The Coca-Cola International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) is off to a flying start. After a rousing welcome at Manila and Singapore, the IPTL caravan has now moved on to New Delhi where bigger things await. The greatest attraction of the event, Roger Federer joins the four-city league at New Delhi. And the Indian tennis fan’s joy knows no bounds!
Federer has a huge fan following in India
Since the moment it was announced that the Swiss maestro will be replacing another great Rafael Nadal who pulled out, India has been breathlessly waiting for the legend. Federer who commands respect all over the world, has undoubtedly a massive fan following in the world’s second-most populated country.
For years, Indian tennis aficionados have feasted on the delectable strokes of the Swiss on television. With the lack of high-profile tennis tournaments in the country, India has been a tennis-starved nation. But the love for the game has been unsullied and real.
Federer and Nadal form a staple diet for many of the sports lovers in India. No wonder when the first batch of tickets for the IPTL was released, it was sold out in just 20 minutes!
Tennis pilgrimage for many fans
Just when the Indian tennis lover had to remain content with admiring these legends only on tv, Mahesh Bhupathi presented India with this unparalleled gift of IPTL. For the countless Roger Federer fans in the country, the IPTL is heavenly bliss.
To be able to witness the poetry in motion live at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi is a dream come true for many. For some, the IPTL journey is a pilgrimage to have a glimpse of their idol.
Businessman Kishore Sharma who is a staunch devotee of Roger Federer excitedly says, “I am going there for all three days. I won Indian Aces Super Fan contest. I am going to receive Roger Federer at airport…my only dream to meet Roger.”
The 32-year-old adds, “Roger is coming with (Pete) Sampras. They are my two tennis idols. What a treat for us!”
Surely this is an unbelievable treat for Indians.
Vibrant atmosphere of IPTL
Another plus point of the entire IPTL extravaganza is that it has made a throbbing and vibrant on-court atmosphere. Making a departure from the tradition of the sport, the camaraderie between players, the dances, the general energy and exuberance in the ambience will make first-time viewers totally relish the experience.
Echoing the same thoughts, techie and tennis lover Nawfal Hasan says, “The on court excitement and drama is something I have never experienced before. This is definitely very big for Indian tennis.”
Watching Federer on homesoil is special
The Federer experience on home soil is something sacred and to be cherished forever. Even if one has made a global tour to catch the revered star in action, his India sojourn is not to be missed.
Software engineer Rajlaxmi Rath has worshipped the Swiss for almost 10 years. She went all the way to London last year to get a feel of the Federer magic at the World Tour Finals. The diehard fan makes it a point to welcome her idol when the maestro comes calling at home.
‘’Of course, to get an opportunity to watch him again in my own country is beyond a dream come true. I hope he enjoys playing in India as much as we have enjoyed watching him play over the years,” Rath hopes.
Swiss maestro excited for India visit
The 17-time Grand Slam champion himself is excited over his second India visit and hopes to have an enjoyable stay even if it is for just two days. The World No. 2 who recently finished a hectic schedule with a maiden Davis Cup victory for Switzerland, has been making frantic tweets about the impending visit.
He told in a recent interview to CNN, “It won’t be my first time in India, but it’ll be my first time to play tennis, and that moment you walk onto the court or into the stadium — that’s why I play tennis.
I’m going to India for that feeling — playing tennis, showing what I can do, bringing over my personality, sharing the fun and all that with the people, and how are the people going to react?”
The Federer-Djokovic clash
Roger Federer might be the $1million event’s greatest star but the galaxy of stars also has another current great, Novak Djokovic. The World No. 1 missed out on his India visit during the Davis Cup in September and is eager to play in the country during the IPTL.
The excitement that is building up to the Federer-Djokovic clash in the IPTL Delhi leg is immense. The Federer fluidity versus the Djokovic flexibility is the climax of the India leg and should be a dream affair for the fans.
Software engineer Shreya Das who has been following tennis for years, agrees that the Federer-Djokovic match is the best thing to happen to Indian tennis in recent times. “Watching Roger and Nole playing against each other is a dream come true for any tennis fan. They have played some of the best five-setters in the history of tennis and they are an inspiration to millions around the world,” Das says.
Federer and Djokovic are a part of the brigade of world renowned tennis stars visiting India during the IPTL. The action has already begun and Federer’s team, the Indian Aces has made a victorious beginning on home soil.
The frenzy is going to reach a fever pitch soon with the arrival of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and another legend Pete Sampras. Just imagine Roger Federer shaking a leg with his Aces teammates or a Novak Djokovic sending the Delhi crowd roaring into laughter with his crazy impersonations!
Yes, all this isn’t a dream anymore. It can be reality pretty soon!