Roger Federer may enjoy immense popularity on tour, but he says he also tries to return the favor.
Following his opening win in Montreal, Federer signed three balls at the request of his opponent, Peter Polansky, who said his friends had requested them.
"I try to lead by example, too, have respect for everybody,” he said. “Not just the players, but whoever buys a ticket: linespersons, umpires, ball boys, the girls and the kids, everybody—everybody who makes the tournament possible for all of us. There's a lot that goes into it. There's so much behind the scenes that's going on.
“Ultimately, having that respect between one another of the players, it's amazing."
The 19-time Grand Slam champion has become increasingly assured in the public eye, but had to get used to being the sport's leading figure when he first reached the top of the game in 2004.
"I think the moment you become world No. 1, in some ways you are carrying the sport to some extent," he said. "I realized that when I came into a press conference, I must have been world No. 1, Wimbledon champion, world champion. They asked me questions about I don't know what. All of a sudden you realize ... and the journalists tell you, 'You're world No. 1. I would like to know your opinion about such and such.' I'm like, 'Oh, OK.’
"That's kind of when I got the feeling that people do care what I have to say or what my opinions are. I try not to preach too much what my views are on certain issues. But it's been nice, you know, carrying the sport. Others have done a great job, as in Novak [Djokovic] and Rafael [Nadal]—[Andy] Murray as well. I'm happy we've had wonderful world No. 1s over the years."
Federer is the second seed in Montreal.
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