A small but stunningly precious moment occurred at the end of the Roger Federer-Nicholas Kiefer match midway through the recent U.S. Open. Kiefer is a player who has bothered Roger over the years. He has something of an all-court game too, and he knows how to pick it up at key points and get under Roger’s skin. He even managed on this day to get a set off of Roger. But he still lost.

As Roger was being interviewed on court at the end of the match, he stopped suddenly right in the middle. “There goes Nicholas, ” he said, taking a moment to turn so that the camera could see and follow his glance as Kiefer left the field of battle. Roger wanted to make sure that his opponent would be acknowledged too for putting up a pretty decent fight.

I do not ever recall seeing a player do this before. To give up any amount of that precious post-game spotlight to honor your opponent is, well, pretty amazing. Tennis is these days a fierce battle of egos as well as play styles and corporate sponsors. That anyone has time – and inclination – to do what Roger Federer did is rather out of the ordinary.

Who says graciousness and cordiality is absent from the tennis courts these days?

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