Quotable Quotes: Let’s all die of cute. NOW.
Roger’s through to the semifinal of Basel to face his childhood friend Marco Chiudinelli, which reminded me of this great excerpt from Rene Stauffer’s biography of Roger, “the Quest for Perfection”.
After training, the two boys [Roger and Marco] sometimes played squash with their tennis racquets and played table tennis and soccer against each other. Their parents both jogged and bicycled together. When a region-wide top tennis group was formed, Roger and Marco, both eight-years-old, became members of the group, despite playing at different clubs-Federer at the Old Boys Tennis Club, where training conditions were better for him than at the Ciba Tennis Club in Allschwil, and Chiudinelli at the Basel Lawn Tennis Club.
“It was pretty loud when we were in training,” Chiudinelli recollected. “We talked more than we trained. Training didn’t seem too important to us. We just wanted to have a good time and we goofed around a lot. One of us was frequently kicked off the court.”
Federer and Chiudinelli soon became the black sheep of the group and their parents were angry to discover that one or the other was forced to sit on the sidelines and watch half of the practice sessions for disciplinary reasons.
“Roger lost to practically everybody in training,” said Chiudinelli. “He was the only one that I beat, but the difference was enormous. When it came down to business, he could flip a switch and become a completely different person. I admired that about him. I could give him a thrashing in training but when we played at a tournament a day later, he gave me a thrashing. Even back then he was a real competitor.”
The two eight-year-olds played against each other for the first time at an official event at a tournament called “The Bambino Cup” in Arlesheim. “Back then we only played one long set of up to nine games,” Chiudinelli explained. “Things weren’t going well for me at the beginning. I was behind 2-5 and I started to cry. We cried a lot back then even during the matches. Roger came up to me and tried to comfort me when we switched sides. He told me everything would be all right, and in fact, things did get better. I took the lead 7-6 and noticed that the tide had turned. Then he began to cry and I ran up to him to give him encouragement and things went better for him. It was the only time that I could beat him.”
Roger used to cry when he’s losing? Yer don’t say. Goofy practice sessions? Surely not anymore?
Some things never change.