Those who have seen / met tennis players in real life how was your experience? Who was very nice and who wasn't ?

Cashman

Hall of Fame
Met a lot. Most are nice, but some are not very friendly to fans because they don't like the limelight.

Can't say any of them come off as particularly bright. I reckon intelligence is a bit of a handicap in tennis - the dim ones deal with the monotony of training better, and perform better under pressure because they find it easier to shut down their brains and focus on the task at hand.
 

FrontHeadlock

Hall of Fame
Met a lot. Most are nice, but some are not very friendly to fans because they don't like the limelight.

Can't say any of them come off as particularly bright. I reckon intelligence is a bit of a handicap in tennis, the dim ones perform better under pressure because they find it easier to shut down their brains and focus on the task at hand.
Yup. Explains why Todd Martin was a notorious choker.
 

Federev

Legend
Not me.

But my brother met Fed at some Credit Suisse / American bank event at a country club in NY in 2017 before the USO.

He actually gave 10 hit lessons for fun to a bunch of people.

They had him mic’d up and he was talking and telling stories as he was hitting - like about how his daughters give him grief for trying to teach them ( they were like 7 then)…” dad you’re NOT our coach!”

My bro showed me the video of it, got me a hat, and a signed ball.

Fed seemed just like he does everywhere when not in the throes of matches. Chill and kind and funny. Very normal acting.
 

clayqueen

Talk Tennis Guru
I've been very lucky to have a media pass in Abu Dhabi for a few years and have seen all the players in the press conference - Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka, Tsonga, Berdych, Raonic, Shapovalov, Almagro, Soderling, Ferrer, Bagdhatis, etc. I've also been to Doha a couple of times and seen Monfils there among others. Rafa and Novak look much taller than they look on TV. Being a Rafa fan, I was aprehensive that the reality might not meet my expectations but it exceeded it. They are all very polite and Stan and Tsonga are quietly spoken. I saw Tsonga's wife when she was pregnant and I saw Srjdan with Stefan once. I haven't seen Rafa's family or his team close up only across the court in his box.

Before I went to the press conference, I thought hard about what to ask the players, so I asked Rafa whether they should have unlimited challenges for line calls instead of being limited to 3 incorrect ones and he said he thought 3 was OK.

 
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mahatma

Hall of Fame
I've been very lucky to have a media pass in Abu Dhabi for a few years and have seen all the players in the press conference - Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka, Tsonga, Berdych, Raonic, Shapovalov, Almagro, Soderling, Ferrer, Bagdhatis, etc. I've also been to Doha a couple of times and seen Monfils there among others. Rafa and Novak look much taller than they look on TV. Being a Rafa fan, I was aprehensive that the reality might not meet my expectations but it exceeded it. They are all very polite and Stan and Tsonga are quietly spoken. I saw Tsonga's wife when she was pregnant and I saw Srjdan with Stefan once. I haven't seen Rafa's family or his team close up only across the court in his box.

Before I went to the press conference, I thought hard about what to ask the players, so I asked Rafa whether they should have unlimited challenges for line calls instead of being limited to 3 incorrect ones and he said he though 3 was OK.
Nice! That is some experience in meeting some of these players.
 

mtommer

Hall of Fame
...NOT NICE: Andy Roddick...
To me, he just comes across as very....professional or business like. That can be very off putting to many people as it isn't very "warm". But, I didn't mind it. Courier was much that way too but maybe a little warmer. Chang is pretty personable. Isner was like Chang, imo. They all have an edge of guardedness that probably comes with fame.
 

CosmosMpower

Hall of Fame
Have close friends who have met Nadal, Isner, Fritz, and Tiafoe (reports below):
Rafa was super nice and polite
Isner same, was quiet
Fritz was a little bit of a jerk, seemed entitled
Tiafoe as nice as could be, totally down to earth
Watched Fritz practice at Dallas open he was willing to take a few quick photos before the session but seemed a bit like he didn’t really want to. The guy can hit the crap out of the ball.
 

mtommer

Hall of Fame
Have you guys met any pro players ?
I've met many as juniors. Will meet more juniors in a month but who knows who'll turn pro at this point. Most are good kids, a few who are arrogant little ummm (well, fill in the last word). Typical of this age *shrug*. I did have an interesting very brief talk with Jack Sock after he won a match (sf I believe) and he was still harping on about an extremely close line call he thought was out. I explained something to the effect of, "It's moot now. You won."
 

tex123

Hall of Fame
Have you guys met any pro players ?
Verdasco is an a**hole. He comes across as someone who thinks very highly of himself.
Kyrgios a bigger a**hole. He stares at people making them uncomfortable. A total freak.

Roger does not talk much. He just signs and does not respond. Always acknowledges and comes over if you want an autograph.
Murray does talk. He's the same as you see on court. A bit grumpy. Not in a bad way.
Rafa is friendly, smiles and responds. Waves if you are far away.
Nole is even more so. A group of French fans were singing for him outside the practice court. He came out acknowledged, waved, laughed and threw goodies.
Dustin Brown is quite down to earth.
 

drummerboy

Rookie
I see Paradorn Srichapan quite often as he gives private tennis lessons sometimes at my club. I never approached him though as I am on the shy side but he seems like a very friendly guy.
What a legend that guy was. Just watched some Youtube clips of him and he was a master of splits. Someone made a funny comment down below:

"Father of Djokovic" Haha

Miss those good ol days. Jarkko, Gonzo, Hewitt, Chela, Srichapan etc etc.
 

Blahovic

Professional
To me, he just comes across as very....professional or business like. That can be very off putting to many people as it isn't very "warm". But, I didn't mind it. Courier was much that way too but maybe a little warmer. Chang is pretty personable. Isner was like Chang, imo. They all have an edge of guardedness that probably comes with fame.
Roddick and Serena are both people who are deliberately cruel to umpires, which I always feel is a telltale sign of which tennis players are definitely not nice.

I can understand to a degree players who explode with frustration from time to time and maybe tell at an umpire briefly, but players who sit down and will continuously and deliberately personally insult officials (and are never apologetic) come across really badly.
 

clayqueen

Talk Tennis Guru
I saw Pat Cash in Abu Dhabi when Djokovic had just appointed Becker as his coach and I overhead Pat Cash talking to some journalists outside the press room questioning what Becker could bring to the table. I've not spoken to any of them one to one, but when Rafa is escorted through the grounds in Abu Dhabi, he'd go to anyone he recognised in the massive crowd to hug them.
 

Realfan

Rookie
I happened to stay in the same hotel/condo complex as Nadal and his entourage a few years ago so we’d keep running into each other as it wasn’t a large place. There were some common areas for snacks, drinks and the like and I ended up seeing Nadal almost every day. I made small chit chat with him about the tournament in which he was playing and he couldn’t have been nicer. What really struck me was how he and his family interacted. They clearly are a tight unit and he receives no special treatment from them. When he would get water and something to eat, he’d have to find his own seat at an open table - no one gave up their seat or moved over. They treat him as a normal guy which I think is why he is who he is.

BTW, I am a huge Djoker fan as well so on the day in this tournament when Nadal and Djokovic played, I did not speak to Nadal as I could not in good conscious wish him “good luck.” :)

But on every other day I congratulated him and we chatted briefly about his performance or something else. Very nice guy indeed. I root for Rafa every time but for when he plays Djokovic. They are my two all time favorites.
 

Sir Weed

Hall of Fame
Was attending a coach qualification/workshop together with an ATP top 100 player (chilled, quiet guy who also hit and talked if he was asked) and another one that had an Orange Bowl winner who didn't make it due to injuries.
Mid 90ies: I walked into a bar (drunk) and eventually saw a Wimby Champion (Men's) at a table with his girlfriend and was totally hyped because I ballboyed one of his matches when he was still coming up in the ranks. Must've totally annoyed them for maybe 10 minutes telling them one and the same info over and over. But they were quite friendly and didn't ask the staff to have me removed. Holy cow that was embarrassing.
If I ever meet this guy again I'll offer him to kick my ass big time. :X3:
 

Tennfan123

Hall of Fame
I ambushed Capriati once in the early 90s. I was fairly young - actually I just thought about it and I wasn’t much younger than her!- and I just marched onto her practice court and asked for her autograph. She was very smiley and chatty and sweet even though I’d been quite rude but I was young so I won’t be too hard on myself!
 

jindra

Hall of Fame
I stayed at the same place as many, many pros at a tournament last year. Saw most of them around the place, but in my building there were the CZE, POL and EST players. It was a very unique environment and players were just acting normal, it was cool to watch. I rode in the elevator with Iga a couple of times, I felt bad that I did a double take and she noticed I recognized her.
 

dapchai

Legend
My friend was a high-level amateur player and so knew lots of people on and involved with the tour.

He said most were nice. Two who were decidedly NOT NICE: Andy Roddick and Serena Williams.
My cousin (who introduced me to tennis) met Randy twice, one in Cincy and the other one in USO; I don't remember which year. He said Randy were not nice at all both times, kinda rude to fans when they asked (kindly) for autographs. For this reason, as a Fed fan he was absolutely high and never forgot to say "Andy Roddick is a rotten d*ck" whenever Fed thrashed Randy.
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
Nope.

But even so I can say what's a fun hobby to us is their job.

I'd be fine with a pro player ignoring me for an autograph. I'd rather see them be fair on court and treat each other with respect
Couldn't agree with you more here. I've always found it rather revealing how quick so many of us are to dismiss celebs as entitled jerks cuz they dared not interrupt their meal, practice or whatever to wave or sign autographs, or to hype them as well-adjusted, down-to-earth people for merely meeting our fan expectations. Apparently nobody has ever caught us on a bad day or putting our best foot forward to curry favor with an audience.

Which brings moi to:

Saying someone is generally polite/arrogant/warm/unkind/etc after one brief meeting can be very confusing.

Arrogant people can be very kind sometimes.
Warm people can be very cocky sometimes.

Attributional bias is very popular.
The very idea that we've "met" these players is dubious to begin with. I mean I've had brief chats with all sorts of glitterari in my life, but they all lasted 30-60 seconds tops and most were small talk leading up to a picture or an autograph. None of 'em were remotely meaningful conversations that could tell moi anything about the person beyond the public persona.

These anecdotes are useful reminders that 1st impressions are indeed very important, but nothing more. We think we know what these public figures are like in private, but we don't. And chances are they're no better or worse than the rest of us.
 

clayqueen

Talk Tennis Guru
I was walking up the High Street a few years ago wearing my olive green Rafa cap thinking I was so unique in the town when I saw a man walking towards me wearing a Federer cap. I nearly asked him for a selfie, but he was covered in tatoos and didn't look very approachable so I didn't ask. I still can't believe it happened.

Apologies to anyone with tatoos on TTW. :D
 

Realfan

Rookie
Djokovic is even more fake in person.
I’ve never met him but I know several folks who have and they have said exactly the opposite. Completely authentic. Asks a lot of questions about you and your life as he loves to learn about others and doesn’t want the conversation centered on himself. Very down to Earth behind the scenes.

BTW, I have heard exactly the same about Federer and I have personally witnessed the same about Nadal.

I hope to meet Djokovic in person someday!
 

norcal

Legend
I’ve told this story here before but it is pretty funny so I will repeat it. Buddy of mine from college graduated and got a job with Bank of the West marketing. One of his jobs was to do set up for the bank of the west tournament in Oakland. Which was awesome since he would get me in for free and I would help him set up stuff and we would drink and watch tennis all day. And this was pre 9/11 so security was totally lax so I could hang out in the tunnel and sneak into pressers (like Venus Williams' debut a couple years later lol) and watch the WTA players come and go from the locker room (my buddy got me a vendor's badge). Also at that time I was 26 so I was somewhat the same age as the players so I didn't look totally out of place, ha.

Anyway for finals day we brought our wives and the singles final was Seles versus Navratilova which was amazing but the funny story was the doubles winner Natasha Zvereva who played with GiGi Fernandez. Youngsters here won't remember her but she got to #5 in singles and won many many grand slam doubles titles. And had super long legs.

Anyway Bank of the West had a marketing office in the tunnel where the locker rooms and everything else were. After the final my friend and I were taking down some of the booths and stuff like that and told our wives to keep their eye on stuff and not to let anyone into the office.

Well our wives aren’t tennis players/fans so they didn’t know any better when Zvereva knocked on the door looking for her prize money for winning the dubs. There was a separate BoW office where they picked up the money lol. My wife, taking her job as Bank of the West marketing police very seriously told Natasha quite abruptly that she was not allowed in this office and that she had to leave. Of course my wife had no idea she was talking to the woman we just saw win the doubles!

When my friend and I returned to the office a minute later we heard the story and we’re horrified at the news. My buddy grabbed a giant Bank of the West stuffed bear and we set out in search of Natasha to apologize. We found her nearby and we presented her with the bear, congratulated her on her win and and told her where she could pick up her check. She laughed and thought it was funny and took the bear. Probably gave it to the first kid that she saw or tossed it in the trash, doubtful she would take a big stuffed bear with her LOL.

That was a fun couple of years hanging out at the Bank of the West Classic!

 

socallefty

Legend
I’ve watched many players from attending pro tournaments for decades and seen them later at restaurants, nightclubs, hotels etc., but I have no interest in bothering celebrities and haven’t talked to any of them. My coach gets coaching credentials at Indian Wells every year as he is friends with many lower-ranked Russian players and this gives him access to the locker rooms, workout rooms etc. He has stories about all the players from meeting them for more than 10 years during the IW Masters tournament. I asked him recently about the Big 3 and he told me the following:

- Federer is polite and will sign autographs/take pictures, but otherwise has no interest in gettting to know my coach even though he has seen him every year for a decade.
- Nadal will stop and chat with him and usually it is serious conversations about working out or other topics. Nadal also will often play two rounds of golf in the morning when he has matches at night. It seems that he is an obsessive golf enthusiast.
- Djokovic seems to deserve his nickname ‘Djoker’ as my coach says he is warm and friendly and jokes around with him and other people all the time. He seems to have a genuine interest in getting to know my coach - I asked my coach if Djokovic speaks Russian as I was wondering if there was some affinity from being able to speak in my coach’s first language, but that was not the case. I also heard a very funny story about how Nole reacted when he couldn’t find his car in the IW parking lot.

Second-hand stories from how they behave when they are on a ‘business trip‘ - might not reflect how they are in their private lives.
 

Realfan

Rookie
My coach gets coaching credentials at Indian Wells every year as he is friends with many lower-ranked Russian players and this gives him access to the locker rooms, workout rooms etc. He has stories about all the players from meeting them for more than 10 years during the IW Masters tournament. I asked him recently about the Big 3 and he told me the following:

- Federer is polite and will sign autographs/take pictures, but otherwise has no interest in gettting to know my coach even though he has seen him every year for a decade.
- Nadal will stop and chat with him and usually it is serious conversations about working out or other topics. Nadal also will often play two rounds of golf in the morning when he has matches at night. It seems that he is an obsessive golf enthusiast.
- Djokovic seems to deserve his nickname ‘Djoker’ as my coach says he is warm and friendly and jokes around with him and other people all the time. He seems to have a genuine interest in getting to know my coach - I asked my coach if Djokovic speaks Russian as I was wondering if there was some affinity from being able to speak in my coach’s first language, but that was not the case. I also heard a very funny story about how Nole reacted when he couldn’t find his car in the IW parking lot.

Second-hand stories from how they behave when they are on a ‘business trip‘ - might not reflect how they are in their private lives.
The things you say about Djokovic line up 100% with what I’ve heard. I hadn’t heard about Nadal’s golf obsession. I knew he golfed but just not obsessively!
 

sseemiller

Rookie
I met Rafa several times while I was doing the VamosRafael.com website, but the first time was the most special. I started the site in 2003, when he was still doing a lot of challengers, but I was looking forward to seeing him for the first time at Indian Wells in 2004. I arrived at the hotel and got into the elevator and guess who came in? Rafa and his coach Francis Roig. The first thing I noticed is how tall Rafa is. Anyway, I said, “Good Luck, Rafa” and I could tell they were shocked I knew who they were. Rafa didn’t really speak English then but said “Gracias.” And they laughed when I almost got off on their floor by mistake. I was stunned to meet Rafa before I had even settled into my hotel room.

Anyway, I wanted to get some photos of Rafa practicing to post on the website. Of course, he was assigned to the outermost court and there was no one there but the three of us. They were still waiting for his hitting partner. Francis had this huge box of tennis balls that he dropped and they went everywhere. So I helped pick them up. They seemed grateful.

Anyway I was able to tell Francis about the website and they must have checked it out. Francis later told me to come by after Rafa’s doubles match and they would give me a signed shirt. Rafa took the shirt off and signed in Spanish, “For my friends at VamosRafael.com.” It certainly means a lot to me.



Susan
 
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