How Did You Become a Fedfan?

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!

Roger Federer

Federer Most Respected and Trusted in World Along with Mandela

Someone posted this news on my blog a while ago already, but I wanted to do my own post paying tribute to Roger. This study is obviously a great tribute to Roger. He is the most respected, admired, and trusted personality in the world second only to Nelson Mandela. As a South African myself this makes me proud, since Mandela is South African and Roger is half South African himself. Roger is obviously a fantastic idol and ambassador for tennis. This study goes to prove all the haters and critics wrong once more. The angle of the haters are so fond of is that Roger is arrogant and a bad loser. They point to things like his crying after losing to Nadal at the Australian Open, the 15 he had on his jacket after winning his 15th major at Wimbledon, or to the fact that he makes ‘arrogant’ statements in the media.

They latch onto whatever criticism they can find, because it is just in the nature of humans to be jealous and despise great people. This study once again proves that these haters are miserable people and that their criticisms carry no weight. To illustrate what I mean I will use Serena Williams as an example. You probably know about Williams’ recent outburst at the US Open. In the final against Sam Stosur she shouted ‘Come on!’ in the middle of the point right after the ball left her racquet. It was after she lost the first set and she was trying to intimidate her opponent to try and get back into the match. But of course it was against the rules and the umpire awarded the point to Stosur which caused Williams to lose her serve. After this Williams kept running her mouth at the umpire, trying to intimidate and unnerve.

This all happening after Williams was defaulted in 2009 after telling a lines person that she would ‘shove a fucking tennis ball down her fucking throat’. Serena Williams provides the perfect contrast to illustrate what a class act Roger is. There has been zero controversy around Roger in his career, while Williams’ name is tainted. Roger is a class act and respects everyone around him. It is unimaginable to think that he would threaten someone with violence. Nor has he ever cheated on his wife like Tiger Woods has. He just has a very clean image which makes him the ideal role model. Why is Nadal not on the list? When I have written about the Fedal rivalry in the past I have pointed to the fact that being a top player is more than just about your results. Winning titles and trophies is just a part of the whole package.

It has always been obvious to me that for Nadal it is all about winning. For him the means justifies the end. Therefor he will use gamesmanship without fail to win. Nadal is a lot more classy than Williams. He will not break the rules to win. But he doesn’t hesitate to use unsportsmanlike conduct to secure victory. This is one of the overlooked reasons why Roger has struggled against Nadal. Roger is too classy to lower himself to the levels of bad sportsmanship. For him it is more important to have integrity as a human being than to win titles and trophies. A true Fedfan does not love Roger for the incredible records he has set as a tennis player, but for who he is. The fake fans are the ones getting off the bandwagon, now that Roger is declining and more human than in his prime. These fans were never true fans to begin with.

The true fans will stick with Roger until the bitter end because they love him as a person. It is about honesty and integrity. These are values I put a high prize on in my personal life and which Roger embodies as well. If Roger really wanted to beat Nadal he could have started to employ gamesmanship as well, but he remained true to who he was. He did not sell out. In this sense Roger and Nadal are utter opposites, which makes me feel you can’t be a serious fan of both. When it comes to human values they stand for utterly different things. Nadal  stands for worldly values like fame, fortune, and fear, while Roger stand for spiritual values like truth, honesty, and love. Roger plays tennis because he loves it. It is that simple. Whatever else he gains from the sport is just a bonus. There just isn’t a better idol in sport than him.

And it doesn’t seem like there are many better idols in the world either. Of course Mandela is an extraordinary individual and it is hard to compete with what he endured. But as a sports figure Roger is certainly right at the top of the pile. We are very privileged as Fedfans. We take for granted how lucky we are when Roger isn’t winning as much as he used to. It tests our own integrity. Why did we support Roger all this time? Was it really just because he was winning? Winning is nice, but it is ultimately superficial. There are more important things in life than winning. The world is in the state it’s in because everyone wants to win. There aren’t enough of the values which Roger embody around. If good values came first and winning was just a bonus, then we would live in a drastically different world.

I salute you Roger.

Ps. Roger has withdrawn from Shanghai and I am sure it was the right decision.

Roger Federer

Switzerland Back in World Group

After the US Open Roger was off again to Australia for Switzerland’s world group play off match against the Aussies. Australia had a pretty strong team with Tomic and Hewitt who are both very good grass court players, so they chose to play on grass. Roger is probably the greatest grass court player ever, but Wawrinka on the other hand is vulnerable on the surface. It showed as Wawrinka lost the first singles match on Friday against Tomic, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. It was up to Roger to square things up against Hewitt in the second singles, and he did so as he got revenge for last year’s loss in the final of Halle to Hewitt. It was hardly all straight forward though as Roger lost the first set, but he ended up winning 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-3. That second set was the key. If Roger lost it he might well have ended up losing, given his relatively poor five set record.

The score was tied at 1-1 going into the doubles on Saturday. It would be an important match as Stan was not the favorite against Hewitt on Sunday. The Olympic champions Roger and Stan started off well enough as they won the first set 6-2, but it then got away from them as they dropped the next three sets 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(5) to fall behind 2-1 as a team. Switzerland was up against it. The tough thing was that Stan was not playing very well. He lost his singles match and was the weak link in the doubles. This is why David Cup is not a top priority for Roger, because his fate is not all in his own hands. A lot was expected of him. He simply could not afford to lose a singles match after not having much rest after his US Open campaign and travelling across several time zones. He had a tough match ahead against Tomic but he delivered once more, winning 6-2, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.

He seemed to be getting better as he was getting used to the grass. It was now all up to Stan. He must have felt a lot of pressure, knowing that Switzerland’s fate was now in his hands. Grass is his worst surface and his opponent was a former Wimbledon champ in Hewitt. Personally I did not have much hope that he could pull it off. Especially when he went down two sets to one. He even went a break down in the fourth. But that is when Stan really stepped it up. He broke back and then broke again to level things at two matches all and two sets all. It would all come down to one final set. Stan then got the break, but it was starting to get dark and Patrick Rafter, Australia’s team captain, was urging the umpire to stop play. They played two more games and play was called off at 5-3 in the fifth to Stan. They would have to come back the next day.

They came back this morning and Stan the man completed a heroic win as he broke Hewitt immediately to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-3. I was impressed with the heart that Stan showed. If he had lost then he would have seriously let the team down. At two sets to one and a break down, things were looking very dire for the Swiss.I really didn’t think Hewitt would let this one slip. But all credit must go to Stan for his fighting abilities. Stan has always played second fiddle to Roger and if he had lost then he would have been the black sheep once more. People would have been inclined to blame him for being the reason that Roger is not playing much Davis Cup. I think this must be one of the biggest wins of Stan’s career, even though it was just to get into the world group. He proved a point and I am happy for him.

I don’t know how much Davis Cup Roger will play in the future. As far as I’m concerned it counts very little for GOAT status simply because it is a team event. I would rather he wins another Masters Cup and become the first player to win six Masters Cups. I am not sure how it works but I think one of the reasons Roger played this tie was to be able to qualify for the Olympics. Olympic gold in singles is a little more important than Davis Cup because you are still on your own. Personally I don’t care that much about it as it carries little historic significance and a gold medal remains a gold medal, which Roger already won in doubles with Stan. But it seems it matters to Roger and he has already targeted it. I assume it has a lot to do with the fact that it will be played at Wimbledon, which will carry extra significance for Roger.

Roger’s next tournament is in Shanghai which starts on the the 10th of October. I am sure he will take a vacation now after another tough US hard court season and then get back to work. He has a lot of points to defend until year end and will need to be sharp. Either way it looks like there is a good probability that Murray will overtake him in the rankings. Roger hasn’t been lower than number three in the rankings since middle 2003, but it wouldn’t matter much if it happens. It makes no difference whether you are three or four in the rankings for your draws. Maybe Roger will be on Nadal’s side of the draw more often if that happens. I’m getting a bit tired of not knowing who to root for when Roger faces Djokovic in the semis. If Roger meets Nadal in the semis I can support him 100%, and if he wins then we will have a classic final with Roger and Djokovic.

But don’t keep your hopes up too high. With Roger being in Djokovic’s half something like 15 out of the last 16 times it seems unlikely that will change. I probably won’t blog much from now until Shanghai. If there is anything you want me to blog about in the mean time then let me know.

Roger Federer