Roger Federer: sport's greatest gentleman

Roger Federer just lost a round of table tennis in 40-degree heat, but he's taking the defeat in his stride.

Much to the surprise of the admirers watching on the roof of Melbourne's Adelphi Hotel, he graciously concedes to star-struck 20-year-old competition winner Jonathan Wells, who just won bragging rights for life.

Admittedly, the Fed may been kinder on this opponent than he was on Nikoloz Basilashvili on Monday night, who he crushed 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 in round one of the Australian Open. He's that kind of guy.

At the end of the friendly match the tennis legend signs cards and poses for selfies, glowing in an immaculate Christian Dior suit and living up to his reputation as sport's greatest gentleman.

Champagne lifestyle

While Federer is in town to play his 17th Open, tonight he's promoting a splashy new ad campaign called 'Open The Now' for one of his many sponsors, Moet and Chandon. The latest big-budget commercial sees the star hitting table tennis balls among writhing party animals to a pulsating Diplo soundtrack. The message? Appreciate life and live in the 'now'.

I have to wait until I'm retired … I just can't take a chance any more.

Roger Federer

"I can relate to that very much as an athlete," Federer tells 51698009. "As a parent [of two sets of twins] now as well, these moments are very important."

Being a father of four and current No. 3 seed means his party days are largely behind him, but he admits to being a fan of good food and says he always orders dessert.

"I look more towards restaurants now, to go out ... more a good scene, good food, trendy restaurants. I love Nomad in New York, there's a Swiss chef, Danny Humm, he's amazing. I make it a habit with my wife [Mirka] to go out, that's how we balance time away from the kids, so that we have some alone time."

Open up

This year might very well be the 34-year-old's last on the professional circuit, and Rod Laver Arena has provided many of his most memorable moments, including four wins and many more on-court battles.


"I look back at 2006, I think that was epic for me, winning in front of Rod Laver, he was there … and 2004 was very special, when I became world number one for the very first time."

His standout Australian game was winning that year's semi-final against Juan Carlos Ferrero on centre court. "I remember that it was more something personal for me because it wasn't announced that [I was world number one], but I knew. It's an ultimate dream for any athlete to be the best in the world."

Another tournament on his hit list this year is the Rio Olympics in August. "I've carried the flag twice for Switzerland, in 2004, 2008, won the gold, won the silver. I feel like there's more for me to do there … I've never played an official match in Rio."

Style set

You might think the legendary player hasn't touched a suitcase in years, but he insists he picks his own wardrobe. "You always want to have good shoes, a good belt, and a good suit for sure," says Federer. "Details are important for a man."

Weather is a key factor influencing Fed's fashion choices, especially when he's bouncing between time zones and hemispheres. "When you are travelling the way we are, essentials are the most important, basics that you can mix and match," he says.

"I've started wearing ties [more], but here in Australia not many people wear them, so I feel like I'm a bit out of place, but I adjust to the crowd. I've had to get used to wearing more suits and stuff, in the beginning they made me feel uncomfortable. But I've taken chances as well [with fashion]."

A colourful life

He might be clad in steely charcoal today, but colour rules on the court. "I like to stand out on court and not stick with black and white, like Pete [Sampras] and Andre [Agassi] used to wear. I saw too much black and white with them so I never wanted to fall into that trap."

Regardless of what he wears, Federer has arguably outshone both of those players to become the greatest tennis player of all time. He's also smart enough to know when to lose at table tennis.

"It's one of the only other sports I can still play," he says. "I stopped with skiing, I stopped with squash, soccer is always on the backburner, I have to wait until I'm retired … I just can't take a chance any more."