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Crosby and Federer meet for the first time at Rogers Cup

The Canadian Press

8/8/2010 5:57:01 PM

TORONTO -- Normally when Sidney Crosby walks into a room, he's the centre of attention.

He had some company Sunday.

The NHL superstar met tennis ace Roger Federer for the first time at the Rogers Cup. They were going to hit balls together on a practice court but rain scuttled their plans. Instead, the two got a chance to talk before holding a photo opportunity at the Rexall Centre.

The Swiss tennis star oozed comfort and confidence as he strolled into the media interview room with the collar raised on the jacket of his all-white warmup suit. He was followed by a smiling Crosby, who was sporting tennis gear and a baseball hat.

Both athletes celebrated birthdays on the weekend and tournament director Karl Hale brought out a cake for the occasion.

"But I'm older, you can tell, right?" Federer quipped as a swarm of photographers snapped away.

Federer, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, turned 29 on Sunday while Crosby turned 23 a day earlier.

"He mentioned that he watched the Olympics," Crosby said of their chat. "I mentioned that I'd seen him play at the U.S. Open and things like that. It was pretty general talk but I think it's pretty neat when you have that opportunity, being athletes and being able to relate to certain things.

"It's always fun to understand and learn what he may go through so that makes it a lot of fun."

Crosby, a star forward with the Pittsburgh Penguins, scored the overtime winner against the United States to give Canada the gold medal at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. He has been a dominant force in his sport, much like Federer, who is considered one of the best to ever pick up a racket.

The two-time Rogers Cup champion is still in top form even though he's no longer the world's top-ranked player. He's the No. 3 seed at the US$2.43-million tournament.

Crosby, of Cole Harbour, N.S., said he's a big tennis fan who enjoys getting on court in the summer months.

"I was actually at the U.S. Open (in 2008) and saw Roger play in the final," Crosby said. "I follow it pretty closely and this is a pretty neat experience for me."

Crosby said there are a number of NHL players who enjoy playing tennis in the off-season, but no one is head and shoulders above the rest.

"Maybe Jay McKee, the way he talks," Crosby said with a laugh. "He's pretty good. Usually you have a few guys who can play and it's not unusual to have a few guys on every time who like to play pretty regularly."

Crosby, who played with McKee last season, won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009. The 2007 Hart Trophy winner was a finalist for the NHL's most valuable player award again this year after recording 109 points.

Crosby said he "took it easy" Saturday night and enjoyed some time at home with his family.

"Nothing too big," he said. "I've had a nice string of birthdays there with my 21st and then having the Cup on my 22nd.

"So this one was a bit slower pace than those ones."