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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Roger Federer wins his 18th Grand Slam!!!

f_29012017_federer_299

“Look, if you had, one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted. In one moment
Would you capture it, or just let it slip?”

Prologue –

Melbourne. Sunday. January 29th, 2017. 7:30pm local time/ 2:30pm my time/ 8:30am GMT/ 3:30am EST – 17th seed Roger Federer comes out on Rod Laver Arena followed by his biggest rival with the most lopsided H2H stat against him, 9th seed Rafa Nadal. This is the 9th time they are facing off in a Grand Slam final. The last time they met at a Major was right here in Melbourne 3 years ago in the SFs. Roger lost. The last time they met in the final of a Major was 5.5 years ago at the French Open. Roger lost that one too. Following that logic the pundits said… well you know what? F*** what they said. Here’s what actually happened.

Set 1
“So here I go it’s my shot.
Feet, fail me not
This may be the only opportunity that I got”

f_29012017_federer_262Between the two, Rafa is the one who starts stronger, holding comfortably. Roger takes the first few games to settle in but soon finds his groove. The set remains on serve till 3-all. Then in the 7th game Roger ups the aggression on Rafa’s serve. This game had a multitude of gems from Roger; forehands, backhands and volleys all leading to 2 breakpoints and before you could hold your breath, the Spaniard hit a backhand wide and was broken. A subsequent consolidation game to love made us feel more secure. Rafa held his next game but that was no problem for our champ who took the first set comfortably serving for it, sealing it with an ace. First set, Federer, 6-4. Here is a tiny highlights clip.

Set 2
“Back to the lab again, this whole rhapsody
He better go capture this moment and hope it don’t pass him”

Set 2 begins with a rejuvenated Rafa holding the first game. Then out of nowhere, Roger’s serves disappear. He starts his game with a double fault. Roger looks a bit lost. Where did all that momentum from Set 1 go? f_29012017_federer_265A forehand error gives Rafa a 0-30 score. Roger keeps fighting and comes back to 30-all but a Rafa winner earns him his first breakpoint. Roger saves it but then his backhand finds the net and Rafa has a second breakpoint. Rafa then goes back to the one technique that has always paid him dividends: attack the backhand. And like so many times before, it pays off. Roger goes down a break and even though he has two breakpoints on Rafa’s serve immediately, Roger cannot convert. The unraveling begins as Roger is broken a second time to go down 0-4 in the set. As Rafa is serving to go up 5-0*, Roger somehow finally finds his game again and manages to get a break back. He even consolidates that break with his first hold of the set to go up to 2-4* but Rafa is still flying high on confidence. It doesn’t matter that Roger holds again, he can’t touch Rafa’s service games any more this set. Rafa takes the set with a love hold, 6-3. Here are the highlights. One set all. My nausea sets in.

Set 3
“No more games, I’ma change what you call rage
Tear this mother***ing roof off like two dogs caged
I was playing in the beginning, the mood all changed”

Roger kicks off Set 3 by serving first and it appears to be a Herculean task. Despite going up to 40-0, he soon gets caught up in errors and has to save multiple breakpoints. Nonetheless, Roger somehow holds and all that effort seems to give him the boost he desperately needs. f_29012017_federer_264He pounces on Rafa in the very next game and draws out a breakpoint and actually converts it for once! A quick hold to love consolidates that break and Roger has that fierce glint in his eye again now that he is up 3-0*. Rafa holds next but only barely. Little does Rafa know that will be the only game he will win this set. A love hold gives Roger the lead at 4-1* and then a game full of stupendous Federer backhands gives our champ the double break. The backhand has just gotten better and better throughout this tournament and despite the pounding it is having to withstand from Rafa’s forehands, for the most part it is holding up beautifully! Roger just has to hold once more to take the set but somehow the errors have started to come back along with the nerves. He even has to save 2 breakpoints but ultimately he manages to take the set 6-1. Here is a small highlights clip. Federer is up two sets to one, just one set away from victory.

Set 4
“He’s choking how, everybody’s joking now
The clock’s run out, time’s up, over, blaow!
Snap back to reality. Oh, there goes gravity”

f_29012017_federer_266Set 4 starts off with both players holding but those errors that made cameos at the end of set 3 became promoted to regulars and Roger gets broken in his second service game to go down 1-2*. After that, Roger barely holds on, getting pushed in each service hold and only his serve actually helping him out. He can’t seem to push Rafa this set and the Spaniard ultimately serves out the set comfortably to 6-3. Here are the highlights for the set. Two sets all, we go into a 5th set and suddenly what seemed to be just a sprint away has turned into a marathon. To make matters more worrisome, Roger goes off court for a medical timeout. Meanwhile, I hold myself and gently rock back and forth trying to remind myself to breathe.

Set 5 – Part 1
“Too much for me to wanna stay in one spot,
Another day of monotony’s gotten me to the point, I’m like a snail
I’ve got to formulate a plot or I end up in jail or shot
Success is my only mother***ing option, failure’s not”

f_29012017_federer_268Back from the medical timeout Roger serves first to start set 5, but before I can regain my composure from the disaster of set 4, the Swiss is already broken. Perhaps anybody else would have given up next but Roger actually gets 3 breakpoints immediately on Rafa’s first service game of the set. Yet Rafa saves them all and goes up 2-0*. Roger holds the next game to get on the board but to make matters more complicated, Roger has the trainer out on court now during the changeover. Next game and Roger pushes Rafa to another breakpoint. But unbelievably Roger fails to convert that one too. Another massive hold for Rafa who goes up 3-1*. This is slipping through our fingers, or is it?

Set 5 – Part 2
“He’s so mad, but he won’t give up that easy, no
He won’t have it, he knows his whole back’s to these ropes
It don’t matter, he’s dope”

After the treatment to his right leg, Roger holds to 15 and looks more confident now. He is still down a break though, can he continue pushing for breakpoints? More importantly, can he actually convert one if he gets the chance? And thus starts the most important game in this entire match. It seems Roger has now decided to play with abandon and dictate the points himself rather than get pushed around by Rafa. f_29012017_federer_283That is the mental shift we were all waiting for Roger! If not now then when? You have nothing to lose at this point! Let him have it! Rafa serves but it is Roger who wins the opening point of an 18-shot rally with an insane backhand, 0-15. He wins the second point from a Rafa error, 0-30 and he yells out ‘Chum Jetze!’ But Rafa claws back to 30-all. Another Rafa error gives Roger a breakpoint. But Rafa saves it, of course; deuce. A delicious backhand winner from Roger and we have a breakpoint AGAIN! Will Rafa save this one too? Nope! A Rafa forehand error seals it this time! Finally we are at 3-all and back on serve!

If that isn’t momentum I don’t know what is. Roger bravely continues to remain aggressive and wastes no time; he holds to love with an ace. For the first time in this set he is up on the score; 4-3* with Rafa to serve. Roger gets 3 breakpoints immediately at 0-40. Any guesses what happens to them? Yep. Rafa saves them all to get to deuce. But Roger keeps pushing Rafa with laser focus, unperturbed, and earns a 4th breakpoint with a tantalizing forehand down the line at the end of a ridiculous 26-shot rally! Alas, Rafa saves that as well. But then a forehand error from Rafa gives Roger his 5th breakpoint. And this time Roger successfully forces an error out of Rafa and finally gets the break! Roger is up 5*-3 and about to serve for the Championship!

Set 5 – Part 3
“The soul’s escaping, through this hole that is gaping
This world is mine for the taking
Make me king, as we move toward a new world order”

Roger’s heart must be beating a zillion times a minute because I know mine is. I have been crying since Roger was broken in this set. The first tears were of despair, then when he broke Rafa to level the set they were tears of joy and now they are tears of fear + exhilaration. f_29012017_federer_284There must be a word for that combined feeling but if so I can’t remember it. All I know is that the world has come to a standstill. All around the globe, millions of us are defying time-zones to watch this drama. And none of us dare breathe while a 35 year-old father of 4 prepares to serve this out.

First point a Rafa winner, 0-15. Second point a Roger error, 0-30. BREATHE ROGER! An ace and it is 15-30. But a Rafa winner next and Nadal has two breakpoints. ARE YOU KIDDING ME UNIVERSE?! Roger’s 19th ace saves the first. An inside-out forehand save the second and it is deuce. Then lo and behold, an error from Rafa gives Roger his first Championship point. His first serve is called fault and then his second serve gets called out. But Roger then challenges successfully to get another first serve which is called out again. He challenges once more but this time to no avail. He does get his second serve in but a forehand error brings it back to deuce. By now I am grabbing my head with both my hands and making growling noises because I am too tense for actual words.

rogerfederer2017australianopenday14rip5ipnwkqhxRoger’s 20th ace gives him a second Championship point. This is it. Come on Roger! The Swiss gets his serve in but Rafa’s return is weak and Roger pounces on it to hit a forehand winner that clips the line. Or does it? It hasn’t been called out so Rafa challenges. It is ironic that Hawkeye will decide the outcome of this match given Roger’s feelings about that technology. Roger, his box, the Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne and the whole planet all wait for the replay and stare at the screen with bated breath. And it’s INNNNNNNNN! Game, Set, Match Federer! 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 and Roger Federer is the 2017 Australian Open Champion and winner of 18 Slams! Here is a clip of that cliffhanger match point!

Epilogue –

Here is a clip of the match highlights, a mini movie of the final and Roger’s speech at the trophy ceremony. The Australian Open youtube channel has a ton more fun clips and here’s a sample few: Roger’s presser, Roger’s post match interview, Roger reflecting about the match point and lastly an amazing 18 minute clip about ‘Federer v Nadal‘.

As Roger said during the ESPN interview, this win stands on its own, for many reasons:
For being his 18th Grand Slam win.
For making him wait 4.5 years after the last one.
For being his first tournament in his comeback after a 6-month layoff.
For being his 5th Australian Open making him the first man to win 5 or more titles at 3 different Grand Slams.
For being his first Slam tournament win in which he played three 5-setters.
mirkaFor winning the match by playing on his own terms.
For winning the mental battle against Rafa.
For increasing the gap in Slams between him and Rafa.
For winning a Slam Final against Rafa in 10 years.
For winning a Slam match against Rafa on hardcourts.
For beating 4 top 10 players in 5 matches.
For taking his ranking from 17 to 10.
For shutting up the naysayers.
For confounding the pundits.
For defying the laws of age and time and stats.
For showing the world he will always be a champion.
For being his first Slam win since his boys were born.
For giving back to his team for their hard work.
For giving back to his wife, for without her support he wouldn’t be here.
For giving back to those fans who never gave up on him.
For proving to himself, he always had what it takes.
For keeping faith that an opportunity would come.
For knowing if the opportunity came, he would take it
For never giving up.
For having belief.

No one deserves this more than you Roger! I am so very proud of you and honoured to be your fan. You continue to make me believe in magic and fairy tales! Congratulations on winning your 18th Grand Slam!

“You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime”

-All lyrics scattered throughout this post are from “Lose Yourself” by Eminem

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

 

 

 

 

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April 12, 2016

Roger+Federer+ATP+Masters+Series+Monte+Carlo+RxgaU5En6qjx7:00am: I actually woke up and jumped out of bed in one quick motion. I have a major presentation at work today in exactly 1 hour 30 minutes from now. Panic is settling in, need to get ready fast! This day is packed with a lot of different events/happenings but I have no time to think about all of them right now, one task at a time Ish, let’s start with washing up and a quick breakfast.

7:33am: Out the door and in the car and already 3 minutes behind schedule according to my frantic glances at my watch. Please traffic gods, be kind this morning.

7:47am: Traffic isn’t bad actually! Maybe this will be a lucky day, I need the luck for the presentation, for the lunch meeting I have after that and then there’s Roger… NO! Stop it Ish! We’re not there yet. We have the whole day to manage before we reach Roger, keep those butterflies out of your system for now.

8:00am: I was so super efficient that I reach my destination 30 minutes before my presentation and the office security has only just started to unlock the doors. Hmmm, maybe I can take a quick look at twitter on my phone, the TL seems extra busy today; excitement building up over HIS first match. A mental calculation tells me it’s still at least 10 hours away. I wonder how he’s feeling. Um Ish, he’s not even up yet. He’s still sleeping while you look like a crazy woman pacing up and down the office lobby staring into your phone. Stop it!

8:30am: I am ready with my presentation. The audience however is not. Let us remember that this is a South Asian country where being on time is considered social faux pas. I drum my fingers on the table in impatience and nervous energy, this presentation is for the donors so a lot depends on this going smoothly. Is Roger… Uff! You idiot! Don’t you remember that he’s still sleeping on his 1000 thread count bedsheets? You did a timezone check only 30 minutes ago! It’s 4:30am there, for goodness sake! I sip water to calm down.Roger+Federer+ATP+Masters+Series+Monte+Carlo+VZPPkUnqAdux

8:45am: Here we go with the presentation! Oh, suddenly the mic’s not working? You mean I have to yell across the room to be heard over the ACs? Sure, no problem, my bad for expecting something more.

9:30am: Presentation done! Good questions were answered with good answers while stupid questions were answered as well as they could be, because duh, they were stupid questions. Now I can relax and watch the other projects get roasted, hehehe. Wait, so this means I can sneak peeks at twitter! And no Ish, he’s still not awake so don’t even bothering wondering how he’s feeling. Not yet.

12:00pm: Back in my own room at the office. Barely able to sit down before a colleague comes rushing in with some emergency. I look up in the midst of this conversation to see another colleague hovering in the back waiting to catch my attention. This was going to be one of those days. I reluctantly put the phone aside, minimize the twitter tab on my desktop and open up excel files with a sigh.

1:00pm: Lunch meeting at the restaurant downstairs with my supervisor and her supervisor. I hate lunch meetings. It’s never about the lunch and always about the meeting. To a foodie like me, that’s just insulting. But this wasn’t my call so I head downstairs. Coming down the stairs I realize its 9:00am in Monaco, Roger must be awake by now! Is he nervous? Is he super chill? Would have been nice if Mirka was there but looking through twitter it doesn’t seem like anyone has seen her.

1:25pm: Meeting hasn’t started and I am starving. Why? Because being on time is a social faux pas, remember?

2:45pm: Lunch meeting done. I barely remember what I ate. It was some kind of pasta that was supposed to be eaten hot but had significantly cooled because I had to spend my time talking instead. Boo!

3:00pm: Back in my office room but this time, there is no line of colleagues waiting for me; alone at last! I plop down on my chair, exhausted but content. The lunch meeting had gone well, despite the sorry pasta, the presentation had gone well, especially when compared to the ones that followed, hee hee. This was a good day! So then why am I feeling nauseous suddenly? I am still feeling nervous; residual adrenaline? What IS IT?

Roger+Federer+ATP+Masters+Series+Monte+Carlo+DX-uQEb5AUex4:00pm: Relaxing music on youtube fill my ears through headphones. I have been mostly undisturbed the past hour yet my anxiety is not going away. I drank water, I had tea, but nothing is helping. Am I falling ill?

4:10pm: YOU ARE SO STUPID ISH! Of course you are nervous! ROGER FEDERER IS ABOUT TO PLAY HIS FIRST MATCH IN OVER 2 MONTHS! AND YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE A PILLOW TO SCREAM INTO! *sigh* It’s actually been so long since I’ve watched tennis that I had forgotten what pre-match nerves were like. Damn Roger, you’ve been gone a while! 😥

5:00pm: All my things are gathered, desktop already shut down, I am ready to head home. My colleagues eye me suspiciously until one of them quips up “Is anything wrong? You never leave before 6:00pm!” I say I am exhausted from the day’s meetings and the presentation so I shall leave at a normal time for once. Count this as lie #1,457 that I have had to tell my office peeps because of Roger.

5:10pm: In my car. Please hang in there Pierre-Hugues Herbert! Delay Andy till I get home!

6:15pm: I am home! And Pierre listened! Roger’s match is going to start more than an hour late. I have plenty of time to prepare.

7:40pm: THERE HE ISSSSSS! Walking out on court with a smile on his face! The crowd erupts! I squeal loudly! I cannot believe he’s back! And guess what! There is Mirka! And Lynette too! YAY! My TL on twitter is full and chatty and excited, how I missed this too! *happy tear*

8:00pm: Roger seemed a bit nervous in the beginning but he’s settling in. Ahhh… that service motion is still as beautiful as it ever was. He’s so quick between the points too. Lopez is making him run but he seems more than ready for it. No issues with the knee that I can see.

8:15pm (approx): The first set is done! He was helped by Lopez a bit in getting the break but then faced 2 break points while consolidating. Nonetheless he held his nerve and soon, one set was in the bag!

8:30pm (approx): Roger is definitely back. Snapping beautiful cross-court forehands and that backhand looks luscious! In fact, Roger looks delicious himself. That kit is beautiful. A lovely maroon shirt paired with bluish gray/grayish blue shorts. Rich colour tones that looked velvety. Actually, he reminded me of my favorite cupcakes ever, the royalty of all cupcakes, the Red Velvet. See? I have proof!velvetroger8:45pm (approx): Serving for the match at 5*-2 and Roger gets broken. Why Roger why? Well I can imagine why, he got nervous serving it out and Lopez picked that very moment to play better than he had played the whole match. So close, but we are not done yet.

8:55pm (approx): Let’s try this again at 5*-4 shall we? Much better job this time around, leaving no room for doubt or error and its Game, Set, Match Federer! My TL erupts and I clap my hands and yell YES! My cat looks at me with disdain but I don’t care!

9:00pm (approx): Looking back on the whole day, I feel a different sense of accomplishment from the one I felt this morning after my presentation. There is a special brand of exhilaration in a shared experience of winning a match, with fans from all over the world; to be a part of something bigger than oneself. I had missed being a part of this community. Had my presentation gone badly and if my meetings had sucked, the day would have still been saved by Roger and my fellow fans. You make my world a better place Roger, please don’t leave us again like that.

The past two months, my world didn’t stop. The earth didn’t stop rotating, my work didn’t stop piling up, my cat didn’t stop being fiercely over-protective of me, and I didn’t stop my obsession with desserts. But this unique experience of being a Roger Federer fan was missing in my life and my days were less bright without him. Whenever anything negative happened I could usually count on Roger to cheer me up but not these past two months.

His absence made me realize a few truths. 1. My life will continue without him but it won’t be quite as fun 2. I have to try and learn not to depend on him solely for my source of positivity, though he makes it so easy. 3. I don’t like or watch tennis at all without Roger. Maybe this will change once he retires and I find the new generation compelling enough. But in the meantime, while I missed him tremendously, I didn’t miss Rogerless-tennis at all. For me there is no point in watching it without him and so I didn’t. 4. I really do like being a member of this Roger community and even though I didn’t tweet as much during this break I always checked my timeline to see how everyone is doing. So this post is dedicated to my wonderful twitter people and to @EfieZac in particular because her DMs inspired me to write this post. Love you Efie! ❤

Meanwhile, Roger is due on court in less than 3 hours so I’ll sign off by leaving this hot shot clip from that match right here to get you ready for today. Good luck Maestro!Roger+Federer+ATP+Masters+Series+Monte+Carlo+3JOhts7Z_rzx

***Photos are Getty Images from Zimbio.com***


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#Roger1000

TENNIS-ATP-WTA-AUSYou can go the distance
You can run the mile
You can walk straight through hell with a smile

You can be the hero
You can get the gold
Breaking all the records they thought never could be broke

 

For once it really is all about the numbers. The numbers, the stats, the records… and they all come tumbling down. In case you hadn’t noticed, I didn’t mention the possibility of this momentous occasion the past few posts. I was so nervous that I actually side-stepped the topic altogether. I figured I would mention it if it happened and just hoped it would happen soon. Because no matter how you slice it, 1000 match wins is a BIG deal. So either I was going to have to put proper emphasis on it from the start or not mention it at all. I chose the latter more for my own sanity than anything else. But before delving into what the win today means, let me take you 3 years back in time…

Q. There are endless milestones you have been passing on the way.  What does it actually mean to you to rack up 1000 and do it in such style, as well?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, 1000 matches, not 1000 wins. Big difference. (Laughter.)
I wish it was 1000 wins, but I’m happy with 1000 matches in total, too. It’s nice to win this one […] It’s a big milestone, I agree. It’s a lot of matches and a lot tennis. Either I have been around for a long time or I’m extremely fit. You decide which way you want to describe it. I don’t know. But I’m happy.

That excerpt is from the 2012 Australian Open presser after his QF win over Juan Martin del Potro. Now almost 3 years later, here we are. The Maestro’s wish came true and what’s more it was a final match win too, his 125th final. Even more special was the fact that he had never won a title in Brisbane so it was a new title too. This is what he had to say in his presser last night.

Q. What does 1000 mean to you?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know. It’s a lot of matches. A lot of wins thankfully. A lot of wins, the 1000 we’re talking about. Yeah, clearly it’s a great feeling. Couldn’t have done it without so many people. You know, number one, just even started to play tennis, and then all the coaches and everybody, conditioning coach, Federation, my wife, who probably sat through about 800 of them, wouldn’t have been possible without them. So I had great support staff throughout my whole career. Every one of them has made some sort of a sacrifice for me to be there today. Clearly it’s a special day for me, winning a title plus getting to the magic number of 1000.Yeah, it feels very different to any other match I’ve ever won, because I never thought about anything, reaching 500 or 800. All those numbers didn’t mean anything to me, but for some reason 1000 means a lot because it’s such a huge number. Just alone to count to 1000 is going to take a while. Yeah, it’s funny emotions right now, but clearly very proud and happy.

The match looked straightforward in the beginning as Roger was up a set and a break. Then Milos made things very difficult and a combination of roger’s level dipping and I’m sure some nerves kicking in, made the 3rd set an all-out brutal war. In the end, Roger won it the hard way and when he converted the match point you could see how much this win really meant to him. He became teary a few times, especially when he saw his twin girls waving at him 😀 To top it off, Roy Emerson handed him the Roy Emerson trophy and Rod Laver presented him with a memento for commemorating 1000 match wins so the two legends made the occasion even more special. Here is the small clip of highlights and here is the on-court ceremony. Here is the presser clip and lastly, here is the ATP tribute video for Roger.

Here are some of the records he achieved with winning this match and the Brisbane title:

  • Roger won his 1,000th career match. He is in 3rd place behind Lendl and Connors.
  • Roger has now played 1,227 matches in his career. He is in 3rd place behind Lendl and Connors.
  • Roger won his 83rd career title. He is in 3rd place behind Lendl and Connors.
  • Roger played his 125th career final. He is in 3rd place behind Lendl and Connors.
  • Roger won his 23rd ATP 250 title. He is in 2nd place behind Muster with 26.
  • Roger played his 31st ATP 250 final. He is in 3rd place behind Muster and Roddick who reached 32 finals each.
  • Roger won his 62nd outdoor title. He is tied at 1st place with Nadal.
  • Roger won his 57th hardcourt title extending his own all-time record.
  • Roger won his 1st Brisbane title.
  • This was Roger’s 748th outdoor match win.
  • This was Roger’s 621st hardcourt match win.
  • Roger set a new record for winning at least one title for 15 consecutive years from 2001 to 2015. The previous record was by Lendl for 14 consecutive years.

This was a happy day for Roger and his fans. We celebrate the 1,000 wonderful moments he has given us and look forward to sharing many more. A special thank you goes out to his team for supporting him always, especially Severin Luthi, who in the past few years has traveled with him non-stop. I also want to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to his family for not only being supportive but also being willing to share him with us. We know if they didn’t want to put up with the traveling and the jet lag, we would have lost him from the tour a while ago. So thank you Mirka, Myla, Charlene, Leo and Lenny. We know how precious he truly is and we are grateful.

I leave you with his two tweets that aptly sum up how happy we ALL feel including Roger. The first from that night:

and the second from the following morning 🙂

It’s been a fantastic ride Maestro! And there’s no chance we’re getting off the train. Not now, not ever.

Standing in the hall of fame
And the world’s gonna know your name
‘Cause you burn with the brightest flame
And the world’s gonna know your name
And you’ll be on the walls of the hall of fame

– Lyrics by The Script from the song “Hall of Fame”

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***Photo is an AFP photo from the Chicago Tribune site***


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Federer kicks off the French Open with a routine win

2Roger+Federer+2014+French+Open+Day+One+IZ-zSYgV0R7xRoger Federer is through to Round 2 at RollyG! Our champ wrapped up his opening match in 84 minutes with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 score line vs. the Slovak player Lukas Lacko.

Lacko started well enough. He had solid service holds for his first two games similar to the Maestro. Then, in his 3rd service game the errors started to creep in while Roger demonstrated great defense to get a break point which he converted right away. By then, Roger began to look very confident indeed and despite being pushed to 30, Roger held his own serve to consolidate the break and go up 4-2*. In Lacko’s next service game Roger mixed it up with  a dropshot, a backhand volley and a cross-court forehand. Add an error from Lukas and boom, our champ got the double break. Serving for the set at 5*-2, Roger gave away only one point before sealing the set in 24 minutes. Here are the Set 1 stats.s1Credit to Lacko, he held his nerve and started Set 2 very well with a love hold. Roger countered with a love hold of his own. But poor Lacko got into trouble again right away in his next service game. An error gave Roger a break point but a counter error from the Maestro, brought it back to deuce. Lacko hit a backhand into the net to give Federer a second chance and after an intense rally the Swiss got the break. In a flash Roger quickly consolidated with a service game that included three service winners. Down 1*-3, Lacko had yet another tough service game where Roger had another break point opportunity. But subsequent errors from Roger ensured a hold for Lukas.

Serving at 3*-2, Roger thundered down 3 service winners in a row followed by a volley winner to hold to love. The same format repeated again in Lacko’s next game as Roger had yet another break point only to miss it and letting Lacko hang on at 3-4*. Roger then held with ease to push the score to 5-3*. Serving to stay in the set, Lacko got pushed again and Roger had a set point but an error from the Maestro wiped that away and Lacko ultimately held. Roger might have missed 4 out of 5 break points in this set with some uncharacteristic errors but his own serving had been impeccable and that continued when he served for the set, taking it in 34 minutes. Here are the Set 2 stats.s2Those errors must have annoyed the Maestro because he started Set 3 strongly putting pressure on the Lacko serve. A double fault from Lacko gave Roger a break point only to let it go with a forehand error. Back to deuce. But Roger kept up the onslaught, extracting another error out of Lacko for another break point. The nerves got to Lukas as he double faulted right then to hand the Swiss the break. Serving to consolidate, Roger hit his only double fault of the match but consolidated the break nonetheless. Serving to get on the board, Lacko held to love in large part due to sloppy play from the Maestro. Still, the Swiss was up a break at 2*-1. And he served to perfection in his next game to quickly hold to love and push the score to 3-1*.

The pressure was firmly back on Lacko’s serve as Roger fought for every point: 0-15, 15 all, 30-15, 30 all and then 30-40 and break point. This time the Swiss took it to go up a double break: 4*-1. Another super quick love hold meant Lacko had to serve to stay in the match at 1*-5 down. Federer had a break point again but lost it with his own error. Despite being pushed to deuce 2 more times, Lacko held and Roger had to serve for the match. A beautiful love hold finished off with a gorgeous inside-out forehand won Roger the match. Here are the stats for the match.mThis was a good match for Roger. He was never in trouble and didn’t face any break points. He served very well and while his return game was a bit sloppy, mostly in Set 2, he made sure he was in complete control at all times. I got the feeling he tried out a few different shots to get some practice in. He came to the net very well too; though to be honest, Lacko didn’t really make him play difficult volleys. For a first Grand Slam match, this was a good performance.

What made it more special was Mirka was court-side! This is the first time we’ve seen her since the twin boys were born and she looked lovely! The twin girls were there too, looking chic in their black and white polka dot dress, matching pink headbands and sunglasses 😀 Roger was very sweet in giving a shout-out to Mirka in his on-court interview and we learned from the presser later that the whole family, including the boys, is there with him in Paris. Here is a link to a tiny presser clip.twinsUp next is a new opponent for Roger, the 21 year old Argentine qualifier Diego Sebastian Schwartzman, ranked 109 in the world. Neither Roger nor we know much about him so I expect it will take Roger a bit of time in the beginning to figure out his game. Hopefully, it won’t take too long! In the meantime, I leave you with these crazy stats our Maestro achieved with this win.

  • Roland Garros 2014 is now the 60th Grand Slam Roger has participated in. He shares this with Lleyton Hewitt who is also playing his 60th Grand Slam this week. They are both behind Andre Agassi at 61 and the record holder Fabrice Santoro with 70.
  • This French Open is also Roger’s 58th consecutive Grand Slam which is a record.
  • This match win was his 59th French Open win. He currently shares this with Rafa but of course Rafa hasn’t played his first match yet.
  • Roger is the only player to have over 50 match wins at all Grand Slams.
  • This was also his 266th Grand Slam match win which is wayyyyy ahead of Jimmy Connors who is at second place with 232 match wins. The next active player behind him is Rafa with 177 match wins.
  • Roger is 4th on the list of career matches played with 1,173 matches (behind Vilas, Lendl and Connors). The closest active player is Tommy Haas with 875 matches.
  • Roger is 3rd on the list of most career match wins with 952 wins (behind Lendl and Connors). The closest active player is Rafa with 692 match wins.

Well that’s it from me. The Maestro isn’t playing today and might not play till Wednesday so in the meantime, chillax! 😉 and enjoy the rest of the tournament!

 

***Roger’s photo is from http://www.zimbio.com/ and the twins’ photos are from http://www.blick.ch/***


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Twins! …. AGAIN!

Just a quick post to say that Roger Federer pulled out of the Madrid Masters yesterday. Then, barely half a day after his withdrawal announcement, he tweeted that Mirka has given birth to twins AGAIN! 2 boys this time, Leo and Lenny! See? Even in life off-court he achieves perfection. First twin girls, then twin boys, perfect symmetry! Hats off to Mirka, the Queen that she is – 2 twin pregnancies! Here is Roger’s overjoyed tweet ❤

 

He also posted a facebook status:

BnAk7YnCQAExYGzAnd on rogerfederer.com as well:

CaptureEven the timing was perfect too. The twins were born right at the beginning of the Madrid tournament. While I do think this means he’ll probably skip Rome next week, I think there is a strong possibility he will participate in the French Open which is around 3 weeks away. According to his agent Tony Godsick, “Roger has plans to play the French Open, and he’ll take it step-by-step as to what he plays before that”.

“Roger has plans to play the French Open, and he’ll take it step-by-step as to what he plays before that,” Godsick said in a telephone interview. – See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/roger-federer-withdraws-from-madrid-open-for-birth-of-second-set-of-twins-1.1022771#sthash.HVtRQj0y.dpuf
“Roger has plans to play the French Open, and he’ll take it step-by-step as to what he plays before that,” Godsick said in a telephone interview. – See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/roger-federer-withdraws-from-madrid-open-for-birth-of-second-set-of-twins-1.1022771#sthash.HVtRQj0y.dpuf

Wishing all the best to the King, Queen Mirka, Princesses Myla and Charlene and the new Princes, Leo and Lenny! I wonder what their middle names will be; hoping for names starting with an ‘R’ 😛 Now we wait for what is sure to be an epic selfie! I’ll update this post with the picture when we get to see it 😉 Congratulations Maestro!

BnAp7lKCIAEJhy3

***The marvelous chocolate photo is from Lindt of course! to be precise 😀 ***


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Ramblings of a Federer Fangirl

Roger+Federer+Roger+Federer+Charity+Match+WauXbf2InDQlWhen Roger Federer lost his Australian Open SF match my first thought was “I hope he’s ok.” And then my train of thought went as follows: “Well, he has his entire team with him, Seve, Stefan, Stephane and Tony and thank goodness for Mirka that amazing woman, and oh! He’ll get to hug the twins once he goes back to the hotel… aww, that’ll be really sweet”. My primary concern was whether he was fine, mentally and physically. Once I thought of the support system he has, I felt better, knowing he will be taken care of by people who love him. But what about his tennis? This shank, or that missed break point? I didn’t think about those, not for a while. A full day later it hit me why: I had been worried about Roger Federer the person, not Roger Federer the tennis player.

Of course tennis is a part of it, a large part. But for me Roger is like a close friend. Except, Roger Federer and I have never met in our lives and we never will. Yet, not only do I care for him as a friend, I feel like I know his family too. I know them well-enough to know that Stefan Edberg, the newest team member seemed to fit in like a glove. Every player’s box has their own flavor and Edberg appeared as if he’d been a part of that box forever. I know that his daughters Charlene and Myla like swimming and dancing more than tennis and that they helped decorate the Christmas tree. I know he and Mirka are expecting their third child this year. And I know he high-fived her when Stan won vs. Novak in the QF.

I know all this without being a paparazzo or a stalker and that’s because Roger let us know himself. Most of the information I wrote above came directly from Roger through social media or interviews and press conferences. He lets us into his life, which includes his family, team, players, fans and a host of responsibilities. I realized then, that my utter lack of objectivity about him and my transition from a tennis fan to a shameless Federer fangirl is completely and utterly all his fault.

Bdsz4r_IAAEdZFsI was a Sampras fan before I discovered Federer but my experience as a Sampras fan was very different. I loved Sampras’ two first serves (yes, his 2nd serve was like a 1st serve, it was that good), I loved his basketball jump smash and how he had laser focus and determination. When he won, I ooh’d over his winners and when he lost I rued the shots he netted. But never did I think about whether he had someone waiting for him at the hotel to hug. Now granted, the media was not as invasive back then and social media didn’t exist but Pete never had that friend vibe that Roger exudes. In fact I can’t remember any player of the pre-Federer eras who did. Tennis was a job and they were professional tennis players. Then along came Federer who made tennis a lifestyle. Sampras loved Tennis. Federer loves the World of Tennis.

Roger met his wife on tour, celebrated record shattering victories on tour, experienced tormented moments on tour, embraced rivalries on tour and advocated for the tour. Getting married while on tour? Not a problem. Wait the wife is pregnant? Um, don’t you know he married a Queen? Almost 9 months pregnant with twins, this woman sat through a 5 setter Wimbledon Championship match as her husband broke Pete’s record of Grand Slams. But traveling with not one but two babies? What about sleep before a match? Pfft, please. The Grand Slam prize money for lower ranked players should be increased? Yeah, he’s on that already, as the President of the ATP Players Council. The victims of the Haiti earthquake need help? Simple, arrange a fundraiser a day before a Grand Slam and get other top players and rivals/friends to help. Kids Day? Hello! He’s the National Kids Day Ambassador at the Australian Open.

Roger+Federer+2014+Australian+Open+Day+10+iO7AhcSeQkblSee what I mean? He lives and breathes the tour. What’s more, through it all, he has remained himself, complete with his dad jokes and dorky giggles that distract you from the fact that he is a tennis god… well until he hits one of those shots that stun you into reverent silence. But back to the topic at hand, really, when I think about it, I had no chance of escaping his charm.

As such, when he loses a match I sympathize as if my best friend just lost an amazing job opportunity after going through several interview rounds only to stumble at the end. When he gets injured I react the same way as when a family member is ill, I fret incessantly. When he makes a joke I laugh like how I laugh at my mother’s silly jokes. When he wins a title, I cheer and cry from pride and joy the same way I did when my brother graduated from college, beaming so much that my face hurt.

Roger Federer has robbed me of my ability to enjoy tennis purely as a sport. Because now I bring excess emotional baggage to each of his matches that he does not deserve. But then again as we have established above, this is his fault anyway, so maybe indirectly, he does. I have to say I don’t enjoy his matches live the way I do with players I don’t care about. I am nervous and tense and I constantly talk to him via my screen saying words like “cmon!” and asking questions like “Are you f***ing kidding me with these break points Rogi? Do you realize I have already torn off two clumps of hair from my head and it’s only the first set?” There are also phrases I sputter which tail off into unintelligible gibberish in the end like “OMG Roger that dropshot was just askdjkihkhekhweufkhhl!”

Roger+Federer+Roger+Federer+Charity+Match+V6yXB35cn0VlNope, I wouldn’t describe it as a ‘pleasant’ experience; ‘manic’ is probably a better word for it. I always have to watch his matches again (only his wins, not losses) post result, to fully appreciate his tennis, free from the roller-coaster ride of watching it live. Yet, given the choice, I would never skip a match. I repeat these experiences over and over again, complete with cringing and whooping. I know it makes no logical sense. But that’s how he has impacted me; he took away all logic. It is that illogical heart that believes this year is a new beginning. It is that same heart that gets sad (temporarily) whenever he loses any match no matter how hard he fought. He makes me feel with my heart rather than think with my head. I am irrational, unreasonable and emotional about Roger. I swear it’s not my fault. I wasn’t like this before. He made me this way.

As I come to the conclusion of this post, I realize it didn’t have any specific purpose. I guess I wanted to share my thoughts and feelings about him because I’ve been missing him. I know he doesn’t know who I am and I know I don’t matter at all. This is as one-sided as it gets. But despite that reality, I miss him anyway, the way I miss my friends and family when they travel or move away. But it’s worth it though, because every time he comes back on tour I get the same joy as when I go to pick up loved ones at the airport who have been gone for a long time. As proof of this, just as I was putting the finishing touches to this post my twitter timeline exploded with the breaking news that Roger has decided to play the Davis Cup in Serbia! It’s almost spooky actually, but maybe missing him so much caused a ripple effect! 😀 I can’t wait to see him happy and cracking jokes and making me giggle again…. Oh and also his beautiful tennis… that too 😉 Good luck for the Davis Cup tie Roger! Hopp Suisse!


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Federer reaches his first SF of 2014

http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Roger+Federer/2014+Brisbane+International+Day+6/Ks42_teJCeURoger Federer is through to the SFs in Brisbane! He defeated Australian player Marinko Matosevic, 6-1, 6-1 in 57 minutes. Roger was absolutely clinical on court and Matosevic was anything but. It took a little time for Roger to figure out Matosevic as he’d never played him before but he sized him up quickly enough. Meanwhile, Matosevic not only remained clueless on how to fix this Federer problem, he seemed exhausted, negative and didn’t look like he wanted to be there despite the screaming Aussies in the crowd.

With only 57 minutes of play there isn’t really much to report. Roger started off the match serving first and immediately faced 3 break points but saved them all and held. From then on it was a one-way train. In Matosevic’s first service game he too faced break points but unlike Federer he couldn’t save the third one and was down 0-2*. Roger’s next service game included one service winner and 2 aces to help the Swiss go up 3-0* in the blink of an eye. Matosevic’s next game was replete with errors peppered with a few beautiful shots from Roger resulting in a double break for the Swiss. Roger served the next game to 15 taking it with his 5th ace to go up 5-0*. Matosevic finally had a good service game and got on the board with his only ace of the set. Federer then served it out with 2 aces to take the set in 27 minutes. Here are the stats for set 1.s1qfRoger served very well with 7 aces and 68% of first serves in. He returned very well too, particularly off Matosevic’s second serve points and he committed only 4 unforced errors.

Onto the 2nd set and Matosevic held his first service game. I had thought he would give Roger a tougher fight in the second set so I expected as much. What I hadn’t expected was Roger winning the next 6 games in a row.  Serving to go up to 1 all, Federer produced one of his magical fake dropshots-turned-forehand-winner to take the score to 40-15 and leave Matosevic scratching his head. In Matosevic’s next service game Federer had a break point which he missed. Roger kept pushing however and after 2 more deuces he got his second break point opportunity. Matosevic gave him the break with a backhand error and the Maestro was up 2*-1.

Roger was tested in his next service game but held without facing a break point. In the Aussie’s next service game he got the first point but then a combination of his own errors and Roger’s forehand gave the Swiss a double break. Federer then held to love with 2 forehand winners and an ace and Matosevic was left to serve to stay in the match at 1*-5 down. He only managed one more point before Roger broke him to win the set in 30 minutes. Here are the stats for set 2.s2qfRoger’s level actually fell a bit in the second set, especially his first serves but in comparison to Matosevic’s desperate game one could hardly notice that dip. Roger was barely tested which bodes well for his energy level for tomorrow. He will face Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the SFs, yet another player he has never faced before. Chardy plays well in Australia, like at the Australian Open last year when he reached the QFs. He has a pretty big serve and likes the fast courts so he will be a tough opponent. Roger will also play the doubles SF tomorrow after his singles match. The singles SF will be at 3pm local time and the doubles will follow after that. Here are the highlights of today’s QF match. The Federer twins and Mirka were there court-side today, I wonder if they will be there tomorrow as well 🙂

I am very happy he has reached the SFs of the first tourney of the year. It’s always tough to come out strong after the off-season and he had to get used to his new racquet as well. So overall I am very pleased with the progress thus far.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with 3 video clips from the fantastic Brisbane International youtube account. You should see these because they are amazing: 1. The freak Federer smash that should get at least a million views 😀 2. The full Federer-Mahut vs. Chardy-Dimitrov doubles match that was pure entertainment. 3. The great clip of “Roger Federer and Rod Laver on how to play one another” – such a fantastic conversation between the two greats of tennis! Also make sure to follow @BrisbaneTennis on twitter, one of the best tournament twitter accounts around that’s for sure!

That’s it from me. Wishing the Maestro all the best for tomorrow!


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In Conclusion…

9147913As 2013 draws to a close I am left to make an obligatory look back at the year that was. Roger Federer and his fans had a tough one and I think all of us want to put this year behind us and move forward. Much has been written about the Maestro’s fall from grace; many of his streaks and records have been broken. But I didn’t want to end the year on a sour note. So, I came up with my list of positives to take into the new year by looking into some of those record books.

No surprise, but it seems Roger’s worst year in a decade was still great enough to keep him high on several streak lists and bring him within touching distance of setting more records. As such I thought I could split the lists into two. 1. Streaks that are still ongoing (yes, he still has a few of those) and 2. Some records that he is very close to achieving. This is by no means comprehensive but rather meant to give a sense of where he still stands in the annals of tennis history despite 2013. So without further ado, here we go.

Here is a list of active streaks that are still ongoing for the Maestro as of December 2013:

  • Winning at least one title every year for 13 consecutive years, 2001-2013 (tied with Connors, 1 year behind Lendl)
  • Finishing in the top 10 for 12 consecutive years, 2002-2013. He is tied with Sampras and they are both behind Lendl with 13 years and Agassi (non-consecutive) and Connors each at 16 years.
  • Finishing in the top 10 every year for 586 weeks consecutively. He is only 10 weeks behind Lendl and then he’ll move into 2nd place behind Connors.
  • Qualifying AND appearing at the ATP World Tour Finals every year for 12 consecutive years, 2002-2013. He is tied with Lendl at 2nd place and behind Agassi with 13 years but Agassi’s record is not consecutive.
  • Winning the ATPWorldTour.com Fans’ Favourite Award a record eleven years straight, 2003-2013. This award was created in 2000 when Kuerten won. 2001 and 2002 went to Safin. After that it’s been an absolute monopoly with Federer winning it every year since 2003.
  • Winning the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the 9th time in total. Though this isn’t a streak, the only year Roger missed out on this award since 2004 was in 2010. It is fitting that the player with the 2nd most wins in the category is Mr. Stefan Edberg himself with 5.
  • Tied with Wayne Ferreira for most consecutive appearances at the Grand Slams. They both appeared in 56 Grand Slams in a row, i.e. 14 years straight, 2000-2013; no withdrawals, no retirements.

Some records that he is very close to achieving:

  • If he participates in the Australian Open 2014 he will surpass Ferreira and hold the record for most consecutive appearances at the Grand Slam level with 57.
  • If he wins one more singles title he will surpass McEnroe and be 3rd in the all time titles list with 78 titles, behind Lendl and Connors.
  • If he reaches one more Grand Slam QF he will tie Connors’ record in reaching 41 Grand Slam QFs.
  • He is 7 matches away from being 4th in list of total number of career matches played; he is currently at 1,138 behind Agassi’s 1,144.
  • He is 7 match wins away from being 3rd in total number of career match wins; he is currently at 923 behind Vilas’ 929.

Now remember, obviously I am not listing all the records he currently holds; they wouldn’t fit in one post. Besides, I have separate pages on this site dedicated to those. But I think even a cursory look at these reminded me of the greatness of Federer, of how he creates history with every match while mesmerizing us with every shot. The Maestro’s still got it and I am confident there is more to come.

I think we should also consider the fact that despite everything that’s happened this year, plus the fantastic year the top 5 had, he still finished 2013 ranked #6 in the world. I don’t think even he expected to end the year as high as he did and he takes that confidence into the coming year and rightly so; which in turn gives us fans plenty to be hopeful about as well 🙂

And to ensure that he starts off the new season right, he made sure he had a long off-season and trained hard. For doubters out there who thought retirement is nigh he has shown that he’s more motivated than ever.

  • First, he utilized the entire off-season to train (post mini family vacation); he didn’t play any exhibitions this time.
  • Second, he kept true to his word and went back to trying out a new racquet with a larger head size, though exact specifications aren’t confirmed as yet.
  • Third, he finally gave us his 2014 schedule with 2 new additions and 3 subtractions. The subtractions were expected, Rotterdam, Hamburg and Gstaad. With the exception of Hamburg, he hardly has any points to defend in the other two so they won’t be missed. Of the new tournaments, we knew about Brisbane a while back. The only surprise came in the form of the Masters in Miami. Given his history with IMG I had thought we would never see Miami on his schedule but there it is. Some people think he won’t play in the end, or that it will be the first tournament to go if he wants a break. I actually have a strange feeling he’ll try his best to play there. A Masters can give a lot of valuable ranking points. Plus the schedule is such that even after Miami, he still gets a month off before Madrid.
  • Last but not the least, his childhood idol Stefan Edberg is joining his coaching team for a total of 10 weeks spread throughout the year starting with the Australian Open. Earlier we heard that Edberg was in Dubai for a week giving his input to Roger and his team. The part-time coaching gig became official when Roger landed in Brisbane.

A few more ‘life events’ also happened off-court that I think will actually motivate him even more in 2014.

  • He formed a new management agency with his agent Tony Godsick. We knew this might happen but we got confirmation in the off-season. The agency is called “Team 8 Global” and already represents Delpo. Rumors are that they have snatched up Dimitrov as well. Roger will focus on his playing career for now and this is a platform for him once he is ready to stop playing. But I think he’ll play on tour for a while, ensuring that this agency can get established. In the meantime he will still be on tour getting to know future players they can possibly sign later.
  • His charity organization the Roger Federer Foundation just completed its 10th anniversary and to celebrate it plus the 10th anniversary of winning his first Australian Open, Roger is doing an “RF & Friends” night, an exhibition match with Tsonga right before the Australian Open starts. There will also be a tribute to Rod Laver as well. The longer he stays on tour, the more easily he can organize events like this to raise funds.
  • Last but probably the biggest news: Mirka and Roger will have their 3rd child in 2014! Roger announced the happy news on Christmas Day and while some think this will distract him, I think otherwise. I think Mirka and Roger are pros at this. Most people thought they would slow down after the twins but they’ve managed fine with them in tow for over 4 years. As long as Mirka and the baby are both healthy, I see no reason for Roger to cut back on his schedule. Who knows, maybe the new baby could see a Grand Slam win too, just like the twins 😀

1426262_218669868304729_1565628890_nSo there you have it. A quick look at some of his numbers and records of 2013 indicate that a bad year for the Swiss is still a very good year by many standards. In addition, given the surge in performance in the last few tournaments of 2013, his hard work off-season and all the new changes he is making, it not only suggests that he is more than ready to continue forging on, but that he is keen on addressing problems, improving his level and keep striving for more.

The passion this man has for the sport is second to none and his enthusiasm is infectious. So much so, that I am even more excited about Roger’s 16th year on tour than the previous few years. I think it will be an interesting journey for both Roger and us. Roger and his fans have all gone through this tumultuous year and we have each reassessed the situation for ourselves. We revised our expectations, recalculated our paths and for those of us who are still here at the finish line, we have reaffirmed our allegiance to our champ and continue to remain resolutely by his side. Brace yourself tennis world, Roger is getting ready to roar back, and we will roar with him in unison, ‘Allez!’

I’ll end my last post of the year by leaving you with these lyrics to close out 2013. Bring on 2014!

Sing with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tear
Sing with me, if it’s just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away

Dream on, dream on, dream on,
Dream until your dream come true……..

                                                          – by Aerosmith


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#feelingthelove

*Before you start reading, a fair warning here: This post is unlike my other ones. It is long, emotional and very fangirl oriented. But this was my first time seeing the Maestro live, I couldn’t have written this any other way.*beatThe heartbeat… that’s the first memory I have of that night. The O2 Arena lights dimmed to an inky darkness as the glowing blue heartbeat zipped around the stadium in a tense, slow thud. I know it’s meant to give the tournament a showbiz feel but suddenly I found myself breathing in sync. That was a good thing because before it my heart was racing at a zillion beats per minute.

The light shone towards the entrance and as the announcer’s voice crackled over the microphone, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen….’, there HE was. He walked out through the wall of dry ice and then… my world stopped spinning, my eyes focused on him, and there was nothing else. No memory of anything else till the match was over and I was standing in line for the tube to go home. I am not kidding. I didn’t even have any peripheral vision. Had Novak come out first I might have seen him but he didn’t. So from then on, Novak could’ve been Winnie-the-Pooh carrying a honey pot filled with tennis balls and I would have had NO IDEA. In the beginning I was aware of this. I thought because this was my first time watching him, I wanted to take it all in. But as the match progressed, it ceased to be a conscious focus; I just kept getting drawn back to him no matter what. Obviously I am very biased but it must be said anyway: on a tennis court he is a moving work of art. He’s magnetic and hypnotic and I was completely under his spell.

That night I was able to confirm some of what I have read about him and I noticed some new things as well. Lastly I also learned some details about myself. It was an emotional roller-coaster for me to say the least.

First, here’s what I can confirm:

  • His curls are TO.DIE.FOR. Also, he is even more handsome in person than in 2D. I cannot stress this enough. When he walked passed me I did an involuntary sharp in-take of breath every single time because he really is THAT gorgeous. He REALLY is. REALLY.
  • His service motion is absolutely the most beautiful ever in the history of tennis. The END.
  • His techniques are divine. The windshield wiper forehand, the topspin single-handed backhand with both arms extended far back, the height he gets with each overhead smash, and his head always remaining deadlocked in position until the follow-through for each shot is complete – just brilliant.
  • He has the most glorious movement on the court. I know Novak is known for being the ultimate contortionist but he is different. Rather than the crazy stretches, I marveled instead at how ‘complete’ every stretch was and how smoothly he got back into position. I saw the comparisons between him and a dancer in a whole new light. The best dancers arch, elongate and extend to their fullest without looking strained. He is the same way. His core must be ridiculously strong otherwise I doubt he could slide back for his next shot with such grace and perfect balance. I often hear his haters claim that tennis isn’t supposed to be a dance; it’s a brutal, grinding sport. I wish I could tell them that we fans agree, tennis isn’t supposed to be any of those things. But don’t they see that he somehow manages to make it exquisite regardless? He is the exception that proves the rule. He creates a dancer’s silhouettes in the midst of intense rallies and that is precisely why we fans become breathless. He produces beauty within an impossible environment of sweat, toil and brute force. He creates art where none is supposed to be.
  • This last observation is actually about Mirka but seems like it would be best to include it here. I can confirm that she reacts just like we do. Or she did that night. There was a moment when he got broken back in the 2nd set; I facepalmed, only to see Mirka doing the same right across from me. During the tie-break she kept cheering for him and erupted with the rest of us when he finally took it 😀

    Walking Out!, At the net, Teapot pose!, Twirling his racquet as Mirka is about to facepalm :/

    Walking Out!, At the net, Teapot pose!, Twirling his racquet as Mirka is about to facepalm :/

Here are some new observations I made about him:

  • He twirls his racquet while waiting for his opponent’s serve. I knew he does this, but didn’t know he did this every single time; could be wrong but I counted a minimum of 6 and a high of 17 twirls.
  • His eyes follow the ball on the fault serves of his opponent. He looks back and follows the ball till it is safely in the ballkid’s hands. It’s like he is a robot programmed only to look at fuzzy yellow tennis balls and nothing else. No matter where they go, his eyes must follow.
  • I knew this before too but it was extra special to see it with my own eyes: his low net clearance. So many of his shots almost kissed the net and I watched in perpetual fear mixed with sheer amazement at how low they were. There was no comparison to Novak in this regard, at least in this match. Novak just played at safer, higher, net clearances than him all throughout.  
  • He never looks rushed on court, we all know this. What I found fascinating was how this completely contradicts his facial expressions. Even when he gently uses his towel or leisurely bounces the ball, his face still has a scary look of concentration. With other players their body language follows their mental state. Rafa’s super-focus ripples through every step he takes on court, Ferrer is always in a constant state of motion and as much as I love him, Delpo’s slowness permeates through his entire body during points and in between them. But not him. He is the only one whose body language says ‘relaxed’ while his face says ‘intense’.

What I learned about myself:

  • I will never be able to do a match report when I watch him live because he is too distracting. You know how tennis crowds move their heads from side to side during a point? Not me. I only watched him. As such I have no idea how Novak played. Out of the 8 players I saw in those two days I have to say I missed out on seeing Novak completely.
  • I also realized that I handled his loss much better on court than in front of the TV. I was totally surprised at this because when I watch on TV I sometimes walk away or change the channel to ease my nerves. So I was worried what would happen if I got the urge to look away but was stuck in my seat. As it turns out, I was so focused on him, being there in front of me trying to figure things out, I felt as if he and I and the crowd were a part of one big joint event. That helped ease the panic because I didn’t feel alone.
  • I have to accept the reality that I am a shameless fangirl while watching him live. I yelled, whooped, jumped and fist-pumped in the air. With this I have realized that I would never be allowed on Wimbledon Centre Court; my obnoxious fangirl-ness would get me kicked out in 5 minutes ;).
  • This was my first time watching him live and I had told myself that since I was fulfilling my wish of many years, this would be it; this experience would last me a lifetime. What I did not expect was how this would leave me hungry for more. I am feeling horribly guilty because after finally being blessed in seeing him live, I just want more and more :(. I don’t know if it will happen again but I will try my best with renewed vigor to make my greedy dream a reality. I know, I am terrible; I am addicted and I have a problem. *sigh*
  • I didn’t know it was possible to love him even more than I already did, but I suppose there was no getting around that, (shocker!). I think my heart grew an extra size just to accommodate this additional love because I am pretty sure it was already full before.
  • I don’t think I fully grasped what had happened till my long tube journey back home was done and I stood at the driveway of my friend’s house where I was staying. I was about to take out my keys but I couldn’t. All of a sudden a wave of emotions flooded me as I said it out loud in the still night air, what I had just experienced. I thought of what it took this year for both him and me to arrive at this night in London. And then, amidst a mix of tiredness, relief, happiness and giddiness, I leaned against the lamppost and broke down in tears. I needed that though. I don’t think I could have gone to sleep without letting those emotions out :’).

I have gushed at deep length about my love for him but before concluding I have to mention two more ‘love’ stories. The first was the wonderful crowd at the O2. I think it came across on TV how much love he got during that match. To me it was absolute heaven not only to see him live but to realize that 17,000 people felt the same passion for him that I did. At one point Novak looked downright irritated at the crowd and I almost don’t blame him. Behind me was a Novak fan who was surrounded on all sides by Swiss flags and all he could muster was a not-too-loud “Come on Novak”. It was as if the match was being held in Basel and I was thrilled to bits.

Lastly I must mention two twitter friends I met up with at the O2 for the first time. We met and instantly fell into conversation as if we had known each other for years and years. I admit I was a bit nervous before meeting them but after the first excited “Hi!” and the immediate hugs that followed, it all vanished! Thank you @natasja0409 and @EfieZac for making my O2 trip extra memorable with your warmth and friendship and I hope we will maintain our special bond through our shared experiences for a long time.

My flag (L) and Efie's (R). Best seats EVER!

My flag (L) and Efie’s (R). Best seats EVER!

I have to especially thank @EfieZac. She had a spare ticket at the last minute and she offered it to me. Her seats were better than mine so I humbly accepted not comprehending exactly how much better they were until I reached them: they were in the front row. I turned to her and asked just to be sure and then I had tears in my eyes right away. I don’t know what I have done to deserve such a gift and I cannot thank her enough for her generosity, especially considering she hadn’t even met me till a few hours earlier. My first time watching him play, and I was able to do so from a few feet away. Seeing him this close was beyond my wildest dreams. And get this! I wore a white RF hat and my white RF special Wimbledon jacket given to me by Nike Tennis and I SWEAR, once, while using his towel, he looked straight at me! I really have absolutely no words that can adequately express my gratitude to her so I am simply sending her the biggest, most teary, virtual hug ever. It seems my love for him in turn brought some love for me too ❤

As I conclude this post, I realize it’s been all about love. He is responsible for my love of tennis, especially beautiful tennis. Because of him I was able to be a part of the love his fans felt that day, screaming for him in unison. Because of him, I found a world of friends on twitter who I can share my passion with; this passion transcends cultures, languages and nationalities and allows me to be a part of a family. Because of him I found two special friends that day at the O2. So I will end here with a thank you. Thank you Roger Federer, for bringing love into my life.


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The Boys Are Back In Town! – Federer is through to R3 in Shanghai

And we’re back on tour! It feels good saying that! So after a month long hiatus, Roger Federer is back. He’s been in Shanghai for a while actually. He’s done a ton of promotional events followed by frenzied fans every step of the way. He has also entered the doubles at Shanghai with Chinese player Ze Zhang and they won their first match to the surprise of everyone including Roger! 😉 We’ll see how they do and in the midst of my singles coverage I might try and sneak in some doubles action into my next posts. Roger also did a hilarious twitter Q&A session with his fans using the hashtag #AskRF. But for now, for the sake of time, I’m only covering the first singles match Roger played vs. Italian Andreas Seppi in R2 of the Shanghai Masters.

As it usually has been for the past few years, Mirka and the twins don’t travel with him on the Asian swing. Neither does his coach Paul Annacone. The Swiss isn’t completely alone however; Severin Luthi, Tony Godsick and Stephane Vivier are with him. Nonetheless, without the Queen herself, his player’s box was going to be a bit empty. Or was it? Within two games into the first set the camera panned across the following seats:group1Yes, that’s Rafa Nadal, Marc Lopez, Fabio Fognini and Tommy Haas. Never fear, the bros are here! To be fair, Marc was probably there to keep Rafa company and Fabio was most likely supporting fellow Italian and doubles partner Seppi but the Maestro’s friendship with Tommy Haas is well known and Rafa, well that’s been going on for ages. Rivals on court and friends off-court, Rafa has been known to watch Roger play at other tournaments in the past. Before the Shanghai Rolex Masters started Rafa had some warm words for the Swiss and his chances of qualifying for London. Today he backed up that confidence by supporting his friend on court.

From Weibo

Yep that’s what I was doing too

This was just as well because initially Roger needed a bit of support. He looked somewhat rusty while Seppi looked sharp. Roger faced a break point in just his second service game but somehow held.  In his third service game he hit two double faults, the second one at break point and gifted Andreas the lead. Yes Rafa, you and I had the same expression just then :(.

The break however, galvanized Roger and soon he had 2 break point opportunities of his own. After a long rally he ended the point with a gorgeous smash and Rafa and I clapped in delight. I told you, we were in sync, Rafa and I ;). The match was back on serve at 3 all. I think that was the turning point of the match even though he faced 2 break points in his very next service game. But he saved them both to go up 4-3*. At this point Rafa took off, partly because he was mobbed by fans by then, partly because he had his own match coming up next but I’m sure also partly because he sensed the momentum had shifted in Roger’s favor, just like I did. The set continued on serve with Roger beginning to find his rhythm.

Rafa (and I) were clapping away at that brilliant smash!

Rafa (and I) were clapping away at that brilliant smash!

Serving to stay in the set, Seppi panicked and Roger stepped it up. Seppi got broken with an error of his own and it was 6-4 for the Maestro in 37 minutes. This wasn’t a clean set for Roger; he had quite a few unforced errors. But he remained cool, focused when needed and snatched the set away.

On to set 2 and Roger carried over his confidence from the first set for an emphatic love hold. He kept pushing Seppi who was still trying to regain some footing in the match. After the 3rd deuce Roger had a break point and an error from Andreas gave Roger the break. The Swiss smoothly consolidated the break to go up 3-0 and looking back, the match was already decided by then. The Maestro had well and truly settled in while Seppi got more frustrated. Both men held steady and didn’t offer any more break points and while that was wonderful for Roger (and us) it meant Andreas never got even a chance at leveling the set. Andreas made sure Roger had to serve for the match and knowing the kind of year Roger has had, in particular having trouble closing matches, I was justifiably nervous. Roger quickly went down love-30 while I covered my face, unwilling to see what might happen next. However, the Maestro thankfully had no time for nonsense and won the next 6 points in a row that included two aces. Game, set, match, Federer. Here are the match stats. R2Thought he had a rather shaky start, as the match went on, Roger got better and better and was in complete control by set 2. The winners to unforced errors ratio of 19 to 29 is a tad worrying but most of those errors came in the first set. He said going a set up and then an early break up in the second set was key for him. “Even though it remained tough, Seppi did a good job of hanging around. That’s the kind of match you want in this particular situation I’m in right now.” Here is a link to the highlights.

For those interested, Rafa was asked about his presence at Roger’s match and this is what he had to say. “It’s special, I had an opportunity today to watch a few games like a spectator in life. I enjoyed it. I watched [Federer] because I arrived early and I already practiced. I didn’t know what else to do. I went on court to watch a player like Roger, which I always enjoy doing.”

Up next for Roger is the highly talented, athletic, mercurial Frenchman, Gael Monfils. Their H2H is 6-1 with Roger winning their last encounter. Actually they haven’t played since 2011 so I’m not quite sure how this match-up will be given their current forms. But it’s bound to be entertaining for sure. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that Roger comes out on the winning side at the end. Only about 11 hours to go! Allez!http://pakistan.worldnewsviews.com/2013/10/09/novak-djokovic-romps-to-shanghai-win-despite-injury-scare/