INDIAN WELLS, Calif – Roger Federer was in San Jose, Calif. Monday night at his charity exhibition.
Less than 24 hours later, the 36-year-old was on court at the BNP Paribas Open for the first hit of what he hopes will be a successful title defense.
Federer hit with Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund. And there were, you know, some people on hand to watch.
Definitely standing-room only, with the requisite “You’re No. 1” and “Roger, it’s my birthday” shoutouts.
Federer rarely puts on a T-shirt without a purpose. And in this case, he was wearing one from the Nike Gyakusou collection.
It’s a running collection, not a tennis collection that “flawlessly fuses asymmetrical aesthetics with Nike’s latest running innovations — including Nike Dri-FIT and Nike AeroReact. Traditional colors and whimsical sublimation patterns accentuate a performance collection complete with a range of reflective graphics, diverse storage solutions.”
That’s quite a thing.
No. 1 sights and sounds
Here’s what it looked and sounded like.
As Federer was hitting tennis balls, the draw was being made for the men’s singles.
And for the first time since 2010, he found his name at the top of the drawsheet.
(Not to jinx him, but the last time Federer played this tournament as the No. 1, he lost his second match – third round – in a third-set tiebreak to then-No. 33 Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus).
After a first-round bye, Federer will play the winner of Ryan Harrison vs. Federico Delbonis. And then, perhaps No. 25 seed Filip Krajinovic of Serbia.
He got the “worst” of the non top-four seeds in a potential quarterfinal. But that No. 5 seed happens to be Dominic Thiem of Austria.
Thiem is less of a threat on the hard courts. But the Indian Wells courts are so darn slow that they may help him. Thiem was a quarterfinalist a year ago, losing in a third-set tiebreak to Stan Wawrinka.
He has No. 3 seed Grigor Dimitrov in his half, while No. 2 Marin Cilic and No. 4 Alexander Zverev are in the other half.
Also in the other half – No. 10 seed Novak Djokovic and No. 6 seed Juan Martin del Potro.
Federer looks in good shape from that perspective. But he does have to reach the semifinals to remain No. 1, given he’s defending 1,000 points from a year ago.
If he doesn’t, Rafael Nadal will overtake the top spot without even playing the event.