rogerfedererfan

This blog covers all things RF. It is dedicated to my dearest friend and avid FedFan @EfieZac. May she RIP 💙


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A Tribute to #18

Less than 24 hours to go before the Wimbledon final and out of the blue, I felt the urge to write. It’s been a while since I had that feeling so it took me a few minutes to recognize it. What is even stranger is that I didn’t actually want to write about Wimbledon at all. I wanted to pay tribute to the 2017 Australian Open instead.  

When Roger Federer won his 18th Major at the Australian Open this year, the event was epic. That win hit me like a freight train right in my gut, it was that big. A part of me is still overwhelmed. I think I have finally processed it but I still don’t quite believe it. Was it all a dream? When I wake up tomorrow will this reality still exist? Did Roger really win the 2017 Australian Open? REALLY?! It was so overwhelming for me that I have 4 different drafts of unfinished blog posts. I tried multiple times to write about how much it impacted me only to stop midway to see that all I wrote were half sentences filled with superlatives: ‘He was amazing!’ ‘That shot was magnificent!’ ‘The tournament was magical!’ I realized then, that I am not a gifted enough writer to adequately express the range of emotions I went through because of #18. And so, frustrated and tongue-tied, I gave up.

But now suddenly, we are on the edge of maybe going up to #19 and I feel that #18 didn’t get the credit it should have received. One of 2 things will happen tomorrow: either Roger will win #19 and that is all we talk about, or Roger will miss his chance and we talk about that miss instead. But #18 was so huge! It was the key to all that we have enjoyed this year! So I wanted to take a minute to remind myself about the journey we all took before Roger finally got to lift that shiny Norman Brookes trophy above his head.

Do you know how many days had gone by from the time Roger Federer won Wimbledon in 2012 till the day before the 2017 Australian Open final? 1,665. Let me spell that out for you, in case you didn’t catch it the first time: One Thousand, Six Hundred and Sixty Five Days. Or you could read it as 39,960 hours or 2,397,600 minutes or 143,856,000 seconds. You can also say it was about 4.5 years but somehow that number sounds ordinary and flippant. Saying ‘4.5 years’ doesn’t bring the gravitas that is necessary to establish just how long this wait was before we could go from #17 to #18.

When Day #1,666 dawned, I wondered, ‘would today be any different than those thousand, six hundred and sixty five before it?’ Let’s not be too hasty here; in one sense, by the time the sun rose on a clear day in Melbourne, it was already different than most of those days. At least there was a chance, a window, an opportunity for a spectacular ending.

But it wasn’t as if similar opportunities had not come by since that wonderful day in Wimbledon on July 8th, 2012 when we won #17. The first of those chances came on Day #735 in the year 2014, at that same location. Except this time the opponent was different. The battle went all the way to the 5th set and then in the blink of an eye, it slipped away and the trophy remained firmly yet tantalizingly out of reach.

The second opportunity came one year later in 2015. This time it was Day #1,099, another cloudy Sunday at Wimbledon, again. This time, the opponent was the same but the fight was not. After an intense duel through the first 2 sets, Roger slowly faded away and the match was over in 4 sets. A silver tray once more, but still no trophy.

The third chance came much more quickly at an unexpected place. For the first time in 6 years, Roger reached the final at the US Open. It was Day #1,162 and it was marred with rain delays but eventually the match started at the biggest battleground in tennis. It felt that the crowd of 23,771 roared for Roger in unison, so vocal they were in their support for our champ. But still, it was not to be. Another 4 setter and that was a wrap; another silver tray. 3 chances had come and gone since July 8th, 2012. Would the 4th be any different? Would Day #1,666 yield a different result than Day #735, Day #1,099 or Day #1,162?

That was the question on everybody’s lips the day of the 2017 Australian Open Final. Because it is easier to distill the past 4.5 years into specific moments in history that resemble this current one when trying to predict how it will go. Yet to do this, does a disservice to the trek it took to reach this point. It is filled with days of waiting, days of preparation, days of hurt and sadness, days of depression, fear and uncertainty, days of joy and excitement, days of relaxation and days that are nondescript that count precisely because they are unremarkable. A lot had changed since that Wimbledon win in 2012 and not all of it happened on-court.

Since winning his 17th major, Roger Federer has gone through many changes. His personal life had two happy additions with the birth of his adorable twin boys in 2014. His tennis life however went through a much more tumultuous time. He suffered a major back injury in 2013 that hampered most of the year and brought about some of his worst results in tennis in a decade. While he bounced back in 2014 and 2015, he got hit by an even bigger injury at the beginning of 2016 that led to his first sports related surgery at the ripe age of 34. In that same time-frame he changed physios and coaches. He changed his racquet and moved to a much larger head size. He changed his game-plan and tactics, embracing coming to the net more. Through it all, he kept changing, nay, he kept evolving. Constantly working to stay ahead of the curve as competitors came up the ranks one after another to face off against him.

My life had changed since that 2012 Wimbledon win too. One of them was directly related to tennis. I am the only tennis fan in my circle of family and friends. And as I watched him win Wimbledon in 2012 and then later win the silver medal at the London 2012 Olympics, I realized I wanted to be a part of a community who would understand why Roger’s matches and Roger himself, affect me the way he does. Later that year, after he reached 300 weeks as world #1 I decided enough already! And so in October 2012, my twitter account AND this blog were born. Since then I have found a great space to share everything RF. But while it has been great going through so many highs and lows together, I kept thinking I had been too late; I had missed experiencing Roger winning a major with this wonderful world of FedFans. Would Day #1,666 be the day to break that final wall?

As we now know, Day #1,666 did indeed break that wall. When the match had started, I was at work. Half-way through, my work day was done but had I left I would have missed watching the ending of the match during my commute so I stayed after hours, alone on my office floor, peering into my monitor and forgetting to breathe every few seconds. When Rafa’s challenge failed on the 2nd Championship point, I burst into tears, and not even silent tears; loud sobbing ones that made my face all splotchy. I then leaped up and squealed with happiness and did a jumping jig dance around my table. I wanted to hug every one of my fellow FedFans on twitter and around the world. Finally, I got to join in with the Federer community on a Major win!

Here I want to mention two friends in particular who helped me tremendously: @NusiP and @t_achaar. If it wasn’t for you both, I wouldn’t have survived the tennis world the past few years. Thank you for giving me a safe space for all my crazy! Even though I have never met either of you, that don’t seem to matter at all, I love you both so much. Here’s to more of Roger breaking our hearts and then filling them up with more pride and joy than before!

I also want to talk about my friend @EfieZac. As some of you might know, Efie was a big FedFan who passed away from cancer last year. I was privileged to be friends with her since 2013 and we would have long discussions on how wonderful it was that Roger never gave up hope and we told ourselves that another Major win was just around the corner. When she was diagnosed with cancer a second time, she became sick really quickly. But for the entire year of 2016, when she was fighting and Roger was also out of the tour, we would keep saying how both she and Roger would make their comebacks in 2017. Looking forward to seeing Roger play and win gave her immense hope and happiness.

Sadly she didn’t make it to 2017 but all throughout the 2017 Australian Open tournament, I had a strange feeling that somehow she was watching over Roger from above. When Roger got broken in the final in set 5, I remember tweeting that it was all up to Roger now; he needs to believe he can turn this around. I am not religious but in that moment I wanted to speak to her so much I thought, ‘why not?’ I was already crying in desperation, fear and stress anyway. So I looked up and said ‘Efie, help him please!’ Some of you might find that image funny or strange but it was my coping mechanism. I did what I had to do to get through that match and so I spoke to her out loud continuously, from the time Roger was down that break till the very end. Because of her, I didn’t feel alone in my dark and empty office floor.

Plenty happened in those 1,666 days. Not everyone who was there for #17 made it to #18 but that’s why I strongly feel that the voyage itself was as important as the destination. I made some wonderful friends in between #17 and #18 and together all of us learned to embrace a new Roger. In those 4.5 years, Roger was not the bulletproof champion of old, winning every title in sight. This was a Roger who faltered, fell, lost and crumbled. This was a Roger who was written off, shooed away and brushed aside. He was teased, laughed at and poked about his age even more than his results. Yet he refused to buckle.

Now the Roger I love is wiser, experienced and fully aware of his frailties which in turn make him fully savor all the moments of success with a renewed sense of awe and glee. He is happy yet balanced and amazingly, even surer of himself and his abilities than ever before. Nothing gets a champion more focused than a bunch of idiotic naysayers denying his greatness. Those same naysayers have been swooning at his results this year but Roger and his fans know how fickle they can be. 4.5 years of stinging press conferences and runner-up trays have made us more hardened now. When Roger loses and they come for us again, I hope we will be ready and able to ignore them entirely.

This Roger, circa 2012-2017, has shown me the power of never giving up, of chasing your dreams no matter what people say. He proved that if you work hard enough and if you have faith, you can get there. Though the road may be unpleasant and dark and twisted, if you truly believe, magic can happen and make an 18th Major come true.

I don’t know what will happen tomorrow or if we will ever get to #19 but regardless, I want to thank you Roger Federer, for winning your 18th Major at the Australian Open this year. I am so proud to be your fan and I continue to be amazed by what you have achieved. The journey was long for sure but it was beautiful and well worth the 1,666-day wait.

Good Luck for the final Roger!

***Photos are either from the Australian Open Tennis Australia photos, GQ or they are Getty Images from Zimbio.com***


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‘Exo Roger’ concludes the Gillette Federer Tour in Colombia!

Livin' it up in Bogotá!

Livin’ it up in Bogotá!

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.

I am assuming my invite got lost in the mail

A Bib, a Sash and a Crown – accessories from the RF Winter Collection

#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.

"Yeah well, I have better hair! And a better serve, and smash... and did I mention the hair?"

“Yeah well, I have better hair! And a better serve, and smash… and did I mention the hair?”

#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!

Adorable!

Adorable!

#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.

Wonder how many fans were blowing kisses back?  😉

#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.

South America (like the rest of us) loves Roger!

South America (like the rest of us) loves Roger!

#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.

Cuteness Overload!

Cuteness Overload!

#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.

Airborne Roger - Magnificent and Breathtaking

Airborne Roger – Magnificent, Breathtaking, PeRFect

#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.

"Hi Mirka! hi twins! I love you and I'm coming home!"

“Hi Mirka! Hi twins! I love you and I’m coming home!”

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*