Fed­erer milks his fame in Shang­hai

The Nation - - SPORT -

ROGER Fed­erer calls the city his sec­ond home and the man fondly known as “Cow” in China had his fans in a froth on his re­turn to the Shang­hai Mas­ters.

Al­ready hugely pop­u­lar in China be­cause of his easy­go­ing per­son­al­ity and out­stand­ing suc­cess, the Swiss le­gend had the crowd swoon­ing once more fol­low­ing his vic­tory on Wed­nes­day. “I’m a star,” he told his ador­ing sup­port­ers – known in China as “Milk Pow­der” – in the lo­cal di­alect after de­feat­ing Ar­gentina’s Diego Schwartz­man in his tour­na­ment opener.

Fed­erer’s “Cow” moniker stems from a Swiss tour­na­ment twice gift­ing him one of the an­i­mals. The first was Juli­ette in 2003, and then there was De­siree in 2013.

Chi­nese also con­sider his per­son­al­ity – they see him as gen­tle and mel­low – to be sim­i­lar to that of a cow. The 36-year-old’s very pass­able at­tempt at Shang­hainese – the on­court com­pere said he wanted to teach Fed­erer a use­ful phrase – was the talk of Weibo, China’s ver­sion of Twit­ter.

Ear­lier in the week Fed­erer rode the city’s sub­way lines as part of the build-up for the Shang­hai Mas­ters and chat­ted with other pas­sen­gers.

“I’ve been trav­el­ling on the sub­way all the time these past two days, but I didn’t have the luck to meet him,” said one Weibo user, a sen­ti­ment echoed by many oth­ers on­line.

How­ever, some of his fans said they were wor­ried that the 19-time Grand Slam win­ner ap­peared to be hav­ing al­most too much fun.

“Feel like I won’t see this cow in the semi-fi­nal,” lamented an­other on Weibo. Shang­hai has fond mem­o­ries for Fed­erer, who played here in 2002 when he first broke into the top 10. He also won the 2006 and 2007 Ten­nis Mas­ters Cups and the 2014 Mas­ters at the Qi Zhong Sta­dium.

Wed­nes­day was Fed­erer’s first match in the Chi­nese me­trop­o­lis since 2015, and his sup­port­ers were de­ter­mined to give him the warmest of wel­comes.

Dozens of fans were decked out in red T-shirts and held aloft match­ing signs read­ing “Wel­come Back” as Fed­erer de­feated the un­seeded Schwartz­man 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.

“It feels great to get sup­port,” Fed­erer said, after his sec­ond-round win. “They were all [dressed] just the same, all had the same ban­ners. You can tell that there was a lot of ef­fort put into it. “Also tried to sit all to­gether, I think that’s a lot of fun for me, as a player.”

Roger Fed­erer of Switzer­land hits a re­turn dur­ing his sec­ond-round match against Diego Schwartz­man of Ar­gentina at the Shang­hai Mas­ters.

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