Shanghai - Roger Federer calls the city his second home and the man fondly known
as "Cow" in China had his fans in a froth on his return to the Shanghai
Already hugely popular in China because of his easygoing
personality and outstanding success, the Swiss legend had the crowd
swooning once more following his victory on Wednesday.
star," he told his adoring supporters - known in China as "Milk Powder"
- in the local dialect after defeating Argentina's Diego Schwartzman
in his tournament opener.
Federer's "Cow" moniker stems from a
Swiss tournament twice gifting him one of the animals. The first was
Juliette in 2003 and then there was Desiree in 2013.
Chinese also consider his personality - they see him as gentle and mellow - to be similar to that of a cow.
36-year-old's very passable attempt at Shanghainese - the on-court
compere said he wanted to teach Federer a useful phrase - was the talk
of Weibo, China's version of Twitter.
Earlier in the week Federer
rode the city's subway lines as part of the build-up for the Shanghai
Masters and chatted with other passengers.
"I've been travelling
on the subway all the time these past two days, but I didn't have the
luck to meet him," said one Weibo user, a sentiment echoed by many
However, some of his fans said they were worried that the 19-time Grand Slam winner appeared to be having almost too much fun.
"Feel like I won't see this cow in the semi-final," lamented another on Weibo.
has fond memories for Federer, who played here in 2002 when he first
broke into the top 10. He also won the 2006 and 2007 Tennis Masters Cups
and the 2014 Masters at the Qizhong Stadium.
Federer's first match in the Chinese metropolis since 2015, and his
supporters were determined to give him the warmest of welcomes.
of fans were decked out in red T-shirts and held aloft matching signs
reading "Welcome Back" as Federer defeated the unseeded Schwartzman 7-6
"It feels great to get support," Federer said, after his second-round win.
"They were all (dressed) just the same, all had the same banners. You can tell that there was a lot of effort put into it.
tried to sit all together, I think that's a lot of fun for me, as a
player, to see that because usually you only see that with soccer clubs
or team sports.
"Individual sports, for fans to get together, is
rare. I appreciate that and really enjoyed myself seeing that today. It
was great, thank you."
Federer eased into Friday's quarter-finals with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Ukrainian qualifier Alexandr Dolgopolov.