Federer excited and emotional upon return to South Africa

andrew hendrie /

An ‘emotional’ Roger Federer says he can’t wait to play in South Africa after touching down in Cape Town on Wednesday.

Federer is in South Africa for the sixth instalment of exhibition matches for his foundation, with the Swiss legend set to team up with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and face Rafael Nadal and comedian Trever Noah in an exhibition match on Friday. Federer and Nadal will also play a singles contest that has been dubbed the ‘Match in Africa’.

With his mother Lynette growing up in South Africa, Federer has a strong connection to the country and would often spend holidays as a kid exploring the nation. Now 38 and a winner of 20 Grand Slam titles, Federer says he can’t wait to finally play his first match in South Africa.

“I’m very happy to be back in South Africa. And I’m excited that this match is finally around the corner. I have family here and have been wanting to come back for years,” Federer told reporters.

“This really connects all the dots – playing tennis, raising money and doing it in South Africa, which is very special to me. I’m very happy it’s here. I think it’s going to be quite emotional because I’ve been wanting to play in South Africa for years.

“It’s a place where I’ve come to spend many vacations as a child. I still have family here in South Africa. I can’t believe that it has taken so long.”

Before arriving in Cape Town, Federer spent some time in Namibia, where he met President Hage Geingob.

Federer, who’s foundation has raised over a million dollars for various programs surrounding education and sport for children in Africa, spoke of his admiration for Bill Gates, who has been involved in previous foundation matches.

“Bill Gates has been amazing for my foundation. We’ve had one in San Jose and Seattle the last few years. It’s just so interesting to learn from him, to speak to him, to get to know his wife and his team behind his foundations… to be spending time with him has been important for us, we learn a lot. He’s a great guy as well, he’s so bright, I feel so small besides him,” Federer said.

Federer is hoping that up to 50,000 fans will be in attendance at the Cape Town Stadium on Friday, which would shatter the record for a tennis match.

The current record is also held by Federer after he and Alexander Zverev commanded a crowd of 42,517 in Mexico City in November last year.