WILL Ferrell morphed into Ron Burgundy when he interviewed Roger Federer on court during this year’s Australian Open — and the actor was back in action though in a slightly less intrusive manner at Indian Wells.
As Federer prepared to start his fourth round clash against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, Ferrell jumped into The Tennis Channel commentary box alongside Jim Courier and Mary Carillo and had the pair in stitches with his observations about both players.
He started off by sprouting a theory as to why Chardy was sitting in the back of a golf cart taking both players to the court while the Fed Express rode shotgun.
“Jeremy Chardy is my favourite player. I have a Jeremy Chardy back tattoo,” Ferrell joked. “That’s a typical Chardy move — he’ll psyche out his opponent by sitting in the back.”
Then Ferrell re-lived his hilarious chat with Federer at Melbourne Park, in particular looking back fondly on the moment he played up for the home crowd by asking if the Swiss ate wombat meat.
He also remembered asking whether Federer was a witch or a vampire, and if the tennis star likened his game to that of a “silky gazelle”.
“The Aussies were very surprised by that comment, it befuddled them,” Ferrell said. “He kept backing away from me. Poor Roger.
“He’s at least 10 years older at times than a lot of his opponents and he’s a big guy, he’s not a little guy and yet how quick he moves on the court is crazy, which is why I do think he’s a witch … or a gazelle.”
Ferrell took it upon himself to lay out some “facts” about the World No. 1 as graphics popped up on the screen giving viewers a run down on the 36-year-old.
“He’s 6 foot 1 as well — that’s wrong, we all know he’s 6 foot 7,” Ferrell said. “He and his kids and wife travel around (Switzerland) in a beautiful mobile home and can only stay in one city for two days and have to keep going.”
Ferrell continued to command the microphone when the head-to-head graphic of Federer and Chardy came up, but this was our favourite of observation of his:
“Great head-to-head music by the way,” Ferrell said.
The Hollywood icon stayed in the booth as the match got underway and showed he may have a future as a play-by-play caller — but sometimes he drifted off topic.
“Did you guys notice the shirtless guy (in the stands) during the previous match?” Ferrell said. You wouldn’t see that at Wimbledon … unless they change the rules.”
Federer defeated Chardy 7-5 6-4 to get within one win of making his best start to the year since 2006.
The Swiss superstar can equal his season-best start of 16-0 with a win in the quarter-finals, where he will meet Chung Hyeon of South Korea in a rematch of their Australian Open semi-final.
Federer advanced to the final in Melbourne when Chung retired in the second set trailing 6-1 5-2, and went on to win a five-set final against Marin Cilic. Chung, seeded 23 here, beat 30th-seeded Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-1 6-3.
Since his grand slam breakthrough Down Under, Chung has been on a roll. He’s reached the quarter-finals or better in four of five tournaments and improved to 15-5 this year.
World No. 1 Federer is chasing a record sixth title in the desert. “Just playing really fast and good serve, good baseline,” Chung said of Federer. “He play everything good, so I’m just trying to enjoy on the court.”
Against Federer, Chardy played a tough first set in windy conditions that persisted throughout the day. Federer earned the only break in the 11th game and then served a love game to take the set.
Federer again took the only break in the second set to go up 5-4. His forehand pulled Chardy completely off the court and Federer hit a crosscourt backhand winner off Chardy’s return. Federer served his fifth love game of the match to close it out.
Chardy committed 46 unforced errors to 29 for Federer, who won 90 per cent of his total service points. He lost just three points on serve in the first set.
“Today was a tough challenge in the wind,” Federer said. “I played really good tennis for most of the match.”
Against Cuevas, Chung dominated in racing to a 6-1 5-0 lead before Cuevas fought off seven match points to break back in the sixth game. Cuevas then broke Chung again to close to 5-3, but the Korean closed out the win.
“It was a really tough match against Pablo,” Chung said. “I have few match points but start (getting) windy and he playing good. Not easy to play with the wind, but I’m just trying to focus all the time.”
In other fourth-round men’s matches, Borna Coric of Croatia outlasted American Taylor Fritz 6-2 6-7 (10-8) 6-4 and No. 31 Phillipp Kohlschreiber of Germany beat Pierre-Hughes Herbert of France 6-4 7-6 (9-7).
Coric next plays No. 7 Kevin Anderson of South Africa, who beat No. 11 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 4-6 6-3 7-6 (10-8).
— with AP