August twelfth, ’09 was a bright, sunny Wednesday morning in Canada. Because I worked at the Rogers Cup, I got access to the grounds and had specially requested Wednesday off so I could go see all the professionals’ warmups. It was really a rich schedule with the best ten competing during the day.
At 11 that morning, a friend and I headed over toward Court 4 where the world’s No.1, Roger Federer, was due to arrive at within 30 minutes. Already filled with about several hundred people, there was very little room to move.
As the time neared, the court was filled with fans who eagerly waited to get a glimpse of the Swiss Maestro. With the sun scorching at 35 levels celsius, we watched him practice and we saw him hitting balls. To be truthful, it was pretty ordinary and was scheduled to go on for 2 hours.
So, slowly, we move out of the crowd and arrive at an open spot. I look up at Court four on the other side to see a tall, skinny player clad in a pink Nike T-shirt and white shorts pounding a few balls. I look closer and indeed came to see it was Juan Martin Del Potro.
As he arrived at the exit gate, there were six people waiting for him to have his autograph and he did sign. As he signed my picture and went on to my friend, I told him “I wish you the best of luck in your competition today.”
Del Potro turned around and had a giant smile on his face and insisted “Thank you so much for your support.” He seemed to be really pleased about what I had said to him.
As he won the US Open this week, the irony of this situation just entered my thoughts. The fact that essentially no one was in attendance to root for him and Federer had a ton of supporters. Occasionally, it is better to be left alone than to be constantly followed.
Del Potro played a fantastic match this week and is wholly worthy of his title. Well done!