Roger Federer rarely loses his composure. He glides across the court, swings his racket like a swashbuckling prince who was born to save the kingdom, and almost smiles sheepishly when he wins his matches. He’s cool, he’s calm, he’s collected.
Which is why when he gets rattled, it’s breaking news.
Federer was uncharacteristically testy during his quarterfinal match against Juan Martin del Potro at the French Open on Tuesday. Of course, it didn’t help that Del Potro was absolutely crushing the ball on his way to winning the first two sets. And late in that second set, Del Potro led 5-4 in the tiebreaker when Federer hit a beautiful slice backhand down the line that led to an “out” call from a spectator followed by a series of “oohs” from others. Del Potro got to the ball and bashed a cross-court forehand, and Federer missed a lunging forehand. The Swiss reacted by yelling, “Shut up!” toward fans who had caught his ire.
It was an amusing moment because 1) seeing Federer get angry is like spotting a unicorn; 2) who hasn’t been screaming for the French crowd to shut up all week?; and 3) now there are actually two videos on YouTube that have the key words “Federer” and “Shut up.” We all remember what happened in Monte Carlo, right?
Clearly the French spectators, who are famously pro-Federer, forgot the No. 1 rule of Roger Federer fandom: Shhhhh! Genius at work. Those folks need not worry, though. Federer came back to win 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-0, 6-3, thanks in part to a little help from Del Potro, who completely ran out of gas.
Here’s the point that got Federer hot under the collar: