Roger Federer admitted to 'a bit of a breakdown' after rioting in Bogota caused cancellation of exhibition match with Alexander Zverev
Roger Federer admits breaking down in tears after the cancellation of his planned match in Bogota.
In a new documentary chronicling his recent series of exhibition matches in Mexico and South America, Roger Federer described himself as ’emotionally wasted’ after being forced to cancel a match in Bogota, Colombia.
Federer admitted breaking down in tears after returning to the locker room.
ESPN’s documentary ‘Roger Federer: Everywhere is Home’, which airs on Tuesday 17 December, follows Federer through the five-country exhibition tour in a part of the world Federer has very rarely played.
Alongside Alexander Zverev, who replaced the injured Juan Martin del Potro as Federer’s opponent, Federer played in Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico over a seven-day period. The Mexico City match drew a crowd of over 42,000 people, a record for a tennis match.
The stop in Bogota, Colombia did not go as planned, however. Over 250,000 people had marched in a mass demonstration as a national strike took place the day before the match, leading to protests, riots and violence. The government imposed a curfew on the day of the match. In response, organizers moved the match time forward.
The two players took the court to warm up but despite the huge crowd, were forced to call off the match due to safety concerns.
Protests and unrest continued over the weekend.
According to Reuters, footage from the documentary shows Federer ‘walking back to his locker room where he broke down in tears and was hugged by Zverev’.
‘We went to warm up and were having a blast on the court, but then everything started to get a bit crazy,’ Federer said. ‘I was thinking, “Is this the best scenario?” Because people need to get home and be safe and this was honestly when I knew we shouldn’t play, it was too much stress and pressure for everybody.
‘I had a bit of a breakdown. It was not going to be the dream match it was supposed to have been and I could feel it all falling apart at the end. When I came back [to the locker room] I was emotionally wasted.’
Federer was forced to announce the cancellation of the match on court to the packed crowd, some of whom booed and jeered in response.
‘I was ready to go and so was Sacha, we are so sorry that this cannot happen but sometimes these things tend to happen,’ Federer said at the time.
‘We have to be safe, we have to be careful and that’s why this is a decision for the people. I hope to be one day coming back and playing in front of you of course.’
South America does not currently boast a Grand Slam or Masters 1000 Series event. Traditionally it has been the home of the ‘Golden Swing’ – a series of clay-court tournaments played in February and early March which tend to attract players who prefer to play on clay rather than on hard courts. ‘King of Clay’ Rafael Nadal has played the tournaments in Buenos Aires, Costo da Saiupe, Santiago and Sao Paulo over the years, as well as the 500 in Acapulco – which became a hard-court event in 2014 – and the 500 in Rio de Janeiro, a clay-court event founded in 2014. But Federer has generally preferred to compete at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which he has won eight times, or the indoor ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam where he is a three-time champion at this time of the season/
ESPN described their documentary as ‘a captivating portrait of a beloved global hero being embraced by adoring fans everywhere he goes, in a region where he had visited only once before’.
Federer was rapturously received by fans in Mexico and South America.
‘It was an unbelievable and amazing trip, each step along the way as the fans expressed their love of the sport and appreciation for the experience,’ he said.
‘There were so many highlights, it was truly a magical adventure and a blast as well.’