In May I went to the... Halle Westfalen, with a friend. We're both huge Federer fans, and this was a chance to see the great man up close and, hopefully, winning this grass-court tournament, as he often does. We also intended to write about the experience, each approaching it from slightly different angles and observing each other's progress towards their goal.

Ultimately, we kind of achieved what we wanted, although perhaps not in the way we'd expected. We wrote the piece, which is massive and, so far, unpublished (and, we fear, unpublishable). Yet still we hope, and one day you might read it - just not here, not now.

Instead you may experience part of our experience visually, like so:

At the entrance to the Gerry Weber Stadion, is this.

It's one of the most confounding things I've seen, and it was hard to tear my eyes away. My first thought was that these faces were painted by the same elderly woman who 'restored' the Ecce Homo fresco in a Spanish church a couple of years back (see below). It turned out not to be so. But please digest: Michael Stich is dead and none of the six Federers look the same - and this from a company named 'Art Reality'. Disturbed as I was by this sight, I was still pleased Lleyton Hewitt got the most savage treatment.

The other side of this...was anticipation.

And bouncing.

And then....Roger Federer!
Look at him serve!

Look at it!

See how fine his serving action is.


Look at him prepare to return.

Look upon the grace of his forehand.

And his backhand.

He even looks good when he misses!

Look at him lunge!

Look at him win!


See him again. See him play doubles. See him volley.

And again. Look. You will not get that, white-clad man.

Then wait to see him up close, with the other children.

Also, if you look at the shadowy half-face on the left-hand side of the next picture, that's my friend, Ryan. For some reason, known only to himself, he wanted to tell Roger Federer, 17-time Grand Slam champion, a joke, in German. He wanted Roger to both enjoy the joke and think the teller was a native speaker. This desire of his made sense up until this very moment. But now he's not so sure. What the photo doesn't show is the fear written plainly on his face, and the weird, panicky stuff happening inside his mind.

This one wanted something much simpler.

And I got my ball signed. Thanks Rog!


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