Roger Federer: I’m just feeding off Rafa’s energy
CAPE TOWN – “I better get him this time!” That was how Roger Federer was psyching himself up for tonight’s Match In Africa against Rafael Nadal at the Cape Town Stadium on Friday.
Federer was reminded that his great Spanish rival was the only person to have beaten him in any of the previous Match In Africa events around the world.
And one would think that the 38-year-old would feel at home, seeing that his mother Lynette was born and raised in South Africa.
Lynette and father Robert were present during Friday’s ‘Learning For Play’ initiative with children from local townships in the afternoon, as well as the short practice session between the two legends on the specially designed court at the 2010 Fifa World Cup venue.
Lynette’s South African accent was still strongly evident during a brief exchange in Afrikaans with IOL Sport.
.@rogerfederer's wife Mirka, mom Lynette and father Robert take in the sights and sounds of Cape Town Stadium for the @matchinafrica 🎾 Had a word with Lynette, and that South African accent was 🔥 🇿🇦 @IOLsport @IOL @WeekendArgus #MatchInAfrica #Federer #Nadal pic.twitter.com/UIxDnoJJee— Ashfak Mohamed (@ashfakmohamed) February 7, 2020
Federer himself was pleased with the surface and said that the groin injury that affected him in the Australian Open semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic was a thing of the past, and seemed to be more concerned about the event going off smoothly.
“Good, medium (pace on the court). You know, Rafa seems so happy, and makes me happy too. I feel off his energy now because I am concerned that everything is going to go well and everybody is going to have a good time – because I am somewhat of the host, I guess. I worry, and he is just here to enjoy himself, so I’m feeding off his positive energy,” Federer said.
“He’s playing great. He’s also kept in shape since Melbourne. I’ve been resting my groin and I feel great, and I’m not feeling any after-effects from that. So, I’m totally ready for tonight.
“Thanks for the reminder (that Nadal beat him in a Match for Africa). There’s so much anticipation that I didn’t even remember the result from the last time – so now, I better get him this time.”
Things are hotting up at courtside as @rogerfederer and @RafaelNadal have arrived for a quick practice before the @matchinafrica at the Cape Town Stadium @IOLsport @IOL @WeekendArgus #MatchInAfrica #Federer #Nadal pic.twitter.com/R7RBeSCN4u— Ashfak Mohamed (@ashfakmohamed) February 7, 2020
Nadal, who was hitting the ball with his customary power, was thrilled to be back in a country in which he played as a junior.
“About 18 or 19 years ago, I had been here, back in Sun City, and here I am again – years later, and I am so happy to be here. Great couple of days, and we want to create a lot of great moments with Roger’s foundation with the kids,” the 33-year-old said.
A doubles match featuring Trevor Noah and Bill Gates will start at 7.30pm tonight, followed by a singles encounter between Federer and Nadal.
Rafael Nadal, Bill Gates and Trevor Noah have all made it to Cape Town! Catch me tomorrow for the @matchinafrica at the Cape Town Stadium @IOLsport @IOL #Federer #Nadal #Gates #Noah #MatchInAfrica pic.twitter.com/DW4oZscefX— Ashfak Mohamed (@ashfakmohamed) February 6, 2020