It looks like Roger Federer is launching a new era of tennis in South America.
Is he about to embark on a new era for himself?
If you thought the trilingual Swiss could not be more media- or fan-friendly, perhaps it’s time to think again.
He began his 10-day South American visit by saying to his legion of fans and followers (via The Sydney Morning Herald), "Hopefully, I can still stay on tour for many more years and hopefully play the Olympics here."
Fans will be very happy to hear this, and they won’t have to miss anything between now and the summer of 2016, because he has just launched his own YouTube channel to broadcast it all.
He looks and sounds so happy and comes across so charismatically, it is easy to see why he has been both a sponsor favorite and a fan favorite 10 years in a row.
For the champion Swiss, known for playing extraordinary tennis for a decade, is also blessed with a celebrity-ready, media-friendly personality that seems both genuine and at ease in the spotlight.
And a lot of people connect with that.
To introduce his channel, he said (via Live Tennis), "These are exciting times in the social media and digital world and I want to be able to provide my fans with more cool content they can find in one convenient place.”
This is the first time he has visited South America as a professional, and he started his tour in Sao Paulo with an exhibition match facing Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci.
That was also the first match to be broadcast live on his media channel.
Other matches will follow and will also be broadcast live. The Swiss champion will play Tommy Haas, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Juan Martin del Potro twice in Argentina.
The Argentine matches will take place just north of Buenos Aires, in an arena built specially for the occasion. It holds over 20,000 fans and is now the second-largest tennis venue in the world.
Both matches sold out within hours, demonstrating that even exhibition tennis is big business in South America.
Is tennis about to take more of the spotlight there in the future?
While once Great Britain, Australia and the U.S. ruled men's tennis, it is now dominated by Spanish-speaking players. Five of the top-12 ranked players are from either Spain or Argentina. None in the top 12 come from the US or Australia, and only one, Andy Murray, has English as a first language.
Tennis today truly is an international sport. And the player who comes from a country known for its diplomacy understands this.
The sport's center is moving away, at least for now, from the English-speaking world that first established it.
As the ITF looks towards expansion, and to developing new markets, South America could be just the place on which it sets its sights. There are already three ATP tournaments there as part of the Golden Swing. These tournaments tend to attract clay-court specialists, but one will now transition to being played on a hard court indoors.
Which also happens to be perfect for a certain Swiss player's game.
In addition to playing tennis during this 10-day tour, Roger Federer is also spending his time holding clinics for local children, tasting regional food specialities and meeting some great sporting legends.
"There is a lot of passion for sports here," he commented. "It's a hot place to play tennis."
And while being paid handsomely for the matches he plays there (reportedly for the six matches more than he made in his winning 2012 season), there is also something else for Federer to play for.
It is positive to focus attention on a place that could play more of a role in international tennis in the future. The Swiss champion also has the chance to expand his already enormous fanbase, and bring out a new type of media content while he does it.
And when you look at the two-hour-and-21-minute mark of the first live match he broadcast, he also takes the chance to tell us what he has been saying all along—that he just likes playing tennis.
And when you see him express his enthusiasm for the sport, you just have to believe him.
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