I first met Rob Fahey the then undisputed Real Tennis World Champion days prior to the 2008 Australian Open while I was working at RMTC. I had only been in the game 3 months and Rob walked into the Pro Shop offered his hand and said you must be Chappers.
It sounds like a bit of a cliché but from that moment on Rob became one of my sporting idols. He was dominating the game and had been for a long time. I watched him practice leading into the Tournament and as an 18 or so handicap I had the opportunity to play him in the 2nd round of the Aus Open. He quickly defeated me 6/0 6/0 6/0 in what felt like about 15 mins...
Fast forward to the summer of 2013 barley less than a year before his 2014 World Championship defence was due to take place, Rob asked me to be his official practice partner in the lead up to and including heading to Melbourne. I ate up every minute on court with Rob twice, sometimes three times, a week practicing at The Queen's Club. The 14' World Championship was amazing to be apart of from inside the Fahey camp and what a defence it was!!!
Rob and I continue to practice all the way through to the 2016 World Championship that ultimately he would relinquish after 22 years as the World Champion.
Since September 2014 at the French Open where I took my 1st set of tennis off Rob in competitive play I've had the goal of trying to defeat Rob. I've come close on two particular occasions but at the end of the day was always left without the W, Until yesterday...
Quarterfinal - Thursday 17th November vs Rob Fahey
I started strongly and had a clear plan of serving my Giraffe serve and to spend as little time as possible at the Hazard end. After taking the 1st set 6/3 I was perhaps a little hyped up and forced things to happen a little. 2nd set to RF 2/6.
Although I lost the set it brought me back to a clear focus for the start of the 3rd set and what a set of tennis; It was tight, tough and long. Without yet watching the replay it's possibly the best set of tennis I've played. In the past this is the stage where Rob has taken the match away from me. I take the important 3rd 6/5 and I now hold a 2 sets to 1 lead for the 1st time over Rob.
The 4th was again tight and the 3 hour mark came and went. at 3 all I won two crucial games to go to a 5/3 lead and 4 points from the match. It's safe to say there were some nervy emotions flying about in my head. I kept telling myself to embrace the moment. The 9th game felt like it went on forever as Rob made me earn everything. He has this uncanny ability in the tight moments and when he's somewhat under pressure to make life a living hell on a tennis court for his opponent. I held one match ball in the 9th game but RF took it to close to 4/5. I can't remember much about the start of the last game other than I put up a couple of really good serves. We changed ends with me leading 40-15 trying to beat a gallery chase. I carved a well hit cut volley into the tape which I believe would of beaten Rob into the corner, 40-30, this time I hit a good return, RF digs it back and I slightly over hit a backhand volley that catches the nick and RF hits the ball into the net. I stood for a few seconds almost shaking in disbelief before walking to the net to shake Rob's hand after my 1st Win over Rob Fahey 6/3 2/6 6/5 6/4.
I am into my first British Open Semifinal to face another fellow Aussie and my doubles partner Steve Virgona Saturday at 2pm.