Thousands of lucky tennis fans experienced a lifetime moment on Sunday when they watched global icon Roger Federer play on Indian soil for the first time at the Delhi leg of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL).
The Federer-represented Indian Aces defeated Singapore Slammers 26-16.
It was a perfect India debut for Federer, who along with Sania Mirza blanked Bruno Soares and Daniela Hantuchova 6-0 before winning his men’s singles against Tomas Berdych and men’s doubles with Rohan Bopanna.
In the legends’ match, which was the first of the day, Slammers’ Pat Rafter beat Indian Aces’ Pete Sampras 6-2. In the mixed doubles match, Federer and Sania thrashed Soares and Hantuchova.
Federer then combined with Rohan Bopanna to beat Nick Kyrgios and Leyton Hewitt 6-1 in the men’s doubles match, before the Swiss legend saw off Tomas Berdych’s challenge 6-4 in the men’s singles.
In the women’s singles match, Ana Ivanovic beat Daniela Hantuuchova 6-5 (7-5).
Earlier, complete frenzy followed the much-awaited arrival of Federer, who landed here in the wee hours today alongside another legend Pete Sampras.
If not more, Federer was as excited as his millions of Indian fans ever since it was announced that he would be taking part in the Delhi leg of the newly created IPTL.
He took to Twitter many times to express his excitement, asking fans to photoshop him around the country since he won’t get much time to explore during his short stay. Thus, it was no surprise that he tweeted a picture of him and Sampras to announce his arrival.
“It is very special to be here. I am getting special treatment ever since I have come here. I am very happy to be here. Thank you guys,” said Federer while waving at the vociferous crowd after his mixed doubles match alongside Sania Mirza.
“It is an honour to play with Roger. I would now like to play Australian Open with him,” joked Sania.
The record 17-time Grand Slam champion added: “I am very surprised with my play here. I am playing singles, doubles, mixed doubles and doing okay. I think the format is crazy but good fun. We don’t get to be a team on the pro circuit and that is why I think there is a place for this. That way people who don’t get to see many tournaments in this part of the world, get to watch some top quality tennis.”
Federer, after getting a taste of Indian hospitality at a city five-star hotel, made it to the court at the IG arena one and a half before the match starting 4 pm local time.
He gently walked into the field of play and started sparring with none other than Sampras. Surprisingly not many around the greats instantly woke up to the fact that they were watching Federer and Sampras having a hit until one heard a shout of ‘we love you Roger’.
It was a moment when winners of 31 major titles were warming up together for the big moment.
They both practiced for around half hour and by the time they were making their way back to the players’ lounge, the 15000 capacity hall had erupted.
“I came all the way from Mumbai to watch Roger. It surely is a dream come true. It will stay with me forever,” said self proclaimed tennis lover Vivek Modi. He was one of the many who realised his dream.