Does it get any better than this? Federer vs Nadal‚ in Cape Town

07 February 2020 - 08:00 By Bobby Jordan
Roger Federer at the press conference at Cape Town International for his Match in Africa against Rafael Nadal.
Roger Federer at the press conference at Cape Town International for his Match in Africa against Rafael Nadal.

Federer vs Nadal‚ in Cape Town‚ in front of the biggest tennis crowd ever‚ with Trevor Noah cracking jokes and Bill Gates to keep the score.

Friday’s Match In Africa hosted by the Roger Federer Federation will raise more than the expected $1 million (R14.9m); it will surely raise some of the biggest cheers ever heard inside the Cape Town Stadium‚ along with the collective pulse rate of the 50 000 spectators.

Federer‚ the most successful player in history with 20 grand slam titles to his name‚ up against his biggest rival Rafael Nadal‚ who with 19 grand slams of his own looks set to eclipse Federer’s record.

Federer‚ who retains strong South African links by virtue of his South African-born mom‚ versus Nadal, who first caught the eye of the pro tennis world at a junior tournament at Sun City‚ which he won when just 12 years old.

Expect the usual classy fireworks when these two competitors face off late on Friday for an exhibition match immediately after a doubles match also featuring Noah and Gates.

However, Friday’s packed itinerary at Cape Town stadium goes way beyond tennis.

At 2.15pm Federer and Nadal are scheduled to host a “Learning through Play” session at the Cape Town Athletics Stadium. The pair will then have an “open” practice session‚ followed by a courtside media session.

Before the two matches there will also be live entertainment, featuring local talent.

Federer has already been busy catching up with old acquaintances in Cape Town‚ among them Springbok rugby captain Siya Kolisi with whom he famously shared a social media “bromance” at the time of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

On Thursday the two finally got to meet in the flesh‚ and even play a token tennis match on a miniature court‚ much to the delight of onlookers.

Upon his arrival at Cape Town International Airport on Thursday, Federer said the charity match – the sixth one staged by his Foundation since 2010 – had been two years in the making.

He said he and Nadal had been haggling over a date for two years since the Spanish sports icon agreed to take part.

Said Federer: “I started thinking about this idea for a few years‚ and always asked myself the question of where‚ with whom‚ how big‚ how small should it be.

“The initial idea was, let’s just get one done (in SA) so that at least people get to see me ... but as the idea grew with everybody, it ended up as, let us try to go bigger.”

“I realised it was only Rafa that could make it truly special‚” Federer said of his tennis foe and friend. “I asked him and he said yes right away.”

Friday’s matches will be televised live on SuperSport from 7.30pm.