On September 12, 2004, Roger Federer defeated Lleyton Hewitt in the final of the US Open, capping a season in which he won three Grand Slam titles and ascended to No. 1 in the world rankings for the first time in his career. All by the age of 23.
On December 12, 2004, Jesus Aparicio – a massive Federer fan – was seriously injured in a car crash while out celebrating his 18th birthday. The accident would leave him in a coma, one he’d remain in for nearly 11 years, until finally waking up on August 27, 2015. It took some time for Aparicio’s speech to recover, but as soon as it did, one of the first things he asked about was his tennis idol. To his amazement, he learned that Federer was not only still at it, but still winning.
“When I knew that, at 34 years, he is still playing and is No. 2 in the world, I thought they were kidding me,” Aparicio told Tennis World. “When I heard that he reached 17 Slam titles, I put my hands on my face.”
Aparicio – who, at the time of his accident, had been planning a trip to Wimbledon to watch Federer play – woke up days before the start of the 2015 US Open, giving him the chance to see his hero in action for the first time in over a decade. Unfortunately for him, though, he had to watch Federer lose to Novak Djokovic, a player he’d never seen before.
“I was really surprised to see him play well,” he said. “Djokovic is good.”
Aparicio is hoping to see Federer in person before the Swiss hangs up his sneakers, which sounds like as good of a GoFundMe campaign as any. Or at least better than the one trying to raise $50,000 to break up Russell Wilson and Ciara.