Roger Federer sparks fan frenzy with online virus initiative

Roger Federer has been offering tennis lessons in a brilliant new social media post. Pic: Twitter@rogerfederer
Roger Federer has been offering tennis lessons in a brilliant new social media post. Pic: Twitter@rogerfederer

From health messages to trick-shot videos, Roger Federer is doing his bit to help get fans through the COVID-19 crisis.

Like the rest of his fellow tennis professionals, the Swiss maestro is stuck in isolation with tennis tournaments cancelled until mid-July at the earliest.

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While people all over the world are cooped up because of the new coronavirus - social distancing while trying to stay healthy and help others do the same - a bunch of athletes have been posting workouts and drills on social media with suggestions for staying in shape.

Federer decided to do things a little differently, posting a clip of himself standing next to a wall and volleying a tennis ball back to himself over and over again.

In a similar approach to Australian cricket great Don Bradman throwing a golf ball at a wall and hitting it back, Federer encouraged fans to give his method a crack.

The 38-year-old - dressed in all white and wearing a fedora - described it as "a helpful solo drill" but also decided to have some fun by urging viewers to "choose their hat wisely".

Within six hours, Federer's clip garnered more than one million views, and his post drew more than 1,300 replies.

Plenty of fans took up the chance to get creative with hats ranging from giant sombreros to flat caps and hitting surfaces including glass sliding doors, hallways and lounge room walls.

True to his word, he answered many of the people who posted.

"Don't lean back, strong in the wrist," Federer wrote to one person. "Keep up the great work."

To another, in which a man hit a tennis ball against an indoor wall while a dog appeared to nap underneath, Federer answered: "Love the confidence not to drop the (tennis ball emoji) on the (dog emoji)."

To others, he sent verbal pats on the back, such as, "Good job" or "Nice work" or "Love the effort."

He even warned one guy who was volleying in the lounge room to watch our for his TV.

Federer turning to online videos while in isolation

The owner of a men's-record 20 grand slam singles titles previously posted clips of himself hitting against a wall in the snow, including around-the-back or through-the-leg-'tweener trick shots.

This time, the 38-year-old Federer donned an all-white outfit in perhaps a nod for Wimbledon - the tournament he's won eight times which was cancelled for 2020 last week - replete with a white panama hat with black band, stood near the green wall and volleyed against it.

He tapped the ball more than 200 times during the test of reflex and form in the 59-second video.

During the earliest outbreak of the global crisis, Federer also posted an impassioned plea to his legion of fans on Instagram.

During the message, the 20-time grand slam champion urges the public to take the threat of coronavirus seriously, calling on the community to practice washing their hands and social distancing as much as possible.

The 38-year-old - who is planning on retuning to tennis in June for another crack at the Wimbledon title - says it's important for communities to look out for one another in such a time of crisis, particularly those at the greatest risk such as the elderly.

Federer, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in February, is waiting along with everyone else for competitive tennis to return.

The men's and women's professional tours are suspended until at least mid-July because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

with AAP