When Pete Sampras is watching you play tennis and Rafael Nadal is stopping by your house for morning coffee, it’s a safe assumption that you carry a bit of influence. An influencer, as the contemporary social-media marketer might say—and says Roger Federer himself. The 37-year-old chieftain-champion ended an extended interview with Tennis Channel’s Leif Shiras and Jon Wertheim on Sunday by referencing the trendy term, yet another title for the man who already has 100 of them.
It may have been Federer’s funniest quip of the eight-minute conversation, conducted after his 6-1, 7-5 opening-round win over Peter Gojowczk at Indian Wells. But the rest of Federer’s remarks were engaging for a variety of reasons:
—Federer knew Sampras had attended Novak Djokovic’s match last night, and that his idol was staying the weekend in Palm Springs…but he didn’t make the connection that Pistol Pete might also drop by his match. He didn’t realize Sampras was in the audience until it was announced on court.
—What gives Roger Federer goosebumps? “Saving break points; winning a game; winning tournaments; playing in front of a big crowd; hearing the roar; playing in font of the likes of Pete Sampras; that about sums it up.” The pros: they’re almost just like us.
—Tour politics have been a hot-button topic this week, with ATP president and CEO Chris Kermode voted out by the board. Federer didn’t address the decision specifically, but he expressed his desire to remain involved with the future of the sport.
“We need to have a clear plan—and I’m not sure what the plan is,” said Federer. “That's the big thing I worry about.
“I would like to take an active role, to some extent as much time as i have…just to be part of the process. Because i do care, and if I do care, i should put it a little work as well.”
—Call it Champions in California Getting Coffee: “I spoke to Rafa the other day, for quite some time,” said Roger. “He came to the house, we had coffee together.”
“We’re aligned and we agree that we should be tailing and coming up with a proper plan.”
—Federer had previously announced that he’ll return to clay this season, having missed the last three French Opens (one due to injury). His team always left the decision up to him, Federer said, suggesting that only if he was fully committed to the grind should he play on the surface. This year—at least in Madrid and Paris—the commitment is there.
“This year I was not in the mood to have a massive break,” said Federer. “I really feel the body's in a great place right now.”
For more, watch the entire interview with Roger Federer above.