Shanghai is over and Roger Federer exited much earlier than any of us wanted or expected. I dwelled on it for a while, felt quite down and depressed. Then, while mentally preparing for the Swiss Indoors to start, I saw this on the ATP Website.It’s that time of the year again where we fans get to vote for our favorite player. I saw the link and my heart burst like a dam. I thought over the tough(est) year the Maestro has had. Early exits, tumbling down the rankings, not defending titles, injuries, racquet changes, injuries again. All the time the media hounded him calling him delusional and legions of pseudo fans jumped ship. If there was ever a year when Roger needed our fan support it’s this one. Actually scratch that. It’s not just because he’s had a difficult year, but because he’s been his amazing self even in the midst of this tumultuous time. And this is why I am writing this post in support of my hero. I am advocating for him to be voted the ATP Fan Favorite this year and if you read on you’ll see the reasons why you should click his name on that form.
Reason #1. His tennis
Yes you read that right. Despite the results, he still produced some Federer moments. For instance, take a look at these two compilation videos of Roger’s amazing shots this year. This one has shots from the first half of the year and this one is a more recent compilation. How about this one, the crazy around the net post shot at Roland Garros? This is the brilliant volley at Wimbledon and this is the amazing backhand at Cincy. This was one of the hotshots in Dubai, and even in that disastrous US Open match, he had this fake to take your breath away. This is only a sampling of amazing Federer shots from this year that are strewn all over youtube. The man still knows how to play tennis; he still knows how to produce magic on the court and make you wide-eyed with wonder.
Reason #2. He continued to promote the sport as its biggest ambassador
Roger worked throughout the year as the President of the ATP Council to ensure that the players’ demands for increases in prize money became a reality. But it wasn’t all behind the scenes. Every tournament he has taken part in, he was usually involved in some type of launching event. In New York, Roger of course took part in the celebration of 40 years of the ATP rankings at the ATP Heritage event along with fellow #1 ranked players of the past 4 decades. In Shanghai he went a step further and played doubles with a Chinese player to increase visibility of tennis in the country. He was also part of the ‘Greatest Of All Time’ event in Shanghai with Rod Laver. Roger played doubles with Haas in Halle which brought a lot of attention to the tournament. His name draws media as well as crowds and despite the incessant demands on his time he is ultra generous in helping to promote the tournaments and tennis in every way possible.
Reason #3. He constantly reaches out to his zillion fans
Whether through fan days, sponsored events or social media, Roger keeps in touch with us which makes his fans feel quite special indeed. We get to know more about his life on tour, his thoughts on tennis, both his own and in general (the man has a crazy good memory for tennis stats), his personality, his humor and that giggle that personally makes me laugh every time I hear it. He’s done this for many years and this year too, there was no shortage of such fun.
a. Roger on social media:
Roger has had his facebook account for a while and is currently the most ‘liked’ tennis player on the planet with 13.43 million likes and counting. Roger uses his facebook page for a variety of updates and earlier this year he gave us the option of choosing his shoes for the Australian Open. He also did the same with his bandana for Roland Garros. Only this time it was on twitter. After years of staying away from the little blue bird, Roger finally got a twitter account right before the French Open. However it wasn’t until the Shanghai tournament that he fully embraced it and hosted two #AskRF sessions where he answered questions from fans (yours truly got the last reply!). The answers were truly priceless and I fail to understand how people can still doubt whether that was Roger himself – no admin would be that dorky and if you don’t know what I mean, I would suggest you go back and read those replies :D. He also did a precursor to this earlier in the year via an AMA on reddit which was illuminating and fun (but he was dorkier on twitter for sure!). The fan videos made in his honor should get special mention here too. The birthday video (which I took part in!) and the video of support were both appreciated by Roger causing happy commotion on my twitter timeline.
b. Roger at sponsor events
Roger reached out to fans via sponsors as well. There was the Mercedes Benz Tennis Clinic at the US Open; the Lindt meet and greet in Zurich; Credit Suisse interviews; Moët & Chandon events at Rome, New York and Shanghai; Gillette event with Pele; Nike meet and greet at the Australian Open and also an exhibition with Rafa, Serena and Maria at Roland Garros. Through these events select lucky fans had the opportunity to see the Maestro in person and if they were really lucky, they got to make chocolate with him too :).
c. Roger at fan days and kids clinics
Roger is great at fan days and kids clinics especially since he gets along with children really well. There was a kids clinic at Rome which was just adorable. The Nike exhibition at Roland Garros was for children as well. Roger was also in the Kids Day celebrations at both The Australian Open and the US Open this year. In Shanghai there was a fan day specifically for him and the Chinese fans showed their immense support with everyone holding up handmade banners.
I’ve seen some people grumble about how these activities keep distracting him from tennis but I honestly believe they are part of Roger’s life and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He really doesn’t consider this to be an extra burden but rather uses such events to gain motivation and get inspired. When he says he loves the tour, he loves ALL of it. In the Shanghai presser he said the following:
It’s part of life as a tennis player. It ain’t just practice and matches, and the rest is nonexistent. It’s a whole machinery that’s happening. Business for the tournament, as well. I wanted to do a lot of things. I only come here once a year. That’s exactly the reason why I arrived so early, so I had time to do all those things, but also practice at the same time, then prepare professionally… Actually, to be honest, all these events I do extra, press, sponsor appearances, fan appearances, they actually sort of get me in the right frame of mind. I’m at the tennis tournament. I’m not on vacation at the beach somewhere. I think that gets my adrenaline going as well and excites me for what’s to come.
We are blessed with a champion who loves everything about tennis; the matches, records, practice, other players, media, traveling and most importantly the fans. I think those of us who became fans of tennis during the Federer era don’t truly appreciate how unique he is. Before Roger, it wasn’t necessary for a top player to be approachable, nice or accommodating. Nor were they expected to give as much time to other demands in promoting the sport as Roger does. Federer changed the way a top player behaves, on and off the court.
Never was that more apparent than this year. Even though he didn’t have a great year on court, he didn’t change his personality. He could’ve cut himself off from the world and focused on tennis only but that’s not how he’s built. He remained true to his nature and that included keeping in touch with his fans as he has always done. I feel that’s why he deserves our vote this year. Because despite the ups and downs, he’s continued to reach out to us; it’s only right that, despite the ups and downs, we reach out and support him back.
I’ll leave you with this fantastic clip. Watch it but be prepared to get teary! This video has been talked about a lot but it’s worth re-watching because those 7 minutes perfectly encapsulates who Roger is. It shows his warmth, generosity, dorkiness and humanity – basically all the reasons why we Federer fans are crazy about him! You know, the Federer Fan Family is a force to be reckoned with. We’re big, we’re global, we’re vocal and like our Maestro we’re multilingual and multicultural. But when it comes to our champ we are all united. And this year together we will show the world, no matter what his ranking, no matter what the score-line, to us, he’s always number 1. So what are you waiting for? Click this link and:- VOTE FOR ROGER FEDERER AS THE ATP FANS’ FAVORITE 2013!!!
*Remember, if it says your vote was not counted, you need to do it again. The ATP website is quite tricky but please keep trying till it counts your vote!*
**Click on the photos to see them in their actual sizes**
***Click on the ATP FANS’ FAVORITE LINK 2013 link in the last line of the post OR click on the image of the form at the top for a direct link to the ATP Voting page.***