Wow, what a freaking match! Roger Federer beat Tomas Berdych – just barely – in the the quarterfinals of Toronto’s Rogers Cup on Friday night: 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (5). I have to say it was majorly fun to watch live, in the bowl of the stadium, surrounded by a few thousand Fed fanatics.
It wasn’t immediately clear where the crowd’s loyalties fell – the stadium roared when Berdych took the second set. I wondered if Toronto loved Tomas, loathed Fed or just didn’t want to go home early on a Friday night. My question was answered in the third, as every point was met with cries of jubilation or groans of deep, emotional distress. Yep, they desperately wanted Roger Federer to win.
Canadians have the reputation for being fair, nice and humble – remember all those corny features NBC showed during the winter Olympics? Well, maybe they’re laid back when it comes to public shows of patriotism, but when a certain Swiss GOAT’s on court, they’re as partisan as the Croatian crowd during last July’s Davis Cup quarters. Hey, I’m kidding. Kind of. Here are some of the random things people yelled from the crowd:
“You’re the Champion, Rog!”
“This is Rogers Cup!” (Get it?)
“I love you Roger!” (Someone’s mantra, I guess.)
“Nice shirt, Roger!” (I think he meant it.)
“Berdych, you suck!” (Okay, the jerk got booed for that one. Tennis fanatics have their code of honor.)
Further proof that Fedophilism runs rampant on the shores of Lake Ontario: Roger was catcalled mercilessly during his shirt change. I think only Lucie – from wherever she was watching the match – raised an eyebrow when Tomas changed his.
What could Roger say? It’s nice to be loved.
“I mean the crowds were absolutely amazing. Rarely, you know, you get those kind of atmospheres, so I knew that was something special. So I’m very thankful of course.
“I have always around the world great support, but when it gets so loud and so exciting, it’s obviously something different. Adrenaline starts going, and you hope you come out, you know, on the better end at the end, an that’s what I was able to do. I’m really, really happy.“
Yes, he’s happy – but let’s not get carried away:
Q. Where does this victory rank, even with all the Grand Slam championships, but avoiding losing three straight to this guy coming back from 5-2, where do ou rank this victory?
ROGER FEDERER: Look, I’ve played 800 matches. (Laughter.) It’s sort of hard to put a rank on it, but it’s nice always winning matches 7-6 in the third, because it’s a bit of a flip of the coin. . .It ranks definitely top 100 (Laughter.)
This match is not making the top of Berdych’s Happy List.
Tomas was glum in his post-match presser:
“How can I be happy after that match? I lost 7-6 in the third when I was serving to close out the match. There were no other aspects that I can be sitting here and be just a little bit happy. I’m really sad after a match like that.“
But he wouldn’t blame the crowd for his unhappiness. I asked if he was annoyed by the Fed-partisan fans:
“It’s alright. I’m happy that so many people just come to see. They were enjoying. So just let them enjoy.”
Thanks, Tomas. I know I enjoyed that one – in a sick, wrong, S&M kind of way. I finally understand why those Saw movies are so popular. Pain. . .good. . .
The Rogers Cup tournament director must be feeling pretty good right now: The top four players in the world are in the Rogers Cup semis! Rafael Nadal takes on Andy Murray in the afternoon semi. Nole just took out Jeremy Chardy, 6-2, 6-4 in the last match of the evening, so he gets Roger Federer tomorrow night.
Here are some more photos from Federer vs. Berdych and pressers: