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Roger Federer fulfills "pinky promise" five years later by surprising young fan in Zurich
Izyan "Zizou" Ahmad probably never imagined the question he asked the Swiss at the 2017 US Open would lead to the "best day of his life."
Published Aug 08, 2022
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In 2017, a daring boy named Izyan Ahmad, who goes by “Zizou”, asked Roger Federer an important question with a loaded follow-up during a press conference at the US Open.
“Can you please continue to play for eight, nine years so that I can play you when I go pro?”
“Yes!” exclaimed Federer.
“Is that a promise?” responded Ahmad.
“Pinky promise,” the smiling Swiss said.
Five years later, in partnership his sponsor Barilla and the Boomerang agency, Federer held up that agreement in a special way.
In June, Ahmad was flown to Zurich for a training session, or so he thought. With Federer secretly watching his every move, Ahmad was a constant ray of sunshine when "employees" of the tennis club approached him.
“Coach, he knew my name!” and “Talk about VIP” were some early reactions a camera caught. When one employee revealed a t-shirt with his face on it, Ahmad was taken aback. Right on cue, a hoard of kids across the way began chanting his name.
Ahmad uttered, “What the…”
“I’m nervous for him,” an eager Federer remarked behind the scenes.
Escorted to the clay court lined with his supporters, it was time for the big reveal.
“All the young people watching you playing finally against a worthy opponent. Here is your surprise.”
When Federer stepped out, Ahmad’s emotions turned to disbelief. With his hands over his mouth and eyes slightly welling up, the American said, “Hiiiiii. Hi, Mr. Federer”
“Nice to see you. Roger!” replied the eight-time Wimbledon winner as the two shook hands and hugged.
Reminded Federer, “We made a promise, right? We’re going to play. Are you ready?”
“Oh my god, thank you. I’m so excited,” Ahmad answered.
Trading forehands, serves and even tweeners with his hero, the budding talent was in his element. Ahmad’s magnetic smile never left his face, while the same could be said for Federer.
Who won in the end? A round of spaghetti appeared just in time to stop either from answering that question. Perhaps the pair of friends made another pinky promise to keep it a secret.