Novak Djokovic served tennis balls to me.
Andy Murray was my doubles partner.
And I wasnt dreaming.
Nor were the other hackers trying to score a point against the worlds best pros.
Personally, my goal was more modest: Try to make contact.
We proved up to the challenge Tuesday in Key Biscayne, but only because our opponents were merciful.
They played with us to them it was childs play at a fraction of the speeds they are accustomed to. Kind of like Danica Patrick driving 60 mph or Usain Bolt jogging 100 meters.
But they did it with such good-natured aplomb that all experienced the thrill of sharing the court with athletes competing in the Sony Open, the Fifth Grand Slam.
Djokovic, Murray, Ryan Harrison, Ana Ivanovic and Bob and Mike Bryan provided a preview at Cliff Drysdales Tennis Center at the Ritz-Carlton, and simultaneously raised money for the Greater Miami Tennis Foundation.
Whats it like to swing at a pitch from Mariano Rivera? Or lay in an assist from LeBron James? Whats it like to run through the Baltimore Ravens defense? Or swim against Michael Phelps?
Go a round in the ring with Muhammad Ali? Or a round on the golf course with Tiger Woods?
The stuff of fantasy.
But for one afternoon, amateurs passion for the game was requited. The pros showed remarkable grace in connecting with their fans. They kept the ball in play when they could have poked winners and rushed back to celebrity bubbledom.
Drysdale used his imagination. He pitted the Bryan brothers versus Djokovic and Murray, and the twins confirmed 9-4 that synchronicity beats individual superiority in doubles.
World No. 1 Djokovic met No. 3 Murray in the finale. Djokovic milked the small crowd on his side, crowing, I got my crew here! as spectators responded by chanting his nickname, Nole! Nole!
Djokovic, a standup comedian in another life, returned a Murray moon lob with his head, then Murray kicked it back as Wayne Rooney might, except it fell wide.
Some of these clever shots youll never see in a tournament, but you will when they are loose as a goose, Drysdale said of the improvisational tricks.
Despite a convincing head fake on a drop shot, Murray lost, 9-6, which doesnt mean he cant reverse the result in the Sony championship.
During round robin and King of the Hill matches, recreational players saw up close the skill we take for granted when watching on TV or from the stands.
Most enlightening: Fleet footwork.
When Mike Bryans partner yelled Yours! on a shot that was obviously hers, he obligingly shrugged, OK, and hustled from the front corner to the opposite back corner to whip a return with his back to the net.
Pros dont wield racquets like fly swatters the way we do. They are like guitar players, stroking their instruments to evoke precise notes.
The way they strike the ball, the spin, the pace, the control its incredible, said Gregg Schwartz, a lawyer from Miami. You hit the best topspin shot of your entire life over their heads and not only do they chase it down with ease but they angle it back so its untouchable.