Aug. 12, 2009
It was a bright, sunny Wednesday morning in Montreal. Since I worked at the Rogers Cup, I had access to the grounds and had specially requested Wednesday off so I could go check out all the players' practices. It was indeed a loaded schedule with the top 10 in action throughout the day.
At 11 am, a friend and I headed over to Court Four, where the world's No. 1, Roger Federer, was due to arrive at 11:30 am. Already jam-packed with about a few hundred people, there was hardly any room to move.
As the time approached, the place was filled with people who eagerly waited to get a glimpse of the Swiss Maestro. With the sun soaring at 35 degrees Celsius, we watched him warm up and start hitting balls. To be honest, it was quite uneventful and was supposed to last two hours.
So, slowly, we squeezed out of the crowd and came to a open spot.
I looked up at Court Four on the opposite side to see a tall, lanky player clad in a pink Nike T-shirt and white shorts hitting some balls. I looked closer and indeed realized it was Juan Martin del Potro—barely anyone watching his skills, practicing with his coach.
We had already planned to go watch his scheduled match at 1 pm against Jan Hernych. There was no one else, so we decided to stick around and watch him for a while until he wrapped up.
As he came to the exit gate, there were six people waiting for him to get his autograph, and he did sign. However, no one said or asked him anything, and he was silently signing. As he signed my picture and went on to my friend, I said, "Wish you good luck in your match today."
He turned around with a big smile on his face and said, "Thank you so much for your support." He seemed to be really pleased by what I had told him.
As he won yesterday, the irony of this situation just came to my mind: the fact that practically no one was there to watch del Potro and Rog had the crowd. Sometimes, it's better to be left alone than to be constantly followed.
(On a side note, Andy Roddick had asked for a separate indoor court because he couldn't take the noise from the crowd).
Del Potro played a fantastic game yesterday and is totally worthy of his title.