There’s no denying that this country has got its own swath of incredible tennis players. Argentines include the inspiring Gustavo Fernández, whose victory at Wimbledon single’s men’s wheelchair tennis earned him the ranking of No. 1 in the world in that category, the now-retired Gabriela Sabatini, who lead the women’s circuit in the late 1980s and won the 1990 US Open, and of course, the man, the myth, the legend himself, Juan Martín del Potro – currently ranked No. 12 world-wide in men’s singles and the first to ever defeat both Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer in the same major, at the 2009 US Open.
Still, welcoming one of the best – if not the best – tennis player in history to our own país brings a tangible excitement to the air. This November, Argentina will be hosting an exhibition match by the top record holder of grand slam tournaments of all time (20 in total!). Roger Federer will come to Argentina for the second time ever to play a match or two against a member of the Top 15, most likely either the German Alexander Zverev or the Austrian Dominic Thiem. Although the details are not yet confirmed, the Swiss player’s match will probably take place on Wednesday, November 20th, at either Tecnópolis in Villa Martelli or the DirecTV Arena in Tortuguitas.
Federer’s previous visit to Argentina was nearly seven years ago, in December 2012, when he played two matches against Delpo in Tigre. The two tennis giants finished in a tie (del Potro won the first match and Federer the second), but the two-day experience turned into nothing less than a national fiesta, with more than 40,000 people coming out to the event. On the first day, one of the stands was so overcrowded it sunk ten centimeters into the ground, and fans had to be relocated.
Federer, who will turn 38 in just a few days, will arrive to Buenos Aires during the same week as the Davis Cup finals in Madrid, where the Argentine national team is set to be in Group C of the premier international team event for men’s tennis. Federer’s South American tour won’t be confined to Argentina alone, with a match scheduled in Chile at the Movistar Arena Stadium in Santiago for the 18th or 19th, in Mexico at Plaza de Toros for some 42,000 people for the 23rd, and possibly Colombia, though the dates for the latter have yet to be confirmed.
Federer’s visit to Argentina is being organized and promoted by Fénix Entertainment Group, that in 2013 held other similar tennis events, such as the exhibition matches of David Nalbandian and Rafael Nadal (in Orfeo de Córdoba and La Rural de Buenos Aires), and those of Nadal and Novak Djokovic (in Chile and La Rural). Though the ticket prices and the date when sales will begin have not yet been formalized, the Group has announced that a “super VIP” option will be available, called the “Roger Experience.” The owner of this VIP pass will have access to exclusive seating and maybe even a chance to meet the world’s current No 3.
Projections anticipate Zverev‘s participation in the match because he has already publicly announced that he won’t be participating in the new Davis Cup Finals format, and Thiem is still a possibility because Austria did not qualify for the Madrid competition, losing out to Chile. These circumstances and the two players’ rankings in the Top 15 make them the most likely candidates to oppose Federer. As for del Potro? The tandilense is currently recovering from a right kneecap surgery, and although he technically should be fit to play by November, the organization is evaluating alternative options.
In 2012, Federer first added his name to the list of truly great tennis players that have passed through Argentina throughout history, such as Rod Laver, Björn Borg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Pete Sampras, and Andre Agassi, among others. His 2012 visit had a jam-packed agenda off the court, including a trip to Iguazu Falls, a meet-and-greet with then-president Cristina Kirchner, a visit to the iconic La Bombonera stadium, a solidarity dinner, tennis clinics, and more.
His 2019 upcoming trip may not be quite as exciting as the first time ever, but thousands upon thousands of devoted fans are still sure to giddily await the Federer visit. Some tennis enthusiasts who were planning to fly to Madrid for the Davis Cup are now even considering changing their plans to stick around in Argentina for the great’s arrival to their hometown.