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Federer's Headband: The Naked Truth

Halle, Germany

Federer© Gerry Weber OpenFederer's headband was back in place for his opening singles match in Halle.

When Roger Federer made his 2013 grass-court debut at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle this week, alert fans knew that something was amiss. As he walked out to partner Tommy Haas Monday in a first-round doubles match, Federer was not wearing his trademark headband.

Federer, who estimated that it was 12 or 13 years since he last played without a headband, said in a press conference Wednesday that he almost shed the headband during singles competition at the recent ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Rome.

“[There’s] not so much sweating going on in the doubles so I figured I’m going to leave the headband in the bag,” Federer said after his 6-3, 6-3 singles win over German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. “I have been practising tons without it. I wanted to actually do it in Rome and then my team sort of backtracked at the last moment. They said, ‘You should do what you feel most comfortable with.’ So I was like, ‘Oh, really okay.’ So, I put the headband back on. Now I said for the doubles I keep it off. It was fun. [I felt] a bit naked, but [it] felt good for a change.”

With Federer and Haas losing their opening doubles match to Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner, don’t expect to see the ‘naked’ Federer look again anytime soon. Asked if he would step out without the headband again, Federer replied: “No, the hair is growing.

“So it’s either now or never. And at Wimbledon it’s not going to happen. Here it’s super-humid actually. I was sweating up a storm today, to be honest. I was sweating. When I came back on tour in Madrid I think I was playing a lot of night sessions; it was fresh throughout Europe. This is the first time it was actually humid. So I need the headband right now.”

Federer also joked about the appearance of former Austrian left-hander Stefan Koubek alongside his wife, Mirka, in his box during the match against Stebe. Was Koubek there as a coach or a friend?

“I hope he’s just a friend and he’s not flirting with my wife,” Federer laughed. “Otherwise I’ll take care of him later on. No, he’s around and he comes to practise with me in Switzerland or Dubai. We know each other so well and he’s one of my best friends from the Tour. I guess we’re just catching up. No, I’m not working with him. He’s working with an Austrian junior.”

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