Pro Tennis Internet Network

BNP Paribas Open — Players as Sports Fans — Men

By Nicholas McCarvel

As football fervor overtakes the US with the forthcoming post seasons in both college football and the NFL, we got to thinking: What sports teams are the world’s best tennis players cheering for on a daily basis?

While John Isner (Carolina Panthers) and Ryan Harrison (New Orleans Saints) might be glued to their tubes for much of the holiday football season, the fellas of the ATP tend to be futbol fans: fans of the global game of soccer. Check out the favorite sports teams of tennis’ elite:

Fan: Roger Federer
Team: FC Basel (Soccer)
Sporty stat:
Federer has been described as a ‘fervent’ and ‘rabid’ Basel fan, and in this interview, gushes (in German!) over his hometown team.

Fan: Andy Murray
Team: Arsenal (Soccer)
Sporty stat:
Tabloid fodder! Murray created quite the British bumble in 2011 when he came clean about being an Arsenal fan at the Australian Open. “I’m a Hibs fan but Arsenal are the team I like watching most,” he told the press. In 2012, Murray took in an Arsenal match and revealed that there’s plenty of soccer being playing on the tennis circuit. “Most of us played [soccer] when we were younger, so we have a kick around at some of the tournaments.”

Remember: Players play soccer at the BNP Paribas Open (Murray in gray)

Read about the favorite sports teams of Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych, John Isner and more AFTER THE JUMP.

Fan: Rafael Nadal
Teams: Real Madrid and FCD Mallorca
Sporty stat:
While Nadal is a lifelong Real Madrid fan, he became a partial shareholder in the local Mallorca club in July of 2010. “It’s an honor to be able to help Real Mallorca, I will help in any way I can,” he said after the investment.

Fan: Tomas Berdych
Team: Detroit Red Wings
Sporty stat:
Czech this out: a tennis-playing hockey fan! While Maria Kirilenko takes the cake (she dates Alexander Ovechkin, an NHL player), the Czech Republic native Berdych professes his love for the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and is good friends with a number of Czech pro hockey players. Returning the favor, famed hockey players Jaromir Jagr and Dominik Hasek are big-time tennis fans, too.

Fan: Juan Monaco
Teams: Miami Heat and Carolina Panthers
Sporty stat:
While Monaco has allegiance to the Argentine football team Estudiantes de Plata, he also loves his NBA and NFL action. Some guys can’t get enough sports, even if they play one for a living, it seems.

Fan: Milos Raonic
Teams: FC Barcelona and the Toronto Rapters
Sporty stat:
Oh, and like every good Canadian, Raonic is a hockey fan, too: he cheers for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Ron Turenne/NBAE/Getty Images

Fan: John Isner
Team: Carolina Panthers
Sporty stat:
He may be a Georgia Bulldog alum, but Isner is a North Carolina native and his love for the Panthers runs deep. He may also be the biggest sports fan in all of tennis. Isner tweets often (and passionately) about his Panthers, takes to ESPN chats to offer up his thoughts on team chemistry and writes blog posts on his website about what direction he thinks his Panthers need to focus.

Fan: Ryan Harrison
Team: New Orleans Saints
Sporty stat:
Harrison may challenge Isner as biggest sports fan—at least with his singular love for his hometown New Orleans Saints. Harrison said at the US Open this year that the Panthers being good would be “more of a dream than a reality,” sparking some friendly Twitter banter between him and Isner. And in the off season, Ryan even finds time to take in some Saints games—away from New Orleans.

Twitter screengrab

Fan: Sam Querrey
Team: Los Angeles Clippers
Sporty stat:
Or is it the Lakers? While all of Querrey’s bio information claims his allegiance to the Clips, Querrey said in February of 2012 that he cheers for both the Lakers AND the Clippers. Don’t you have to pick one, Sam?

Fan: Gael Monfils
Teams: Detroit Pistons and Carmelo Anthony
Sporty stat:
Is it a surprise that the free-wheeling Monfils loves the basketball antics of the Pistons and New York Knick Carmelo Anthony? Not really. And from the video below, seems as though Gael can play—and dunk—pretty well, too.

Honorable mention: Tennis players really are crazy about their sports. David Ferrer roots for his hometown FC Valencia team while Juan Martin Del Potro goes gaga over Juventus, an Italian club. Richard Gasquet is a fan of the Beziers, a rugby team, while Lleyton Hewitt praises his hometown Aussie-rules football team, the Adelaide Crows. Soccer reigns supreme, however: Nicolas Almagro digs Real Madrid and Real Murcia, while countryman Fernando Verdasco also loves Madrid. German Philipp Kohlschreiber roots for FC Bayern Munich. And in the non-sporting sporting realm would be the always-entertaining Janko Tipsarevic, who is an expert player (and fan) of…World of Warcraft.

Additionally, the world-class tennis at the BNP Paribas Open brings to Indian Wells attracts professional athletes to watch their tennis counterparts. In 2011, Los Angeles Lakers star Pau Gasol caught up with his good friend Nadal and watched him play a doubles match on an outer Stadium.

© Getty Images

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