Roger Federer enjoys many admirers outside the tennis world. Alongside its countless successes, the Swiss phenomenon has also shown a longevity that has few equals in the history of sport. In a wide-ranging interview with Eurosport, Real Madrid star Toni Kroos was asked about his 'soft spot' for Federer and the midfield maestro spoke warmly about the Swiss star.
"I am absolutely convinced of this - even if I can only speak for the time I have experienced," he said. "I can't judge the rest, but even then, it could be hard to surpass Roger. For me, it's a mix of success and the fact that his tennis is nice to look at.
I've met him a few times and can confirm that he is a totally pleasant guy. He comes across as a family man, is interested in soccer - even if he didn't hit the jackpot with FC Basel, but he has to go through it. So, it's not hard for me to be a fan of Roger Federer" - he added.
Kroos then revealed he once thought Grigor Dimitrov would be the heir to Federer's throne: "I once leaned quite far out of the window and said: 'In five years Dimitrov will be the clear number one.' How he moves, how he plays, I already liked it very much.
But it hasn't come to that. Maybe I saw more than there was. Today I like to watch Stefanos Tsitsipas. If he gets more consistency in his playing, that could be one. I have yet to be convinced by Zverev. Of course, as a German I hope for him.
The last person I really liked to watch from a German point of view as a tennis fan was Tommy Haas. Boris [Becker] was unfortunately too early for me. If you look at the Grand Slams with Sascha, there's still a bit missing. I can see Tsitsipas just a bit further. And if I had to choose, Tsitsipas plays the nicer tennis for me."