Only Roger Federer, the man with the water bottle placed upon his head and those present in the television studio truly know whether the much debated the Gillette commercial that is becoming the most contentious issue in world tennis this week is real or fake. In a skit based on the William Tell story that saw the legendary 15th century Swiss hero fire a bolt from his crossbow that knocked an apple off a man’s head, Federer, dressed in a tuxedo but minus the bow tie, rises to a challenge and twice in succession hits serves which score a direct hits on the similarly placed water bottle.
The 1 minute, 47 second long video has this week become a YouTube phenomenon with the number of hits spiralling up through the millions and tennis experts around the world are debating its’ authenticity. In Britain on the networked breakfast show GMTV, former British Davis Cup player Andrew Castle, now one of the nation’s leading television celebrities, attempted to emulate Federer's two shots without any success. “To me the guy is a legend, probably the greatest player of all time but I have to say I now think the video is a fake,” said Castle. On the other side of the world Australian doubles legend Todd Woodbridge admitted the clip was ‘fantastic’ but questioned whether it was real or not.
"I think it was very Roger," Woodbridge said. "I like seeing him and how he reacts away from a real tennis court like that. But what I would say is that I know he’s good, but is he that good?
"The reason I say that is that I remember many years ago Mark Woodforde and I doing a piece for 60 minutes and we had to set up a shot where we needed to be at this corner of a clay court to hit the mark exactly perfect.
"And I promise you we didn’t do it in the first take nor the second take. But he pulled it off twice in a row? So my question is: I’m one of Roger’s biggest fans and in my view I think he is the greatest tennis player of all time - no matter what - but that YouTube clip exceeds even my expectations."
At this week’s Western and Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati, Federer was quizzed at the after his second round win over Uzbek opponent Denis Istomin, who retired with an ankle injury, over whether the trick was genuine.
The winner of a record 16 major titles was coy but said: "Well, there's a lot of debate at the moment. You know how it is with magicians. They don't tell how their tricks work, you know.
"I don't do it that much, but, yeah, it was shot in one piece. The guy took a chance. It worked out. I'm happy.”
Later, when questioning returned to the video, Federer said he had "done it before" but was again asked if the clip showed a real action and he said: "Not saying that. A magician doesn't tell how his tricks work.”
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