“The best day of my life”
Roger Federer keeps old promises
08/12/2022, 10:55 am
Five years ago, a seven-year-old tennis superstar made Roger Federer a promise: the Swiss should keep fit until one day they could play against each other. Federer agrees – and keeps his word.
When he was seven at the time Izyan “Zizou” Ahmad took the promise from tennis superstar Roger Federer at a press conference in 2017 that he should please play long enough for the two to one day meet on the professional tour, the young American certainly has no idea that the dream actually comes true. After all, Federer was already 36 years old at the time – an age when many athletes have long since retired. But now the Swiss, one of the greatest players in tennis history, has actually kept his promise.
“Can you please keep playing for eight, nine years so that I can play against you when I’m a professional?” Zizou asked during the US Open and Federer agreed with a laugh. Ahmad may not be a professional yet, but he’s actually on the right track: The twelve-year-old is number one in his age group in the USA. And because Federer is now 41 years old and has been fighting for his comeback for more than two years (and because Federer’s sponsor accompanied the story), the promised duel has now been brought forward: Zizou was invited to Switzerland to train in Zurich. Not knowing what the day would really bring.
Then the surprises began: in a clip produced by Federer’s sponsor, a waitress wished for a selfie with Zizou – wearing a shirt with the talent’s face on – and a cheering crowd waited at the training ground. Even then the boy spoke of “the best day of my life”. Federer laughingly watched the hustle and bustle from behind the scenes – and then provided the highlight of Ahmad’s day: The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who led the tennis world rankings for 310 weeks and shaped the sport like hardly any professional before him, came onto the pitch and finally sent the completely taken by surprise American into bliss.
Both the 41-year-old superstar and the twelve-year-old talent then hit balls, Federer repeatedly confirmed Zizou’s great talent and the boy beamed. However, it is unlikely that there will be another duel in a tournament on the professional tour: Federer has been fighting to return to tournament operations for more than two years after several knee operations. And Zizou still has a long way to go: Roger Federer played his first game on the professional tour in July 1998, just before his 17th birthday.