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

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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 robbyfan 03/11/2009 at 03:52 PM

spoken like a teenager bodo. whydon't you just go and play with somebody else??

me thinks you defend yourself too much in an amateurish manner.

Posted by C Note 03/11/2009 at 03:52 PM

I come bring some well-deserved "Pete Love".

And with that, I'm out.

Posted by Sher 03/11/2009 at 03:52 PM

May, interesting comments at @ 3:45 PM. I particularly agree that we should consider the motivations of the outsiders making comments.

[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? ]

word, Hart! There is nothing threatening about it as far as I'm concerned. I'm very curious how the two of them function together so successfully on a business level.

Posted by C Note 03/11/2009 at 03:53 PM

Argh. Meant "bringing" obvs.

And with that, I'm out.

Posted by TENNIS.com 03/11/2009 at 03:53 PM

Sher - I would do a post on Mirka any time, if she would consent to sit with me for an interview. She doesn't do that kind of thing - with anyone. Instead, I make what comment seems appropriate at any time there's a "mirka issue". But Mirka is omnipresent in Roger's life, and I've been given a fair amount of information by those who have dealt with her firsthand. Those opinions/tales that come from someone who may seem to have an axe to grind I discard.

Posted by Benny 03/11/2009 at 03:54 PM

I have a problem believing that roger hasn't clearly defined mirka's role (on a professional level) - i mean rogers personality reeks with organization and i am sure he's left no stone unturned. I have to imagine she is part of the screening process similar to an HR specialist, and that in this instance, cahill was "approved" by Mirka for Roger to evaluate. I honestly cannot believe she has ANY input on fed's coaching selection.

Posted by robbyfan 03/11/2009 at 03:55 PM

I'll bet Mirka would speak with Oprah.

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

Pete,

>She doesn't do that kind of thing - with anyone

To me that's part of her appeal at the moment, while at the same time I'm really curious. I wonder if once he retires, we won't find out a bit more.

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

Oy.. I hate being dragged back in but what can I say ; I'm weak.

>>

Fair enough Pete - but talking about her "potential" influence is some different than implying that she was somehow the grain of sand that brought the Fed/Cahill gears to a halt. Now, in fairness, you didn't say she was...merely that she MIGHT have been. And equally fairly, some people took issue with that. Heck, some people MIGHT take issue that it is ALL speculation and will CONTINUE to be speculation no matter what Fed or Killah say. Which is also ok, because this is a blog/opinion piece, but again, don't be surprised by the push back.

Myself, I'm inclined to blame Fed's mother. I hear she is a holy terror AND since Darren wasn't willing to attach a Federbear to his luggage tag she put the kibosh on the whole thing.

Posted by robbyfan 03/11/2009 at 03:59 PM

I think it all goes back to the dead cow. name?

Posted by ladyjulia 03/11/2009 at 04:00 PM

"Myself, I'm inclined to blame Fed's mother. I hear she is a holy terror AND since Darren wasn't willing to attach a Federbear to his luggage tag she put the kibosh on the whole thing."

LOL CL!

Posted by Hart 03/11/2009 at 04:00 PM

The biggest problem with this whole Roger/Cahill/Mirka/Federbear analysis/supposition/p&$$ing the wind is that it is taking away from Sher's amazingly insightful (and provable) observation back on Your Call that I was right. :) (kidding)

Posted by Vie 03/11/2009 at 04:00 PM

naughty, another drama? you are good!

Posted by lurker 03/11/2009 at 04:00 PM

I've been coming to this site for some time, sometimes gaining some valuable insights, sometimes shaking my head over the bias that turns tennis fans into fanboys. Peter Bodo has made his anti-Federer feelings well known, but never more so than in this unfortunate article. Whatever gossipy Mirka-facts you may know, (right, no embarassament meant here...)you do not know what happened between these two men. Just more prejudiced conjecture as you continue to ride the Rafa-wagon (a fine, classy player who might cringe of some the comments made here).
I honestly believe Roger Federer wants to be the Greatest Player he can be, to get these number races over with and go back to playing a game he loves, leaving the GOAT thing where it belongs, squarely in the lap of the press, who insist on making it an issue.
I'm not really surprised by this post, but I am still a little disappointed. You couldn't, as Alexis said, just take the news at face value; the lure of knocking Federer was just too strong.

Posted by Andrew 03/11/2009 at 04:01 PM

To all intents and purposes, Roger Federer and Mirka Vavrinec are married. She's a bit different to, say, Brooklyn Decker or Xisca, in that she's a former top 100 tennis player, so she's likely to have more to contribute than personal impressions of another person.

I'm sure Pete's sources have said "this is what we see when Federer's mulling over an important decision." I didn't get a sense from his post that they had told him "this is what we heard specifically about why RF and DC didn't work out." It's possible that Pete or Steve has been hitting the phones since then, but in reading through the comments I don't have a sense that Pete is making any specific statement, rather that he's noting the strong gravitational field Federer's "wife" exerts over his life and career.

Posted by ladyjulia 03/11/2009 at 04:02 PM

I wonder what Nadal must be feeling in the midst of all this...after all he is responsible for the beginning of the soap opera!

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

oh shoot... my post didn't include this quote from Pete and therefore made even less sense than normal. Here's what sHOULD have come right before Fair Enough.':

"But I think enough has been written about Mirka's role in Roger's life....etc."

even text edit won't let me copy the whole quote. grrr....

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/11/2009 at 04:03 PM

I know for certain Darren had trouble with Lleytons parents buying in too much.There were so many rumours at that time that Darren could not handle the constant "tennis parents" thing.

Lleytons dad was having too much say at the time.He was Lleyton's business manager/advisor at the time.

When their patnership ended many people felt it was because of Lleytons dad.

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

Pete: Love to you...not only for getting the story up in, like, 40 minutes, but for expressing your skepticism yesterday about the wisdom of the Cahill choice -- even though Killer was the one that many TWers were recommending for months! It made me wonder about the choice, too.

There must be something we need to find out about such a soft-talking, seemingly mild-mannered Aussie having the nickname, Killer. :) Did that killer characteristic show itself during negotiations/auditioning? Ah, I love speculating!

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/11/2009 at 04:04 PM

Pete ... I'll come right out and ask. Are you saying that you know for a fact that Mirka is the reason why the Cahill-Federer coaching deal did not go through? And, are you also saying that you know for a fact that she is largely responsible for his reluctance to employ a full-time coach and/or any problems he's had with past coaches?

Posted by CL 03/11/2009 at 04:05 PM

robbyfan - Julliet! By George.. or Juliet... I think you've got it! It is the curse of Juliet looking down from hamburger heaven!

Posted by Pspace 03/11/2009 at 04:05 PM

""I wonder what Nadal must be feeling""

Seconded! I hope Fed gets ignored by the media for a while. Let's focus on the real No. 1 and the stuff on court, rather than all these shenanigans. Unfortunately, Rafa is an extremely private guy, and not at all forthcoming in his interviews. Kinda boring. Zen Master Toni is an interesting guy tho'.

Posted by Sher 03/11/2009 at 04:06 PM

Hart, it is indeed provable. In fact!

===
Posted by Hart (umbrellas in retreat) 02/17/2009 @ 7:04 PM

[...]
I imagine a doctor told him, listen, if you continue to play, you may or may not cause more serious injury. You may or may not cause a compensation injury (eg, a shoulder injury from the shoulder overworking to protect the back). HOwever, if you don't take a break, you'll likely have to deal with this all season, cause it won't die down and go away if you don't rest it. You're at a natural break in the season; no Masters events till March and no GS till May. Take time now, get it under control, so you don't have to either deal with it the rest of the year, or be forced to take time off at a less opportune moment.

==
Then,

==
Published: March 11, 2009

“Both the doctor and Pierre said, ‘You can either continue on with this — it’s not a major problem but it could be a nagging injury — or you can take the time to rest it and rehab it and strengthen it so it most likely won’t be a problem in the future,’ ” Godsick said.
==


Hee ;-)

Posted by CL 03/11/2009 at 04:06 PM

ladyjulia - indeed... I'm not sure I have ever seen Rafa chortle... but if he can, I'm sure he is.

Posted by Ryan 03/11/2009 at 04:07 PM

I'm guessing Cahill is as Killer as Rosewall has Muscles.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/11/2009 at 04:07 PM

As I understand it, Mirka is indeed in charge of handling press relations for Roger. Might this not explain certain attitudes expressed by journalists about her?
I bet she gets lots and lots of horrid things said about and I bet she does not care much... She Is The Gatekeeper mwahahahahaah

Apart from that she is Roger Federer's lover and partner, so not really so surprising that her happiness with his team is also high on his agenda.

there how's that for drama Vie? ;))

Posted by Sher 03/11/2009 at 04:07 PM

>I wonder what Nadal must be feeling

Haha, haven't you heard? He's still answering questions about the trophy presentation. I am SO amused.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/11/2009 at 04:08 PM

Andrew ... I didn't think Pete said very much about Mirka other than that one line in his article. But, his blog entries here are more revealing, and there's an implication there that Mirka's influence has been a hampering factor in his decision making.

Posted by TENNIS.com 03/11/2009 at 04:08 PM

Okay, so tell me honestly, would y'all enjoy this place as much if I didn't engage in speculative posts? It's a serious and, I think, legitimate question.

Posted by CL 03/11/2009 at 04:08 PM

Sher - @4:07 ROFL

Posted by Sofia 03/11/2009 at 04:08 PM

Pete regarding the Mirka issue I just want to say that I do not for a minute think your comments were intended to speak bad about her as a person. Indeed I think she is a good person.

However, from a professional point (Roger's tennis "carrera") her continous presence may be sometimes an obstacle, and even think this may be unintentional.

It is clear that she has Roger's complete trust and confidence and she is evidently involved in anything that goes arround him, so her opinon on coaching for example certainly influences his decisions.

Now, the funny thing is that it seems that neither Roger nor Mirka realice this may be an issue, they just simply trust each other and try why they think is best.

PD. Sorry if my english has some mistakes or misuderstandings not a native speaker.

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 04:09 PM

Amit - correct me if I'm wrong, but since 2007 Wimbledon, Nadal and Federer have played 6 times, with Nadal winning 5 of those matches.

However, a closer look reveals something interesting. If you throw out 2008 Roland Garros, which was an extremely one-sided smackdown of Roger put on by Nadal, and even the 2007 Masters Cup beatdown Roger put on Nadal, Nadal has scored a mere 25 points more than Roger in 4 victories. Throw out the 2008 Monte Carlo match, and it's 11 total points more than Fed in three wins.

Hardly looks like Roger needs to be overly desparate.

2009 Australian: Nadal - 173, Federer - 174
2008 Wimbledon: Nadal - 209, Federer - 204
2008 Hamburg: Nadal - 113, Federer - 106
2008 Monte Carlo: Nadal: 76, Federer - 62

Posted by robbyfan 03/11/2009 at 04:09 PM

As I recall Fed and Mirka did a lovely piece with Murphy Jensen-a true unbiased journalist!

Posted by Benny 03/11/2009 at 04:10 PM

This debacle is a substantial setback for fed and it's important to get to the root problem - Pete, i hope you can do it. Does mirka have too much control? Is fed difficult to work with at this stage of his career? Did Cahill offer boneheaded advise on stepping around the b/h on the add serve against nadal? and fed quickly banished him from dubai. I mean 20 weeks is to much travel! are you kidding me - this is in the basic job description posting! I once heard cahill say that fed should approach the coaches role as if he were hiring a CEO.

Posted by CL 03/11/2009 at 04:10 PM

Peter - (I love the new formality BTW) Wait...WHCH question? The speculative one about Mirka or the speculative one about speculative posts?

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

Bodo says-

Okay, so tell me honestly, would y'all enjoy this place as much if I didn't engage in speculative posts?

So now you admit it is all speculation on your part? Good grief

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!) 03/11/2009 at 04:11 PM

I find the whole Fed/Mirka dynamic absolutely fascinating, though I definitely understand the discomfort that Antoinette and others have expressed. There's a thin line between being perceived as the loving, supportive ever-present partner/confidant and the overreaching Lady Macbeth/Mama Bear who has TMF completely p-whipped.

Does anyone remember what Mirka's "official" title used to be? (I remember a few years ago, she was always identified as something else (Fed's manager, maybe?), before she handed off those responsibilities to someone else so she could be "just" the GF). I think that change in roles also complicates their r/ship.

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

"""
Okay, so tell me honestly, would y'all enjoy this place as much if I didn't engage in speculative posts?
"""

Pete, NO! The blog format is meant for speculation, and your opinion is worth a lot more than many others. So, speculate away. Just don't feel obliged to justify yourself to every dissenter. Tennis is art not science!

Posted by CL 03/11/2009 at 04:12 PM

Sofia - you English is fine. Thank you for your post.

Posted by Ryan 03/11/2009 at 04:12 PM

Pete--

People wouldn't mind if you were speculating about Xavier Malisse or Flavia Pennetta...

For what it's worth, I don't care about why they're not together right now--we'll figure it out soon enough. I'm curious to see how Roger performs in California.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 04:12 PM

C'mon guys, ever heard of yoko ono? She was her husband's business manager and gatekeeper and he liked it that way. Mirka's in a similar role. I completely believe what pete is saying about her influence in fed's life. she's been the only constant for many years. I just think it's over-the-line when you have to go through the spouse to get to the Big Dog himself. If that is indeed fed's arrangement it's not a good one for him. He and his coach should have one-on-one communication. Who's the control freak here? mirka or roger? God pete, what i would do to know what you know!

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 04:13 PM

oh and by the way, i thought 700-count sheets were about the best money could buy.

Posted by ladyjulia 03/11/2009 at 04:15 PM

Maybe Cahill suggested that Federer try out a two-handed BH.

Well, they said it was a try-out. It would have been worse if Tony Godsick said Cahill was hired and then this happened.

Posted by C Note 03/11/2009 at 04:15 PM

Pete -- NO.

This is your site, your blog. I don't think you've ever claimed that these postings are "tennis articles" or "tennis news". This is basically a spot for your op-ed pieces and random (or not so random) musings. I like your speculation and your insight. Having you report "Roger and Cahill end coaching relationship. All calls to both camps have not been returned." Is boring as, well, you know what I'm saying.

Keep on keepin' on, dude.

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 04:15 PM

I was under the impression for the longest time that Mirka was not terribly facile with English (am I wrong with this?). Which is really why I am having a hard time imagining her as the main go between between between English speaking coaches and agents and Roger. But on a bigger picture level she probably is, once the coach can get beyond her as the "gatekeeper" then maybe they have one-on-one conversations. Certainly people were at practices where Higgy gave Federer direct advice (on the FH drop shot..)

Annie: originally Pete had 180 thread count there.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/11/2009 at 04:15 PM

Pete ... you haven't answered my question @ 4:04 PM. I'm curious. To be honest, I've wondered myself just how much influence Mirka has had on Federer's coaching decisions. If you have some information about the fact that she was instrumental in some way in axing this deal with Cahill, I wish you would tell.

Posted by CL 03/11/2009 at 04:16 PM

Pspace - absospeculatin'lutely! But as I said...in a forum like this Peter can't be surprised if he gets a little speculatin' push back from speculators who speculation differs from his.

There is a now a contest to see who can use the word...or variation of the word "speculation" the most times in a single sentence. Winner's prize is a highly speculative rt ticket to Dubai on Speculation Air.

Posted by TENNIS.com 03/11/2009 at 04:17 PM

Crazy for Rog - here's what I'll say about that: A number of people in a position to know believe Mirka torpedoed Roche (personally, I more or less came down on Mirka's side in that one). And I know coaches who say Mirka's role would be a serious stumbling block to taking on the role.

And look, at the risk of starting a gender-based flame war, I'm going to say this: The overwhelming majority of men on the tour find the idea of Mirka being a "coach" in any meaningful sense an absolutely absurd idea. That doesn't mean they're right. But it's what they think.

Now, you can shoot the messenger (me). But you need to know the truth about this, should you ever run into an ATP player in a bar and start telling them how you feel about Mirka's having a valuable coaching role in their relationship.

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 04:18 PM

Pspace and C Note, I agree with you. Regarding the Mirka stuff, while I found it surprising and wanted clarification, Pete made it pretty clear that it was speculation. If he put speculations like these in his main website postings on the Davis Cup, on the other hand, we'd have a big problem.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 04:18 PM

j6_strings: that's any incredible statistic! so little stands between them. but i think you can say that about most pro-matches that aren't complete beat downs. i'm always surprised at the number of winners/UFE's etc. by both players. it's usually pretty close even if the score isn't.

Posted by CL 03/11/2009 at 04:18 PM

crazyone - I don't know how good Mirka's english is either. I do remember that in that long ago Wimby interview they did, her English was more accented and hesitant than his. But that WAs a long time ago and all this time around Roger and the other English speakers in his camp may well have changed that.

Posted by Hart 03/11/2009 at 04:18 PM

lol Sher. See? clearly my posts have to predictive ability of Nostradamus :)

Pete: I can only speak for myself, of course, but I think speculative posts are valuable to this sort of forum. Naturally, not everyone will agree--hence the speculation--and some people will disagree...vehemently. They often provoke interesting discussions. I think that these types of posts are an interesting and unique part of an internet blog community. I wouldn't expect to see the above article in the NYT, or even Tennis Magazine however, as I believe those mediums need to remain more fact-based. However, I can get those types of articles many other places. I think the speculative posts serve as good jumping-off points, where it is incumbent upon the reader to digest the contents with one's own metrics, and remember that 'speculative', while not necessarily correct, also does not necessarily meand 'bad and wrong.'

and dude, it's not like we readers don't spend at least 75% of the comments engaged in pure speculation. ;)

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/11/2009 at 04:19 PM

"Okay, so tell me honestly, would y'all enjoy this place as much if I didn't engage in speculative posts?"

Absolutely Not ! I wouldn't enjoy reading your writing half as much if you didn't speculate, Pete. Most fans here get it. Besides, I really didn't see anything objectionable about Mirka from what you wrote. But I wish you'd give us the scoop.

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 04:20 PM

Annie: not always. Those were exceptionally close matches (especially the Wimbly and AO finals), more so than even some Federer-Nadal matches in the past. Most 5 setters don't have margins that close.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/11/2009 at 04:21 PM

Annie LOL!

Posted by F_express 03/11/2009 at 04:21 PM

What about Justine Henin's coach, Carlos Rodríguez? I think he would be fantastic for Roger both tacticaly and emotionaly. I think when it comes to make a player believe in him/herself, no one comes even close to him. Just look what he did to a small and fragile girl, who ended up as a dominating force in women's tour.

Posted by Pspace 03/11/2009 at 04:21 PM

Speculators speculated about speculations about speculations about speculations....

Infinitely many times. Now, if someone can generate a larger infinity, they can beat me. But, since that's unlikely, Dubai here I come. New coach for Rog is here!

Posted by Ryan 03/11/2009 at 04:21 PM

Pete,

Regardless of your personal stance on this issue (to keep you out of the potential flame war), can you explain why, from those players' perspectives, Mirka (or, theoretically, any woman) couldn't have any beneficial coaching input?

Posted by ladyjulia 03/11/2009 at 04:21 PM

Pete,

Did Mirka ever coach? I thought Roger said it takes him 15 seconds to figure out the opponent's game. It made sense that he didn't need anybody to coach him.

Would Roger even listen to Mirka if she tried to coach him?

I wonder who is the tennis genius here...is it the pair of them together or is it just Roger?

Posted by CL 03/11/2009 at 04:22 PM

Heh - I'm not gonna flame you Peter, but since according to Tipsy at least, the overwhelming majority of men on the tour find that the women on the WTA tour are absolutely useless as tennis players, and probably as anything besides one thing else, I'm not gonna give much credence to that sort of boys in the club house chit chat either. You KNOW how men love to gossip.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 04:22 PM

c1: re: the mirka stuff. pete made it pretty clear that it's not that speculative, that he has proprietary info he cannot share that backs up his claim. i'm prepared to believe him. It doesn't mean she's not a wonderful person just that she's got alot of influence in his life.

Posted by TENNIS.com 03/11/2009 at 04:22 PM

And let's wait a second here: I never assigned a large role for Mirka in this dynamic. It's just one of a number of potential issues that may have shaped the decision.

Robbyfan, you need to learn how to read, and the specific meanings and nuances of words and sentences; I'm sure there's a good junior college near you that offers continuing education courses.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/11/2009 at 04:23 PM

Pete ... thanks for your @4.17 PM. So Mirka influenced Roger to fire Roche? I can't say that it surprises me. I just hope she didn't torpedo the Cahill deal as well. If she has Roger's best interests at heart she shouldn't be getting in the way. If she is, then, he's a fool for letting it happen.

Posted by Vie 03/11/2009 at 04:23 PM

Pete, please carry on. This is your blog. I come here knowing that I'll be reading your well-crafted pieces. Of course the opinions and speculations you inject in them are of value.

Posted by Alexis 03/11/2009 at 04:24 PM

Great post Lurker at 4:00pm. I think both Roger and Darren wanted this to work...why else did they even try?? But I think it did come down to the amount of travel. Roger wanted more than Darren was willing to give with his young family. It was an impasse that could not be overcome. There are no bad guys here. There is nothing wrong with Roger wanting more time from a coach and there is nothing wrong with Darren wanting more time at home. We all knew this was a trial in Dubai and my guess is that both Darren and Roger had high-hopes that all obstacles could be overcome.

I guess not. But leave it to Bodo and others to determine that this reason is not 'dirty' enough to be true. It's much more news-worthy to offer up other possible reasons because it makes for great banter. Well, you accomplished that goal. Well done, Pete.

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 04:24 PM

Annie - I know, match stats are often pretty close, and obviously moreso in close matches. It's just that many Fed bashers and doubters are quick to dismiss TMF's chances against Nadal, when they are apparently more evenly matched than they would seem to be.

Of course, past results won't prevent Nadal from going 6-0, 6-0 upside Rogers head the next time they play, or vice versa, but I suggest that recent matches between them would predict a hard fought affair.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/11/2009 at 04:25 PM

Well of course Roger and Mirka would have discussed the coaching of Darren.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/11/2009 at 04:25 PM

BTW ... I don't see Mirka as any type of "coach". It's obvious her advice, and Luthi's for that matter, aren't helping him any.

Posted by May 03/11/2009 at 04:25 PM

"Those opinions/tales that come from someone who may seem to have an axe to grind I discard."

Really? And, pray, how does one go about identifying these axe grinders? Are they the ones with a mad glint in their eyes, or perhaps the guys swearing they've seen Mirka practicing black magic?

I assume you speak about a fairly intelligent, sophisticated bunch of people. Naturally, they are not going to show their true feeling towards Mirka or demonstrate any resentment they've built up. This is why I would consider WHICH kind exactly of 'firstand expericnes' they have had with her. Couldn’t be they were nagging her too hard to interview Roger and she was naturally getting quite impatient, could it, now…?

Posted by CL 03/11/2009 at 04:25 PM

Congrats Pspace! But remember, both your ticket and your airline are entirely speculative so make sure you take on some of the ultimate in speculation: insurance!

Hee... just happened to notice that today is International Women's Day. Hilary Clinton and Michele Obama are co-hosting a little ceremony. Now talk about coaching!

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 04:26 PM

AM: what made you laugh? did i say something really stupid?

Posted by TENNIS.com 03/11/2009 at 04:26 PM

Ryan - good question. Most ATP men feel that women have no experience of the game at the level at which they compete (just look at how few women come to the net), they have no real understanding of the role of power in the game, and they are usually woefully ignorant of nuances of technique and strategy. To borrow a popular basketball analogy, the men play the game above the rim; the women play it below it. Please, don't take this as in indictment of the women's game (by me or the ATP men, although some of them would admit to it being that). It's just that it's a different game, played with different tools and objectives. The two games should not be compared, although you occasionally have a woman with a greater feeling for a "men's game" and, I always felt, vica versa.

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 04:27 PM

Annie: see Pete's post below yours. It's speculative that this played a role in why the thing with Cahill didn't work out. This just happened in the last two days, so I don't think there's been time for dinner chats and the like.

If Mirka was indeed the coach (which I don't believe she was), then heck, she's one of the best coaches on tour. I think she's more of the manager...and Federer's the coach. It may be her belief that Federer is a better coach for himself than the Cahills and Roches of the world that has a role, rather than her belief that she herself is a better coach than the Cahills and Roches of the world (pure speculation).

so, I didn't follow things as closely in the days of Rochey...why do you think that was a good decision, Pete? Because he (TR) was too detached and it was basically a useless relationship by that point?

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/11/2009 at 04:27 PM

Annie The cotton sheets? way to go lol!

Posted by AmyLu 03/11/2009 at 04:28 PM

Pete, just a note of support from me. I may not always agree with everything you write, but I appreciate how you speculate and really start conversations here. :)

I've always assumed that Mirka is a huge influence in Roger's life, and I don't think that has to be a criticism, just an observation. Presumably anyone who enters Roger's camp will need to co-exist with both Roger and Mirka, much like I would imagine anyone who joined the Nadal camp would need to co-exist with Rafa and Toni (and so on and so on..)

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!) 03/11/2009 at 04:28 PM

C'mon guys, ever heard of yoko ono?
~~~~~

Annie - I don't know whether to burst out laughing or cry!

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 04:28 PM

pete: i'm with C-Note. We're all speculators here, but you've got inside knowledge that makes your speculations credible.

Posted by TENNIS.com 03/11/2009 at 04:28 PM

May - Sheesh, do I really need to answer that? People who, for instance, wanted to get Roger's ear for one reason or another (play an exo, score an interview, do a deal) but were rebuffed.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/11/2009 at 04:29 PM

Pspace Hey I am between jobs at the moment,gee I could go as your humble assistant no?

Gee all that wonderful shopping,my mind boggles?

Posted by Samantha Elin 03/11/2009 at 04:29 PM

I do not think the lack of a coach or having a coach is the answer for Roger. I just feel that a player can only dominate for a short time period and that is it, eventually there will be someone who can beat you. This was true for all who have dominated, Graf, Martina N, Sampras and Serena. It's a natural thing for it to come to an end. The fact that someone could dominate and win as much as Roger did is a testimony to just how great he was. Eventually Rafa's reign will end. It's all part of the natural process of change. Go Caro, Scandinavia's#1!

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 04:30 PM

sblily: you're supposed to laugh! She was the first wife/business manager that came to my mind but there are many others out there.

Posted by Pspace 03/11/2009 at 04:30 PM

AM, Much as I'd love to have you, I already have an assistant. Tangi has volunteered for the job. The idea (as you suggested) is that she goes shopping with Mirka, while I get some alone time with Rog ;-).

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 04:31 PM

Well folks, it's been fun, but I am going to speculate that I'll have a lot of time on my hands if I don't get some work done, because I will be out of a job, so I will have to leave you to it.

Posted by TENNIS.com 03/11/2009 at 04:31 PM

C-1, I just think Roger needed a wingman, not a grandpa. And I think Mirka's presence has always been an inhibitor there. Is that somehow insulting or unfair to Mirka? You tell me.

Posted by Pspace 03/11/2009 at 04:33 PM

A new Pistol Pete is in town! ROFL.

Posted by CL 03/11/2009 at 04:33 PM

OK...now really confused here...so Peter ...in your response to May you seem to indicate that people who have spoken to you about her were people who had been "rebuffed" by Mirka???? Or am a missing a giant helping of sarcasm??? I truly don't know. And if these ARE the people you are get your Mirka insights from, is it not...um...obvious..that they are not objective in what they are telling you. ??? Are any of your souces 'pro-Mirka'? you know, for that whole 'fair and balanced' thing?

Posted by Antoinette 03/11/2009 at 04:34 PM

My comment on the whole Mirka debate seems to have been moderated...I wonder why?

I just said that in dragging Mirka and Roger's personal relationship into the debate the press have apparently decided to take the low road in their attempts to figure out Federer. I also said that this was unlikey to make Federer open up more to the press in the future and that in opinion he has good reason to be wary and distrustful of "journalists"

I guess the objectionable part was when I asked Mr. Bodo how bringing players personal relationship into the debate about his coach was in a any way a fulfilment of his "journalistic" duties.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/11/2009 at 04:35 PM

Miss Tangi Spoil Sport! maybe I could go as her assistant,gee should need someone to carry those shopping bags.

Posted by Ruth 03/11/2009 at 04:35 PM

I am completely in accord with what Hart said in her 3:45 pm comment. There was at time when Mirka alone functioned as Roger's manager, PR person, travel arranger etc etc until, with Roger's expanding career, those duties became too much for her to handle alone.

It is not too much of a stretch to think that she has still kept her eye on and her hand in his professional affairs and that the extent to which or the manner in which she does that could be both beneficial and harmful at various times -- just as it would if she were a man in the same position.

There's nothing surprising (or wrong) about that at all.

Posted by CL 03/11/2009 at 04:35 PM

sbilly - Ever hear the Bare Naked Ladies song about Yoko?

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 04:35 PM

No, it's not, Pete. Today we're talking about the (possible) downsides of such a relationship but there are lots of upsides that have probably played a major role in Federer being the successful guy he is today. Though fundamentally I still think it's Fed who's really the stubborn one, and it's his stubbornness that is both a great gift and a great hindrance (but all in all, mostly a gift). It's a stubbornness that he shares with Sampras...but IMO Rafa doesn't really have it.

Another question: do we know what happened with Lundgren?

Posted by Joseph Zohar 03/11/2009 at 04:36 PM

In an answer to a question on his website, Roger Federer described himself as being 'open minded'. If that is the case, why doesn't he allow coaches, players, and tennis 'maivins' (experts), to send him suggestions about improving his game to its full potential. He could then try the ones he likes on his own, and be in full control. I, for one, would love to show RF in 10 minutes or less, how he can improve his backhand (most important), serve (use Pete Sampras' mechanics), and footwork (easy).

Joseph Zohar, PT, USPTA, Irvine, CA.

Posted by Sher 03/11/2009 at 04:36 PM

>would y'all enjoy this place as much if I didn't engage in speculative posts?

No way, Pete. Isn't it half the fun to bat these speculations around and see who turns out to be right in the end? :) As long as we all own up to our mistakes as well as successes.

As for Mirka being a large part of the decision to cut away from Roche -- I though that was common knowledge. Considering right after that Federer baggeled Nadal for the first time on clay and came over to hug her afterwards (which he never does), I'd say he pretty emphatically came down on her side too.

Posted by CL 03/11/2009 at 04:36 PM

Antoinette - I doubt you have been moderated. Your original post is probably back on page 1 and we have all been automatically paginated to page 2.

Disclaimer: The above, of course, just speculation in my part."

Posted by TENNIS.com 03/11/2009 at 04:37 PM

Hi, AmyLu, and thanks!

BTW, I think the Yoko Ono comparison is in some ways apt.

CfR - I doubt that Mirka torpedoed the deal, as I wrote I really can't say for sure that she was even around. I can say that everyone is aware of her role in the Federer camp, and she has always been a factor to reckon with.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/11/2009 at 04:37 PM

Maybe Mirka really wants to get married and have kids, and, as long as Roger is totally focussed on his career she doesn't think it's going to happen. A full time coach would have his nose to the grind-stone the entire time ... which means, less time with Mirka. So - she will only allow Fed to take on a coach who will let her dictate Fed's schedule? Now I'm really reaching here ! Maybe Federer needs to dump Mirka and get himself a Sports Illustrated model girlfriend, who doesn't have much of a brain to make herself a nuisance ! ;)

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/11/2009 at 04:37 PM

Peter Bodo. Clearly you would want or need no encouragement from me but I am all for speculation.... it is just when it gets dressed up as something else that I am not keen at all.
Now you have indeed raised a very very interesting topic regarding the womens game compared to (not versus) the mens game. they are indeed it would seem two different things. So which woman might make a good coach for Fed, if any? Martina?(N not H). That is something I would love to hear your views on.

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 04:38 PM

btw, when we say "the Federer camp", who do we refer to? Mirka, Tony Godsick, Pierre Paganini, Severin Luthi, and...

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!) 03/11/2009 at 04:38 PM

Annie - I know! LOL. But Yoko is a 4-letter word in some quarters; Yoko = we're doomed, this ship is going down.

(There was a whole Flight of the Conchords episode about this. :))

Posted by Spacenoxx (El Stupido aka The Moron From Majorca) 03/11/2009 at 04:38 PM

Please Pete,

If you stopped speculating, there would be no point coming to the site except to chat with fellow TWers. That part (speculation) is the core of this site as only becuase of that and the discussions on TW that we lesser mortals learn the nuances of the sport.

Reading news based sites would be like reading a post that says "Roger should come to the net more often", but your articles tend to explain/speculate the "when" and the "why" of it.

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