Wow, there must be a run on cow bells in Switzerland these days. First, “Stan”-Barthelemy’s own, Stanislas Wawrinka, beats Rafael Nadal for the Australian Open title, now news that Roger Federer will join him in Novi Sad, Serbia for first round Davis Cup action.
“I can confirm that Roger is in Serbia and will play in the Davis Cup,” Sandra Perez of the Swiss Tennis Federation said on Wednesday. “He will take part in the press conference tomorrow when the draw takes place.” (via The Guardian)
The announcement that Roger Federer is playing this weekend’s tie came as a huge surprise, as illustrated in this anecdote from Roger Federer’s arrival at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport on Wednesday via B92 (google translate):
At the airport they were welcomed by the Ambassador of Switzerland, and right from the runway Wawrinka and Federer are headed to Novi Sad.
How Federer shocked everyone by coming to Serbia and tells anecdotes from the airport. The President of the Tennis Federation of Belgrade, Milan Slavković, approached the gentleman in a blue jacket and told him that he resembles Roger Federer, and after that the gentleman took off his hat and said, “Well, I am Roger Federer.”
I bet that little interaction made the whole trip worth it for Roger! How often can he go semi-incognito?
I’m also loving these photos of Roger’s practice in Novi Sad (via @isabellemusy). We’re seeing a bit of the disheveled, pre-Major-winning look from Le Rog. Will we be seeing the return of the ponytail, too? Maybe this is what happens when the GOAT slides to No. 8 and let’s Stan take the wheel. Hell, why not? As long as he’s happy, relaxed and playing tennis, Fed fans should be too.
But seriously, playing and perhaps winning The Davis Cup is a big deal. It’s one of the few honors that Roger hasn’t earned for himself in his illustrious career, and though it’s mere footnote material in terms of mainstream American media these days, it is still one of the most prestigious and important events in Tennislandia. Roger was a DC devotee early in his career and has played intermittently in the meantime. Lately, it’s been on his terms, almost like he doesn’t want to allow himself, or the fans, to get too caught up in it. The pressure of being far and away the best player on the team, combined with the grueling format and inconvenient scheduling after Major events discouraged him from taking the risk, and therefore kicking up more hope and angst from DC fanatics. But Switzerland has never won the Cup before, and it’s hard to imagine that Team Suisse will ever have a better chance now that Stan is ranked No. 3 in the world. Duty calls. Or at least, Severin and Stan did.
I’m so happy that Roger has decided to go for it. I think it indicates only good things: good health, good spirits, good intentions. And of course, there will be good company:
Per DavisCup.com: “Team Switzerland is expected to make the announcement official prior to the cut-off of one hour before the draw is made on Thursday 30 January so it remains to be seen who will make way for the 32-year-old Swiss legend.”