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Roger Federer’s Excellent 2017

The Indian Wells champion is also your new GQ cover star

(Getty Images/Ringer Illustration)
(Getty Images/Ringer Illustration)

This year’s draw in Melbourne was not kind to Roger Federer. After six months off from competitive tennis, the king of the sport started off 2017 with the 17th seed at the Australian Open. He did not have his own quarter of the bracket, as he had in almost every tournament for the last 15 years. Even Federer’s first-round opponent was no pushover. Jurgen Melzer, though now in his tennis twilight, was once a top-10 player. But Federer found his way past Melzer and has been coasting uphill in his S-Class ever since.

Excepting his loss to a player outside the top 100, Federer has had a flawless 2017. Not coincidentally, he seems to be having a wonderful time.

On the court, this year has already had two vintage Federer highlights; a kiss of the trophy in Australia — his first Grand Slam in 55 months — and a Masters shield at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. The draw at that second tournament was also quite unkind to the Swiss; he was seeded ninth and stuck in the same half as Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Kei Nishikori, Nick Kyrgios, and a heaping of the ATP’s most dangerous supporting characters. (Indian Wells was a strange tournament this year.) But Federer steamrolled Nadal in their fourth-round matchup, showing off his now-confident backhand in an embarrassingly comfortable 6–2, 6–3 victory. His quarterfinal opponent, the white-hot Kyrgios, had looked invincible through his opening matches but withdrew from the tournament, citing food poisoning, just before his match with Federer. From there, the coast was clear. The Swiss defeated Jack Sock and then Stan Wawrinka in Sunday’s final to win the tournament — without dropping a set.

There’s speculation about whether or not Federer will play the next Masters event in Miami; with the withdrawals of Andy Murray and Djokovic, the opportunity to grab another trophy and jump into the top four might be too tempting, even for a player closely monitoring his schedule. But with all the fun Federer has been having off the court, I certainly wouldn’t fault him for taking it easy until Roland Garros.

For example: This week, not 24 hours after his Indian Wells victory, Federer (long the Most Stylish Man In Sports), was featured on the cover of GQ. The verdict of the story? Roger Federer is a very good tennis player who looks handsome in almost anything, and is also “kind of a dork, in the very best sense.”

For evidence, look no further than Federer’s Twitter account, which, aside from Dog Twitter, may be the only good part of the Internet.

It has totally unnecessary nonsense:

It has charming Dad Jokes:

It has goofy performances:

Oh, it also has Federer partnering up with Tommy Haas and Grigor Dimitrov to start a “boyband.”

That, surprisingly, is the second performance the group has done with Grammy winner David Foster. If you couldn’t tell, it was dubbed and likely benefited from a little performance enhancement. Here’s an untouched version, recorded earlier this year during the Australian Open:

Maybe all Federer needed to get back to his winning ways was some more artistic freedom.