Capturing Roger Federer

Roger Federer has won his 18th Grand Slam at Australian Open.

I’ve been a huge tennis fan for a long time. I was a big Andy Roddick fan, but sadly he retired few years back and since then, I haven’t had a real favorite. But the closest to a favorite I’ve had is Roger Federer. Funny thing is, I’ve only grown to like him after his decline has started. I didn’t like him much in his heyday.

My sister was and still is one of the biggest RF fan out there. She followed his career from his junior days, and loved him through all his Grand Slam triumphs in the past decade. I didn’t like him back then. I guess I’m just a kind of guy who identify himself more with an underdog. But guess what, Federer has become an underdog as he aged. People started calling his career over. People wondered when he would retire. But the guy kept going at it. It was remarkable what he was doing the way he was doing as he was getting older. And I guess I could sympathize with him as I was also getting older and approaching 4os. It’s been inspirational.

But winning another Grand Slam. That seemed like a long shot. As good as he was, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were at the peak of their careers at much younger age. Federer came close to winning one at Wimbledon in 2014 and 2015 and still came short at the finals against Djokovic. That’s always been considered his best major. Critics didn’t give him much chance at this year’s AO, obviously, and for a good reason. His draw wasn’t favorable either. But what do you know. Djokovic and Murray make shocking early exit from the tournament, and somehow the draw is wide open. Federer makes most of it, and reaches the final, only to meet his nemesis, Rafael Nadal.

Funny how life works sometimes. Everybody knew Nadal is Federer’s achilles’ heel. To make such an amazing run to the final only to meet your arch-rival, who also was supposed to be winding down and out, was such a twist of fate. Had he lost, Federer fans would be lamenting the unfortunate coincidence that brought resurgence of both men at the same slam. However to my, and to all the critics’ surprise, RF prevailed in the end, even after trailing 3-0 and a break down in the 5th set. That’s a type of fighting spirit Roger has not displayed in a long time. I guess he wasn’t lying when he said he was going to leave it all out there. That he didn’t care if he can’t walk for 5 months after the final. He did really leave it all out there, which was a signature play of Rafael Nadal than Federer’s. But after all those years of failures against the one man he could not solve, at least this one night, he has solved it. Nadal didn’t beat himself. Federer brought the fight to him, and he beat Nadal with his own two hands, and a racquet. And that made my sister very happy. Thus making me a very happy man, too.

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This being a photography blog, I should talk some photography. I’m also a very big sports photography fan. It’s actually one of my favorite genre of photography. Sports is not scripted, and you never know what will happen. The joy, the tears, the frustrations. I love capturing those. I’ve loved photographing tennis events. Although as I’m not hired by big media companies, it hasn’t been easy to obtain media passes.

Australian Open, the slam that Federer won this year, is held at Melbourne, Australia, and I did visit and watched the slam back in 2011. Federer played there too, although he didn’t win. At the time I didn’t have a media pass so I could only photograph some shots from the stands. But that photograph I took above, of the Rod Laver Arena at sunset, is one of my favorite stadium photographs of all time. It was a wonderful place to watch tennis. I just hope one day I will be granted to freely photograph those beautiful athletes in motion.

Most of tennis photography I made has been from U.S Open in New York, as I’ve spent many years in the city. In 2010 and 2011 I had a chance to photograph the event, and I was able to capture Roger Federer in action a few times as well. I’ve also seen him in action at Miami Open 2011. To celebrate his 18th grand slam victory, I’ve gathered some of my favorite shots of him. Hopefully one day I’ll again have a chance to photograph him in action. I think I can do much a better job now. He’s grown as a tennis player over the years. I think I’ve also grown as a photographer. Sometimes aging is a good thing. I think he’s proven it with the victory. I hope to prove it myself with my works as time goes on. Congrats again, Roger Federer! You’ve done it well.

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