“To have 51,954 people in attendance at a tennis match, I never thought I’d be a part of something like that,” said Federer. “It’s not something you dream about.
Federer, who was accompanied by his South African mother, Lynette, said his first appearance in South Africa was a special occasion.
“The first time here in Cape Town, in South Africa, means so much more than just tennis,” he said.
Federer won 6-4 3-6 6-3 in a match in which the players had to contend with cool, windy conditions in the stadium that was built for the 2010 football World Cup.
The arena was packed with eager fans who sang, clapped and did the wave throughout the match.
“It’s an amazing crowd, an amazing stadium,” said Nadal, who was making his first appearance in South Africa since playing in the country as a junior.
“It’s an unforgettable evening. We will probably never play again in an atmosphere such as this one,” said Nadal. “I can’t thank enough the people here in Cape Town. They came here and created an unforgettable atmosphere.”
Earlier in the day, Federer and his doubles partner billionaire Bill Gates beat Nadal and South-African born comedian Trevor Noah in a match with more flexible rules.
The ceremonial coin toss was performed by World Cup-winning Springbok rugby captain Siya Kolisi, who presented Federer with a Springbok jersey. The coin used was a commemorative 20 Swiss Francs piece minted with Federer’s face. He gave it to Kolisi.
Other high-profile South African sports stars in attendance included former Springbok captains John Smit and Jean de Villiers as well as Olympic swimmer Ryk Neethling.
The match is the sixth edition of the event organised by the Roger Federer Foundation and is the first to take place in Africa.
“There’s so much anticipation that goes into it that the match itself almost gets forgotten,” said Federer before the match.
He said he spent childhood holidays in South Africa.
“The time spent here as a kid was amazing,” Federer said. “You would go on the road and you never come back for some reason because you’ve gotta chase that little tennis ball and you’ve gotta chase your dreams.”
Tens of thousands of fans showed up early and were ecstatic when Nadal and Federer hit practice balls into the stands.
One fan said she brought a wedding ring for Federer to propose to her. “I want to marry Roger,” she shouted.
Earlier in the afternoon, Federer and Nadal played tennis with children from townships in Hout Bay.
The children are part of an afterschool activity program with Zip Zap Circus which develops gross and fine motor skills.
Novak Djokovic shattered the hopes of ailing rival Roger Federer Thursday to sweep into a record eighth Australian Open final and move closer to his 17th Grand Slam crown.
The pair boasts one of world sport’s greatest rivalries, and after a tentative start, the Serb quickly reinforced his recent dominance, showing no mercy to the Swiss maestro in a 7-6 (7/1), 6-4, 6-3 win.
He will play either fifth seed Dominic Thiem or seventh-ranked German Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s final.
Roger Federer pulled off one of the greatest escapes of his career Tuesday, saving seven match points to come from two sets down and beat Tennys Sandgren for a place in the Australian Open semi-finals.
In a drama-packed match, the normally ice-cool Swiss was slapped with a coded warning for swearing and needed a rare medical timeout for a mystery injury before winning 6-3, 2-6, 2-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-3.
His reward is a showdown against either long-time rival and seven-time champion Novak Djokovic or big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic.
Roger Federer flicked a switch after losing the opening set to crush Marton Fucsovics and book a record 15th Australian Open quarter-final on Sunday, with unheralded American Tennys Sandgren his next hurdle.
The Swiss master took time to work out the Hungarian but when he did it was one-way traffic, romping to a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory on Rod Laver Arena to edge closer to a seventh Melbourne title and 21st Grand Slam crown.
Awaiting him in the last eight on Tuesday is the 100th-ranked Sandgren, who upset 12th-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini over four intense sets.
“It was a tough start, Marton played very clean,” said Federer, who is into his 15th Melbourne quarter-final, surpassing John Newcombe’s 14.
It will also be his 57th appearance in the last eight at Grand Slams. No one else is close, with Novak Djokovic next in line on 46.
“It just took me some time, I tried to mix it up a bit and just had to figure it out. From the beginning of the second set it got a little bit easier,” he added.
Sandgren, a devout Christian, achieved his best Grand Slam result at Melbourne Park by reaching the last eight in 2018, but it was overshadowed by a row over his political views and links to right-wing activists.
He has put the controversy behind him and shown battling qualities to make the last eight again and said he was relishing the chance to play an all-time great.
“It will be very special, very special. To play him on a big stage like quarters of a Slam would be a ton of fun really,” he said.
The pair have never met before, as Federer noted: “I’ve played a lot of tennis in my life but never against Tennys.”
The ageless Federer was pushed to a gruelling five sets by John Millman in round three but showed no signs of tiredness against Fucsovics despite being 38.
Both players took time to feel each other out and it went with serve to 3-3 before the Hungarian grabbed the first break on the back of some high-quality service returns.
The unheralded 27-year-old ranked 67, looked composed, with his power and aggressive forehand unsettling Federer and he held his nerve to grab the set — the first he had ever taken off the Swiss.
Undaunted, Federer kept has cool, started to find Fucsovic’s weaknesses and dictate the points, earning a break to go 2-0 ahead in the second set.
He didn’t let up as the Hungarian struggled to stay in touch, broken again as the tide turned and normal business resumed for the Swiss great.
Fucsovics, who was attempting to become the first player from his country to make the Melbourne quarters, was shellshocked as Federer turned on the style.
He raced to a double break lead in the third with some brilliant passing shots and there was no way back for a player who came into the match in decent form, winning his three previous matches without dropping a set.
Federer, who could face Djokovic in the semi-finals if he gets past Sandgren, wrapped it up in 2hrs 11mins, almost two hours less than his third-round epic against Millman.
Rafael Nadal said passion and positivity had helped him reach an unprecedented third decade ranked world number one, after defying the ravages of injury and the critics who said his all-action game was too tough on his body.
Despite a steady stream of foot, knee, back, arm, hand and wrist injury setbacks, the 33-year-old has returned time and again to become the only player to top the rankings in three different decades.
“I can’t say I have been lucky with injuries, because I have not,” the Spaniard said on Saturday, when asked about his longevity in the game.
“But there is no secret, no? There is only about passion, about love for the game, and about being able to stay positive in the tough moments.”
Nadal’s physical, uncompromising approach is often contrasted with his great rival Roger Federer, who appears more effortless on court and — after far fewer injuries — is still going strong at 38.
But the fighting qualities that have taken Nadal to 19 Grand Slam titles on court have often been evident off it, as he was repeatedly able to recover from injury and return to the top.
“It’s true that I went through some tough situations during all my career. But I was able to always, with probably the positive attitude and with the right people around — they were the key — I was able to find a way to keep going, no?” he said.
“It’s difficult for me to imagine because for my style of game, as a lot of people said, my career should be little bit shorter. But here we are. Happy for that.
“Even for me is a big surprise to be where I am at my age.”
Tennis superstars Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal jointly donated Aus$250,000 (US$172,000) for Australian bushfire relief at a charity fundraiser in smoggy Melbourne on Wednesday.
The two tennis legends, with 39 Grand Slam singles titles between them, were at the Rod Laver Arena in a bid to swell the vast sums already donated to help victims of the devastating disaster.
They were joined by a who’s who of the tennis world, including Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Novak Djokovic, Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova, Dominic Thiem, Coco Gauff, Nick Kyrgios, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.
“Twenty years this has been my home and I’ve had so many great matches on this court and in this country,” said Williams, whose young daughter Alexis Olympia was thrilled to meet some firefighters this week.
“And that’s we’re all here tonight to support and help out.”
Tennis Australia said it expected the “Rally for Relief” to raise “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to add to the more than Aus$2.8 million (US$1.9 million) already stumped up by the global tennis community.
That has included personal pledges and Aus$100 for each ace hit during the Australian tennis swing. Some of the big names also donated merchandise for an online auction Wednesday.
Williams led a team in Fast4 doubles, a shortened version of the game, boosting Thiem and Kvitova, along with Nadal and Djokovic playing together on the same side of the net.
They met Wozniacki’s side that featured Gauff, Osaka, Zverev and Tsitsipas.
But the evening’s star turn saw Federer play a set against Australian bad boy Kyrgios, who has been driving force behind the fundraising effort.
“It’s emotional stuff,” said Kyrgios. “I just want to have a little fun out here tonight and hopefully we can overcome this.”
The bushfires, unprecedented in their duration and intensity, have claimed 28 lives, destroyed almost 2,000 homes and razed vast tracts of land.
Toxic haze from the blazes has disrupted the build-up to next week’s Australian Open, with qualifying delayed over the past two days and some players taken ill.
A cool change bringing rain swept through on Wednesday afternoon, raising expectations of clearer air for Thursday.
Tennis chiefs have insisted any delays to the Grand Slam’s scheduled start on Monday were unlikely given Melbourne Park has three roofed stadiums and eight other indoor courts which could be used in an emergency.
The roof of the Rod Laver Arena was closed for the charity evening.
Roared on by a raucous packed house at London’s O2 Arena, six-time champion Federer looked in the groove from the start, cranking up the pressure on Djokovic’s serve and dropping just three points on his own serve in the first set.
The Serbian upped his game at the start of the second set but Federer, 38, saved the one break point he faced and broke twice to canter to victory.
The third seed, making his 17th appearance at the ATP Finals, is into his 16th semi-final at the year-end event.
Djokovic needed to win the title to have a chance at knocking Nadal off the top spot, but now the Spaniard is guaranteed to finish the year as the top-ranked player for the fifth time, tying him with Federer, Djokovic and American Jimmy Connors.
“Great atmosphere, great opponent,” said Federer, who hit 23 winners and made just five unforced errors. “It was definitely incredibly special. I enjoyed it from the beginning.
“I played incredibly and I knew I had to because that’s what Novak does. It was definitely magical.”
Speaking about what was different from the Wimbledon final, where he squandered two championship points on his own serve, he said: “I won match point I guess.
“It was so close at Wimbledon. It was a privilege to play that match, so many ups and downs. I couldn’t be more happy right now.”
Federer finishes second in Group Bjorn Borg, behind Thiem, who also beat Djokovic earlier this week. The Swiss will face the Group Andre Agassi winner on Saturday.
Djokovic looked nervy at the start of the winner-takes-all contest, double-faulting twice in the third game, in which he was broken to love.
As cries of “Let’s go Roger, let’s go” rang around the cavernous stadium, Federer was dead-eyed on his serve, hitting eight aces, including a second-serve ace, in the first set.
Federer’s service level dipped in the second set and 32-year-old Djokovic earned his first break point of the match in the fourth game, which the Swiss saved.
In the next game, Djokovic slipped to 15-40 and sailed a forehand long to give Federer his second break of the match. The Swiss broke once more to close out the victory.
Djokovic had won his past five meetings with Federer, including their epic five-set battle in the final at Wimbledon in July.
“He was the better player in all aspects and absolutely deserved to win,” said Djokovic. “He served great, moved well, returned my serve very well…. He did everything right.”
In Thursday’s early match in Group Bjorn Borg, which was a dead rubber, eighth seed Matteo Berrettini beat Thiem 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.
Fifth seed Thiem did not hit the heights he reached during his three-set win against Djokovic, notching just 12 winners compared with 50 against the Serbian.
Stefanos Tsitsipas has already qualified for the semi-finals from Group Andre Agassi, leaving Nadal, defending champion Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev to scrap it out for the other spot on Friday.
Roger Federer kept alive his hopes of a seventh ATP Finals crown on Tuesday, beating Italian debutant Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 at London’s O2 Arena.
The Swiss third seed put himself under enormous pressure by losing his first match on Sunday in straight sets in Group Bjorn Borg to Dominic Thiem.
The six-time champion was not at his fluent best on Tuesday but ultimately had too much for Berrettini, who won just three games against Novak Djokovic in his opener.
Both players were solid on serve in the first set, with Federer struggling to make inroads against the eighth seed.
The Swiss eventually earned himself the sniff of a chance in the 12th game, winning the first break point of the match but Berrettini snuffed out the danger and held to take it into a tie-break.
Federer upped the level of his game in the shootout, helped by some wayward shots from his opponent plus a Berrettini double-fault and won it comfortably 7-2.
The Swiss, clad in black, broke immediately at the start of the second set to leave the Italian with a mountain to climb.
Berrettini earned a clutch of break points in the eighth game but Federer eventually served himself out of trouble.
Federer, as usual enjoying the lion’s share of support from the crowd, broke in the next game to seal the set 6-3.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion said he had remained calm and tried to stay positive after the Thiem defeat.
“There’s no reason to be too down on yourself,” he said. “We came here to play three matches and give it all we have. It was the big goal of the season to come here and qualify which we did, plus I had a day off.”
“Not everything was bad (in the Thiem match) but of course if you over-analyse it, all of a sudden it can be,” he added. “I was ready, I was prepared today and that’s what matters the most.”
Djokovic and Thiem hope to take a major step towards qualifying for the semi-finals when they meet in the later match at the O2 Arena.
Djokovic is hunting a sixth ATP Finals title to pull level with Federer’s record and is also seeking to pip Rafael Nadal to the year-end number one ranking.
On Monday, top seed Nadal lost his opener in Group Andre Agassi to defending champion Alexander Zverev while Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Daniil Medvedev.
The top two players from each group qualify for the semi-finals.
World number three Roger Federer announced on Monday that he was withdrawing from this week’s Paris Masters in order to “pace” himself for the next year.
“I am extremely disappointed to have to pull out of the Paris Masters,” he said in a statement.
“I have to pace myself since I want to play as long as possible on the ATP Tour.
“I am sorry for my French fans who I will see next year at Roland Garros.”
Tournament director Guy Forget said he was “disappointed” with Federer’s late decision to withdraw.
The 38-year-old Federer warned on Sunday after winning his 10th Basel title that he may skip the trip to Paris.
“My fitness is fine, I’m happy with how I feel,” he said.
“I just don’t know if I should play next week. I’ll figure it out with the team.”
Federer returned to the Paris Masters last year for the first time since 2015 and reached the semi-finals where he lost a three-set semi-final thriller to Novak Djokovic, who is top seed ahead of Rafael Nadal in the French capital this year.
Federer will be replaced by a lucky loser in the main draw.
Roger Federer extended his Swiss Indoors win streak to 23 matches as he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday to reach the final for the 15th time, racking up his 50th win of 2019.
The top seed will be playing for his 10th title at his home tournament when he faces Alex de Minaur in a first-time meeting after the Australian stopped Reilly Opelka 7-6 (7/2), 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/3).
Federer, 38, has now made the Basel final in his last 13 appearances and 15th overall.
His last defeat came in the 2013 final at the hands of Juan Martin del Potro.
For Federer, victory on Saturday was his second of the season over 21-year-old Tsitsipas who had stunned the 20-time major winner at the Australian Open in January.
Federer, who had a walkover in the quarter-finals due to the pre-match injury withdrawal of compatriot Stan Wawrinka, notched up two love games in the second set and advanced on his first match point.
“Having the crowd behind you really helps you believe in your game,” said Federer who had also defeated Tsitsipas in Dubai earlier this year.
“I had to play aggressive and take risks against Stefanos. There was a lot of running. But it’s always easier to play at home, I was energised.”
Federer will be in uncharted territory in the final with De Minaur, who has won trophies this season in Sydney, Atlanta and Zhuhai.
“He’s one of the fastest players,” Federer said. “I’m very excited to be in the final again.
“I was not sure how it would go this week, so I’m really happy.”
The 28th-ranked De Minaur, who trains and lives in Spain, is the first Australian to reach the Basel final since Mark Philippoussis finished runner-up in 1997.
De Minaur, who measures up at 1.80m compared to Opelka’s towering 2.11m, set up his semi-final victory with a passing winner for four match points.
Opelka saved the first with an ace but was caught out on the second as his opponent sealed the win.
“Nothing can prepare you for that serve,” de Minaur said.
“Reilly’s an incredibly tough competitor who never gives up. I’m just happy to be in the final. I guessed right a few times and got lucky. I was just lucky to have gone the right direction, I was just hoping not be hit by any of those serves.”