Roger Federer’s ability to fill a tennis stadium and keep it packed is one of tennis’ more notable phenomenons.
Consider the scenario. Fans had already enjoyed a high-quality three-set battle during which Australian favourite Ash Barty overcame Camila Giorgi to reach the third round. It was getting late. It was a ‘school’ night. But Federer was up next at Rod Laver Arena. Nobody was going anywhere.
Australian Open night sessions have the capacity to extend late into the evening. Sometimes, fans trickle out as midnight approaches, facing a long commute home.
None of these fans did that. They remained, engaged and atmospheric, as Federer closed out German Jan-Lennard Struff well into the 11th PM hour. The defending champion’s 6-4 6-4 7-6(4) win sets up a third-round meeting with contemporary Richard Gasquet.
“I'm happy I'm still part of (the tournament) really, because I knew Struff could be tough today,” Federer said.