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ROME — The frenzied scene Thursday at the Italian Open looked like something more common in nearby Vatican City.
After Roger Federer had won his second match of the day, he left the Grandstand court, climbed into a golf cart and rode down the long main pathway of the Foro Italico, through throngs of fans who flocked to him as if he were the Pope.
The journey and destination were new to Federer.
“In all honesty, I’ve never even seen the court before,” Federer said of the Grandstand.
His return to the Italian Open after a three-year absence so excited tournament organizers that they immediately doubled ticket prices for Wednesday, the day of his first scheduled match.