FINALLY. The thought that I could not get out of my head. The desire that I could not stop chasing. The obsession that infected me like a virus and could not be cured by any other means but by treating the root problem directly.
I wanted a picture with Roger. I did whatever I could in my power to make it happen. It happened.
It's been long, long tiring, emotionally exhausting and exhilarating week, and it all culminated in the final match of the tournament: 12 November 2012, 8 PM. I don't even want to really talk about it. All I can say is that, if Roger had been sharper on the crucial points, he would have straight-setted the world #1. He made errors at the inopportune moments and actually let slip a break lead in both sets.
It was simply heartbreaking. I thought I was quite used to him losing, but there is something peculiar about witnessing such a match live and feeling so close to the action and so close to the potential victory that didn't come to pass that I actually cried. The last time I cried over a Federer loss was probably US Open 2011 (lost from two match points up, lost after a 2 sets to love lead...to Djokovic, no less), but even then, I didn't really cry; I was just really really upset. Tonight, though, I actually had tears in my eyes that I had to fight back and there were a couple of moments when I felt like I could just bawl my eyes out.
I've tried to understand this emotional investment but I haven't really found a satisfactory answer. Perhaps I am simply predisposed to - I'm struggling to find a term to describe this - I don't know what to call it. I think it's just me, simply put; it's just me, and the person that I find absolutely amazing and inspirational. Roger's always been that person for me, at least since I discovered him in 2008.
When I watched his losses on TV, I thought that it wouldn't be as bad in person because at least you would've got to watch him play live tennis. Somehow, though, while he gave us so many incredible points - the point to get to 6-all in the first set tiebreak, for instance - it was so painful watching him follow up a hard fought point with a completely loose one - the backhand down the line unforced error to give Nole set point at 7-6, for instance. I will always want to watch him live; this is unquestionable. Still, I'm quite amazed at how drained I was after the first set. During the first three games I was so pumped, shouting when he won a point on his own merits (i.e. not at a Djokovic unforced error) and screaming his name when he was struggling; as the match progressed, I felt more and more tired. When the second set came around, I really had very little energy left. I suppose it didn't help that Roger wasn't winning, either.
In any case, I should be able to better reflect on everything when I'm not sleep deprived (it's 4.30 a.m. right now). I just want to talk about the Picture. I went to the pier after the match because I was in such a bad mood that I didn't feel like coming back to my room, and I thought it would be nice to be around some fellow crazy fans who would understand. I didn't expect Roger to show up at all as I thought he might not be in the mood to entertain fans after his loss. Colour me extremely surprised and thrilled when the guards (who were really, really nice) told us that he was taking the boat!!!
I walked up to a lone Chinese girl and asked if she could help me take a picture, and we agreed to help each other take pictures. We waited in the biting cold for about an hour or so; Roger was supposed to come out for the midnight boat, but he only came out around 15 past midnight. There were about 20 people waiting at the pier with 4 frankly obnoxious Noletards who were waiting for Novak. There was a barrier behind which people were supposed to wait, but I wanted to make sure that Roger didn't slip by me, so I stood outside the fence.
The guards, by the way, had no problem with it. They just joked about it with me and asked why was I standing there (I said, "I don't like the fence" and they laughed). One of the obnoxious Noletards, however, had to open her big fucking mouth and said, "Why are you outside the fence? So typical of Federer fans."
What a fucking idiotic comment to make. I was the ONE Federer fan who was standing outside the fence, so clearly she had some trouble counting, and actually, I was being a kiasu Singaporean. In any event, I just rolled my eyes and ignored her and continued standing there. Novak, eventually, left the venue by car, so she waited for nothing. SERVES HER RIGHT FOR BEING AN OBNOXIOUS TWAT. I think she was also the one that went "pfft" when the guards jokingly suggested that she asked Roger for an autograph. I can't believe these people actually exist. I mean, I frequent a shit-infested tennis forum quite frequently where fanbases insult each other and each other's favourite players (especially the top 4) on a regular basis, but I thought that's just Internet behaviour that just doesn't happen in real life.
That obnoxious Noletard twat totally proved me wrong. She should be honoured to be breathing the same air as Roger Federer, seriously. It was because of stupid Noletards like her that turned me off to Nole himself - so insecure about their idol's achievements and the fact that his best season ever, 2011, wasn't as good as Roger's 2006, that they have to disparage Roger's achievements. What the fuck ever, really.
Anyway, on a happier note, that bitch fucked off after a while. More importantly, after a while, Roger finally came out! He was smiling and seemed to be in a cheery mood. I was at the end of the row and I was impatient for him to be done with the people in front and come to me! He signed my photo buddy's book first, after which I took her picture for her. As I was not separated from him by the fence, he was just next to me. When I asked him if I could have a picture, he said, "Sure, as soon as your friend gets the camera ready" or something along those lines...and he just casually put his arm around my shoulder. I didn't even think that he would that; in my head he'd sort of lean in towards me and he'd oblige with the photo request.
I just realised that I let my right arm (he was on my right; had to take the picture from my good angle, so he had to be on the right) hang limply by my side when I could have reciprocated his friendliness, if you know what I mean. I just didn't dare to touch him, which is totally characteristic of me considering that I had to think of what to say to him in my head before he appeared. When he was standing next to me I said to him, "I cheered really loudly for you just now. Did you hear me?"
He replied, in the most adorable fashion EVER, "Of course I did!"
Honestly, I don't know how I managed to remain conscious throughout those few minutes. I had my Swiss flag wrapped around my shoulders and I decided to ask him to sign it while I was on life support waiting in the cold. I didn't really want to ask for another autograph since I had one already and I'm not really into autographs, but I thought I might as well make the most of the situation since I was suffering so badly.
As a result of my last minute decision, I didn't have a pen. After he took the picture with me, I asked him whether he could sign the flag but I didn't have a pen to give him. While I was scrambling to get one, he was almost about to leave for his boat; and when my photo-taking buddy finally passed me hers, he stopped and signed my flag for me.
He is so sweet, I swear. He was so nice the whole time to everyone; he really tried to accommodate everyone that was there until everyone was happy. He was already about to leave when he was finished with me a couple of others to my right (there weren't that many), and when I gave him the pen to sign, he obliged. I'm glad I decided to ask him to sign my flag and not my ticket stub because, apart from how I'm probably gonna throw the ticket away, I had to wrap it around me to keep it in place, which meant that he touched me again.
Like I said, I don't know how I managed to not faint. I always sort of imagined that I would be a mess if I ever got so close to him, and although my brain did shut down the first time and I had to think of something to say in advance the second time, I'm quite proud of myself that I kept it together (I hope he didn't hear me and photo-taking buddy squealing after we had our photos taken with him). Meeting him, albeit briefly, was something that I had fantasised about for the past 4 years, and it finally happened. It was so amazing. He was so nice. He thanked everyone for the support before he left, and even though I was freezing and cold and shivering and I missed my last Tube, I was on cloud 9. I was on a cloud higher than cloud 9. I am sitll so happy that it's 5 a.m. and I am awake, typing this, when I have to wake up in 5 hours' time for class.
This night would have been absolutely perfect if he had won the match. Seeing him, though, has made me feel so much better.
Unlike Novak, Roger didn't smell like anything. He literally had no scent. This is the difference between a mature man and a young adult: the man doesn't need to douse himself in cologne.
I actually did take a picture with him earlier in the day when I accidentally sauntered into his practice session. I went to the match early, but not as early as I had wanted, but I didn't think that he would practise, or that the audience would be allowed in. Imagine my shock when I went into the stadium and saw that Roger was practising! It was just after his warm up when he came over to sign autographs and shit, and I was fortunate that he just happened to leave the court via the side that I was at. I talked to a random fan before (who turns out to be studying at the LSE as well) and asked her to take a picture for me.
There was some scrambling when I saw another fan give him something, which reminded me that I had a letter of sorts to give him that I had been carrying around with me since Thursday. I had my stuff in the second row whule I was in the first, and I had to push past a bunch of over-excited fans all rushing towards me to get Roger to sign stuff. Luckily I managed to retrieve my letter, but he was walking away from me at this point. I stuck out my letter towards him and initially he thought it was something to sign, until I told him that it was for him. He took it, said 'thanks' (at least I think he did; in my mind, he did), and I asked if I could have a picture, to which he said, "Sure." (I'm beginning to love this word.)
There was a barricade separating the players and the fans. This was just after his practice, and while he was next to me, I noticed at the back of my mind that he didn't smell like anything at all. No scent whatsoever, not even after his warm up. The girl took the picture in a hurry and it turned out really bad because I forgot to zoom out my camera, so it was blurry and too close up. I look bad, but Roger still manages to look cute.
The letter wasn't really a letter; I just printed out like, 4 entries that I wrote about him that were particularly better written (i.e. not the rambly ones). There was a cover letter but there was not much in it.
I'm really super tired right now, so I'll just end off by saying that I think I got really lucky to get a picture with him on the last day of the tournament. I really fail as a stalker: on Saturday, I intended to get to the O2 at 10 in hopes of catching him, but I woke up at 9.57. Today (yesterday), I literally stumbled upon his practice session. If I hadn't snooped around his forum for tips on how to catch him, I wouldn't have known to wait at the pier.
So yeah. It's a bittersweet feeling: so sad that he lost, but so happy that I got to see him afterwards. Suffice it to say, though, that I'm all tennised out. Save for actually playing which I miss like hell, I'm not gonna have anything to do with tennis until the Australian Open comes around (Roger isn't playing any tournaments before that so that's when the season starts for me).