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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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***


14 Comments

Hello, it’s me.

f_200116_fed_bs_36-2

…I was wondering if after all these months you’d still like to read my posts.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything at all for this blog. My last post was back in October 2015 after the US Open. Since then, life got in the way. Work, personal commitments, illness and my best friend’s wedding all served to take away my attention from tennis. Not so much that I missed Roger’s matches because I didn’t. But I had no time to write at all. Actually, that’s probably not entirely true. I am sure if I had really wanted to, I would have found the time somehow. But while last year was a good year for Roger, he had 3 losses that hit me hard. And for reasons I still don’t fully understand, those losses made me lose my interest in writing.

It felt like so much extra work all of a sudden, to carve out time in the midst of everything else and write when I knew the pattern that would unfold. We would get a great tournament with Roger in fantastic form from only to get Novak in the final and lose the plot. It became predictable, almost routine. And sports aren’t fun if you already know the result. Well, it is if you are a fan of the player that’s winning everything, as we Federer fans know too well from the past. But we are no longer in that past and last year’s Wimbledon, the US Open and the World Tour Finals killed the fun for me in that order. I still enjoyed watching him play of course, I don’t think that will ever go away. But writing about the build-up as he went deeper into a tournament knowing what the final result might be felt like a chore and so, I stopped writing.

f_federer_220116_116Now that I look back, other than those 3 heartbreaks, Roger had a very good year. With the exception of the Australian Open, he performed well in the Grand Slams. He also did well at the ATP 250 and 500 tournaments. Winning 6 titles in a year is no joke, just ask Julien Benneteau. The only reason he ended the season ranked #3 is because he did surprisingly badly at the Masters level. Yes he won Cincinnati and he reached the finals in Rome and Indian Wells. But out of the other 6 Masters, he skipped 2 and had 2 R2 losses and 2 R3 losses. That’s a lot of points Roger lost out on and thus Andy took the #2 spot in the year-end rankings. Still, had he won just 1 of the 3 losses I mentioned earlier, the year would have been fantastic no matter what his ranking turned out to be. Obviously that didn’t happen and so we ended 2015 with Roger being the 3rd best player in the world.

I wasn’t sure what 2016 would bring but I had a feeling it would follow similar patterns to 2015. So far we’re only in the 2nd tournament of the year and although he didn’t win in Brisbane, he was ill that whole week so I think we still don’t know where exactly his game is at. He had two good matches at the Australian Open thus far but had a difficult time in his 3rd round match. His draw is very tough so he has already faced opponents who are better players than their current rankings suggest. The journey ahead is not going to get any better so we shall have to wait and see how it goes.

f_federer_220116_109In other words, it’s still too early to predict how this year will go. Yet regardless of the uncertainty, the New Year filled me with a renewed sense of hope that all beginnings tend to bring and made me want to write again. But since it had been so long, I wasn’t sure exactly how to start writing or what to write about. I had been mulling over this dilemma for the past few weeks until suddenly, it hit me 2 days ago: Roger’s 300th Grand Slam match win was coming up. ‘300’ has a special significance for me because I started this blog over 3 years ago with my first 5 line post about how Roger was 1 win away from ensuring 300 weeks as the World #1. It seemed only right that I start writing again as Roger reached another ‘300’ milestone. And so, as the umpire called ‘Game, Set, Match, Federer’ in his 3rd round match, I knew it was time for me to write… something, so here I am.

Hopefully I can keep writing as the year goes on. Maybe, despite the evidence thus far, 2016 will bring fun surprises and amazing and unexpected wins. And if not, then possibly I can ride on that wave of optimism and write anyway. There are however, 3 facts that we know will happen no matter what. 1. Roger will keep setting new records 2. Roger will still play the most watchable and entertaining tennis of all time and 3. Roger will remain an amazing, lovable and fun human being both on and off the court. Perhaps those 3 immutable truths alone will keep my blog alive 🙂

 

***Photos are from the Australian Open site***


6 Comments

The year that wasn’t… and more importantly, THE YEAR THAT WAS!

Roger+Federer+2015+Australian+Open+Previews+AVkLk9EAy6mxOnly 4 tournaments left to go till the year ends and we all know what has not happened this year. Roger Federer did not win Wimbledon, he did not win any Slam, nor did he get close to reaching the #1 ranking. But what those big “fails” hide from us is that plenty HAS happened nonetheless. So I thought I would take a moment to recount all those milestones our champ reached this year.

Please keep in mind this is not a list of ALL the records he holds. That post would be way too long. For example, I didn’t include his record for most Grand Slam titles won in this post. What I have listed below are ONLY those stats that he added to or improved upon in the past 9 months. Turns out, even in this 3/4ths of a year, he has achieved so much that I had to split them up into categories. Without further ado, I present Roger Federer’s 2015 in Stats and Records – thus far.

Grand Slams:

Appearances:
  • Roger has now appeared in 66 Grand Slams as of 2015 US Open. He trails Santoro who had 70 appearances.Roger+Federer+Day+Two+Championships+Wimbledon+1-A01ROix-xx
  • Roger has now appeared in 64 consecutive Grand Slams as of 2015 US Open. This is an all-time record for both men and women.
Finals:
  • By reaching the US Open final this year, Roger has now appeared in an all-time men’s record of 27 Grand Slam finals. Nadal is in 2nd place with 20.
  • During the Open Era, only Roger has reached 10 finals of a single Grand Slam by reaching his 10th Wimbledon final this year. This is also obviously a record for most Wimbledon finals reached in the Open Era.
  • Roger reached his 7th US Open final this year and is now tied with Connors for 2nd place. Both are behind Sampras and Lendl with 8.
Semifinals:
  • Roger extended his all-time record by reaching his 38th Grand Slam semifinal in New York which is 5 more than the previous record set by Connors.
  • Roger reached his 10th Wimbledon semifinal this year and is now 1 behind Connors with 11. However, unlike Connors, Roger has won every Wimbledon semifinal he reached.
  • Roger has now reached 10 US Open semifinals and is tied with Agassi for 2nd place. Both trail Connors with 14.
Quarterfinals:
  • Roger reached an all-time record 46 quarterfinals in total at the US Open this year and has long since surpassed the previous record of 41 held by Connors.
  • Roger has also reached a record 11 quarterfinals overall in the French Open as of 2015; Nadal trails him with 10.
Individual Records:
  • Roger has reached the round of 16 a record 54 times (2000 French Open – 2015 US Open) holding a 45–8 record at this round.
  • As of 2015 US Open, Roger has a 32–1 record when playing night matches at Flushing Meadows surpassing Agassi’s record of 28.Roger+Federer+BNP+Paribas+Showdown+CJwscxeLtU-x
  • Roger continued to extend his all-time record of total match wins at all Grand Slams combined with 297 wins.
  • Roger continued to extend his all-time record of total matches played at all Grand Slams combined by playing 346 matches as of this year. Connors is next on the list with 282 matches played. This means no other player has ever even played 300 Grand Slam matches. In fact, Roger has won more Slam matches, i.e. 297, than any other player has even played.
  • Roger extended his all-time record of hardcourt matches won at the Grand Slam level with 153 wins. He is in 2nd place with 79 grass wins behind Connors’ 106.
  • Roger is the only male player in history to win over 60 matches at all four Grand Slams and the only player to win over 70 matches at 3 Grand Slams. After participating in all 4 Slams this year his total match wins at each Slam are as follows: His 65 match wins at the French Open is his lowest figure (he is in 2nd place behind Nadal’s 70). He has won 79 matches at Wimbledon (2nd behind Connors’ 84), 78 matches at the US Open (3rd behind Agassi’s 79 and Connors’ 97) and 75 matches at the Australian Open – which is a record for that Slam.

Are you already reeling from all the stats? Because that was only the Grand Slam records; there’s plenty more he did on the ATP Tour. So splash some water on your face, get a cup of coffee or tea and curl up for part 2!

ATP World Tour records:

Aggregate records:
  • Roger has won 87 titles in his career. He’s at 3rd place in the all-time record. In the Open Era only Connors (109) and Lendl (94) have won more titles.
  • Roger has reached 133 finals during his career, 3rd in the Open Era, behind Connors (163) and Lendl (146).
  • Roger won his 1,000th match earlier in this year by winning the Brisbane final. He is now 3rd on the list of most career match wins with his 1,049 wins behind Connors (1,254) and Lendl (1,071). The next active player on the list is Nadal with 751 wins.
  • Roger is 3rd on the list of total career matches played with 1,284. The next active player on the list is Ferrer with 946 matches played. This means Roger has won more matches, i.e. 1,049 matches than any other active player has even played.Roger+Federer+Western+Southern+Open+Day+8+J8-d5_zvlBXx
  • Roger is the only player to win 7 different tournaments at least 5 times each and also to win 6 different tournaments at least 6 times each. As of 2015, he has won 5 titles at US Open, 6 titles at Basel and the ATP World Tour Finals, 7 at Dubai, Wimbledon and Cincinnati and 8 at Halle.
  • Roger has now won at least 50 matches in 7 tournaments: Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, US Open, Indian Wells, Basel and Halle.
  • By winning his first title of the year in Brisbane, Roger continued his streak of 15 years of winning a title in every season from 2001 to 2015. This is an ongoing all-time record, with Lendl in 2nd place for winning at least one title for 14 consecutive years.
  • Roger has won singles tournaments in an Open Era record of 19 different countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Qatar, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, the United States and added Turkey to the list this year.
Service records:
  • As of this year thus far, Roger has played the most tiebreaks since the introduction of the tiebreak. He has played 593 tiebreaks. Karlovic is close on his heels at 2nd place with 587 tiebreaks played.
  • Roger has won the most tiebreaks in history as well. He has won 386 tiebreaks. Sampras is in 2nd place with winning 328 of them.
  • Roger currently still has the highest career winning percentage in tiebreaks – 65.09% (386–207 as of the 2015 US Open). Ashe is in 2nd place and Isner is in 3rd.
  • Roger hit his 9,000th ace in the final of the 2015 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. He is the 4th player to cross the 9,000th ace mark and is in 3rd place with 9,386 aces hit so far, behind Karlovic and Ivanisevic.
  • From the 1st round of Halle 2015 to the Quarterfinals of Wimbledon 2015, Roger went on a streak of 116 consecutive service holds, 2nd only to Karlovic’s 129 holds in a row back in 2009.
Surface records:
  • Roger won his 200th match on clay with his R2 win at the 2015 Istanbul Open.
  • Roger won his first title on clay this year at Istanbul since 2012. This was his 11th clay title.Roger+Federer+2015+Open+Day+14+VvJLCRn19C6x
  • With titles at Istanbul and Halle, in addition to this 3 hardcourt titles, 2015 is now Roger’s 8th year of winning titles on clay, hardcourts and grass.
  • By winning in Halle this year, Roger extended his all-time record of winning the most grass titles (15) in the Open Era.
  • By winning his clay title in Istanbul this year, Roger is now the only player to win at least eleven titles each on clay, grass, outdoor hardcourt and indoor hardcourt in the Open Era.
  • By winning in Cincinnati this year, Roger has now won an all-time record 66 outdoor titles. Nadal is right behind him with 65.

Hang in there! We’re almost done except for a few more records that I thought I should break down according to each level of the Tour. Otherwise I was drowning trying to comprehend all of it!

ATP Masters 1000:
  • Cincinnati has been Roger’s most successful Masters Tournament. He holds the Cincinnati record for most finals reached (7) and most titles won (7), meaning he has never lost a final at Cincinnati.
  • By winning in Cincinnati this year, Roger has extended his all-time record of winning the most hardcourt titles (59) in the Open Era. He is currently the only player who has won over 50 titles on one surface.Roger+Federer+Australian+Open+Day+3+D90htlG1aPAx
  • Roger extended his record of most matches won at the ATP Masters 1000 level with 326 matches won.
  • Roger is the only player to win a Masters 1000 title without dropping serve and therefore obviously he is also the only player to do this twice, both times at Cincinnati, in 2012 and now in 2015.
  • Roger has won a record 18 hardcourt Masters series titles by winning in Cincinnati this year.
  • With the Cincinnati 2015 title, Roger now has the 2nd highest number of Masters titles with 24 and is tied with Djokovic. Both are behind Nadal who has 27 titles. 
  • Roger has reached a record 42 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 finals by reaching the Cincinnati 2015 final and is tied with Nadal for the most SFs reached at this level; they have both reached 56 SFs.
ATP 500:
  • Roger won his 16th ATP 500 title when he won in Halle this year; he now shares the record of most ATP 500 titles with Nadal.
  • Halle has been a very successful event for Roger. With this year’s win he now holds the Halle records for most overall titles (8), most consecutive titles (4), as well as most finals (10).
  • Dubai has also been a great tournament for Roger. He holds the Dubai records for most titles (7), most finals (9), and shares the record for most consecutive titles (3) with Djokovic.
Roger+Federer+2015+French+Open+Day+Ten+yswHqIhQEtGxATP 250:
  • By winning in Istanbul this year, Roger has won 24 ATP 250 titles which put him at 2nd place behind Muster with 26.
  • By reaching the Istanbul final this year, Roger has now reached 32 finals at the ATP 250 level tying with Muster and Roddick for the top spot.
ATP World Tour Finals:
  • This year Roger has qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals for his 14th consecutive year, from 2002-2015. This is an all-time record both for consecutive and total number of years.
Rankings:
  • Roger might not be able to end the year ranked #2 but regardless of whether that happens or not, Roger holds the all-time record for total number of weeks being ranked in the Top 2. As of October 5th, 2015 he has been in the Top 2 for 469 weeks. Lendl is behind him with 409 weeks.
  • He is also close to overtaking Connors for the total number of weeks of being ranked in the Top 3. Connors’ record is 595 weeks. As of October 5th, 2015, Roger is at 582 weeks. He needs 14 more weeks to take the top spot. If Roger can remain ranked in the Top 3 from now till January 11th 2016, he will overtake Connors with 596 weeks on that day.
Performances against Novak:

Lastly I want to quickly touch upon Roger’s performances against Novak. This was particularly helpful for me because Novak has shattered our dreams quite a few times the past 2 years. But, it’s important to remember that first of all, Novak has done that to all the players on the tour, he is the dominant #1 by a mile right now. And second, compared to the rest of the tour, Roger has challenged Novak the most.Roger+Federer+ATP+Masters+Series+Monte+Carlo+oa8ImRA8LqXl

Roger has won 5 titles in 2015, 2nd only to Novak’s 7. Roger has reached 9 finals this year (also 2nd to Novak’s 11) and lost 4 but all those losses were to Novak only. Important to note that of the 5 titles Roger won in 2015, 2 of those came by defeating Novak as well. In fact, from January 2014 till now, Novak has lost only 13 times in these 21 months. Of those 13 losses, Roger is responsible for 5 of them. Stan defeated him twice and 6 other players including Rafa and Andy have only defeated him once each in this time period. So clearly, despite having 1,284 matches in his body, 34 year old Federer is still pushing the current #1 more than any other player. I honestly don’t know whether to feel proud or saddened by that statement but there you have it.

******************

Phew! I think I am done! It was exhausting listing the many new records that the Maestro has achieved in the past 9 months of 2015. And honestly, I am pretty sure I missed a few. But this took me 3 days to write up so I give up!

As we know, Roger has reached that legendary status where each time he steps on the court he either breaks an old record or sets a new one. They’re not all big ones like winning a Grand Slam or even a Masters. As such, I think we have a tendency to take these “smaller” successes for granted. At least I sometimes do. Only a Federer fan would do this because Roger spoiled us all for over a decade with crazy, massive accomplishments like no other player before or since.

Roger+Federer+20th+Annual+Arthur+Ashe+Kids+OFqA36S1tHvxBut when you put all these achievements together as I just did above, 3 truths hit you at once. 1. Roger is still playing an extremely high level of tennis. 2. He is not just playing good tennis but also consistently testing the #1 ranked player. 3. He still plays with flourish, flair and finesse that are unmatched on the tour.

Roger’s vigour and enthusiasm leaves me flabbergasted when I realize he has been on tour for 17 years now. Looking at him smiling at practice and you would think he’s a newbie who is simply happy to be playing the sport he loves. I think it’s that joy that keeps him going. Why else would a father of 4 still constantly innovate, push and change his game? Why would he still find a way to invent a new shot while achieving all that I listed above?

Then you watch him play the SABR and listen to the crowd’s reaction and you know why he still keeps playing and why we still keep watching. Because for those few seconds, we all simultaneously experience a Federer Moment. The point, the match and the opponent almost don’t matter as you draw your breath in admiration to realize Roger Federer can still make time stop ticking. The world melts away and it’s just us and him and magic.

Thank you Roger for all that you do and congratulations on another great year on tour! We are blessed that you continue to give us excellence when you really have nothing left to prove. But then, this was never about proving anything was it?

“…Maybe you have to go back and think, “Why have I started playing tennis?” Because I just like it. It’s actually sort of a dream hobby that became somewhat of a job. Some people just don’t get that ever. So for us, the players, it’s logical that we love doing what we’re doing and you want to do it as long as you can.” – Shanghai 2012

I hope you enjoy your dream hobby for a long, long time Roger, because we never tire of watching you play! Good luck for the rest of the season! Allez Maestro!Roger+Federer+BNP+Paribas+Showdown+p-vWmeYyuP_x

***There may be errors/typos in some of the stats above. There was a LOT of information to sift through and I am only human, unlike Roger! If you spot something, I would appreciate it if you let me know but please don’t be mean about it. Thanks!***

***Photos are from Zimbio.com***


19 Comments

Blaze of Glory

Roger+Federer+2015+Open+Day+6+qWYxzSIRuEFxFine Roger Federer, I give up. I relent. You have forced me to come out of my self-imposed hiatus and write something, anything, just to capture this moment in time. You have made an amazing run all the way to the final of the US Open and now I have to write. You just had to go and be awesome. Ughhh.

Here I was, quietly minding my business while catching bits of tennis on the side (your matches were mostly all I watched). With each match I saw you cut through your quarter and then your half of the draw. With every win I could sense I was about to get overly excited but then just in the nick of time I would manage to reprimand myself: “No! This is good that he won and I am very grateful that he made it this far, but anything after this is a bonus so NO! Don’t get your hopes up! Just …. NO.”

But you weren’t happy with simply winning were you? No, you had to win each match Comprehensively. Completely. Totally. Why haven’t you dropped a set yet Roger? Why? Your opponents even had break points and poor Philipp actually broke you twice. But you had the audacity to win those sets anyway. You see what this does? This makes you seem infallible. And no one is infallible Roger, we know this, you and I. So why hasn’t the shoe dropped yet?

I used to know how to process the US Open. Ever since 2009, that Grand Slam has been a nightmare. The hours are crazy and I have horrible memories of watching painful losses at 3am in the morning. The US Open to me has been that really oily plate of fries you know you shouldn’t eat, but you are hanging out with all your friends so you eat them anyway, knowing they will make you sick in the morning. And like clockwork, you wake up the next day clutching your stomach in pain and cursing at yourself for being stupid and never learning. The US Open is unhealthy for me. It robs me of my sleep, makes me ill and also makes me angry for putting myself through it each year.

But that was the past 6 years. What happened to that routine Roger? All of a sudden, now you are back in the US Open final. You have thrown out all my safety nets. This is now uncharted territory. I don’t know what to do with myself. I could list out your fabulous records that you set to get here:

  • Roger Federer has reached his 7th US Open Final, his 27th Grand Slam final, his 133rd career final and his 9th final of the year.
  • Roger Federer also reached his 38th Grand Slam SF and 46th Grand Slam QF.
  • Roger Federer has won 297 Grand Slam matches out of 345 that he has played.
  • Roger Federer has won 78 matches at the US Open
  • Roger Federer has played 1,281 career matches and has won 1,047 of them.
  • This is the first time Roger Federer has not dropped a set till the final at a Grand Slam since Wimbledon 2008

But all this does is make me even more greedy. You are fantastic Roger. I keep running out of superlatives to describe you. But I have conflicting emotions about how quickly you can get my hopes up despite my best intentions. I am trying to stay level-headed but you are making it very difficult. I don’t know what will happen in a few hours from now. I am nervous, pessimistic and excited all at once with a steady undercurrent of feeling nauseous.

I think if I keep writing this post I will soon start to write things that don’t make sense. So I shall end with saying: leave your heart out there Roger. You have broken all the rules and expectations by getting here. No point in playing it safe now. You have nothing to lose and only glory to gain. Might as well fight till the last breath.

I know the lyrics don’t match up to your situation word for word Roger but the mood conveys how I am feeling now. Give ‘em hell Maestro!

‘Cause sometimes you just feel tired,
Feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
And just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation to not give up
And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.

Till the roof comes off, till the lights go out
Till my legs give out, can’t shut my mouth.
Till the smoke clears out. Am I high? Perhaps
I’ma rip this shit till my bones collapse.

-“Till I Collapse” by Eminem

Roger+Federer+2015+Open+Day+12+LTMCUSTeKn-x

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


2 Comments

New York, New York, it’s a wonderful town!

Roger Federer - Steve Darcis Men's Singles Second RoundRoger Federer has been in New York City for over a week now. In that span of time he took a helicopter ride over the city, caught the latest exhibition at the Met and sobbed as he watched the Broadway musical “Finding Neverland” with his wife and twin girls. Typical NYC tourist? Not quite, because he also had a major Nike sponsor event with fellow Nike tennis stars of the past, present and future. He participated in a tennis clinic organized by Mercedes and he took part in the Arthur Ashe Kids Day event as he had done so often in the past. Not your usual tourist in the Big Apple by any means. But all that might make you wonder, what about the actual tennis? Well he crammed that into his busy schedule too 😉

Roger faced off against Leonardo Mayer in his first round match at the 2015 US Open. He had been worried about it because in their last match in Shanghai, Roger got very lucky indeed to come away with the win. However, at the biggest tennis stadium in the world, history didn’t dare to repeat itself. It was a one-way train from the get-go despite Roger initially having trouble with his first serves. As the match progressed, he got better and better and even brought out his newest tool, the SABR, a few times. Roger won the match 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in just 77 minutes.

Roger Federer - Leonardo Mayer Men's Singles first roundThis match set several records for Roger. The Swiss has now played in a total of 66 Grand Slams and trails only Santoro who played in 70. This US Open is his 64th consecutive Grand Slam appearance which is a record for both men and women. This is also his 16th consecutive appearance at the US Open. Meanwhile, here are a few links from this match that will give a better taste of what this experience was like for poor Mayer. Here is a link with the 3 SABRs he tried in just one game, here is the delicious smash at 2nd set point and here is the unreal backhand he hit. This is a link to the on-court interview, the presser video and the presser transcript too.

Two days later it was match time again. Roger faced off against Darcis in the second round with a night match this time. This match took 3 minutes longer than his first one. In 80 minutes he finished off Darics, 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 facing (and saving) just one break point. Unlike his first match, he started much better in this one and except for that one bad game when he was down a break point, he held his serves very well. He did miss out on 12 breakpoints but converted 7 which was obviously more than enough 😀 Here are some fun links for you for this match. The amazing smash, the running forehand and the fantastic volley, the SABR of the day, the on-court interview, the ESPN interview and the presser video and transcript.

By the end of both these matches Roger extended the following records he already holds:

  • Winning a record 293 Grand Slam matches out of a record 341 Grand Slam matches played
  • Winning 74 US Open matches, still in 3rd place (in the Open Era) behind Agassi and Connors
  • Winning a record 149 hardcourt Grand Slam matches
  • Winning a record career total of 640 hardcourt matches
  • Winning 791 career total outdoor matches, still in 2nd place behind Vilas
  • Winning 1,043 career total matches out of 1,277 career total matches played, still in 3rd place behind Lendl and Connors.

Last but not the least he also set a new record of 29 US Open Night match wins overtaking Agassi’s 28.

Roger Federer - Steve Darcis Men's Singles Second RoundRoger has played very well so far, carrying over his form from Cincy. It took him a bit of time to get used to the conditions but he improved with every game he played. From his next match, the road will start to get more difficult. He will face Philipp Kohlschreiber with whom his H2H is 9-0. However, Philipp also plays creative, aggressive tennis and he almost defeated Roger the last time they played at Halle a few months ago so that H2H is not set in stone. Remember the Australian Open earlier this year? Yep, thought so. *sigh* The match is the second one of the day, scheduled to start not before 1pm local time so tune in then to see the Maestro in action. Good luck Roger!

***Photos are USTA photos from the US Open site.***


40 Comments

Therapy

Roger+Federer+Day+Eleven+Championships+Wimbledon+hjP8vjebeXlxThere are many types of Roger Federer fans. Probably the largest contingent is the general tennis fan who likes Roger’s game and playing style. This group doesn’t follow the tennis calendar religiously but they watch the Grand Slams and maybe even the odd Masters and ATP 500 if it happens to show up while they are switching through TV channels.

Then there are the Federer fans who have been clamoring for his retirement since… well there are subgroups here with various start dates. A) Since 2008 when he lost the Australian Open SF stopping his streak of reaching consecutive Major finals at 10. This sentiment reached its peak when he lost the Wimbledon final that year too; surely the end had arrived? B) Since 2010 when he lost at the QFs of Roland Garros, ending his streak of reaching consecutive Major SFs at 23; oh the shame of it all! C) 2011 when he failed to win a Major for the first time in 9 years; no Major no Roger? D) 2013 when he crashed out of Wimbledon in R2, injured his back and his ranking fell to 8. Not in the top 5 Roger? How dare you continue to hold a racquet!

Next there are those who are big Roger fans but also simultaneously fans of other players too. Maybe sometimes they root against Roger when their other favorites play him but most of the time they support him against (almost) anyone else. For this bunch, tennis is bigger than any one player, even if that player happens to be Roger Federer. Heck, even Roger says this so they are in illustrious company. Yes Roger will retire soon and they might be sad for a while, but life goes on and so does tennis so they’ll keep moving with the times.

Roger+Federer+Day+Eleven+Championships+Wimbledon+PR1fUy2PpEtxIf you recognize yourself in any of the three categories I outlined above, then you probably won’t understand the one that I belong to. This is the irrational group. No rhyme, reason or logic is applied here. Roger winning anything elevates us to such highs as if we were holding the trophy ourselves. Roger losing crushes our soul and will to live. It’s all extremes and it’s extremely unfair to Roger that we attach so much of our well-being and sanity to his actions. After all, he’s human, a mortal man who has ups and downs like any of us, right? Haven’t we all had bad days at the office or that horrible exam that made us teary even before we read the second question? We’ve all been there and Roger is no exception, right? Wrong – and therein lies the problem. We don’t apply the same rules to Roger.

Despite being at the top of the sport for a decade and a half and winning the Fan Favorite Award 12 years in a row, I’m sure Roger himself is still mystified at the degree of fandom he continues to inspire. His story is pretty simple. He was a tennis prodigy born in Basel and had the fortune to be blessed with the perfect parents for an athlete. He was raised well and this came in handy when he struggled to get his temperament under control. For a while he was known as an underachiever and then at some point it all clicked and the rest was history. Similar stories can be found on the ATP tour so why do thousands live or die with every shot he makes or misses?

People become fans for many reasons. It’s easier to understand when the fandom is for a team; fans identify with that team because of their history/legacy/location/nationality/principles. Usually there is something higher to attach oneself to than the individual players on that team. Thus, even when favorite players move on, fans usually remain with the team (for the most part). It gets more complicated when the fandom is for solo sports. Then it becomes all about that individual athlete. Either we become fans because we can identify parts of ourselves in the player: “She’s struggled with XYZ and I can identify with it”. Or, we become fans because the athlete is everything we hope and aspire to be and that is why I am a fan of Roger Federer.

Roger+Federer+Day+Eleven+Championships+Wimbledon+BUHuxb20W6WxRoger and I are polar opposites in our personalities. In fact, my personality is a combination of Rafa, Pete and Andy (both Murray and Roddick). I can be very moody like Pete and disappear into my shell for long stretches of time. I am forever underestimating myself like Rafa. I genuinely don’t think I am a lock or a favorite for anything and I constantly worry about a zillion things going wrong. If I were a tennis player I would totally ‘talk’ to myself while playing, like Andy M. does, berating myself with occasional screams. And my sense of humor is like both Andys, though I’m probably not quite as quick as Roddick.

I am ordinary in all the wrong ways and extraordinary in ways I should not be. I am constantly striving for some balance in my life and then I see Roger who juggles several different commitments and responsibilities at once. Not only does he never drop a ball, he actually seems to enjoy and thrive amidst the chaos. Sure his tennis skills are to die for but they are just one out of his many attributes that amaze and inspire me. Here is a hastily written list of the many reasons why I am in awe of the Maestro:

  • His ability to quickly move on from a loss or setback
  • His positive outlook in life
  • How he can see the best in every situation
  • His ability to compartmentalize
  • How he can prioritize his many responsibilities
  • How articulate he can be
  • How he is his own mouthpiece – no handlers or managers or coaches speak for him
  • How friendly and warm he is despite who he is i.e. Federer the Tennis God
  • How he manages to balance his personal and professional life
  • How he loves Mirka and loves being a father
  • How seriously he takes the fact that he is a role model for so many
  • His ability to be so comfortable in his own skin
  • His zeal for his charity
  • His confidence
  • His consistency
  • His longevity
  • His passion
  • His dorkiness and enthusiasm
  • His dedication, focus and discipline to work hard
  • His hunger to keep on learning
  • His ability to see the bigger picture
  • How he is still in awe of his idols
  • His openness to change and willingness to adapt
  • Oh and his tennis too… his jaw-dropping talent
  • Last but not the least, his hair that is immune to humidity

I am sure by the time I upload this post I will already think of a few more qualities that should have been included here. But you see, because of how much I look up to him, to me he is no ordinary being. In my mind he represents a symbol of possibilities: When you have the incredible combination of talent, personality, work ethic and passion all in exact proportion, a “Roger Federer” can happen in this universe. It’s rare and unique for such perfection to happen in nature. But once every generation (or two or three) a marvelous alignment of the stars happens and a “Roger Federer” is born.

Roger+Federer+Day+Four+Championships+Wimbledon+ERh3s0HUjeFxIt’s not his fault I view him this way, but the fact is, I do. I am probably damaged and deranged, not to mention, obsessive. Maybe that’s why I elevate him to a status that he never even asked for. But when he succeeds, I feel all is right in the cosmos because in my mind, he is meant to succeed, he was born to succeed. And when he loses, especially at something he worked so hard to achieve, I can’t compute. He suffered in Wimbledon 2014 but he pushed that aside and set about targeting Wimbledon 2015 right away. His preparation was perfect, he worked hard, and he had accepted his previous loss gracefully and had risen like a phoenix. Surely he would be rewarded this time?

Yet here we were; finalist again, after an amazing run. I was heartbroken and numb not because of this loss itself but because of what it represented to me. The fact that he came away empty handed, again, made me question whether it was worth it for him to work as hard as he did. Then I took it to another level of negativity. If after all that, Roger couldn’t win, what chance do I have in my puny life whether I try or not?

Before you say something in protest/shock/disgust or you are ready to step away from this blog muttering “this woman is crazy” please know this: I KNOW Roger is not responsible for my life. I KNOW it is not healthy to have my mood depend on his results. I KNOW how I sound, I’m aware of my weakness. But you know what, life is tough. I’m sure I have it better than 8/10ths of the planet’s population so this is all relative, but to me, my life is tough. So if becoming an obsessive fan of a man, who exemplifies all the good there is in this world, is what brings me joy, I’ll take it.

Whether you (or he) likes it or not, Roger Federer gives me hope. He gives me a glimpse of magic and incredulity in the midst of the daily grind and that’s not just through his tennis. Roger made me smile in the middle of a bad work day with his Malawi visit video. His emoji laden tweets make me chuckle for a minute while running between errands. He can make my bad days good and my good days great.

Roger+Federer+Day+Nine+Championships+Wimbledon+XyfjhwMdNkbxWhich is why, when he falls, I get hurt on a personal level. Because when he falls it makes him human and being human hurts. The rest of us mortals know that all too well. I don’t want Roger to ever feel hurt. He has given us so many happy moments and occasions, he doesn’t deserve the hurt. I’ll borrow a quote from Mr. Roddick here: ‘the Roger in my mind never gets beaten’. So when he suffers a loss, it is a painful aberration that is hard for me to accept on many levels.

I know the reality is we will get more of these losses as time goes on. While they are not as unexpected as before, they still hurt and inflict fresh wounds each time. It takes a while for the scabs to form and the rate of recovery is directly linked with how much Roger and I wanted that win. So for instance, Roland Garros was a 5 out of 10 on my scale of Want-That-Trophy. But Wimbledon was, is and always will be an 11. This is why my funk, and my lack of any interest in getting back to tennis, is lasting as long as it is right now.

I am guessing that when he rejoins the tour I will be more or less ready to rejoin it as well. I am secretly relieved he’s skipping Montreal because I am not prepared to allow tennis back into my life yet. Wimbledon was always going to produce an extreme reaction from me depending on the result; I knew that going into the tournament. Now that it’s over, the rest of the year won’t be as up and down. Sadly, that’s comforting to know and it helps me to look forward towards the end of the year.

I know reaching the Wimbledon final was a fantastic result. I know this objectively. But I also know how much he wanted the win, how much he is used to cradling that glittering golden trophy in his arms. I know how at the end of the day neither Roger nor I are used to him collecting runner-up silverware. But maybe it’s because he’s not used to it that he continues to fight. Maybe he knows the excellence he is capable of and that knowledge is what keeps him going. As for me, after reading the above you have probably realized by now that I have no choice. As long as he keeps going, I keep going; no ifs, ands or buts.

Roger+Federer+Day+Two+Championships+Wimbledon+1-A01ROix-xxThe losses hurt badly, especially when they hurt him badly too. But just like his trophies, tweets and videos make me smile, a beautifully constructed point that only he could produce – that makes me smile too. He still makes me say out loud at least once per match, in jaw-dropping wonderment, ‘You’re a genius Roger!’ His matches still provide a glorious escape into a world of beauty, talent, thrills and squeals. He has had 7 losses this year and the Wimbledon final was of course the worst. But he has also won 40 matches so far. That’s 40 different times he has made me smile and made my day(s) and that’s not counting the non-tennis moments when he made me giggle. I’d be a fool to give that up even if I could.

I don’t know why I wrote this post. I think I needed to get my feelings out and use my writing as a therapeutic tool. I wanted to understand for myself why I react the way I do about his matches. I know this isn’t the way most people feel, though I’m hoping at least a few people will identify with this or else I really am all alone in my insanity. For better or for worse, I’ve exposed all my vulnerabilities. I don’t know if baring my soul will help me in the long run but for now, here I am, still standing. I’m still crying over the hurt from Wimbledon but I know that I’ll be back when he’s back. There’s nothing left to say after that.

 

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


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Discombobulated

b_240615_federer_20I love the word ‘discombobulated’. I have loved it ever since I first learned the word in school, which was, ahem, a long time ago. The first meaning of the word in dictionary.com is as follows:

Discombobulate: verb (used with object), discombobulated, discombobulating. 1. to confuse or disconcert; upset; frustrate: e.g. ‘The speaker was completely discombobulated by the hecklers’.

Now some of you who follow this blog or follow me on twitter, might have noticed that the Gerry Weber Open came and went without a single post from me. Roger Federer’s first tournament on grass this year, yet not a peep from moi. It’s not that I haven’t had the time to write; rather I haven’t known exactly what to write. Not because I have lost my passion for it but because, this grass season, or rather, the anticipation for this grass season has made me a bit discombobulated. I don’t know how I feel about it.

b_260615_club_10A part of me is super excited because Federer on grass is as close to perfection as tennis can ever get. But another part of me is so petrified of it because Roger, I, you, we, they have all been gearing up for this Halle-Wimbledon stretch. He didn’t go deep at the Australian Open: ‘no problem, at least it wasn’t in Wimbledon.’ He crashed out in the first round in Madrid: ‘well that was clay; wait till the grass season comes around.’ Well, now it’s here and it’s making me want to fast forward through it all because I don’t want to handle the stress. But then he hits those beautiful shots and shows off his nonchalant brilliance and I squeal with delight, temporarily forgetting all the worry and anxiety. See the conflict?

And that’s not all. There’s a third part of me too, the part that feels frozen. I feel like if I even talk or write about Roger’s upcoming grass season, I might jinx it somehow. The biggest lesson I learned from 2013 was to take it one match at a time. Somehow for this season, that lesson has gotten ridiculously and insanely intense in my mind. I feel like I shouldn’t even take the time to process each match and prepare for the next one. I am living in a heightened state of trying to be in the present so much that until the ball is struck in the upcoming match, I choose not to even think about it.

I am struggling, trying to manage my expectations while keeping my excitement in check and yet allowing myself to enjoy the season as well. With so much confusion and ambiguity swirling in my head, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t think I can write a coherent post. My mind is definitely not clear enough for scheduled match reports so I didn’t do that for Halle and I have decided that I won’t be doing them for Wimbledon either. Instead, I am going back to the basics – just Roger and I, the way it began my fan journey. Only the sound of tennis balls leaving his racquet followed by the audience oohing and aahing in reverence will serve as commentary.

Speaking of commentary, I’m not sure if I already discussed this in my previous posts, so I’ll quickly mention it here: b_260615_prep_11I don’t watch any of Roger’s matches with English commentary. I stopped doing that after the Rome 2013 final. That year was already tough but the commentators were not only merciless in that match, they were downright disrespectful. I decided after that day never to listen to commentary again for my own peace and sanity. So I either watch his matches in languages I don’t understand (i.e. any language other than English) or if I can’t find any non-English stream, then I watch in mute or very low volume such that I can only hear the cheers of the crowd. It has been over two years and I have never thought of going back. But enough of that tangent, back to the topic at hand…

I think I was able to enjoy Halle more without the additional self-imposed, pressure of writing posts. Given the anxiety/excitement I was feeling during the tournament, it was a relief that I didn’t have to make sense of my incoherent thoughts. I enjoyed each match as it happened and that was that. This tells me I should continue in this manner for Wimbledon. I will be on twitter with my streams up on my TV/laptop screens. I will clutch my pillow and rock back and forth with nervous excitement and Roger will glide across the grass like an ethereal spirit in white. Hopefully this will continue for 2 weeks at the end of which, Roger will hold up that golden pineapple while I will cry tears of joy.

I won’t be totally gone of course. I still might write random posts if the inspiration strikes me mid-tournament. I will also continue to update the RF stats pages of this blog. And as I mentioned above, I will be active on twitter as always, frazzling out 😀 I do hope to be back with regular posts soon. It would be great if you still remember this blog after this hiatus.

In the meantime, in honor of one of my favorite words, I leave you with a soundtrack also titled ‘Discombobulated’ that somehow goes perfectly with my conflicting and confusing moods for this grass season. Enjoy! Wishing the Maestro all the best! One match at a time Champ, you got this! I, we, us will all be there with every hair flick, death stare and roar – Chum Jetzt Roger!b_240615_federer_05

 

 

***These happy pre-tournament photos are from the Wimbledon site. May we have such happy photos again in about 2 weeks***


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Out of the frying pan, into the fire

Roger+Federer+2015+French+Open+Day+Nine+gqGlyBJWfuUxRoger Federer played a 2 day match that consisted of 4 sets. As a result, my schedule was thrown into the wind and so this post will be haphazard and might not make much sense. The Maestro faced off against Gael Monfils in R4 at Roland Garros. That whole day was impacted by rain and which meant hat ultimately the match started over 4 hours late.

It needn’t have gone to a second day though. Roger started the first set very well and extremely quickly. He clearly knew the importance of finishing the match in one day. Set 1 was done without problems. But Gael stepped it up in set 2 and Roger played badly at crucial stages. He got broken in one bad service game, and then broke back as Gael was about to serve for the set. But then inexplicably he missed an easy volley that led to Roger not being able to consolidate his break and Gael won the set anyway.

Roger+Federer+2015+French+Open+Day+Eight+-b_NDck7dSXxRoger was really the better player that night except for those few moments. So what should have been a 2 sets to love lead and possibly finishing the match that night in straight sets, turned out to be a 1-set all situation. Clearly now the match would need at least 4 sets to end and with the rain imminent, and darkness falling, the referee called it a night. And yes, Roland Garros has no lights or roofs, yet more reasons why it should be ashamed to call itself a Grand Slam in this day and age.

The next day Roger took to the court looking focused and sharp. He played a great first, no wait, third set. Gael tried to hang with him but Roger was always just a little bit better in everything; serving, shot selection and hitting winners. Roger was now 2 sets to 1 up. He needed one more. When he broke Gael to open the 4th set, Gael was mentally done. Roger went through the set like a hot knife through butter and all Gael could do was win one game in that set. And with that win Roger reached his 11th French Open QF, which is a record of course. More on that below.

For his QF today, he will have to face Stan Wawrinka. Unlike Roger, Stan was done with his R4 match in one day. He had all of yesterday to relax, practice and recover. He will come in fresh and ready for battle. Clay is a surface Stan excels on and Roger’s two defeats to Stan have come on clay. Roger is the only quarter-finalist who has not had a day off in between the QF and R4 matches. He also happens to be the oldest quarter-finalist as well, in case anyone is interested in that bit of trivia.

Now while I dislike the match-up with Gael, the match-up with Stan is no better. I have discussed my feelings about this in previous match posts so I won’t elaborate here. Roger said that even if he does not win, he would still be very happy since it will mean Stan will be in the SF. This is where Roger and I differ. I would be happy if Roger reached the SF. And Stan reaching the SF instead will not be the balm that will soothe my soul. No substitutions please.

I am definitely not looking forward to this angst filled match. But in the meantime, I am fine with celebrating the milestones Roger has reached with this win.

  • Roger+Federer+2015+French+Open+Day+Nine+nIHyIoBensaxRoger has now reached a total of 44 Grand Slam QFs. The closest to him is Connors with 41. The closest active player is Djokovic with 32.
  • Roger has now reached his 11th French Open QF. The closest to him is Rafa with 10.
  • Roger has now won his 65th match at Roland Garros, second only to Rafa.
  • Roger has now won 285 Grand Slam matches. The closest to him is Connors with 231. The closest active player is Rafa with 195.
  • Roger has now played 1,257 career matches and this was his 1,025th career match win.

The QF will be at 3:30pm local time on Lenglen. The forecast says cloudy, no rain but it might be very windy which will of course make a mess of things. Hang in there Roger, you can do this! C’mon Maestro!

 

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