Though the latest Fedrinka match was highly anticipated, fans didn’t have high expectations. After all, the duo doesn’t play together often, has had mixed results of late, and they were facing the formidable Indo-Pak Express, Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi. Plus recent Slam winner Stanley hadn’t played a match since Davis Cup back in January.
Rog and Stan didn’t seem worried about this at all when they took to the court, a fully packed, brand new Stadium 2. Apparently the Maestro had actually requested the lesser court to get a feel for the new digs, the plus side being that they had a full house to boost the energy levels and cheer them on. The two Swiss players were all smiles and swagger in the first set, reveling in each other’s company and the flush of their recent wins.
The highlights were in Fed’s service games, when he slammed down angled serves or scorchers down the T, and Wawrinka attacked whatever came back with fervor and precision. Stan was the man today, particularly at net, where he seemed to so often have as much time as he wanted to hit the winning shot.
There were a few initial mix-ups with their movement on the court, as is often the case with singles players, who have to get used to working with someone else. Stan started to realize he had to keep an eye on Fed, who was going to go wherever the ball was, even if it was through Stan.
After awhile, Fed started keeping to his half of the court, and the two were doing pretty much everything in sync.
And then there was more happy chatting in French, and a lot of laughter, and a lot of super bromancey, loving looks exchanged.
Meanwhile, Bopanna and Qureshi were wondering what the hell these two yahoos were doing, beating them this way.
And also perhaps wondering why Fed was getting all these glamour shots in front of the camera…
And why the camera person was gleefully helping to earn Stan even more fans…
Things got tougher for Fedrinka in the 2nd set, with the Indo-Pak Express deciding to up their game against these singles players interlopers. The Suisse duo started missing more shots, which meant Federer challenged more, and we all know how that usually turns out.
When it started looking like “Oh crapz, we might LOSE!” the Swiss doubles partners got more serious, including on changeovers. Well, at least Fed got more serious. On one of their final breaks, Stan had the mildly impish look of a man trying to get a reaction out of his friend, with increasing bemusement that he was Totally.Not.Getting.One.
One of Stan’s many charms is that expressive face of his, that says so much even when he’s not speaking a word. That was never truer than during their post-match interview, with an emcee that was a little bit overbearing and over-exuberant.
“I think you are not the first person to ask me that question,” Stan said, voice tinged with reproach. “I think we can all agree he is the best player ever.” That got a big roar from the Swiss-loving crowd.
As usual, Roger can take even the craziest interviewer’s questions seriously, and he gave a lengthy answer about why so many singles players do the doubles rounds in Indian Wells. He explained about the comfort in the scheduling, with usually a week a rest before action starts, and how he generally wouldn’t play doubles after he’d come off a long string of tough tournaments. He also said players keep an eye on if anyone else is doing doubles, because “you don’t want to give them the advantage.” So when everyone plays in Indian Wells, it’s all good.
He also said he was happy he and Stan were both playing well and he hoped they’d get the chance to play each other in the quarters.
And then it was all over for the Fedrinka-loving fans…
At least until the next round of doubles, anyway.
PHOTOS: Screencaps of Indian Wells 1st round doubles, 2014 TennisTV, fair use. Selfie courtesy of Roger Federer, from his Twitter account.