Two of the greatest sports professionals in their respective fields took each other on in Germany earlier this year; one legend on each side of the net. Or so we all thought.
A video of Roger Federer and Pep Guardiola supposedly playing each other on a tennis court surfaced earlier this year, and took the Internet by storm. However, as it turns out, the man on the other side of the net was only a man that looked like the Bayern Munich manager.
Federer is not known as the Greatest of All Time without reason. Since he went professional 13 years ago, Federer has broken a multitude of records – and records that he has not broken, he has set himself.
The current World No. 3 holds the distinction of being the longest-standing World No. 1 of all time, at a whopping 302 weeks in all. His closest competition in that respect is a player who played before Federer’s time on the circuit – American ace Pete Sampras, who was himself 20 weeks off Federer’s record.
For perspective, his long-time rival and current World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has been World No. 1 for over a hundred weeks less than the Swiss.
On the other side of the net? Everyone thought it was the man who is known as one of the greatest football managers of all time.
In the first four years of his managing career, Josep ‘Pep’ Guardiola won a mammoth 14 trophies. He’s no stranger to records himself – in 2008, at 37 years of age, Guardiola became the youngest manager to win the Champions League. The Spaniard is regarded as having the Golden Touch, with every team managed by him seeing success soon after his appointment.
He’s also been FIFA Coach of the Year, and his skills as a manager are undebatable. Most recently, Guardiola managed the FC Bayern Munich from 2013, and recently announced he would not be renewing the three-year contract. Despite this, he has expressed his approval of former Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti, who was relieved of his duties by Real Madrid in May 2015.
Guardiola may be one of the world’s best managers, but he was an accomplished footballer before he made that shift. He was part of the lineup for, and had immense success with FC Barcelona.
In addition, he was also part of the Spanish side that won the 1992 Olympic Games on home soil and on the FIFA World Cup side two years later.
20 years on, the Spaniard appeared not to have lost his sporting touch as he met Roger Federer at the Gerry Webber Open in Halle, Germany, the Swiss’ last tournament before Wimbledon, a title he would go on to win as he defeated Italian Andreas Seppi in the final round.
A man who appeared to be Guardiola and was dressed in the lean Spaniard’s usual uniform of a white shirt, jeans and a cardigan, balding identically to him, took Federer on on the grass court in Germany, and appeared to combat his simple rallies with ease.
Appearing to miss the Swiss’ shot, he managed to catch it with the edge of his racket before hitting a ‘tweener’ – one of Federer’s trademarks, hitting the ball between his legs across the net.
It was a winner! The ball passed wide of Federer, giving his opponent the point – an opponent who looked remarkably like Pep Guardiola.
Except it turned out it was not the famed manager, but Eurosport commentator Matthias Stach.
The German journalist, who has been a tennis expert and commentator since 1988 – much before Federer even went professional, was likely familiar with his style of playing, having followed him closely from the beginning of his career. It’s likely the regular observation of Federer’s prowess gave him an understanding of how to play the Swiss, who, to most of his opponents, is an unbeatable force.
Watch as Federer takes on the Spaniard..who's actually a German with a skill set far closer to what a Federer opponent might need:Published 22 Dec 2015, 11:44 IST