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Breaking News: Cahill Out 03/11/2009 - 2:34 PM


by Pete Bodo

Well, it seems like it's official - Chris Clarey is reporting that the coaching relationship between Roger Federer and Darren Cahill is dead in the water. Apparently, Cahill had second thoughts about the degree-of-commitment involved, especially in terms of international travel for at least 20 weeks of the year. This is a fairly strange development and I have to wonder if there isn't more to this story than meets the eye.

For one thing, I have to assume the Cahill had a pretty good idea of where Roger Federer lived and trained long before Roger agreed to work with him (in Dubai) on a trial basis. Wouldn't this have been discussed in the first stages of this potential partnership, and certainly before Cahill actually went to an audition in Dubai?

I suppose there's an outside chance that Cahill found life in Dubai a flat-out nightmare. This wouldn't surprise me, although the immediate reaction to this observation might be:  You'd think a guy living in Las Vegas would have no problem with that kind of environment.

Sure, but. . . When i last visited Andre Agassi in Vegas(about a year ago), he went out of his way to impress on my the degree to which Vegas, as a city, has totally outgrown but still must live with the "Sin City" stereotype. Many consider it a great place to raise a family, and I'm not sure comparisons with Dubai are in any substantial way accurate.

Still, how much time would Cahill have been required to spend in Dubai?

There's also the possibility that Federer and Cahill just didn't get comfortable with each other, on court. Perhaps they didn't see eye-to-eye when it comes to strategic issues, especially Cahill's notions about what The Mighty Fed might need to do about turning around his record against Nadal. That's not necessarily the kind of discussion either man wants to get into.

And here's another thing, and one I touched on in my Gilded Cage post of yesterday: Federer is thought by many to be a control-freak. Perhaps Cahill decided that he would have to sacrifice too much of his independence and autonomy in order to be taken into the Federer cabal - said by some to be  clutch of "yes" men.  And let's face it - the omni-present Mirka, valuable as she may be to TMF, could be a formidable hurdle. Perhaps it was a mistake to have the audition in Dubai, and a part of me things Federer and Cahill should have gone off to a different location to get a feeling for each other.  A caveat: I don't know how many of Federer's inner circle were around in Dubai during the tryout.

Beyond that, I don't care how many amazing meals Cahill enjoyed in Dubai, or how great the valet-service was at the hotel. Cahill never struck me as a particularly impressionable guy (in terms of aspirations to the high life), and what opulence he experienced (and with which he found himself surrounded) might have been more off-putting than attractive. I can imagine a pretty uncomplicated Aussie dude waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, 700-thread count cotton sheets sopping wet, and feeling as if I were being absorbed into some alternate reality that threatened to suck away my very identity.

When you're a guy with as much going on as Cahill, you have to ask yourself: Do I really want to sacrifice so many of my options (including my ability and desire to speak to whoever the hail I want, any time I want, about anything I want) just to be associated with some other guy's quest to become the GOAT?

This, I think, is a very serious and legitimate concern. Legions of people couldn't imagine anything better than carrying Federer's water, but Cahill probably isn't one of them. He has a life of his own. The degree to which that life would be compromised by working with Federer may have gnawed at him - regardless of how he feels about Federer as a person or player. But why that wouldn't have occurred to Cahill much sooner in the process is mystifying - unless he embarked on the tryout thinking, What the hail, it's an experiment. Maybe Roger will be so impressed with my skills that he's bend a little on the requirements. Or I'll be so impressed by him that I'll bend on mine.  At any rate, this visit could be valuable to me in terms of my reputation and my work as a commentator. . .

One thing is for sure: coach-player relationships have to succeed on a number of practical levels in order to be sustainable and effective. When Paul Annacone hired on with Pete Sampras, he was a married dad who had to think about his financial future. But Pete was a fellow American (living, as Annacone did, on the east coast) and, significantly, something of a lone wolf. There were none of the kinds of complications cited above. Plus, the two men had been friends through Pete's previous coach, Tim Gullikson (whom Annacone replaced when Gullikson was diagnosed with brain cancer). Bob Brett coached Boris Becker under similar terms, and the same is true for the Brad Gilbert-Andre Agassi relationship. Those partnerships made sense in a variety of ways, and didn't pull either party far out of his comfort zone.

To some degree, the decisions Federer made about where to live and train may present more formidable obstacles than we might expect, and demand of a potential coach the kinds of sacrifices and adjustments that candidates who have known significant success, and have options, may not be disposed to make. When you think about it, Federer's coaches have been either obscure (and perhaps right-guy, right-place( types, or grizzled war dogs who had done a lot of their career heavy lifting (Tony Roche and Jose Higueras). Cahill doesn't fall into either category.

Now I have another theory here, and I'm advancing it as just that:

Perhaps Roger Federer was not entirely content with either what Cahill brought to the table, or the terms under which he wanted to work (the reasons might have been anything from those cited above to a disagreement over salary, or Cahill's insistence that he not have to go through Mirka to get to Roger). Federer's inner sanctum then recognized that while being the one to pull the plug would make Federer appear to be in one in control, it would also raise potentially uncomfortable questions: Why is Federer being so stubborn? Is the guy too picky? Is he afraid to change his game, or give the highly-regarded Cahill enough control to make a difference?

Wouldn't it make far more sense to let Cahill be the one to scotch the deal?  In so doing, it takes significant pressure - and attention - off Federer's shoulders. The story now becomes, Poor Roger, Cahill turned him down! The theme generates more sympathy and no second-guessing of Federer's motives or state of mind. Spin it this way and you also save Cahill potential embarrassment, and protect him from insinuations that he somehow didn't make the grade.

In other words, everybody wins.

That narrative might not be honest, but it's painless. I'm curious to hear what Roger has to say about all this at Indian Wells.

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Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 02:40 PM


Posted by CL 03/11/2009 at 02:43 PM

Gee Pete - at least you could have ponied up for a different picture.

We've been there done that to death.

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 02:45 PM

Sorry, CL, IT error. Fixed error. BTW your hilarious comment of the other night re. pick-ups etc. gave me some real food for thought for a YC.

Posted by CL 03/11/2009 at 02:45 PM

oh you DID pony up for a different picture. The first time the thread came up the picture from Gilded Cage was there. Nice choice.

Meh... I'm done with the whole coach/no coach discussion. Want to see some TENNIS!

Have at it people.

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 02:45 PM

Good speculative analysis, Pete. Couldn't have said it better myself.

I think we are agreed, then, that it was not, as was put forth by the Federer camp, simply a case of Cahill not wanting to commit to the rigorous demands of travel.

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 02:47 PM

CL, I agree, it's time to get on with the tennis.

Posted by CL 03/11/2009 at 02:47 PM

Peter - always glad to help.

Posted by Beckham 03/11/2009 at 02:47 PM

I don't have the time or the energy for this, I have way too much work to do but after I received the email from C1, I'm driving by and driving right out again...

All I have to say is *&%$@#!%%@#%^@#^@%(*&^%$#@!$%&^@#&@#*

Posted by Sher 03/11/2009 at 02:49 PM

Or it might be honest.

When it comes down to it, I remember that I've been following Roger Federer for years and he has proven to be a trustworthy and honest person.

Posted by jb (le sigh:( ) 03/11/2009 at 02:49 PM

I suppose i can sigh just as easily over here... :)

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 02:51 PM

the thing that doesn't make sense to me about Fed being a control freak is, if that were true, why was the news about Cahill and the test released to the press in the first place?

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/11/2009 at 02:51 PM

Pete Well frankly I am not all suprised at Darren not wanting to be Rogers full time coach.

When he quit the Aussie Davis Cup team he cited too many business commitments,children starting school etc.He also stated that he would return to Davis Cup coaching.

Darren has always stated he wants to be Aussie Davis Cup coach that is one of his ambitions.

When I heard of this coaching with Roger and he was in Dubai my first thoughts were,gee a complete turnaround.

Darren must not have wanted a Full Time coaching arrangement.To me that is very clear now.

Well it makes for interesting times in IW for sure.

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 02:53 PM

Hey Pete, great article on a pretty sad subject for Roger and his fans. One minor quibble, since 180 count bed sheets are roughly 20 bucks, i'd assume even the cheapest hotel room in Dubai would have something a little comfier on the beds :)

Posted by Andrea 03/11/2009 at 02:55 PM

at the end of the day what happened between them happened between them. who really knows why it didn't work out.

but if he was staying in dubai, he'd have way more than 180 thread count sheets! 180 thread count is what you'd get at motel 6.

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 02:56 PM

sher - in the interest of continuing to beat this issue to death, I would agree that Roger seems like an honest guy. Yet at the same time, it seems odd that Cahill would just find out a day or two ago that he would have to travel a bit, and that Roger trains in Dubai part of the year. If we know it, then I would assume he knew it as well.

Mind you, I admit it is possible that Cahill had reservations from the start, but he saw a twice in a lifetime opportunity (Agassi, being the first of course), and he wanted to give it a shot, then weighed everything over a couple of weeks and decided it wasn't in his best interest to continue on.

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 02:56 PM

C-1 - In order to control the message.

And Sher - Don't underestimate the amount of thought and strategizing that can and often does go into even the most benign of situations. I have a hard time believing that with Mirka, Tony G. and others on board, that they wouldn't have said something like this: "We've got to break the news that Cahill is out, legions are talking about this potential coaching arrangement. How should we go about it?"

There's nothing sinister about. See my comment to C-1 above.

Posted by Pspace 03/11/2009 at 02:57 PM

Oh, well. So much for all the hype. Lonewolf Rog is back! I'll subscribe to the theory that they had tactical disagreements ;-). It's unlikely that Fed wanted to have Cahill travel with him through the season. Just the 2 months or so in Dubai, and the Slams. But, who knows, maybe he wanted more moral support at this juncture.

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 03:00 PM

Many thanks to all you thread-count experts; it's now fixed. So much for me posing as an arbiter of all things luxe.

Posted by Samantha Elin 03/11/2009 at 03:01 PM

It's a real difficult time for Roger, I hope he does well and stays around a long time because his game reminds me so much of Queen Justine, except her backhand was a little more prettier. But their games are so similar and he comes the closest to her style of tennis. Go Caro, Scandinavia's#1!

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 03:02 PM

I'm still confused, Pete, wouldn't it have spared them the second problem? if no one knew about it, or if it were just a murky rumor (like before Tebutt's article), there would be no need for face saving "he doesn't want to travel" types of questions. And no need for the awkward questions at the press conference Fed's going to get now.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/11/2009 at 03:02 PM

Pete You continually amaze me Shoes,Fashion and now cotton sheets when is this all going to end no?

Posted by Pierre 03/11/2009 at 03:04 PM

My goodness, the whole thing is getting to be such a soap opera.

Posted by Andrew 03/11/2009 at 03:04 PM

Pete: it's all speculation at this point, less the words of the protagonists.

One other thing to throw into the mix: the way the Roche relationship ended. But that was old news in 2009, so I'd be surprised if that played a big part in what went down.

It may be the case that Cahill thought that if the trial session went OK, he'd be on the hook for about 12-15 weeks, two of which (IW) would be fairly close to home, and Federer wanted a full time travelling coach. Or the Dubai - Las Vegas fitness center may have played a part.

Or it may have been a face saver - hey they liked each other, Darren just didn't want to travel.

We may find out a bit more later. Until then - it's all speculation.

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 03:05 PM

Aussiemarg, Ha! All that and pick-ups and firearms too!

C-1: Federer needs "murky rumors" like he needs a hole in the head. He's going to get questions anyway. And if there's no official announcement, the press is dogging Cahill with all those, "In IW, Roger said. . ." questions.

Posted by Sher 03/11/2009 at 03:06 PM

j6_strings, Roger is supposed to hold a press conference in IW this afternoon. We will know a heck of a lot more about the situation once he actually answers some questions. We are trying to solve a problem with too many unknown variables at the moment.

Pete, well if you want to phrase it this way it sounds benign. :) I think we are all conditioned to think of 'spin' as having negative connotations.

I'd like to see both Roger and Cahill speak on the issue, too. Cahill did say earlier that Federer couldn't afford him. It's easy to imagine that could have played a part.

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 03:07 PM

Hey, how about some Pete-love for getting this up in, like, 40 minutes? *Ducks*

Posted by Sher 03/11/2009 at 03:08 PM

ps. If I had to guess -- oh put a gun to my head, will ya? -- I'd say they both went into it hoping that they will mesh well enough that the other things travel/location/lifestyle will become less of a concern. This did not happen.

Pspace, weren't you rooting for Roger to go it alone? :)

Posted by Juan de la Cerco 03/11/2009 at 03:10 PM

Gosh. I think Pete's right with his ultimate spin on the spin. Given the tour's inner-workings, this is by far the most plausible scenario.

Federer needs a Roche-Coach...or someone like Roche. Someone from the old guard who can match his own obvious sense of his own "aura." Don't get me wrong--Roger is the best, but even as a Fed KAD I know that the guy is unbelievably full of himself. He needs a crusty old legend willing to coach him at the Slams in a high-profile way, tell him to serve-and-volley against Nadal with regularity, because he's not going to let a Cail or a Gilbert tell HIM when to serve-and-volley. He would listen to that from a Laver or a Newcombe, but no one else. Also, the Slams are (let's face it) all that really matter to Roger now, no matter how much he says otherwise. he wants the record and that's what he wants. Period. It's a weird situation, but what else does on eexpect, at this level. Roger is weird. You have to be weird, to be as great as he is.

Anyhow, he's going to get at least one more Wimby and at least one other Slam, somewhere, before he hangs it up, unless he breaks a leg. That's a given. What is everyone so worried about?

Besides, he reads all his press and commentary. He ~knows~ he's got to serve & volley more to obeat Nadal. He's just going to have to take some lumps until it works the way he wants it to work.

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 03:10 PM

Sher - Spin has negative connotations, for sure, but controlling the message is something everyone is obsessed with. Just look at politics - from either side of any given idealogical divide. The real issue is where the fine line is between spin and deception.

Posted by Vie 03/11/2009 at 03:11 PM

Pete, I think Roger is the one in need, not Cahill. So I am of the mind, that this did not come through because of Cahill. The last scenario seems far-fetched. Roger does not seem to have many options.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/11/2009 at 03:12 PM

Pete You know I am in awe of any New Age Guy always!

Many thanks for getting this up! lol!

Posted by Alexis 03/11/2009 at 03:13 PM

Just couldn't leave it alone with the published reason, could you Pete? You just had to blame Roger and say he's a 'control freak' and add jabs at Mirka too.

I don't think I've ever been as disappointed in something you wrote as this one. You just lost a fan in me.

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 03:14 PM

I am sure it is difficult to hide something like Cahill visiting Dubai (while Federer is there). So it does make sense to come clean about the trial thing rather than have people speculate about what Cahill's doing in Dubai (AFTER resigning his Oz commitments).

Posted by Pspace 03/11/2009 at 03:14 PM

Sher, yeah, I wasn't overjoyed with this Cahill thing. It was too high-profile, kinda cheesy, and I felt that both he and Rog were good at the same things. What can one teach Rog about footwork and court position? There's something romantic about the lonewolf ;-). If he gets a coach, I would like to see Annacone (because I believe Roger's major weakness is his first volley) or some whacky combo like Gilbert, just for laughs :-).

Posted by ptenisnet 03/11/2009 at 03:15 PM

me at 3:14

Posted by Master Ace 03/11/2009 at 03:15 PM

Will be very interesting to see how the Cahill news affect Federer during the American Hardcourt season.

Posted by Sher 03/11/2009 at 03:16 PM

Aww, Pete! *sends hugs*

Posted by HandsOn 03/11/2009 at 03:16 PM

Why does Mirka have to be dragged into this discussion all the time, and constantly portrayed as if she is some evil ogre aiding in deception?

Posted by greenhopper 03/11/2009 at 03:17 PM

Leave Gilbert with Kei, thank you very much.

Posted by Vie 03/11/2009 at 03:17 PM

I do agree that the people around Roger are like yes men. Can see it from their presence in the box.

Posted by Antoinette 03/11/2009 at 03:18 PM

I would like to know why the constant harping on Mirka? As far as I can see she seems to be a fairly self-effacing soft spoken type, but in reading this post by Mr. Bodo as well as the previous one it appears that Federer is the marionette to Mirka's puppetmaster. Weird.

Posted by Pspace 03/11/2009 at 03:18 PM

Darn! Use care before making a mountain of a coach. (6,6)

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 03:19 PM

Vie, I'm not sure "need" really comes into it. I just believe that when these guys realized it wasn't going to work - for whatever reason - they said, "Okay, how do we handle this in a way that causes the least amount of uproar and distraction, while remaining pretty truthful."

For example, let's say Federer wasn't willing to meet Cahill's price (as determined by Cahill's pal and booster Agassi, when Darren asked Andre's advice over dinner in Vegas). Cahill then says, "it just isn't worth my while at your price, given all the travel involved."

It's neither a lie, nor the entire truth, to say Cahill turned down Fed because he didn't want to travel (leaving out the critical "for that amount of money").

Awkward example, perhaps, but I think it's a good illustration of how these things can be worked out.

Posted by May 03/11/2009 at 03:19 PM

"The omni-present Mirka, valuable as she may be to TMF, could be a formidable hurdle"

"Or Cahill's insistence that he not have to go through Mirka to get to Roger"

These are the sort of claims which should be backed by solid facts. As mere conjunctures, they are unnecessarily offensive to both Mirka, who has never been spoken of as difficult person to get along with, and to Cahill, who isn't likely to be a the kind of jerk who couldn’t tolerate a girlfriend who is genuinely involved in her boyfriend's career.

I wish I knew what some journalists have against Mirka. Couldn't be pure envy, right? :-) Although I do know many guys who would kill to have such a 'hurdle' on their side. Personally I think of her as a cross between Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush – having the best qualities of each…

Posted by greenhopper 03/11/2009 at 03:20 PM

not bad.

Posted by mikey 03/11/2009 at 03:20 PM

Juan - other than s&v on rare occassions whether it's grass, or hardcourts is a recipe for disaster tactic against nadal no matter who the advice comes from - More importantly, fed needs sound advise on how to bring more points to neutral against nadal's serves to his backhand and how to psychologically handle some of the incredible shots nadal will hit that no other player can get to 4-6 x per match.

Posted by parkp67 03/11/2009 at 03:21 PM

Posted by Alexis 03/11/2009 @ 3:13 PM

Just couldn't leave it alone with the published reason, could you Pete? You just had to blame Roger and say he's a 'control freak' and add jabs at Mirka too.

Posted by HandsOn 03/11/2009 @ 3:16 PM

Why does Mirka have to be dragged into this discussion all the time, and constantly portrayed as if she is some evil ogre aiding in deception?

Alexis and Hands On...Word!

What a hard situation to be in for my knowledge she has never been anything but a private person. I would prefer the conversation stick to discussing Federer and Cahill.

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 03:21 PM

pspace - Though I can speculate with the best of them on why this Cahill relationship didn't work out, I agree with the lone wolf ideal.

I don't want to suggest that players have coaches out of any weakness, but there is something to be said for the guy who goes out there armed with nothing more than his racquet (or a bag full of racquets and a few extra shirts, socks and shoes). I absolutely hate the idea of on-court coaching, and I don't even really think coaching should be allowed during rain delays or the like - granted if a match was held over until the next day, it would be hard to isolate a player from the outside world, but still...

That all said, I was a bit excited for Federer to have a new coach, if only because it shows the world that he is not going away any time soon.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/11/2009 at 03:22 PM

I remember that incident at Wimbledon a few years ago.When The rumour started that Darren was to coach Roger.The press aksed Darren his reply "Roger couldnt afford my fee"

Wow did that cause a up roar.Darren has very dry aussie sense of humour.

He then had to seek Roger out and explain he was only joking.

Posted by parkp67 03/11/2009 at 03:24 PM

Posted by Antoinette 03/11/2009 @ 3:18 PM
Posted by May 03/11/2009 @ 3:19 PM

Antoinette and May....Word!

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 03:25 PM

Joke or not, if Roger can't afford Cahill's fee, then who can? Or maybe Roger is a cheapskate...?

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 03:25 PM

so where did this idea that Mirka is in charge re: Fed start? I buy that he's a control freak (weren't all the recent great players ones, in their own ways?) but isn't he doing 99% of the controlling?

and how can you tell from looking at Fed's box that it's full of yes men and that Djokovic's or Davydenko's aren't?

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 03:26 PM

Handson/Alexis/Antionette: Sorry to disappoint you, but not addressing the "Mirka issue" would be a complete dereliction of my duties as a journalist. I wish you could be a fly on the wall at a dinner with players and/or other tennis insiders and hear just what those who actually are in the loop in pro tennis (as opposed to fans, god bless their hearts) say about Mirka. And I don't mean they demonize her, but to ignore her enormous role in all things Roger is simply naive. No offense intended.

Posted by Nic 03/11/2009 at 03:26 PM

Don't forget what has been said of Fed being tight with the designer purse strings.

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 03:26 PM

The worst part of this cahill debacle is that it wasted 4-6 weeks of rogers time on a bridge to nowhere. a coach is essential for fed given 2008 results! btw, i find it comical that fed would require cahill or any coach to work through Mirka first. Fed would not let her have that kind of control, i cannot imagine that brookly decker requires this for larry stefanki to approach roddick.

Posted by ptenisnet 03/11/2009 at 03:26 PM

and how can you tell from looking at Fed's box that it's full of yes men and that Djokovic's or Davydenko's aren't?

Because 50% of Nole's immediate support group spell NO

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/11/2009 at 03:27 PM

I am sure Roger Could afford Darrens fee,it was a joke.Though in some circles there was outrage.

Posted by greenhopper 03/11/2009 at 03:28 PM

lol, pt.
This is going into my TW humor archive.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/11/2009 at 03:29 PM

Nic Gee I thought Miss A.Wintour gave them freebies? lol!

Posted by Jackie 03/11/2009 at 03:29 PM

LOL, ptenisnet!!! OMG, HAD to de-lurk for that.

Back to furiously finishing my work ...

Posted by Sher 03/11/2009 at 03:30 PM


As someone who wasn't terribly invested in the idea of them working together (I refused to believe it until it was up on anyway) I'm not terribly broken up about it. Pete's article the other day (golden cage) put some seeds of doubt in my mind as to Cahill's suitability in the first place, given his apparent coaching style. So overall, I'm glad that IF it wasn't going to work out anyway they decided it early on. The only thing I hope for is that Federer _wasn't_ invested in this working out. He's got enough problems in the next couple of months without this preying on his mind and affecting his confidence.

Posted by Sher 03/11/2009 at 03:30 PM

ptenisnet, LOL!

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 03:30 PM

May - Trust me, the claims re. Mirka are backed up by solid facts. The most convincing of them are facts I have no wish to share, out of a reluctance to embarrass any number of people, including Mirka. You really don't want to open this can of worms, but I'll also say that I don't mean to demonize or trash Mirka. They have, after all, made things work out pretty well. You gotta take the bad with the good, right?

Posted by Nic 03/11/2009 at 03:31 PM

lol tenisnet

Posted by Sher 03/11/2009 at 03:35 PM

Two comments I want to make on Mirka:

1) Reportedly, she was the only person he talked to during the rain delay after losing the two sets at Wimbledon to Nadal. Whatever they discussed, allowed him to play well enough to win the next two sets and push Nadal to 9-7 in the fifth.

2) I have heard tennis insiders say "He knows how to manage her" about their arrangement, after watching them interact.

Posted by Nic 03/11/2009 at 03:35 PM

Is pride or feeling like he doesn't have the player to himself the issue for Cahill not wanting to go through Mirka?

Posted by Sher 03/11/2009 at 03:35 PM

>You really don't want to open this can of worms

actually Pete, I really really do. I don't like the idea that someone out there is saying something. Either it's on the table or it's off.

Posted by Jackie 03/11/2009 at 03:36 PM

Awww, Pete. Now you've got me all curious ...

Posted by Hart 03/11/2009 at 03:36 PM

LOL ptenisnet! very good, very good. *round of applause*

How's packing going, Jackie?

Posted by Sher 03/11/2009 at 03:37 PM

[I remember that incident at Wimbledon a few years ago.When The rumour started that Darren was to coach Roger.The press aksed Darren his reply "Roger couldnt afford my fee"]

Yep, this happened after Roche and Roger parted ways and there were rumours that the break up had financial reasons, which lent the joke a slight edge. I remember Pete or Steve blogging about it back then.

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 03:38 PM

I think Pete needs to put up an "anon" post with all the juicy Mirka details....we won't tell....promise.

Posted by Antoinette 03/11/2009 at 03:38 PM

I suppose those players/tennis insiders motives for holding forth on all things Mirka is a pure as the driven snow??? I am smart enough to realise that there is definately an anti-Mirka bias it would be hard to ignore. My question is why is this type of speculation about a players' personal relationship necessary to fulful your journalistic duties? It seems that in searching for ways to get inside Federer's head journalists have decided to take the low road and not nothing is out of bounds.

I think this kind of speculation and dragging his personal relationshp into the discussion will do little to endear the media to Federer who no doubt is already a lot cooler towards the media than he has been, and with good reason in my opinion. Therefore he may retreat even further into his "gilded cage" and you journalists will be left to continue to speculate and postulate weird theories as he will not open himself up to you guys again. Ah well we will just have to wait for the autobiography.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/11/2009 at 03:39 PM

Sher I am in total agrrement with you there at Wimbledon 08.

Whatever was said between them certainly worked.

Remember too Mirka was a tennis player after all? she also has her own thoughts on what was happening during that game.

Posted by Pspace 03/11/2009 at 03:39 PM

Pete, that's interesting. I guess if Mirka is part of the coaching "dinners" and participates in the tactical discussions, it would make for a completely different situation than dealing with just the player. I've probably underestimated the degree to which she influences his decision making. Good relationship, from the sounds of it.

Posted by Jackie 03/11/2009 at 03:39 PM

Hart, it's not. :( I've been working (work work, not like pedicure work ;)) nonstop these past couple of days. Have my list all ready, though - hopefully I can get it done tomorrow before my flight!

Really, reallyyyyy hope you can make it out for more than one day ...

Posted by Nic 03/11/2009 at 03:40 PM

If Mirka is 'managing' Fed's affairs, doesn't that make her officially part of the team rather than a regular WAG and therefore fair game?

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 03:40 PM

"Behind every strong man, there is a strong woman."

Perhaps Mirka is just that strong woman, and outsiders are resentful of her place in the Federcamp hierarchy.

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 03:41 PM

Sher - in my business many people tell me many things that they ask me to keep confidential. I consider it very important for me not to violate that kind of confidence. I hate writing this because it has this terrible "If only you knew what I know" tone to it, and I know that's not fair.

However, I felt it important to defend myself from charges that I'm attacking a poor, innocent bystander in this very public saga of Roger's career. But I think enough has been written about Mirka's role in Roger's life to make any fair-minded reader see the potential issues and problems/advantages of the relationship and how it affects Roger's career at multiple levels.

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 03:42 PM

Pspace - Sorry, hoss, but I meant dinners involving people other than Mirka/Roger, who deal with them and know what Mirka does and doesn't do and how it impacts things. . .

Posted by Nic 03/11/2009 at 03:42 PM

AM - aren't freebies what Fashion Week is all about?

Posted by Mikey 03/11/2009 at 03:42 PM

Pete, if what you are insituating is even partially true about Mirka's span of control, then roger needs to step up and fix it now! Also, not sure roger is cheap, but he sure won't put good money to bad which is exactly what hiring cahill would be.

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 03:43 PM

Pete - understanding your role as a journalist, and your desire and need to keep the confidence of those you talk to in various circles, I hereby respectfully withdraw my previous request for you to anonymously spill the beans on your Mirka inside information.

Posted by robbyfan 03/11/2009 at 03:43 PM

Pete-I would be interested in knowing how many times you had dinner with Fed and Mirka or someone that had. What a ton of BS you are spewing now with your "inside knowledge". Give us a freaking break! It is all supposition on your part.

Posted by May 03/11/2009 at 03:45 PM

Ignoring Mirka's enormous role? Heavens, I usually think people don't realize just HOW enormous her role is. This is not the same as saying that her dominance is the obstacle for a good relationship with a coach. What it does imply is that she will have a say in which coach Roger is going to hire. But since, after all, Cahill was invited for the tryouts, we could assume he passed the vetting. And since Roger was the one working with him, and since it seems quite far-fetched that Cahill and Mirka had a screaming match in Dubai – it's much more reasonable to assume Roger was the one who didn't feel comfortable with Cahill. The only reason to jump to the conclusion that Mirka is behind this is because, for a journalist, this is a much juicier narrative. Beware the Formidable Iron Woman!

Pity she doesn't look the part.

PS. I wrote this before I saw your answer to me. Well, If you don't understand that Swiss journalists, who would do almost anything to gain access to TMF and are often hindered by Mirka, who sees her role as keeping Roger happy, not keeping the Swiss press happy, are going to have some negative feelings about her, then you are the one who is being more than slightly naive.

She IS a gatekeeper alright. But the question is not who rants outside of the gate but how happy is the one within.

Posted by Pspace 03/11/2009 at 03:45 PM

Pete, not sure I follow. What I meant was the following...Rog said that he liked to chat with Higueras (for example) over dinner...I assume that Mirka would be part of such discussions? Or, is that not true?

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 03:45 PM

Antionette - Please consider that I do a little more than traffic in speculation.

j6 - your last comment is well put, of course, but perhaps it isn't all "resentment" and perhaps even a woman can be strong in some of the wrong, as well as the right, ways.

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 03:45 PM

Pete: feel free to NOT answer this but are even small purely technical advices given by coaches: "hey Fed, you need to use your wrist more on that shot" transmitted via Mirka? or even "we should work on X pattern of play today" kind of thing. That seems bizarre.

Posted by Hart 03/11/2009 at 03:45 PM

Maybe it's just me, but I didn't read any sinister motives into the idea that Mirka has a very strong role in Federer's professional life. I mean, from what I understand, Mirka is the gatekeeper to Federer--and isn't this usually a good thing? Think of all the requests he must have upon his time/person, and I think it would be extrodinarily helpful to have someone whose judgment you trusted acting as a screener and confidant. However, I can also see how someone with this amount of influence could potentially be problematic when trying to establish a new coach-player relationship--which, as we've talked about, in this situation would require a fairly strong emotional trust--as it adds a additional element to an already tricky personality mix.

*shrugs* maybe it's just me, but I don't seen any sinister undertones in saying Mirka has a strong role in Fed's inner circle. Nor do I think it's unfair (or being mean to Mirka) to point out that this could hinder the development of new relationships. No one is suggesting she's beating away potential coaches with a pitchfork while holding Roger hostage with his credit cards in a handbag store. I think that's just how things work.

Posted by Amit 03/11/2009 at 03:46 PM


I would have to say Roger desperately needs a coach/another pair of eyes at this point. Just from empirical observation, the 3 pairs of eyes currently present (Fed/Mirka/Luthi) have not been able to help him with the Nadal hurdle at any level over the last 18 months or so (Wimbledon '07 on). Why would he keep trying the same thing over and over again and expect different results ?

The way I look at it, this is not a Fed or tennis-specific issue. If you have data this compelling in any sort of corporate scenario and don't try to get fresh and meaningful help with great urgency, it would be considered suicidal or staggeringly foolish. It is crucial to realize that a support system that served you well during your dominant years may not work so well thereafter; Federer hasn't shown any indication that he realizes this.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/11/2009 at 03:46 PM

Well Mirka has been with Roger for how long? they met at the Sydney Olympic Games.Of course she is going to have some input.

She had to retire from the game herself with a nagging foot injury.

Being in control of Rogers media etc well that takes a lot of pressure off Roger or for anyone in that matter.

Roger to me puts a lot of confidence in her ability,so he should.

They to me not only have a good working relationship but a great personal one as well.

Gee they are together all the time.Of course at times that does put pressure on the relationship.Well it appears very strong on both sides.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!) 03/11/2009 at 03:46 PM

Because 50% of Nole's immediate support group spell NO
LMAO, Ptenis!

*saves this one for my 'best of TW' collection*

Posted by Vie 03/11/2009 at 03:47 PM

So Mirka is not a yes-man? Roger is?

Posted by ladyjulia 03/11/2009 at 03:47 PM

Can't wait for the press conference..

Gr8 job Pete! Considering the news has been hardly out...

Posted by Sher 03/11/2009 at 03:47 PM


Alright, that's fair.

I think Mirka is possibly the most influential person in Roger's tennis career after Peter Carter, so ignoring her influence is not right.

However, I can only assume that part of the reason you wouldn't do a full article on her is because she has no way to defend her position since her contribution is only seen through Roger's results. She can't hold a press conference and answer questions about the reasons behind what she's doing. Or doesn't want to? To that end, posting a critical piece focused on her involvement would only sour any relationship you may have with Federer. The line gets so murky because it crosses into the low-brow category of personal life since she's his girlfriend.

I would actually be really interested in someone doing an interview with Mirka of the kind you got from Tony Nadal. It might not be on the subject of tennis strategies (or it may be!) but I bet it would shed some light on the situation both for us (who are completely in the dark) and for yourself, allowing to put the other people's comments in perspective.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/11/2009 at 03:47 PM

Well, if Mirka is really affecting decisions that could potentially hamper Federer's career, then, that's the choice he's making. He's a grown man, and, if she is getting in the way of his career, it's something that he should be able to recognize. But if he has made the choice that she is more important to him than his own career, then, that's a choice he's made and he will be prepared to bear the consequences from it.

Posted by Sher 03/11/2009 at 03:48 PM

>So Mirka is not a yes-man?

*waits for ptennisnet or Grant to make the comment* :)

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 03:49 PM

Robbyfan, if you don't trust me, or question my integrity, or think I'm spewing unsubstantiated nonsense, why don't you just go and read somebody else?

Posted by Hart 03/11/2009 at 03:50 PM

I understand the work problem. :( Ditto. Good luck with packing. As for more than one day...not looking good right now. I'm doing my best to keep the option open, but...If it weren't for Friday afternoon traffic making the trip to IW more like 4 hours instead of 2, it'd be more feasible.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/11/2009 at 03:51 PM

Well if we are going to be making up possible scenarios and since Feds psychological frame of mind seems to be the main culprit in the past couple of days(if not year), let me try this.
Neither Fed or Cahill imagined how much the presence of the other would raise the ghost of Peter Carter. So despite all that Cahill might bring to the table, it just made Fed sad to have him around.

Posted by Master Ace 03/11/2009 at 03:51 PM

Before Roger signed(or resigned???) with IMG, did Mirka handle all of his business affairs? If so, I can understand why Pete mentioned Mirka. Also, we are lucky that Pete is telling us as much as he can without jeopardizing his relationship(s)with his contacts.

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