The No. 2 seed at this year’s penultimate ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event, Federer arrived in Shanghai earlier than usual to resume his hunt for a record-equalling sixth year-end Emirates ATP Rankings No. 1 spot. The stint on the Metro train was a first for his trips to China.
“The Metro experience was a great one,” he said. “I grew up on public transport when I was younger in Switzerland. I used to take either tram, train, or bus to practice on a daily basis, and then also a lot of the train until about 20 years old, going to tournaments even to Italy, even internationally. So for me it's something very normal.
“With the tournament, we looked at something I haven't done really before. We have wanted to do it once as well in New York to go in the subway and stuff, but it ended up never happening, and during the tournament it's kind of difficult to organise … It's nice to be in a beautiful car and everything, but it's nice to go do that.”
Catching the Metro is not something Federer, admittedly, is often able to do in day-to-day life – and it’s not just because of his public profile. The 36 year old prefers to drive himself around, whenever the chance arises.
“The thing is I'm always just in the car because I love driving my own cars, to be honest,” Federer said. “That's why I drive probably. At 40 per cent of the tournaments I drive myself – Australia, Indian Wells, Miami, Cincinnati, Basel, you name it. There are so many tournaments. Stuttgart, I drove all myself. I like that. I don't always need public transport anymore, but sometimes I jump on the tram or on the bus or on the train with my kids real quick.
“It does happen sometimes. In Switzerland I know can I do it. In other countries where I'm not that experienced and I don't quite know the routes, I'd rather just take the car naturally.”
Federer returns to Shanghai for his first tour-level match since the US Open four weeks ago. He won on the fast hard courts in Shanghai three years ago and also when the Nitto ATP Finals were played there 10 years ago.
The No. 2 seed is pitted in the same half of the draw as recent Nitto ATP Finals qualifier, German Alexander Zverev, with the pair due to face off in the semi-finals in what would be a rematch of their Coupe Rogers final in Montreal, where Zverev triumphed.
“I couldn't be happier with the season, to be quite honest,” Federer said. “I'm relieved that I'm feeling better since the American summer and Canada. It would be nice to pick up one more title, maybe a couple more would be nice, and then get into training and start again next year.”
The Swiss will open against the winner of Rakuten Japan Open semi-finalist Diego Schwartzman and Australian qualifier Jordan Thompson in the second round.