News24’s Lifestyle and Entertainment Editor, Herman Eloff, bought his own tickets to go watch The Match in Africa and even from way back in the cheap seats he had a spectacular night out in Cape Town.
Cape Town – "He’s half-South African and half-Swiss and I’m half-Swiss and half-South African so I’m in his head," joked Trevor Noah as he gave an intimidating stare at Roger Federer before The Match in Africa charity tennis event kicked off in Cape Town on Friday night.
Trevor’s father, Robert, is off Swiss descent and Roger’s mother, Lynette, was born in Kempton Park. So, the two men weirdly met on a type of shared home turf of sorts during a windy night in the Mother City.
This, the 6th edition of the tournament, was a world-class event that saw 51 954 fans (a world record crowd for a tennis match) gather in the Cape Town stadium to see Roger and Bill Gates take on Trevor and Rafael Nadal in a celebrity-pro doubles.
The global event that has been hosted three times before in Switzerland and twice in the United States, for the first time took place on African soil. The tennis match was hosted by The Roger Federer Foundation and supports educational and athletic programs for children in Africa.
The best part of the event by far was the distinctive local elements in this impressive international event that gave it a truly South African feel. The stadium was buzzing with an electric energy that swept through the crowd on the back of a Mexican wave and vibrated with the voices of chanting supporters.
When Lynette Federer walked onto the court the crowd were on their feet to give her a hardy welcome back home while the Ndlovu Youth Choir, together with the talented acrobats of the Zip Zap Circus, made sure the energy levels never dropped in-between the tennis matches.
There were also plenty flashes of famous faces including appearances from the likes of businessman and former SA Olympic swimming champ Ryk Neethling, rugby legend Bryan Habana, and our World Cup-winning Springbok captain Siya Kolisi.
Siya received a roaring standing-ovation as he confidently walked onto the court amid a display of pyrotechnic flares to hand Roger a Bok jersey which the 20-time Grand Slam champion quickly pulled over his head and wore with pride.
But by far the fan-favourite and most charming of hosts was Trevor Noah who, despite losing the match, made the high-profile guests feel instantly at home.
Dressed in a matching pink-and-white outfit with Rafael’s signature headband included, Trevor’s comedic wit, charming personality, and creative tennis skills made for great entertainment. His clever quips; "If I had another racket, I’d break this one" and humorous tennis techniques were without a doubt the highlight of the match.
What The Daily Show host lacked in actual tennis skills he made up for in an abundance of unrivaled self-confidence and his comical "fake it till you make it" attitude.
Roger was a great sport, Bill a humble teammate, Rafael a friendly opponent, and Trevor a true gentleman. What a night.