Roger Federer has had more than his share of joy on a tennis court. Sixteen Grand Slams, dozens of other tournament titles, an Olympic gold in doubles: His career has surpassed the wildest dreams of any tennis player. The thrill of victory never seems to wear off for him, either. Federer celebrates each Slam win as though it were his first.
But he has never celebrated in quite the whimsically berserk way that the Serbian Davis Cup team did this past weekend when each teammate shaved his head. The closest thing I can remember to it was Federer's voodoo hands cooling off Stan Wawrinka after their win in Beijing. That was, like the Davis Cup, a team event, played for country as well as individual. As selfish as we tend to believe the pros are, they take a lot of pride in these things. Like, we're-all-shaving-our-heads-if-we-win-this kind of pride.
If you've ever seen Federer react to a Davis Cup win, you know he loves that competition, too. But although he's played his share of it, he's kept it out of his schedule in recent years in the belief that it will interfere with his preparation for the Grand Slams. And he's probably right. The four rounds of Davis Cup that Novak Djokovic added to his calendar in 2010 took their toll.
In the end, they were worth it, of course, as anyone who watched Djokovic throw his fist in the air to rev up the crowd in Belgrade could see. And they would be worth it for Federer. Granted, a bunch of things have to break right for a team to survive those four rounds. As the losing French team can attest, home court helps, as does lack of injury. But Djokovic showed what one top player and a decent supporting cast can do, and Switzerland has that combination with Federer and his fellow gold medalist Wawrinka.
Of course, there's the little matter that the Swiss are not even in the world group in 2011. To get back into it, they must win two ties next year, one of which will take place the week after Wimbledon (against either Slovakia or Portugal), the other the week after the U.S. Open. There's also the other little matter of the 2012 Olympics, which will take place the next summer at Wimbledon -- an event Federer wants to win more than any other.
But considering that he's talking about possibly playing until 2016, there's time for Federer to get back into the Davis Cup groove. He should play it not for his legacy, which is more than set, especially if he gets an Olympic gold. He should make an effort to win the Davis Cup simply for the feeling it will bring him, a feeling that virtually every other great tennis champion has known at some point. Switzerland's first Cup would feel very different from and likely would be more satisfying than his 17th or 18th or 19th Grand Slam. Think about it, Roger: The world wants to know what you would look like without that wavy hair of yours.