I have a few ideas for posts while Roger is not playing, but I will start with an idea Wilfried and Veronica gave me. Wilfried mentioned that he lost interest in tennis after being a passionate follower of the game earlier on. He then explains that he became fascinated by the game again when he discovered my blog posts and the comments from my readers. This is the ultimate compliment to me as a writer, knowing that through my posts someone became interested in the game again. But it is also a big compliment to all the people that leave comments on my blog. When I make a post I don’t mean to sound like whatever I say is fact. I know a lot about tennis, but I am always willing to adjust my views. I don’t think I know everything. The post itself is only half of the blog. The other half is the discussion that takes place afterwards.
This blog belongs just as much to you guys as it belongs to me. Without you this blog would be incomplete. Sometimes when Roger is playing I don’t have time to read all the comments, but whenever I can I like to read it and take part in the discussion. You guys make some great comments and I often hope that people read the comments as well after they read my posts. You add things that I may have left out or even correct me where I was wrong. You also leave interesting links which I appreciate and welcome. Yes, people do click on it. I can see it in my blog stats. So I want to use this opportunity to thank all my readers and especially the ones that comment and take part in the discussion. When I get a comment like the one from Wilfried, saying he ‘adores’ my blog, it gives me a kick and motivates me to do more quality and quantity of posts.
So let me continue with the topic at hand. After Wilfried explained how my blog got him interested in the game again, I felt compelled to explain to him my journey as a tennis fan as well. But I will repeat it here for those who have missed it. Since I was a boy I have dedicated my life to two things: tennis and the meaning of life. I have made great strides in figuring out the meaning of life, but that is a story for another time. For now I will share my tennis journey with you, and in particular my journey as a fan. I played tennis seriously for a large part of my life, but my interest in tennis was first of all as a fan. I’m not sure I would have picked up my first wooden racquet if I did not see tennis on TV first. My first memory of watching tennis was when Boris Becker became the youngest ever male grand slam champion when he won Wimbledon in 1985 at age 17.
I was only 6 years old so I don’t remember much, but it was obviously a big thing back then. From then on I remember watching guys like Becker, Edberg, and Lendl fight it out at Wimbledon. I also remember Wilander, but I don’t think I watched much tennis outside of Wimbledon at the time. As far as I can remember Edberg was my favorite at this time, which is funny since he was Roger’s idol as a child too. He was just a true gentleman and a great sport. You never saw him throw his racquet or express much emotion at all. I liked that and I also loved his one-handed backhand. I also liked the fact that he was so humble. I don’t think there was ever a bigger gentleman in tennis. After this I remember becoming a fan of Sampras. He was a lot like Roger at the start, not doing his great talent justice.
But when he found his game it was clear that he was going places. His rivalry with Courier was awesome at the start because Courier had the upper hand at first. But Sampras was by far the superior talent and after a few telling victories over Courier, Courier burned out. Sampras had gotten the monkey off his back and proceeded to dominate the tennis world unlike anyone before him. Sampras was similar to Edberg in that he didn’t show much emotion on court and also had a one-handed backhand. As a player myself I started with a one-handed backhand. Most guys who play with a one-handed backhand start out with a two hander. But I loved the one hander so much that I just skipped that step and began playing with one hand on the raqcuet on both sides. But at this point I grew tired with Sampras’ domination.
I decided to break the tradition of rooting for the player with the calm exterior and the one-handed backhand, as I became a fan of the underdog Agassi. Agassi was very different from Edberg and Sampras. He was charismatic, flashy, and his game style was totally different as well. It was a refreshing change. I also enjoyed the fact that he was the underdog when facing Sampras. It was a nice change from the boring, dominant Sampras. I loved how talented Agassi was. He had the best returns and ground strokes in the history of the game. It was just so smooth and he took the ball earlier than anyone in the history of the game. His hand-eye coordination was unreal. Watching him on court 1 at Wimbledon was a real treat and you could really get an idea of just how talented he was.
You got the feeling he hit the ball cleanly, early, and with incredible accuracy. Incidentally I saw a young Roger Federer face Xavier Malisse in the second round of Wimbledon the same year. I was impressed with how smooth this guy was and how easy he made the game look. He won the first two sets, but Malisse fought back to a break up in the fifth set. Both players are immensely talented and it was a great match to watch. Malisse lost the plot in the fifth however as victory was beckoning. He had let Roger off the hook. Roger would make the best of his luck as he made his big breakthrough that year, upsetting Sampras in the fourth round. It’s funny because I had the choice between being on center court or court 1 that year for the quarter finals. On center court Henman was playing Roger and Ivanisevic was playing Safin, while on court one Agassi was playing Escude and Rafter was playing Enquist.
Of course I opted for court 1 since Agassi was my favorite player at the time, but thankfully I had already seen Roger live, as that is still the only time I saw him live to this day. After this there were still some good times left as an Agassi fan as he won the Australian Open in 2003. Also in 2003 Roger was of course breaking through at slam level as he won Wimbledon for the first time. I didn’t watch the Wimbledon final that year though. I really got to see just how good Roger was for the first time at the Masters Cup in 2003. I was still an Agassi fan at this point, and Agassi faced Roger in his first round robin match that year. But lets backtrack a little to 2002 where Agassi faced Roger in the final of Miami. I saw this match and I noticed that Roger was starting to come around. Agassi won the match in four sets, but Roger was starting to make headway.
When Agassi faced Roger in the first round robin match of the 2003 Masters Cup he was leading the head-to-head 3-0. He had also beaten Roger easily in the fourth round of the 2001 US Open, and in Basel in 1998 he destroyed Roger in front of his home crowd. Agassi was clearly dominating the head-to-head at that point, but in 2003 he was going to come up against a new Roger who had his first major title behind him. It was gonna be a close encounter, with Roger winning it 9-7 in the third set breaker. That was a big match because Roger obviously gained a lot of confidence from it, butchering the rest of the opposition in straight sets to win his first Masters Cup. In the final he would face Agassi again, and in a devastating display he bageled Agassi 6-3, 6-0, 6-4. That was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my life.
I mean Agassi had won the Oz Open the same year and was still very much on his game. But in that Masters Cup final he was absolutely destroyed by a freak of a talent. That was really the first time I noticed how good Roger was. Roger owned my favorite player and from then on won the last eight matches between the two to dominate the head-to-head 8-3. I was still an Agassi fan until he retired at the 2006 US Open, but I had also started following Roger. In the 2005 US Open Roger and Agassi would meet for the final time. I was still an Agassi fan but I didn’t mind that Roger won. After this Agassi really started slowing down while Roger was just entering the best season of his career in 2006. I was still playing tennis at this stage myself but I was amazed with how dominant Roger was in 2006. I mean he just wasn’t losing much at all. Whenever he lost it was a shock, an anomaly.
He won the Oz Open and Wimbledon that year, while losing to Nadal in the French Open final. At the US Open Agassi played his final match, and Roger went on to beat Roddick in the final to claim his ninth slam. In 2007 I finished playing tennis myself and at the end of 2008 I started this blog, which is when I really took my own fandom to a new level. I began this blog on the back of Roger’s worst season since he started dominating the sport, so no one can accuse me of being a glory hunter. Roger had just won the US Open in 2008 and I felt like things were taking a turn for the better again. I felt it was an interesting phase in Roger’s career where he would be more vulnerable but where there were many records up for grabs as well. But what I didn’t realize is that I was in for my worst moment as a Fedfan just the next year at the Australian Open.
Nadal has already taken the Wimbledon title from Roger in 2008 as well as the number one year end ranking. I was already down from that, but what happened at the Oz Open the next year was the final straw. It was pure devastation. But fortunately after that Roger went on to win the career grand slam at the French Open and break the all time slam record of Sampras at Wimbledon. Those were the two biggest achievements of Roger as far as I’m concerned and I am glad my blog was around at the time. The circle was really complete, although I wanted Roger to win another slam to prove that beating the slam record was not a fluke. This he did at the 201o Oz Open, and as a fan I had nothing more to ask for. Roger had achieved perfection. Being a Fedfan has really been the ultimate. I don’t see how it can be improved upon.
If Roger retires I may keep following tennis, but I would never take fandom to the same level that I took it with Roger. It doesn’t get any better. From here on being a Fedfan is just a bonus. Just to still have Roger playing and having the odd great result is enough for me at this point. OK that is my journey as a tennis fan. I hope you enjoyed it and I’d like to hear from you now. Let us know how you became a Fedfan. I found Wilfried’s story interesting and I look forward to reading your stories as well!