Roger Federer may not be the best tennis player in the world anymore, but you would not want to bet against the 33-year-old when it comes to a popularity contest.
The Swiss legend is returning to singles competition in Shanghai for the first time since he was knocked out of the US Open semi-finals in shocking circumstances against would-be-winner Marin Cilic.
However fans of the 17-time Grand Slam champion didn't exactly ensure it would be hassle-free touchdown into China as he was mobbed at the airport.
Don't think for a second that Federer didn't enjoy the attention, however. He retweeted a series of pictures of his arrival at the airport, from a fan page, and then put his own caption on the tweet, saying: 'Thank you, awesome fans!'
It's quite clear that anybody who will face Federer at the Shanghai Masters will also have to contend with a vociferous support.
Indeed tennis' most successful-ever player will need all the help he can get at the Masters. You have to search long and hard to find a tournament that he has never won, but this event in China is one of them, though it was only born in 2009.
These days it's Novak Djokovic who seems to enjoy triumph, almost exclusively, in China. The world no.1 has just won the China Open, with ease it must be said, for the fifth time in six years, and he could make it three-in-three at Shanghai this year.
Federer will have to hope his extended break will mean he has a little more energy than the Serbian, even though he helped Switzerland progress in the Davis Cup recently.
Luckily for Federer, however, he won't have to play under too much pressure in Asia. He, along with only Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, has already secured his spot at the ATP World Tour Finals in London while the likes of Andy Murray, Milos Raonic and Cilic will sweat over their potential involvement.
The week-long tournament will give the stylish player to enjoy some more love from his fans.
His arrival at the airport showed that there's still a huge status around the ageing star, who hasn't won a Grand Slam since 2012. However in terms of Twitter followers, Federer falls some way short of his main rivals.
It's actually Rafael Nadal who has the biggest following of any tennis player, with over six million. Furthermore the likes of Djokovic, Murray and female world no.1 Serena Williams all can just about boast a bigger online fanbase than Federer's 2.23 million.
Aside from Serena, however, none of his rivals can match his major title haul; which is probably something that Federer values more, at the end of the day.
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