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Roger Federer Blogs From Tokyo

Roger FedererATPRoger Federer

Sunday, October 8, 2006

After my semifinal match last night, Mirka and I went to Ginza to walk around and do some shopping (window shopping of course!). Ginza is a lot like Kings Road in London or Fifth Avenue in New York with lots of expensive shops and restaurants. We had our photo taken in front of the Wako shopping centre and clock tower, which is the best known landmark for the area.

Mirka and I were looking at tea sets and plates to buy as souvenirs and also to use for our place. Tea ceremonies, called Sado, are a very important part of Japanese culture, particularly for women. Apparently when being offered tea at a ceremony it is said to be offered with a respectful heart and received with gratitude. I have been very impressed with the Japanese history and culture, and I am really happy that I have had the chance to learn about it while I have been here.

After another excellent Teppanyaki dinner last night, I went to bed early, so that I could get enough rest for the final.

Today the weather was beautiful again, so I prepared for my match by warming up on centre court at around 10.30AM, before coming back to the locker room and getting my feet taped. Ever since I hurt my ankle last fall, I have been taping both my ankles in order to give me some extra stability.

Tim and I then warmed up and chatted together in the locker room while we were waiting for the women's final to finish. We were playing with a rugby ball and he was throwing the ball so well. Like me, he played so many sports growing up and you can tell he was good at rugby as he throws a perfect ball.

I played a really solid match, a kind of performance that I was really hoping for. Tim played one bad game, and I took advantage of that in the first set. But then I played really well in the second set and hit some incredible passing shots, which I was really happy about. I sometimes enjoy playing opponents who come to the net quite often as it is a style that is not played as much anymore and I like having a target. This tournament has been fantastic, I had a tough match against Suzuki in the quarterfinals but the rest of the tournament I did not drop a set so I am sure Mr. Roche will be happy.

It has really been a great trip, and winning a tournament in my first visit to Japan is as good as it gets. Besides what Mirka had told me, I really did not know what to expect from my first trip to Japan. I wish I had some time to stay in Japan and travel a bit to see some other cities like Kyoto, but I need to go back to Switzerland tomorrow and prepare for the indoor season which will finish with the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai.

The tournament this week has been asking players to donate clothing and sign things to auction off and raise money for UNICEF. As you all know I am a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador which I am really proud of, so I was more than happy to provide a signed shirt, some signed tennis balls and a program. After the match the tournament told me that the shirt sold for 700,000 Yen (US$6,000)! Being a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador is a good fit for me as their mission is very similar to the mission of the Roger Federer Foundation as we both try and focus all our energies and resources on helping those children who are disadvantaged or don't have a chance.

I am not sure of my plans yet for tonight, but we will go out for dinner in a bigger group because I have a few friends here, so we will probably have a celebration dinner which will be a lot of fun. We will definitely go out for Japanese. I know that we will have a nice time...with Mirka probably getting her revenge at some stage! Captain Wasabi is a little drained from the match today, but as you can imagine, he is ready for anything. His entire security team has been put on full alert and will be patrolling tonight so let's hope they can thwart any attack.

Finally I want to talk about the fans here in Tokyo. They are absolutely unreal!!! Not only did they support me greatly when I played, but they were also so happy to see me and they love taking pictures, not only when I practice, but even when I walk in and out of press. Many people know that I try to sign as many autographs as I can. This week was no different and I tried to sign for everyone. For those fans that I might have missed, I am sorry and I hope to see next year.

Thank you for reading my blog this week, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed writing it! What I tried to do is to make it fun and let you know what is happening behind the scenes. As you can see, there sometimes is a routine that happens during a tournament week. I must admit, that this blog has been great for me to write as it allowed me to take a step back and think about how fortunate I am to play a sport (yes, a game!) that I love so much and earn a great living doing it. Just to think that I was always just hoping to be good at tennis so I could play with my friends at home in Basel and now here I am. I am very lucky and I certainly don't take this for granted...and I never will!

As I sign off for the last time with a glass of Champagne in my hand, I say to all of you..."Best wishes and Sayonara."

Rog

Please check out my web site: www.rogerfederer.com

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Konnichiwa,

Earlier on this week, I told you guys how beautiful the trees were around the lake in the Imperial Palace where I played tennis with the Crown Prince of Japan. Yesterday evening after my match, I went and had a quick look around the shops and came across a nice bonsai tree. The bonsai has always been one of my favourites, so I thought I would take picture for you guys to see. It is just amazing how meticulous and harmonious the Japanese are in everything they do.

After yesterday's typhoon, we were greeted with beautiful weather today, so I practiced outside before my match which helped my preparation. We played with an open roof and once again the stadium was packed. The fans have been really great here all week.

I was very happy with the way my semifinal match went and I am really excited to be playing in my first final in Japan tomorrow. I arrived here five days before my first match and was really hoping for a good result, now I am only one win away from claiming my first title in Japan in what I am sure will be a tough match.

I think the trip has been really worthwhile as I am getting to see and know many people and places but before recapping what has been happening here this week, I would like to let you know about my plans for the rest of the season.

I am going to play the ATP Masters Series event in Madrid, then Basel, my hometown event, and then the ATP Masters Series Paris tournament, before going to Shanghai to play in the Tennis Masters Cup. Everything is going according to the schedule and I really hope that the indoor season will bring me as much success as at the beginning of my year. Unfortunately I was injured the last two years and had to miss those events so I am very motivated to play there again.

After the Tennis Masters Cup it is the off season for the players, except for those in the Davis Cup final. While the final is on, I will be off for my annual vacation which I am really looking forward to because the season has been long and tough and I definitely need a break at the end of the year to rest and relax.

Before I left for the match yesterday, I was in the room on the computer and I was surfing the internet for nice vacation spots. I was wondering where to go. As you fans are from a lot of different cities and countries around the world, I am sure you might have a personal experience or some more advice for me as to where I could spend a relaxing time with Mirka. Although this season has been great, I must admit, that come November, I will be in need for a serious break.

After my vacation I will be getting ready for next season by working on my fitness and playing tennis with Tony Roche for about two weeks. Then it is off to defend my Australian Open title.

Sayonara and speak to you after the final tomorrow.

Rog

Please check out my web site, where you can leave me your vacation ideas: www.rogerfederer.com

Friday, October 6, 2006

Konnichiwa

Last night we went to dinner at a nice French restaurant in the hotel, but I only had a little white wine, no Sake. Mirka and I had the tasting menu which was excellent, it was good to change the food up a little bit, but I am definitely going Japanese again tonight.

As many of you know, in Japan they call their currency YEN. Maybe I was a bit tired last night but when the waiter brought the check after dinner and it said 17,000 I freaked for a second. I thought how was it possible that my dinner cost $17,000....did I order the most expensive glass of wine in the world? Did I eat some rare delicacy in the tasting menu? Then I realized the price was in Yen and I relaxed.

I had to get up early again this morning as I was scheduled third match from 9am. Many of you might know that I am not an early riser. If I had my way, I could definitely sleep all day.

Because of the rain yesterday the tournament had to move some matches to this morning, which meant that play started at 9am. Last night the last match finished at 3.24am, which is an all-time record for lateness for a singles match, and to be honest I was very happy to be into my third hour of sleep at that point.

We left the hotel and drove over to the tennis centre in pouring rain and strong winds because we have this typhoon hanging over Tokyo at the moment. So there was obviously no chance to play outside, which meant that there was no chance to warm up on the outside courts, this makes it a bit tricky to prepare for a match. That's why we had a longer warm up before the game today, normally we get five minutes to warm-up, but today we had 10 minutes which we both agreed on before the match started.

The match itself was played at a very high-standard, the serving from both sides I thought was amazing. I think I got a little bit lucky in the second set to get the break to take it 7-5 and then take it to the third. Having to play a tie-break in the final set was an obvious result because of our great serving [and poor returning ;)].

Every day it seems to get more special playing inside the Ariake Colosseum. It was more obvious playing today against a Japanese player but the fans remained very fair, which I always think is great and I am looking forward to tomorrow's match after today's hard fought battle.

Thanks to everyone for being worried about my leg. It's still swollen and there is a little cut, but you know tough guys don't cry. Yesterday I told you I thought I had the dream because of the Sake bomber, but I seriously doubt it was the Sake bomber, I am pretty sure now after reconsidering that it was because of Mirka keeping me on my toes trying to seek her revenge on Captain Wasabi. I have heard rumblings of many players (and fans) giving Mirka ideas of how to pay me back. I realize that no matter what happens in the remaining matches, I will be leaving Japan soon, so Captain Wasabi has put his defences on high alert and I will now pay more attention to what I eat. One of the fans tipped me off that perhaps she was going to try and mix a lot of wasabi into a scoop of green tea ice cream...I will now make her taste it first if we order it for dessert.

Apparently there was a famous Japanese samurai called Benke who killed a lot of warriors during his battles. They say that his downfall was a weakness in his shin. Hopefully, my shin will continue to get better and not pose a problem for the remainder of the event. Since I have been in Tokyo, I have been looking to buy a rare Samurai sword to take home with me as I really think they are cool and I have always been intrigued by the Samurais. But I don't think that they will let me carry it on to the plane. Actually I am not even sure they will let me through customs with it so I will probably wait until another trip.

Today I scared Sanji Arisawa, the tournament director, for the second time. Not only did I win 7-6 in the third in almost losing to Suzuki, after my match while I was getting stretched in the training room, Sanji came in and just as he walked in, I yelled out "ouch my back" and he said "good try you cant scare me twice in one day".

As you probably noticed, I am playing again with a collared-shirt, which I am happy about, as it's nice to change it up once in a while. I had been wearing t-shirts for some time but now but both Nike and I thought we should change it up a bit. I have had many fans write me about a t-shirt I wore during practice the other day. It was blue t-shirt Nike made for the US Open and they borrowed the theme of James Bond and instead of the "Man with the Golden Gun", they wrote that "Roger Federer is the Man with the Golden Racquet." You can see my shadow and the text in the shirt. Nike made it in different colours and I think it looks really great. I have always been a James Bond junkie....tell me how cool that guy is????

I am very psyched as next Friday I will be flying to Barcelona before the Madrid tournament to film a Nike commercial. Like a true James Bond mission, I can't tell you the theme of the commercial as it is top secret, but it will feature a few Nike athletes in a campaign that will be exclusive to the Asia-Pacific region, so all my fans in Japan and throughout Asia should get a chance to see it at the beginning of 2007.

Tomorrow I am playing my semi-final and I will write again after my match.

Sayonara

RF

Please check out my web site: www.rogerfederer.com

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Konnichiwa

I am happy to be back online writing to all of you after a not so funny experience last night...

But let's start with dinner, which was very good as usual. Together with Mirka and two friends we went back to the shabu-shabu restaurant where we had dinner with Mr Morita the other night. Everything went fine we had a very nice and relaxing evening.

The trouble started when I woke up in the middle of the night, I must have had a nightmare. I jumped out of bed and stood up screaming in a state of shock, I did not know where I was and I ran back and hit the corner of the bed which is solid wood and sharp. Luckily Mirka was there, she woke up because of all the noise that I made, turned on the light on, grabbed me and told me to relax. Apparently I screamed out loud the same thing as I said on court against Tursunov in Toronto (a four letter word that someone might associate with doing on a Toto toilet). I have a big bruise on my tibia now. I don't know what would have happened if she hadn't been there. It was pretty scary for a moment, it's never happened to me before and hope it will never happen again. Mirka thinks I have been playing too much tennis this year and that is why it might have happened, but I think it might have been the sake bomber I had during the shabu-shabu dinner.

Once I calmed down and went back to bed I realized I was in pain and that maybe I should ice my leg. But it was 4AM and I was too tired...I went back to sleep then woke up again (no drama this time...) and had my normal game day breakfast: vinegar shot, orange juice, cappuccino, water, waffles with raspberry syrup, passion fruit and corn flakes with milk. I came to the site around 11AM as I was scheduled third match on Centre Court but I had to wait a long time as both women's matches before mine went to the three sets...I was really impatient to go on court. I was actually lucky to be scheduled on Centre Court as they have a roof here. It's been raining since this morning and a lot of other players are hanging around in the locker room waiting for their match. We're having some fun in the locker room listening to music, gossiping and checking out some funny stuff on the internet. By the way, I made an improvement from the other day as this time I did not forget to leave my rackets to get strung.

I have been online the last couple of days checking the fans' reaction to my blog and I'm happy to see that it's been positive. I am doing this for my fans and it's good that they are enjoying it. We have about 85,000 registered users on RogerFederer.com and would like to reach the 100,000 bar before the end of the year. Please sign up! They have also told me that my blog has had 200,000 hits on atpworldtour.com. That's impressive! Keep reading my blog.

I have also been busy this week selecting the photos for my 2007 calendar. It will be ready very soon. No, it is not a swimsuit calendar, but we will have a broad range of both on court and off court photos and I hope it will make a great Christmas gift. More importantly it will be for a good cause as all proceeds from sales will go to my foundation.

The hotel where I stay in Tokyo is excellent. The hotel standards in Japan seem to be very high. They pay a lot of attention to details here and besides the space ship I sit on in the morning, I particularly like the wood (unless you kick the sharp edge with your tibia...) and stone combination, which gives a very warm atmosphere. I am interested in interior designing and have been impressed by what we have seen in Japan. It's given us a lot of ideas for our place.

Today's match against Wesley Moodie went easier than I expected, especially since he won this event last year and also because of the long wait to go on court. However, after his first service game where he hit three bombs (meaning aces) in a row, I got a little worried that it was going to be a long day. However, I played really well, there were even more spectators today, the stadium was packed and it was a fantastic atmosphere with the roof closed. I look forward to maintaining this standard for the rest of the tournament and can't tell you enough how special the reception from the Japanese fans has been....I love playing here.

Off to dinner now where I can guarantee you I will not have another shot of sake!

Talk with you again tomorrow,

Sayonara

Rog

Please check out my web site: www.rogerfederer.com

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Konnichiwa

Last night we had the sponsor reception and welcome party at the official hotel here in Tokyo. Together with other players I went on stage to break a barrel of sake, which is supposed to bring good luck. I thought of giving it such a hard wack that I would destroy the barrel but at the very last moment I thought to myself ‘Roger maybe you shouldn’t be doing this’ and I behaved appropriately by giving it the right force.

After the party I went for dinner with Tim Henman and Stefan Koubek who are two of my friends on the tour. We went to a teppanyaki restaurant where they cook in front of you. Tim had a funny idea and decided to exchange his chopsticks with the chef’s utensils and took over from him. Actually he was pretty good, I mean he’s a father after all, but I got too worried about my beef and I requested a change of chef. The dinner was delicious.

I got back to the room, went to sleep and already got into match rhythm. I woke up, went for breakfast with Mirka and Tony, got my stuff ready, just making sure that I have enough shirts, shoes, etc. This time I actually had a problem with my rackets. Last night I was rushing so bad to get to the player welcome party after my practice that I forgot to get my rackets strung for today’s match. But the tournament helped out to get the rackets from the hotel to the tennis courts before me so they could be ready. I was glad that everything worked out in the end.

I got the stadium and when I walked out on Centre Court for my first match I felt the place buzzing. There were a lot of fans out there today and that made me feel really happy and excited to play. It went very well for a first match as I didn’t know my opponent at all before going on court and that always makes it pretty difficult. As you know I won in two tough tiebreak sets. After the match I had to do press, doping test, stretch and massage, the usual looooong routine.

After the match I always like to get in touch with friends and family but here in Japan my ‘stone age’ mobile phone doesn’t work. They are so advanced here with the modern technologies that I really need to try and get the latest stuff from here before I go back.

I will be funnier again tomorrow as I am quite tired from the match and Dmitry is looking over my shoulder and making me very nervous…

Sayonara

Rog

Please check out my web site: www.rogerfederer.com

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Konnichiwa,

I am a bit late with my second blog. I still felt a little bit jet-lagged last night and this morning I slept until 11:30…I feel much better now.

Like probably everyone else, the first place where I go after getting up is the bathroom. This is quite an experience here in Japan as they have the best toilets in the world. You could sit on the toilet for hours! The seat is warm, there is a water spray…Toto, the makers of this special toilet seat, are geniuses. The toilet in my bathroom is like a space shuttle, there are so many buttons that I am always afraid to press the wrong one. I definitely want to buy one for my apartment!

Last night for dinner I had sushi in Ginza, one of the nicest neighbourhood in Tokyo. My favourite sushi is tuna but I cannot eat squid. They served me squid last night and that made me feel like wanting to become a vegetarian again! People maybe don’t know but I wasn’t eating either meat or fish until 10 years ago but now I eat everything. Mirka did not come to dinner last night so I brought her back some take away sushi. She was afraid to eat it as she thought ‘Captain Wasabi’ would hit again but I never play the same joke twice. And she hasn’t had her revenge yet, so I need to watch out…

Before dinner I had a reception in town as I was presented with the Baccarat Athlete of the Year award for 2006. The other two winners were Annabelle Bond, mountain climber, and the Japanese sports heroine Shizuka Arakawa who won a gold medal in figure skating at the Turin Winter Olympics this year. Annabelle climbed seven peaks including Mount Everest last year. Shizuka accomplished something that I have not done YET, an Olympic gold medal. That is my goal for Beijing 2008 …or London 2012!

I  did quite a few interviews at the Baccarat event. What strikes me here is that the Japanese media are always so well prepared for the interviews. They must have read everything about me and they ask interesting and funny questions. I also did a photo shoot for the cover of the AERA magazine, which is like the Time or Newsweek in Japan. I like doing photo shoots, sometimes they are long, but I love interacting with the photo artists and see their preparation work.

I also went to a mall yesterday and stopped by one of the largest gaming rooms, they have thousands here in Tokyo and it was funny to see my Sega tennis game there. I was thinking of playing against the volley master (a.k.a. Tim Henman) for a second but then I had to go to the hotel for a work out session.

My driver here in Tokyo, Mr Iwaono, always wears a Swiss Tennis pin and I thought he did it for me but he actually was the driver of the Swiss Fed Cup team that played against Japan here at the Ariake Colosseum in April. He’s a very nice man who speaks fluent English. He has been the source of the best information on Tokyo.

Today I practiced from five to six before the Official Welcome Party of the AIG Japan Open. They put me to practice on court five away from the crowd but since there were so many fans there I moved to court seven so that they could be closer to me. At the end of the practice I invited one of the young kids in the crowd to join me on court for a short hit. The kid is only seven and turned out to be very talented. We played a few points from the baseline and then on the last point he hit a winning drop volley! His name is Kaito and maybe my agent Tony already has a contract ready for him to sign. You know what these agents from IMG are like...

I’m off to dinner with Tim Henman and Stefan Koubek at the teppanyaki. Tim is paying tonight so I will make a double order of Kobe beef!!!

It is back to business for me tomorrow. I am playing the fourth match at the Ariake Colosseum. I will blog again after that.

Sayonara

R

Please check out my web site: www.rogerfederer.com

Monday, October 2, 2006

Konnichiwa,

It's very exciting to be here in Tokyo and I'm also very pleased to be writing the atpworldtour.com blog this week. I've read a few blogs during the year. I really enjoy them as they shed some light on what goes on behind the scenes on the ATP circuit and it’s a great way to communicate with the fans.

I've had an unbelievable time since arriving in Japan on Friday. I had one of my first practices on one of the outside courts of the Ariake Tennis Forest Park and many, many fans watched me. That was very special for me. They all had their cameras and their phones up in the air taking photos. It was like a sight I'd never seen before. People were running behind me on the way to practice, wanting photos, autographs, my rackets and even my clothes. I thought for a second that maybe I should practice naked. It was a great atmosphere and for the first time I felt what it must be like to be a rock star. I practiced with the No. 1 Japanese player Go Soeda, who is very nice and a very talented player.

Two months ago the tournament asked me if I would practice at 10AM on Centre Court on the first day of the tournament and I did not understand why but I decided it would be ok. Now I understand why. The tournament had promoted it as my first official practice in Japan and opened it to the public. It was great to see so many fans out there for an early morning practice.

On Saturday I had an incredible experience meeting with the Crown Prince of Japan, Prince Naruhito at one of the Imperial Palaces. I had been waiting for the moment for a long time and it was something that needed to be planned well in advance because of the protocol. We went to one of his guest palaces. He had two clay courts back there. I warmed up with him and I was surprised how well he played. Then I played with another junior as he took a rest and then I asked the Prince if he'd like to play some doubles. He was excited about that and we played a set together, which was a lot of fun and we won! I must admit that the Prince hit some fantastic winners and was a great partner.

Princess Masako and their beautiful daughter Aiko were also there and spent some time with my girlfriend Mirka and my agent Tony. After tennis we had a wonderful lunch and talked for over an hour at his tennis villa. Then we went for a walk around their picture-perfect gardens - in particular I remember they have a beautiful lake and trees - and had lunch at the court. It is one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen and to think that it is in the centre of Tokyo is quite amazing. It was a very enjoyable moment. You don't get to play tennis with royalty every day and I will never forget this experience.

It's very exciting to be here in Japan. It's been a while since I've been to a city or a country for the first time. I'm still feeling my way around, but the people are so polite and respectful here and I'm really happy I've made the trip. Mirka has played here five or six times so I knew what to expect but it’s been more enjoyable than I thought. I love travelling in Asia. I have been to Bangkok, Shanghai, Dubai, Doha, and I always wanted to come to Japan. It's a very interesting country with fascinating history and culture. It's very different from home and I wanted to see it.

The traffic hasn't been as bad as I had expected and Tokyo is a very clean city where the pace of life is not as hectic as I imagined. I was expecting Tokyo to be like New York or Rome. This is such a big city with 8 1/2 million people in the centre and 12 1/2 million in total that you'd think there would be people everywhere, but it seems very relaxed.

I love Japanese food a lot and I eat it anywhere I go as it seems to be the 'in' food. It's healthy food with a lot of rice and vegetables. Over the last few years I started to eat fish and meat, so I can enjoy sushi and sashimi as well. Saturday night I had dinner with Mr Morita, the chairman of the Japanese Tennis Association. We had shabu-shabu - it's like a broth where you put the meat in and it’s very much like the Swiss dish ‘Fondue Chinoise’.

The other night I played a joke on Mirka and put a lot of wasabi (the very strong green paste) underneath a piece of her sashimi…she still has fire coming out of her nose and has promised to get me back!

For breakfast I was introduced to the Japanese custom of drinking vinegar, which is supposed to clean your system. I quite enjoyed that.

I’m off to do my pre-tournament press conference now.

Sayonara and write to you tomorrow!

Roger

PS - In one of the photos above you will see that Mirka and I meet up with Monica Seles, Japanese tennis legend Kimiko Date and her husband, German racing driver Michael Krumm.

Please check out my web site: www.rogerfederer.com

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