California - From his knees at the middle of the net, Roger
Federer struck volley after volley right back at Jack Sock until the American
star finally faltered. Federer just smiled.
He's the best in the world at age 36.
Earlier, Federer emerged from the tunnel of smoke and walked
onto the court greeted by roars and thousands of camera phones held high for
the first Bay Area appearance of his career.
Even if this doubles match didn't officially count on Monday
night, it sure mattered to all of the children in Africa who Federer is
committed to helping through his foundation.
Federer waved every which way, held his racket in the air
and beamed when introduced during warmups with the announcement at the sold-out
SAP Centre that he had regained the No 1 world ranking.
He entertained from the start, too, praising Microsoft
billionaire Bill Gates as a perfect partner.
"He knows numbers very well. He never makes mistakes on
the scores," Federer cracked. "I'll do the running and Bill does the
He joked to opponent Savannah Guthrie of NBC's
"TODAY" show: "You have to start looking at the ball and stop
looking at me."
Federer called off Gates with, "That's mine ... that's
mine, too," before Sock lobbed a winner over Gates that Federer couldn't
chase down. Federer and Gates took the match 6-3.
Federer's "The Match for Africa" exhibition sold
more than 15 000 tickets to benefit his foundation that supports education for
children in Africa.
"This match for Africa is something
extraordinary," Sock said.
The Swiss star, who at 36 is the oldest men's player to be
No 1, won the Australian Open in January for his 20th Grand Slam title.
Federer and Gates also teamed up last year in Seattle.
Sock joked beforehand, "Don't hit it to Roger ... I'm
winless against him for my career."
A video promoting the match featured Federer training Gates,
from weight lifting - lunges with a heavy bar over his shoulders - to studying
a tennis book and both ping-pong and tennis practice to work on his reflexes
"You'll train like I do," Federer said. "You
And Gates, dressed in a bright pink polo, drew oohs and aahs
as he impressed with his shot-making and hustle to keep points alive.