WATCH: Match In Africa a unique moment in my life, says Roger Federer
CAPE TOWN – A world record crowd, $3.5 million raised, and playing in the country of his roots made the Match In Africa a “dream come true” for Roger Federer.
The scoreboard will show that the Swiss legend beat his great rival 6-4 3-6 6-3 at the Cape Town Stadium on Friday night, but his heart will remember the 51 954 spectators – the biggest in the history of the sport – the fact that his target of $1 million for the Roger Federer Foundation was smashed, and the inspiration that he provided and received.
Trevor Noah was great fun, and Bill Gates proved that he is much more than just one of the richest people in the world and quite fit for a 64-year- old, and their participation in the doubles match warmed Federer’s soul too.
He admitted to having to take a moment before the doubles match as he looked around the magnificent 2010 Fifa World Cup arena, and it proved quite surreal.
“It’s true, there was a world record too. I forget it almost with everything that’s been going on – so many emotions, so many incredible feelings for me. To have 51 954 people in attendance at a tennis match, I never thought I would be part of something like that, to be honest. It’s not something you dream about, and these things just all of a sudden happen,” the 20-time Grand Slam champion said at the post-match press conference.
Roger Federer's mother Lynette gets a big cheer from the crowd as she takes to the court. Here his father Robert (right) roars them on during the practice earlier @IOLsport @IOL #MatchInAfrica #Federer #Nadal pic.twitter.com/jHtcXIJCpg— Ashfak Mohamed (@ashfakmohamed) February 7, 2020
“To be able to be part of it, and I was able to be part of organising it… Creating a dream like this, in the place where I have my roots – and I am so proud that I have my roots here in South Africa – I know it’s very special on so many levels.
“You know, I told Trevor on the court like, ‘You stand here and you look back already and you think, can we maybe do another Match In Africa, like next month!’, it was so nice.
“But then again, everybody’s tired, everybody’s feet up right now because everybody worked so hard. But this record is one for the people because we need the people – a beautiful stadium is not enough. We need the people to be there to celebrate the moment, celebrate our game.”
Nadal also recognised the bigger picture to the event, adding that “it is just one of these days that you don’t forget” and was an experience of a lifetime.
Federer, though, was a bit concerned initially, but now he can sit back and reflect on a job well done, all for the good cause of helping children in poverty to receive a good education.
“It was a dream come true – I didn’t know exactly how it was going to be, and how it was going to feel,” he said.
“And having my mum there, Siya (Kolisi) there, and everybody who was on the court for the doubles, obviously I thank them a million times – I will never stop thanking them. So, ja, that was a unique moment in my life, for sure.”