I still can't believe I said that of all things and I wish I could take it back because it's so embarrassing. The upside is that 1) he probably didn't hear it because there were so many people talking at him; 2) if he did hear it, it probably wasn't anything out of the ordinary because he gets it all the time; and 3) if he did hear it, he's probably forgotten all about it by now.
I've been on cloud 9 the whole day and every time I look at my autographed picture - I brought along my picture of him that I took at the Australian Open, one of hundreds, and I printed that picture out because it was the best quality - I still can't believe it really happened. I'm usually pretty level-headed except when it comes to Roger Federer. I skipped my classes to watch him, and if he really does play in the afternoon on Thursday, I may just skip Jurisprudence to watch him even though I really need to attend this class because it's so difficult. But I love watching him play live. It's a whole different experience. It's so addictive; I can't get enough, and I'm even thinking of going on Saturday night (if he plays the night session) even though I already have a ticket to Athlete's concert at the Albany (some random place not accessible by Tube; it's only accessible by the National Rail, like WTF is that?!). When he gets to the semi-final, I am definitely getting at ticket and I won't give a shit at all how much it costs!!!
The first thing that struck me when he made his way to centre court for his practice session was how thin he looks in person. He's not muscular to begin with and he has a freakishly small left arm, but on TV he looks quite normal-sized. In person, though, his limbs look thinner and his left arm is nearly non-existent. I also noticed at the same time his amazing sexy broad shoulders...and oh, he's so much more handsome in person than on TV and in pictures.
His practice was pretty straight-forward; didn't clown around too much save for the requisite double-handed backhand attempt. Honestly, I could watch him hit a tennis ball all day long, no matter whether it's a match or a practice session, and I wouldn't get bored of it. It is impossible to get bored of watching Roger Federer play tennis right in front of you. No one hits a forehand like he does and literally hardly anyone hits a backhand like he does because he's one of the few rare players left on tour that uses a single-handed backhand. He practised for half an hour and I just could barely believe that it was really happening. It sounds so lame and cliche and fangirly, but when you're so close to someone that you admire and idolise to the extent that I admire and idolise him, it feels like a dream.
It feels like a dream, until he stops practising and starts signing autographs. He started from the far end of the row from me and the girl that I went with, who also lives in my hall, started freaking out over whether he'd make his way to us. I was pretty confident that he would because the people from his official forum who were there to deliver this red envelope thing (a tradition on his forum) were very near us, so we waited patiently...until he got to us. I stuck out my photo for him to sign - thankfully he had a permanent marker on hand because I don't have one in London and I didn't have a pen with me and I definitely didn't want him to sign my ticket because that's so lame, so I was so happy that he had his own (I think) marker.
He's so handsome in person. He signed as many autographs as he could in my row (and it was a very long row) and like I said earlier, took a picture with the girl that asked for one. I really really REALLY wanted one with him as well but, well, like him and his break point conversion rate, I had my chance but I didn't capitalise on it. I really hope I can see him practise again before the tournament is over and hopefully get a picture with him. It's now my mission to get this elusive and highly treasured picture. I would blow it up and frame it and get him to sign it the next time I stalk him (I'm already thinking of going to the French Open next year).
Roger signing autographs:
My picture!!! I look so shit in this picture but I don't even care:
As for the match against Tipsarevic, I was just so thrilled and delighted from start to finish. Not only was it an easy match for Roger, he was so so so so so brilliant. It was a classic Federer master class with so many amazing shots. I exaggerate very little when I say that watching him hit a perfect forehand winner, or a perfect forehand near-winner, or a perfect forehand that blazes through the court, made me feel very happy and lucky to be alive. There were a few moments when Roger's forehand was on fire and the speed and velocity and pace and depth of the ball, combined with the gracefulness and beauty of his stroke, literally made me gasp out loud, involuntarily. Even when the shot wasn't a point-ending one (but forced an error from Tipsy), it was still a sight to behold. I can't adequately put into words what it feels like; probably no one but diehard Federer fans and serious tennis fans can understand what it feels like to watch the master - yes, he is the master - at work. He's awesome to watch even when he's subpar; when his game is on like it was today, the kind of feeling that his tennis, in full flight, invokes in me is the same kind that some people feel when they look at a Picasso or a Van Gogh, or when they listen to music by the great composers. It's an emotional experience, it's a visual one, it's a thrilling one, and at a very fundamental level, in a really weird way, I feel like I'm witnessing art in motion. That's how I feel when I watch Roger Federer live. The way he hits the ball, the way he moves, the precision of his placement; he's blessed with a natural gracefulness that no other player has (I really mean this; no other player plays like him) which makes his tennis look so beautiful.
Now that I have the time to reflect on today's events, I really do feel so thankful and fortunate that I get to watch him live. I'm disappointed that I didn't get to witness his glory days, but somehow, supporting him in the twilight years of his career is probably more meaningful than jumping on the Federer bandwagon when he was utterly dominant from 2004-2007. There's a bittersweet quality to the experience: you know that it's only a matter of time - maybe one or two years, hopefully three or four - before he calls it a day. You try to watch as many matches as you can and try to watch him live, as much as you can, because there's no other way to have the full Federer experience. I could recite his records and achievements but those aren't what I think about when I'm in a darkened stadium, surrounded by thousands of fans like me, all eyes glued on the man in purple moving on a tennis court as if it's his dancefloor; all I can think about is how absolutely privileged I am to have the chance to watch him play live.
I wouldn't go the David Foster Wallace route and call it a religious experience because obviously I don't know what that feels like. I would, however, definitely call it an extremely moving and subtly emotional one. The frustrating thing is that the nature of the experience is such that it leaves you little room to savour the breathtaking moments - he hits an amazing forehand and it lasts for 1, 2 seconds, then it's over. You can watch the replay on the big screens or watch the match again at home, but it's not the same, and it will never be the same. You can't freeze that moment in time and stare at it like you would a piece of art; all you can do is remember that moment, and how you felt, even if you don't remember the exact shot, his exact positioning, the exact score of the match when he hit that shot.
But I remember how I felt. A deep sense of awe and inspiredness, a vague realisation of how beautiful life is, and my heart overflowing with appreciation for the man from Switzerland with a tennis racquet in his hand.
Please win the tournament, Roger.