Even by his lofty standard it was big. On his way to 17 grand slam wins, Roger Federer has attended many press conferences, handled umpteenth media sessions, but perhaps he has never seen so much enthusiasm about him.
Around 500 journalists waited for him for more than 45 minutes, but none of them showed any impatience. Some used the delay of his arrival by taking pictures of ‘Roger Federer’ name placard on the table while others were just happy to wait.
When he entered the room people jostled and shoved to take a snap on his arrival. Covering a press conference of the Swiss superstar on Thursday at the Olympics’ Main Press Centre appeared to be a lifetime opportunity for many, who came from all corners of the world.
The Olympics 2012 will not see anything like this with any other player for sure. Michael Phelps (with US swimming team) and Novak Djokovic gave two separate press conferences the same afternoon at the Main Press Centre, but very few people noticed.
His popularity with the world media must have bewildered Federer, though he tried to remain light-hearted throughout the press conference, which he began with a juicy comment about his arch-rival Rafael Nadal.
Nadal pulled out of the Olympics at the eleventh hour, raising Federer’s chances of winning his first individual Olympic tennis gold, but the question was not about his chance, it was rather if he had spoken to Nadal about his withdrawal.
‘I haven’t spoken to him. I don’t think he will call me to discuss his problems with me. I wouldn’t do that, not that we are not close but there is no reason to do that,’ Federer quipped.
It was, however, not that he was just making a joke about the issue. He genuinely felt for Nadal and gave a serious reply immediately by saying: ‘You just accept the fact and you are sad, and in my situation I am sad for Rafa that he can’t play here.’
For few minutes he was so serious that at one stage he forgot a question. After being asked about the pressure of playing at the Olympics, he gave a long reply and all of a sudden asked the concerned reporter: ‘What was the question?’
An Indian reporter asked if he was surprised to see Mahesh Bhupati and Leander Paes are not playing the doubles together while a New Zealander asked if he has any plan to play a tournament in Christchurch after the Olympics.
Federer never looked annoyed by these questions, showed enough respect for Bhupati’s new doubles partner Rohan Bopanna and humbly denied the invitation from Christchurch.
He was not even irritated when one first flattered him by pretending to be a fan and then threw a question if he has any plan to retire soon after he wins the Olympic gold.
‘I don’t know, are you my fan or not? If you don’t want me to stop, I won’t,’ Federer said with a broad smile before turning serious.
In a long, yet very enterprising session, he had shared his feelings about playing at Wimbledon with coloured dress, his decision to give up the chance of carrying Switzerland flag in the opening ceremony.
Federer also had his answer ready for his decision to stay away from the Athletes Village, a decision which denied hundreds of athletes of other disciplines to have a glimpse of him.
He was honest with his every answer and the very few questions he had to throw back to media.
Asked if there is any other sport he might have competed in if he was not a tennis player, Federer stunned everyone when he said: ‘I would have missed soccer because it is soccer’s first time in the Olympics, is it?’
Many in front of him was covering soccer in Olympics for years but no one took any offence simply because it was Federer, the man who took men’s tennis to a new height with his performance, personality.
-With New Age input