There are times to play like a bloodthirsty, win-or-die-trying maniac, and there are times—especially in the twilight of your career, when, say, you're playing in a warm-up tournament for the Australian Open—when it's better to be the cool older dude who's seen it all and is unafraid to tell his opponent when the line judge just made a terrible call that you should probably challenge, which is exactly what happened when Roger Federer informed 19-year-old German Alexander Zverev that his ace kissed the line and was not, in fact, out when the two met yesterday at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia.
Actually, what Federer said was "close; very close," at which point the crowd—perhaps forgetting that this is an exhibition tournament—murmured at the spectacle of this old veteran, the greatest player in the history of the men's game, taking it easy on the young kid, who is already terrifyingly good, as indicated by his No. 24 world ranking. The kid, Zverev, asked how many challenges he had left. The official told him he had one. He turned to the crowd. "Should I?" he asked.
"Yes!" the crowd said all at once.
The hawk eye thing zoomed in on the subsequent replay, showing the ball did in fact hit the line, as Federer thought. The crowd cheered. What a guy, this Federer! What class!
But was it the wrong move?
Cool Federer went on to lose, 7-6 (7/1), 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4).
"Who really cares?" he said after the match. Cool, indeed.