B/R has learned through its spoof reporting team that one-time world's best tennis player, Roger Federer has decided to quit the sport that made him a household name. Yes folks, Mr. Federer has decided that the time is right to try something new.
When this spoof reporter initially tried to contact Mr. Federer in Madrid, it became evident that he was not present at the Masters 1000 event, as Robin Soderling was given a bye into the third round of the Madrid Masters.
Upon further investigation, this reporter reached his home phone in Dubai, a message playing on the voice mail indicated that, "You have reached the home of Michael Jordan, oops, I mean Roger Federer. I can currently be found at St. Jakob Park, the home of FC Basel." Obviously a message left in indecent haste.
Intrigued by this strange message, this reporter ran straight to his Community Leader's office and begged for a ticket to travel to Basel, Switzerland, in the hope of landing a major reporting coup.
After a few phone calls and bulletin board posts back and forth between LJS and Zander, it transpired that B/R would be unable to fund the cost of the ticket to Basel.
Feeling that this could be the scoop of a lifetime, this reporter decided to take leave from his day job, sell his meager stock portfolio, and board a plane to Basel by purchasing a one-way ticket.
Upon landing at Basel airport, this reporter was taken aback to find the airport more or less deserted. On the cab ride to St. Jakob Park, this reporter queried the driver as to why Basel seems like such a ghost town. He saw the B/R tag, the notebook, and the camera and correctly surmised that this was a news reporter he had just picked up.
He proceeded to glare in the rearview mirror and grunted something to the effect of lousy reporters living in ostrich holes. As we neared St. Jakob Park, we were halted in our tracks by a swarm of people in blue & red. Many carried banners with the words, "Welcome Home Roger."
After paying the cabbie, this reporter used his B/R card to great effect and stepped towards the press box. Along the way, it was learned that FC Basel were to unveil their latest signing. The B/R reporter's stomach did a somersault, and reality dawned.
From the players' tunnel emerged the G.O.A.T. Knight, Roger Federer wearing a no. 88 FC Basel jersey. After showing that he had absolutely no ability to bounce the soccer ball on his knee and onto his head, he proceeded to pick up a tennis racquet and a tennis ball and pose for the cameras.
Here are a few soundbytes from the Federer press conference at St. Jakob Park:
"I believe I have achieved all that I could in the game of tennis, and have decided to pursue other sporting interests. I firmly believe that by joining FC Basel, I will be contributing to the club's success."
When asked about whether he had been disheartened by the sudden emergence of Rafael Nadal's dominating tennis, he quipped, "Can't you guys get over Rafa? This is about me coming back home to join my childhood favorite, FC Basel."
Mr. Federer gave a security guard the eye, and the unfortunate reporter was hurriedly escorted out of the conference room, never to be heard from again.
After a calming cool drink of water, when asked whether he had been influenced by another G.O.A.T., Michael Jordan's decision in a similar vein to quit the NBA to join MLB, Mr. Federer looked unimpressed.
"This decision has been taken by just Mirka and myself. I may look to rejoin the ATP Tour three or four years down the road, but my first priority here is to help FC Basel to Calendar Slam, I mean Roland Garros, #@!** . . . I mean, Champions League glory."
Clearly flustered, Mr. Federer said that he just has time for one last question before his first practice session with his teammates. This B/R reporter took advantage and threw the question that was on everyone's mind. Why the no. 88 on the jersey?
Mr. Federer gave a wry smile, and responded, "The no. 16 was already taken, but 8 + 8 is also 16. This is the number of Grand Slams and Masters Series titles each that I would have won by now if it weren't for Mr. Tankyouverymuch."
Mr. Federer walked off to the practice facility, while this reporter caught up to FC Basel head coach, Christian Gross. When asked what he thought of the signing, he seemed elated.
"We are looking to take direct entry into the Champions League group stages, and are looking to improve on our second place finish in the League in 2009. You are going to see a totally transformed FC Basel team. We're really glad we got to Roger before Wenger could nab him to play central defense for Arsenal."
When this reporter stepped into the FC Basel team store to garner any sort of memento for this historic occasion, he was flustered to see 'Federer 88' jerseys selling like hot cakes. The queue at the counter was spilling over outside the store, with every buyer holding onto a Federer 88 jersey. Federer-mania had certainly come to town.
Suddenly, there was a loud shriek and a fierce commotion ensued near the practice field, and this reporter managed to sneak in a peek and observe that Mr. Federer was lying on the ground, face between his hands, leaking tears.
Thrusting a mike straight into FC Basel Fitness Trainer Marco Walker's face, the reporter asked if Mr. Federer had been injured in any way. Mr. Walker somberly replied, "Our worst nightmare has come true. Rafael Nadal has quit the ATP Tour as well and has just announced that he is joining Real Madrid. There go our Champions League dreams down the drain."
Scrolling down his Blackberry, this reporter finds an e-mail from Uncle Toni to the world's press. It has an attached statement from Rafael Nadal, "Don't worry Roger, jou are steel dee bess. I just fulfeel my dream by playing futbol for de Real Madrid. I'm sure jou steel break record by doing league and cup dobble. I see jou een Champion's League. Vamos Madrid!"