Video: Watch a young Roger Federer as a ball boy in Basel
The ATP 500 Swiss Indoors has always been special to Roger Federer. Not only has he won his home tournament a staggering seven times, but it is where he had his first brush with the elite players, having been a ball boy more than two decades ago.
Ahead of his opener at the 2017 Swiss Indoors, the 19-time Grand Slam champion relived memories of his days as a ball boy, which was long before he began to enthral the tennis world with his wizardry.
With a gleeful face and a boyish smile, the nostalgic legend looked at a 1993 video of his younger self and reminisced, “There he is…like it was yesterday.”
In the video, the young Federer is seen receiving a souvenir from the 1993 champion Michael Stich, who won the Wimbledon Championships in 1991. The Swiss maestro went on, “It is a great memory for me. I loved being a ball boy here…was able to see the best players in the world first-hand and see how they would prepare and how they would sweat and how they deal with the pressure.”
Federer revealed that he still treasures all the souvenirs he received as a youngster and his count is increasing even today as the Basel ball kids, whom he treats to a pizza, keep on gifting him as well as the tournament organizers.
The World No. 2 signed off with the words, “It means I am still a ball boy. At heart, I’m always going to be a ball boy.”
The former top-ranked player, who is in the race to clinch the Year-End No. 1 ranking along with Rafael Nadal, made a blazing start to his title quest in Basel on Tuesday. In just 1 hour and 1 minute, the top seed and home favourite thrashed the 76th ranked Frances Tiafoe, 6-1, 6-3.
Roger served eight aces, broke the 19-year-old American four times and did not face any break point in this heavily one-sided contest. Federer will next take on the World No. 40 Benoit Paire for a place in the quarter-finals.
In the absence of Nadal, who withdrew from the tournament, Federer faces challenge from second seed and defending champion Marin Cilic and fourth seed and former champion Juan Martin del Potro. The fourth seeded Argentine, who won this event in 2012 and 2013, has come to this Swiss city after successfully defending his title in Stockholm last week.