Back in April, when in the early days of the lockdown uncertainty – and home baking – were ubiquitous, sports fans were treated to a new trend.
The worldwide shutdown of sport had just started and athletes were adapting to the silence in its own way. With no sporting action to see, social media was the place to be for both sportspersons and fans.
Several top athletes stepped up their social media game to make their absence on the field more tolerable. They offered a fascinating virtual glimpse into their lives away from the spotlight and perha, more interestingly, they provided rare access and insight into other athletes by taking up the role of the interviewer.
The many Instagram Lives and other video interviews sportspersons did with each other was a whole new genre of content. They asked questions few others could and got reactions and responses that no outside interviewer could bring out, changing the way sports fans interacted with their idols even in a pandemic-interrupted season.
The crowning glory of this new genre of interviews was the interesting and unwittingly hilarious interaction between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – the two most successful male tennis players in terms of Grand Slams, but with zero knowledge of how Instagram works.
Ever since it was announced, the interview between the rival turned friends was eagerly awaited but no one could imagine just how entertaining it would be.
As remarkable as the protagonists were, the humour came from Nadal’s absolute inability to actually host an Instagram live and the subsequent mocking he had to endure from his peers.
Sample this: In what was his first ever Instagram Live, Nadal had no idea how to add people in and his visible confusion caught clearly on camera made left everyone in splits. At one point, he actually typed the name of ‘Marc Lopez’ in comments when looking to add the fellow Spanish player to the Live.
Meanwhile, Federer along with Andy Murray – who was to join in the chat later – constantly ribbed him in the comments and spoke to each other instead. “This is brilliant... he can win 52 French Opens but not work Instagram,” quipped Murray while Federer asked the Scot whether he was wearing a kilt. It was not long before Nadal’s struggles became memes and went viral.
But the coup de grace was the childish delight of ‘Fedal’ – as Federer and Nadal are collectively called – when they finally connected. Their reactions to seeing each other were priceless; indeed the Spaniard has looked less elated when he has won actual titles!
There was more leg-pulling when Federer left and Murray joined the chat, as the former world No 1 players chatted about life in lockdown. Fans were thoroughly entertained by the conversation and it went on to become the top-ranked trend on social media on the evening.
A moment of such hilarity between two players have managed to remain friends despite being engaged in a rivalry for 15 years was a silver lining at the peak of the pandemic. The banter with other players getting involved made it even better at a time when no one was sure when we will see them on the tennis court again.
The conversation lasted a few minutes, but for many sport fans, it was the most they had laughed in the lockdown.
Here’s Nadal’s entire Instagram live