What Does it Really Mean to be a Fedfan?

I have made posts like this before and it doesn’t hurt to review every now and then what being a Fedfan is all about. Of course for everyone it may mean something different, but I thought I’d give my thoughts about what it means to me. Maybe you can relate and find some inspiration in it. One of the most prolific and respected commenters on my blog, Steve, made a comment on my last post which pretty much touched on the essence of what being a Fedfan is all about. For me anyway. Here is his comment:

Happy New Year, Ru-an and everyone here! I’m glad you’re adjusting to life in the US. Unfortunately I’ve been busy as well so it’s been hard to post.

This blog is special because you’ve been able to bring together a lot of people all over the world. Not everyone can do that, and you should be proud.

It’s far more enjoyable to follow Federer in the company of fellow fans than it would be alone. Somehow it wouldn’t be right (or as much fun) if we all had to keep our fandom to ourselves, but with your blog, we don’t have to.

This has been a special season, for when he was written off by many people, including many of his fans, he redoubled his efforts and fought successfully to raise his game and return to the top spot, setting a new standard for excellence and longevity.

It’s an extremely rare person who isn’t afraid of the unknown or what the future holds. Most of us are at bottom apprehensive of change, and in a time like this, when all appears uncertain and the future clouded, many of us are tempted to retreat, retrench, and hide from what’s coming next.

Federer is different. He’s forging ahead and confronting a new set of challenges head-on instead of hiding or retreating in the face of uncertainty. He doesn’t spend time on nostalgia for what was, or let his fears deter him from pursuing new goals. He looks ahead, not back.

It would be the easiest thing for him to start believing the critics and writing the elegy to his own career while he’s still playing, behaving as if he no longer had anything meaningful to add to his legacy–that he had to accept the limits that others set for him. Many great athletes have done exactly that.

But he’s determined to pursue his star and do it on his own terms. If he falls short, it won’t be because he listened to the naysayers. What the limits are, he will find out for himself rather than letting others tell him what is possible.

Let the AO begin, and let’s see some great all-court tennis!

I don’t think I have ever quoted a comment from Steve on my blog so this is overdue. This is like a tribute post to him for what he has meant to my blog. How well was that comment written?! Just peRFect really. Sometimes I think people only come to my blog to read Steve’s comments! He basically always gets the most thumbs up for his comments, while I usually get the least. The comment above was so well written and put that there really isn’t much more I can say. But I think he beautifully captured what being a Fedfan is about. I responded to his comment but I will add some of my thoughts here. Even though I may repeat some of what he says here, I will write it in my own words. If I was to state what being a Fedfan means for me in as few words as possible it would be this:

Rebelling against the limits and proving the critics wrong.

Unfortunately in the society we live in we are always expected to conform. Or worse we are trying to conform. Trying to fit in out of fear of rejection or not fitting in. Like Steve says, it is a rare person who refuses to give in to other’s expectations of us as well as our own fears. Our fear of the unknown, of being different. Having fear is normal, but allowing your fear to dictate your life is not. I speak from experience because before I came to the US, I was a wreck. I was totally in my comfort zone back in South Africa but deep down I knew things could not continue the way it was. I got the opportunity to go work in the US, and even though it frightened the hell out of me I knew I had to take it. I was taking a huge step into the unknown, but I had to do it. I literally had no idea what to expect. Yet I was willing to risk it all.

At first the roof came down on my head, as my job was pretty much a disaster. But I stuck it out and things soon settled down nicely. I found a much better job. From living a dead end life in a dead end country I was living in the land of opportunity with all kinds of possibilities and excitement. Things had literally changed overnight for me, just because I was willing to take a risk and face the unknown. I think Roger reached a kind of plato/comfort zone himself in 2010/2011. He came off of his 16th slam at the Australian Open but then he went into a kind of lull. It seemed like he was uncertain of where he was going. Like he was just going through the motions. He started losing in slam quarters and only made one slam final from the 2010 Australian Open until Wimbledon this year. Oddly enough that was at the French Open in 2011.

It looked like he achieved everything and that he was now entering a phase where he was aging. Maybe it was time to accept that and give other players a chance to win some. He really looked to be without direction, losing in the quarters of the French Open and twice in the quarters of Wimbledon, once after being two sets to love up. The turning point came at the 2011 US Open, where he lost for the second year running to Djokovic in the semis after having match points. Enough was enough. It was time to take a good look at himself and make changes. I’m not sure exactly what changed at that point, but something had clicked. A new Roger emerged, one I dubbed Roger 3.0. It was as if he found a new vision. For months I had been harping on that fact that Roger lacked passion. When things got tight in matches he went away, instead of buckling down and getting the job done.

Once he fixed that part everything changed. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to listen to the naysayers and to believe that he was simply getting too old now. He had already achieved just about everything there was to achieve, and he didn’t win a slam in almost two years. But he was ready to step into the unknown and shatter the limits that was set for him once more. Of course slam success did not come right away, but his passion was back and it would just be a question of time before he broke through on slam level again. He discarded all the talk of him being over the hill and focused on the job at hand. No one was going to take his dream away. He was determined and focused, biding his time. He refused to believe what others said about him. He knew he still had the game. It was just a question of it all clicking for him, and eventually it did at Wimbledon, as if it was written in the stars.

After Nadal’s shock exit in the second round he seized his chance and won his first slam in more than two years. In doing so he equaled Sampras’ record of 7 Wimby titles and also reclaimed the #1 ranking, going on to break Sampras’ record of most weeks at #1 a few weeks later. Fairy tale stuff. Like Steve says so eloquently, it’s about finding out for yourself what is possible and not listening to what others say is possible. For this you need to almost be a rebel. You have to be very stubborn. It must almost be as if other people don’t exist. Their opinions mustn’t matter in the least. Everyone knows deep down what they are capable of and to allow others to dictate to us what we are capable of is pure tragedy. I was always told how limited I am, even by my own father. But I refuse to believe them. I am entering another uncertain phase now with job uncertainty but I see it as an opportunity for positive change.

I am willing to face the unknown. I did it before and I will do it again. Gotta keep on the move. I can’t fall into a comfort zone, even though it’s a much better comfort zone than I was in before. Facing uncertainty once is not enough. To live fully I have to get used to living in uncertainty and thrive in it. Life is change whether we like it or not. Nothing stays the same. Better to go with it than resist it. We all have to finally face the ultimate uncertainty when we die, but if we are used to facing uncertainty in life it would make no difference in death. The most satisfying experience about being a Fedfan for me has always been this: Proving the critics wrong. It’s not about dominating the field for years or the trophies. This blog only started at the end of 2008, when Roger had made the fall from his prime. That is the point where the critics started their nonsense.

And ever since then Roger has been proving them wrong, time after time. And it’s been superbly delicious every single time. In that sense following past prime Roger’s career has been more satisfying than when he was so utterly dominant. Hardly losing any matches at all was interesting to see in itself, but it was almost too easy. At that time I was still playing tennis myself anyway. I didn’t have that much time to follow tennis. But it was unreal how it was a huge shock whenever he lost a match. I mean he just hardly ever lost a match. Nowadays it’s all about breaking new ground and proving the critics wrong. It’s a fun time. Roger has reached another juncture now where he can yet again ask himself: What next? Last year he won the elusive #17 and broke that record amount of weeks at #1 that eluded him like the treasure at the end of the rainbow.

What’s left?! Fortunately there will always be something left to achieve, even for Roger Federer. At age 31 one you better believe the critics are once again plotting the downfall of the greatest of all time. So this is yet another chance to prove them wrong. Doesn’t slam #18 sound delicious? This will be the next big goal. And I would like for it to happen this year at the US Open. That has been the slam that has eluded him the last few years and where the conditions still suits him well. I would love for him to win the title there and hold the record for most titles there by himself. He is equal with Agassi in Melbourne, with Sampras in London, and with Sampras and Connors in New York. But nowhere does he hold the record for himself in any one slam. So I would love for him to achieve that goal. Then I really don’t know what there is left to achieve.

I’m sure we can think of something…

 

 Ps. You will see I have the newsletter back for my blog at the top of the right side bar. I can now use it again since I have a laptop again. I noticed many of you unsubscribed to the last newsletter when I stopped sending it out. Those of you who did unsubscribe can add your email addresses again and I will send my newsletter out to those who did not unsubscribe.

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12 Comments

  1. Great post Ru-an. What Steve said was so profound and I doubt anyone could have said it better.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Right Kyle. Steve does have a way with words. I bet he’s a pretty well educated guy.

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  2. I love your blog, Ru-an. It is the first place I go to after a super win or disappointing hard fought loss. You always put things into perspective. Glad to hear things are going well for you in the states and that you’ll continue blogging for us RF Fans!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thank you bsl.

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  3. Welcome back and I hope you continue. We are a great great country!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well it’s Ruans Federer Blog 2.0 now, so I’m not allowed to fail ;-)

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  4. Great post ru-an!Joy to read you every time!
    After finishing your material,i jump off to comments just to see if steve,veronica and other stalwarts have commented!Emotionally my attachment with roger knows no bounds,i reckon thats the case with most of the fedfans.I am mostly clueless when its the time to express true feelings here among all the aficionados!But i must say i draw inspiration from whatever you all post here.
    Cant wait for AO!Bring it on,roger!

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  5. Hi Ru-an,
    For now I will leave or try to leave a short comment, which I will make longer some other time.

    If I begin to describe what it means to be a Fedfan, I will not stop and there will be no room left for anyone else !!! So I will just leave it at this:

    I am thrilled and honoured to be a Fedfan !!!
    I hope some day Roger will get to know what he means to some of his die hard fans and what he has done for them.

    To give us the message that no matter how rich you are or how much money you have, it is always good to remember where you came from and to give back. With money and time. And that if you give back with money, because you don’t have time to give, that is also good.

    He taught and showed us, no matter if no one believes in you (and want you to do something you don’t want to do, like retire), as long as you believe in yourself and you know that you can do it and you are willing to work hard for it, you will succeed. Maybe not in the beginning, but later on you will, as long as you don’t give up and work hard for it.

    He showed us that it is oke to be human, almost perfect, but not perfect. As long as you are honest, don’t bother what anyone else thinks about you or perceives you or calls you. Just be honest and not fake and be grounded and humbled (and not overhumbled).

    I really love that man and I am proud to be his fan.
    Even if Roger doesn’t know me or never will, he is a big part of my life.

    Greetings from Katyani

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  6. Great and eloquently said from Ru-an and Steve!

    :-) Let’s hope that Roger still has lot if takes to win.

    To me the indicator of whether Roger still has it or that he is starting to lose it is his Grand Slam consecutive QF streak. If he breaks it and starts losing prior to the QFs then to me the end might be closer.

    Roger’s greatness is a result of his once untouchable consistency. The first hit and shock was when Roger lost his consecutive SF streak back in 2010 at the French Open.

    His QF is very much alive but it has been much more difficult to defend it with each upcoming year. So we’ll see!

    Roger’s decision not to enter any lead-up tournament can have tremendous consequences. Hopefully, his genius is at work again and he’ll show us that it was a very wise decision and that he’ll have a great AO. :-)

    Good luck, Roger!

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  7. Thanks Ruan and Steve for sharing your views with us.
    Through what I’ve seen and read about Roger, I’ve gradually become myself Roger’ fan not so much for what he has achieved as such but more so because of how he has achieved it.
    Because his greatness in terms of records is not only the result of prime tennis talent but equally the fruit of other qualities like for instance the intelligent way in which he manages his whole career as well as his private life, and the disciplined way in which he prepares himself for particular matches.
    Federer plans far ahead and feels good about it. He’s done this in his prime and continues to do this today. By way of illustration let’s look back one moment at Roger’s recent SA-exhibitions-tour which seemed to be an unfortunate and unwise decision to some of us. Well I think it was not at all some kind of impulsive decision emerging of late, but the mere execution of something Roger ‘s had in mind and planned for years, something that apparently fits in his broader career planning. Three years ago already, prior to the AO 2010, a journalist asked him this: “ Speaking of later, Mr. Federer, when do you think you’ll end your career ?” Roger’s response to this annoying question was simply this: “To calm down everybody, I said I’ll play until the 2012 Olympic Games in London. But it’s a minimum. I don’t think I’ll stop there. I see myself playing after, but differently. I’ll try to play some new tournaments, to do some exhibitions in South America, where I’ve nearly never been to.” (cfr. Ruan’s blog: Awesome Federer interview – January 15th 2010). This kind of planning approach doesn’t permit external contingent factors to intervene or change the core of what he and his team have planned, perhaps some aspects of the operating mode, but not the core of it. It’s Roger’s intention to continue to play and compete as long as his body allows him to do so. No need of inspiration or improvisation here, as the critical factor of his decision has already been determined: not going by any means beyond the limits of his health. The treacherous comments of the naysayers and haters nor the genuine love of his many fans will therefore directly affect his decision in this matter.
    Other proofs of his greatness to me are the genuine respect Roger shows for his fellow competitors as well as for his predecessors and his good sportsmanship. Roger does not by any means resort to any type of unsportsmanlike behavior (abuse of medical time-outs, time violations, etc..) to disrupt the moment of his opponents or obtain an advantage in competition. He wants to remain faithful to himself and his values, and reach the goals in an honorable way.
    Finally Roger’s greatness lies in his vision and the deeper reasons which he is still competing for. Not for the records, the money, the honors or the cheers, but because of his love for tennis, his feeling to have to give back for all he received in talents and happiness, and his vision that through sports and honest competition, people can be brought together and can learn to understand and appreciate each other better. To make the world a little bit better…

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  8. It’s hard to put into words why I am a Fed fan. From the first time I saw him play, I knew he was someone special. One thing I tried to teach my children was…HOW to think NOT WHAT to think. I think Roger’s parents did just that. He weighs his options (on and off the court) and makes the best decision for him and those concerned.
    He is such a role model in so many ways. Roger doesn’t seem to take life too seriously. Something all of us need to do. He is very optimistic even when others are very critical. Not too many athletes with such character. We are very lucky to be a part of this!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well said Susan. There are so many reasons to be his fan. I just summed up the most important thing for me. Roger has a fantastic outlook on life. He doesn’t let negativity creep into his psyche. Ever. Him and him alone decides what he is capable of. Nothing phases him too much. Like you say he doesn’t take life too seriously.

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