He was passionate about his exhibition tour of South America and Mexico, so Roger Federer was devastated when he had to cancel his match in Colombia.
Roger Federer was in tears and hugging opponent Alexander Zverev after he made the difficult decision to call off their exhibition match in Colombia last month.
The two players embarked on a lucrative tour and played in Chile, Argentina, Ecuador and Mexico after the ATP season concluded, but one of their matches, in Colombia’s capital Bogota, ended up not going ahead.
Rioting and protesting meant Colombia’s government enforced a curfew shortly before Federer and Zverev’s match was due to start last month.
The players had already warmed up and fans were in the stadium, but the situation in the city meant the 20-time major winner had to make the difficult decision to cancel the match to ensure the safety of spectators.
ESPN have produced a documentary called ‘Roger Federer: Everywhere is Home’ covering his recent tour of the five nations and some of the contents are featured in an article from the Guardian, via Reuters news agency, prior to its official release.
It revealed that at one point of the footage Federer is shown “in tears” and the 38-year-old “was hugged by Zverev” as he returned to his locker room.
And in the documentary Federer goes on to concede he had a “breakdown” as the stress and disappointment of not being able to play in Colombia took hold.
“We went to warm up and were having a blast on the court, but then everything started to get a bit crazy,” said Roger Federer.
“I was thinking, ‘Is this the best scenario?’ Because people need to get home and be safe and this was honestly when I knew we shouldn’t play, it was too much stress and pressure for everybody.
“I had a bit of a breakdown. It was not going to be the dream match it was supposed to have been and I could feel it all falling apart at the end. When I came back [to the locker room] I was emotionally wasted.”
The rest of Federer and Zverev’s tour went smoothly and they broke the world attendance record with their match in Mexico attracting 42,517 fans at the spectacular Plaza de Toros bullring.
Documentary host Tom Rinaldi was amazed by the way Federer was received by his supporters in South America and Mexico.
He explained: “The reach of his fame, the reserves of his energy, the connection he has with fans, all were unlike anything I’d ever witnessed. More than once, fans wept seeing him.”
On the whole, Federer relished his postseason tour, calling it “unbelievable and amazing”. He vowed to return to Colombia with Zverev in the future and ensure fans who did not see the match were properly compensated.
The Swiss star’s emotions around the Colombia situation during his tour provide another interesting insight on one of the tennis’ most popular and fascinating characters.
The world record the Swiss star and Zverev achieved in Mexico may not last for long, as Federer is scheduled to play old rival Rafael Nadal in a February exhibition at the Cape Town Stadium that has a capacity of 55,000.
After having a break following their tour, both Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev are preparing for next month’s Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the 2020 season.