Photographed in New York City
Patrice Meigneux/Corbis Outline
Friday, January 15, 2010

By ROGER FEDERER

When you think golf, you think of two words: Tiger Woods. Tiger and I met because of our dominance. Journalists kept asking me, "What do you think about Tiger?" and asking him, "What about Roger?" I found his dominance and consistency inspiring, but I couldn't really answer the question because I didn't know him. I thought, What if he's not nice? I heard he might come to New York to watch the [2006] U.S. Open. I called him and invited him. He said, "If you make the finals, I'll come." He was putting pressure on me! We talked before the finals, and he sat in my box. He cheered me on against Andy Roddick, which is ironic, since Roddick is American, and I'm Swiss. I won.

Tiger and I just get along. I see myself in Tiger, and he sees himself in me. We both know what it's like to feel invincible, to feel like you can't lose. For me, some days it's like I play in slow motion, like I have more time to reach the ball — like I can read the other person's mind. Tiger has those days too. Now, we know what it's like on the other side. We're both on the comeback trail, me from mononucleosis, Tiger from major knee surgery. I'm confident we'll both be back.

What's he really like? He's quick, a sharpshooter with a great sense of humor. Most people don't dare say certain things to me, but he does. I watched him play in Shanghai, and he said, "What's up with those pants? Those are awfully tight." I said, "Listen, pal — these are regular pants. In Europe we don't have those big white khakis like in America." He likes to tease.

What he did at last year's U.S. Open was inspiring. It was one of the great moments of his career. I don't call him during majors — he likes to keep his head down — but I was up until 4:00 a.m. watching. He inspires so many young people with his game, his attitude, his sportsmanship. He's well-spoken and respectful. He's a role model for fans and athletes. I plan to follow his philanthropic efforts.

He does have one flaw, though: His pants are way too loose.

\nRoger Federer has won 15 grand slam titles.

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