Cape Town [South Africa], Feb 6 : Ahead of the exhibition match against Rafael Nadal, Swiss tennis maestro Roger Federer has said that playing a match in South Africa will be special for him as it is his first time playing in the country.
The arch-rivals Federer and Nadal will take on each other on Friday and the match is the sixth instalment of exhibition games for Federer’s foundation.
The 20-time Grand Slam champions’ foundation has raised more than one million dollars in support of educational and athletics programmes for children in 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. 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,” sport24.co.za quoted Federer as saying.
“I think it is going to be quite emotional because I have been wanting to play in South Africa for years. It is a place where I have 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, and I hope it will be dry,” he added.
Federer and Nadal have one of the most memorable sports rivalries and it dates back to the Miami Open in 2004.
In the recent past, the 38-year-old Federer has won six of the seven encounters between both and he comes into the match with an advantage.
“It is nice to call one of your biggest rivals one of your friends. He’s not my closest friend, I’m not his closest friend as well. On the road, I think we understand each other really, really well. We like seeing each other, also chatting together and making sure that tennis moves forward the right way,” Federer said.
Before Friday’s singles match, Federer will team up in a doubles match with Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates, against Nadal and comedian Trevor Noah.
In the recently concluded Australian Open, Federer was knocked out in the semi-finals after losing to Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in straight sets.