Being a massive Sport Fan, I always like to remember my first approach with the sports I follow.
I can’t precisely remember my first basketball game or my first football match, but I have a vivid memory of the first tennis match I’ve ever seen.
It was the 9th of July, 2001. A Monday afternoon.
I was at home, switching continuously channels, looking for something to watch. At 9 years old, I was quite bored that morning.
I turned on the channel which was broadcasting the Wimbledon Final, the first Final ever to start on the third Monday.
It was love at first sight.
How couldn’t you fall in love with Tennis by watching this match?
I don’t remember if it was my admiration for Sports Underdog (definition that fits perfectly the 2001 Ivanisevic) or the emotions that were flowing in that Final, but since then I started following Tennis, designating Andy Roddick as my favorite player.
Why Roddick? It’s always more stimulating cheering for the ‘underdog’.
Although he was responsible for many heartbreaking Roddick defeats, like the one, below, I’ve always recognized the greatness of who’s one of the best sports athlete in my generation: Roger Federer.
Being a lifetime Sports Fan, when I was 14 I made a list of the athlete I wanted to watch Live in my life.
Roger Federer, with my childhood hero Manu Ginobili, is leading that list.
That’s because you know that when you’re watching live a Federer’s match you understand that you’re witnessing something more than a Game.
It’s the same feeling you get when you’re watching live Great Athletes like Leo Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps.
You’re seeing an Icon. You’re seeing a GOAT. You’re having one of the best Experiences that Sports could give you.
Ever since I bought tickets for the ATP Finals in London I was hoping, for one of the tickets, to being for a Federer match.
I got lucky last Sunday, as I was in the audience to watch Federer’s Finals debut against Tomas Berdych.
The first thing that is easily noticed is that still today, after a long and distinguish career, Federer’s presence massively moves tennis fans to cheer louder and with more enthusiasm than the usual.
Federer is loved by Sports Fan, and the feeling is reciprocal.
From my last-row-of-the-arena seat I was able to spot the average attendance composition of a Federer match.
Unlike for other tennis matches I was able to attend in my life, many of them were wearing shirts or flags with two dominant colors: red and white, the colors of Switzerland flag.
It would be an error, however, to assume that all Federer’s fans dressed in red and white are Swiss: his fan base really has not geographical boundaries, something not so usual as you could think it might be.
It’s not so surprising that Federer has won the ‘Fan Award’ for more than the last 10 years.
You can easily feel more enthusiasm after a Federer point rather than a point scored by his opponent.
While enjoying the match, I started wondering about the reasons of this kind of atmosphere and ‘fan loyalty’.
Surely it’s relevant that Federer has had a long and ‘rich’ career: a ‘Roger fan by day one’ is someone who’s following him from a really long time nowadays, and if we’re talking about a ‘young adult Federer fan’ we’re referring to someone whom has ‘grown up’ with Federer.
Usually, for a Sports Fan, the ‘growing up support’ is always the strongest of all, also because it tends to remember you your transition from teenage to adult.
Another reason could be Federer’s tennis style, which it differs to his main antagonists one’s, especially if we’re referring to Rafael Nadal’s style. The basis of a great Sport Rivalry is not only made by a lot of matches between two rivals (or teams), but also by the difference in game (or even cultural) style.
Rivalries like Celtics-Lakers, Real Madrid-Barcelona, Boca-River, All Blacks-Australia, and many others, have all these characteristics in common.
These characteristics could also explain why Federer’s rivalry with Nadal is (and will always be) felt more intensely by his fans rather than a matchup with Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray.
A further point can be made about Federer’s personality as well: his way of appearing always charming, smiling and also ‘regal’ contributes indeed to his audience success. A likable hero has always more success rather than an unlikable one.
Last but not least, Federer’s likability is also made by the fact that when someone attend one of his matches, he will likely enjoy it.
This was the case for his match against Tomas Berdych in last week’s London Masters.
Berdych’s good start (breaking Federer on the opening game) contributed to raising the Swiss-man play, who got quickly back on track by winning the first set 6-4.
Once Federer got going it wasn’t a lot else to do for his Czech opponent. Quickly escaped to a 4-o lead in the second set, the Swiss closed with a well played 6-2, including some ‘SABR’ attempts, in only 69 minutes.
Later last week, Federer qualified for his 10th Year-End Championship Final, ultimately lost to Novak Djokovic after having beaten him during the Round Robin phase.
It’s still unclear for how long we’ll be able to live witness The Roger Federer Experience.
But it’s surely something that every Sports Fan should do.