remarks, but I for one stand by ‘Fedorkerer’.
#3. There was a party after the match, the last night in Bogotá. Roger, his team and Jo-Willy all seemed to have had a great time! The king was wearing a crown… hmmm, now that I think about it, I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often.
#4. The Colombians had Roger to themselves for only 1 day. Perhaps that’s why they were the loudest crowd EVER! When the Swiss walked out on court the cheers were positively deafening! Just check out this video. Even Roger had to cover his ears! Well done Colombian fans!
#5. All future exhibitions should include Jo-Wilfried. Their match was the best one in Brazil and in Colombia too, it was no different. The tennis was great, with superb, artistic and athletic shots from both players that constantly brought the ever cheering Colombian crowd to their feet. The first set needed a tie-breaker which Roger won. Jo came back strongly in the second 6-2 and then Roger won the third and the match.
#6. Jo held his own against Federer, not just in the match, but also in showmanship. There was a moment when he rolled up his sleeves to seriously get into the point and the sight of his biceps sent the crowd to a frenzy. When Roger attempted the same, well you decide!
#7. Another match moment was Jo offering a woman in the audience to play his point against Roger. While the woman missed after a couple of shots, she had her priorities straight and made sure she got her photo taken with the two superstars!
#8. Roger of course was at his absolute best. He took his moniker “The Maestro” to a whole new level. He got the crowd cheering by raising his arms and then with one arm swipe, he shut them down. Roger did this quite a few times much to everyone’s delight as you can see in this video! A little later, Jo tried it too but didn’t have much success; there are some things only the Maestro can do I’m afraid.
#9. In the midst of all the chaos, Roger found time to chat with a couple of ball kids and he was so interested, patient and caring while they stumbled over their responses, it just goes to show he has a natural gift for handling children.
#10. First there was the ‘chullo’; then at the presentation ceremony, the traditional Colombian hat and bag came out! And yes, in my opinion he pulled that off too, but then again, I am obviously very biased, so you can judge for yourself.
And with that the Exhibition came to an end leaving us hungry for so much more! Thinking back to the entire tour we learned a lot about ‘Exo Roger’, the players, the fans and tennis itself. With that in mind, I’ve listed my top 8 highlights below:
#1 Roger looks amazing in green! He can pull off hot pink! There’s that purple shirt from the World Tour Finals too… oh and that all black ensemble at the Argentina press conference…. Conclusion: The Maestro looks good in every outfit and every colour, never attempt to debate this, there is no right answer.
#2 If there was any doubt as to why Roger received the ATP Fans Favourite Award for the 10th straight time this year look at the videos Roger posted on his own youtube channel, just as a start. Federer Fans are loyal, dedicated and Passionate with a capital P.
#3 If there was any doubt as to why Roger received the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award from his fellow players for the 8th time this year just take a look at my FedPotro collage, clips of Roger playing football in full Brazilian garb with Tommy or all the matches with Tsonga. Despite the dizzying heights he’s reached, he’s managed to remain the same person which makes the players like and admire him, the way they have done for about a decade now. And though they know the Swiss is more popular than them, sometimes even on their home turf… they’re absolutely fine with it. Not only that, they join in on the cheers too.
#4 It was great to see all the players playing tennis without any pressure and just enjoying the sport, though some took it more seriously than others! Sure they got big paychecks but they all looked like they genuinely had a good time. I think such exhibition tours should happen with more regularity. Gives them a nice break and mixes things up a bit after the seriousness of being on tour for 11 months of the year.
#5 The exhibitions however aren’t just fun for the players or fans, they are great for tennis promotion too. South America is looking to be an upcoming region for tennis and Roger’s visit might have come at the perfect time. It will encourage and perhaps sustain an interest in the sport in countries which are thoroughly dominated by football. Being able to see arguably the greatest tennis player of all time in the flesh is bound to inspire quite a few young people to pick up a racket.
#6 Speaking of young people, it should be made mandatory for Roger to do Kids’ Clinics wherever he goes, throughout the year. I have a suggestion on how this could work: In addition to receiving a first-round bye he can get a second-round bye for participating in a Kids’ Clinic. And this is not just because he and the kids clearly enjoy it, but we the fans get to enjoy precious photos such as these. It’s clearly a win-win for everyone so ATP, please take note.
#7 We know Roger for his steely determination, with the face that gives nothing away, but this tour revealed Roger’s inner side. We saw how he can be dorky (Brazilian Pac-Man anyone?), sweet, gentle, caring and oh so approachable. The tour provided a more complete picture of Roger’s personality – which only made us love him even more.
#8 The exhibitions gave Roger the freedom to show off his brilliance in its truest form. He hit shots that made one ‘ooooh!’ and ‘aaah!’; shots that made your eyes pop, shaking your head in disbelief; shots that got you to jump up in delight, clapping like a giddy child. Roger went from corner to corner and hit unreal lobs, sweet inside out forehands and flicked that single handed backhand like a magic wand. He even doubled up on tweeners in a single point!
But above all the image that is most burned in my mind is Roger flying across the court. As a friend stated “Roger had some serious air this exo”. I don’t know how many overhead smashes Roger struck in the tournament because after the first match I lost count. A Federer smash, with Roger in full flight forward, chest out, knees bent back, is one beautiful sight to see. You get the feeling that he almost wishes he could play like this in matches but knows he can’t be this risky and so curbs some of those instincts. But in those 11 days he made me appreciate his mastery of tennis all over again. In terms of talent, elegance and flair, there is no one who comes close. As Agassi once said “I love watching how Federer can make such a physical game so effortless and graceful” – truer words were never spoken.
Roger’s whirlwind tour in South America is now over and his fans had a grand time sharing the journey with him. But before ending the roller coaster ride, he still had one last ace up his sleeve. He flew from Bogotá to Zurich and went straight to the TV studios where they were shooting a live broadcast of Credit Suisse Sports Awards. The Swiss had won the award for Swiss Athlete of the Year previously in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007 and stood a chance to win it for a record tying 5th time.
He looked elegant and debonair in his suit, not betraying even a hint of having just landed from the long flight. As the votes counted down, his fans refreshed the live stream nervously waiting for the results. In the end though, we needn’t have worried; the Maestro won with a whopping 43.9% of the votes. As the king was crowned, the curtain came down on Roger’s spectacular 2012 with an endless standing ovation from his own countrymen.
We wish you all the best for the holidays Roger. Can’t wait to see you at the Australian Open in 2013! Let’s see now, so that’s… wait … that’s 23 days away!? 23 whole days!?! *sighhhhhhhh*