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The Gilded Cage 03/10/2009 - 6:09 PM

by Pete Bodo

I couldn't help but notice in the Comments on my last post that someone wondered why my first post-Davis Cup post would be about Roger Federer, a guy who wasn't involved in the weekend play. It's a fair question, I guess, but the answer is obvious: Roger Federer matters.

Tmf Some of you will ascribe sinister motives when I say this, but for an Internet journalist Roger Federer also is a gift that keeps giving. The very mention of his name ensures that you can multiply the expected number of comments by at least two, simply because of the unstoppable force (Fed fans) vs. immovable object (Fed "skeptics," if that's the right term) dynamic. If you want to yield to your darker impulses and embrace the idea that this is the only reason I would post on The Mighty Fed, I can't stop you (BTW, did I tell you I get paid by the comment? Just kidding!).

But on this subject, keep these things in mind:

1 - The Swiss are as enthusiastic about Davis Cup as anyone.

2 - Federer is at a stage in his career than can be called "delicate."

3 - Federer just hired a coach, after much discussion of that subject.

4 - Federer until very recently is the world, make that the interplanetary, no. 1 and GOAT candidate.

5 - Some decisions, or missed opportunities, are more costly than others.

With that in mind, let's get rolling here. Incidentally, I'm not going to quote anyone in this story for the obvious reasons. I wasn't conducting official "interviews," just trying to gauge the direction of the winds from insiders - many of them officials and journalists who might be reluctant to speak freely on the record for any number of reasons, including the prospect of jeopardizing their relationship with The Mighty Fed. This admission on my part may create the impression that there's some kind of anti-Federer conspiracy underlying all this, either at this space or even out there in the tennis community. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

At the same time, this underscores something vital about TMF's way of doing business. As an enormous international superstar from a small nation, he has a great deal of personal power. And while TMF is at heart a live-and-let-live guy who's intensely and fully dedicated to his career and tennis self-interest, he also appears to be, to use a direct quote, "a control freak."  A less charitable analyst suggested that Federer is surrounded largely by courtiers or, if you prefer, "yes" men. And in Mirka, he has a unique and powerful gatekeeper.

This may not be stop-the-presses news, and I'm sure you also know a lot of other great, dedicated people who can be described as control freaks. You may be one yourself, although the control freak, like the classic cuckold, is often the last to know.

Anyway, trying to keep control of  "the message" is always a mixed blessing and if doing it through one impulse or another reduces distractions (it certainly did for Pete Sampras), it can also isolate the controller from the world around him, at a time when it might be productive to listen. This has always been the best argument for TMF hiring a coach, and having the wisdom to choose someone who might stretch or challenge him (in a good way).

And let's remember, Sampras avoided the isolation all great players are prone to partly because he had productive relationship with Paul Annacone that was as strong as it was long. And there's another big difference in the two iconic players' situations. Put bluntly, Sampras never had to contend with a Rafael Nadal.

To that end, I learned last weekend that when Federer announced that Jose Higueras would be his new coach, the Swiss media had hoped to interview Higueras. But the Federer camp insisted on a media blackout. That might avert a potential public relations disaster (although it's hard to imagine one emerging from a Higueras interview), or the broadcast of state secrets that TMF might rightfully prefer to keep under wraps. But as one journalist put it, "This was a fifty something year-old Spanish guy with a lot of experience and previous exposure to the media and the fans. All you do by keeping him silent is raise questions and feed speculation and rumor."

Speaking of public relations. . . With regard to the Davis Cup situation, one source I spoke with felt that what controversy surrounded TMF's decision to pull out was created mostly by "poor communication." Federer pulled out of the Davis Cup fairly early in the process, which just made it seem that much more like a cold calculation. But, as this observer noted, "Roger basically pulled out when he did for a good reason. He's a pretty responsible guy, and he knew it would be worse for everyone, including the host nation, if he delayed announcing the decision. He probably made the commitment to play Davis Cup this year too soon. If the team advanced, he was facing maybe away ties at Argentina (the nations haven't played since 1952, when Switzerland hosted)  and Spain (Switzerland hosted the Spanish in 2007). It was maybe too much, and he realized it without saying as much after the Australian Open."

Of course, a Davis Cup aficionado might say such calculations shouldn't really come into it: you're either on the Davis Cup bus or off it. But the impression among many observers is that TMF may have agreed to play Davis Cup under pressure, and a desire to "do the right thing." But it was a moment of weakness that he later came to regret, for a number of reasons including the state of his back.

In a classic case of bad timing, Federer also started working out in Dubai with new coach Darren Cahill while all this was going on. It's legitimate to ask just how badly he's hurt if he can be hitting balls and preparing for Indian Wells with Cahill while the overmanned Swiss are struggling in Birmingham, although lord knows there's an enormous difference between light workouts and potentially grueling five-set Davis Cup matches. How you feel about this is probably determined by how you feel about Davis Cup, and, to some degree, how you feel about the "commitment" issue when a top draw pulls out of an event where (unlike at a Grand Slam) his presence is weighted more heavily.

Of course, there is the team aspect to consider. Pull out of a tournament, you hurt only your own chances of winning. Pull out of a team event, and you damage the entire squad's chances and, in the case of Davis Cup, an entire effort mounted on behalf of your country. That resonates more with some people than others, and I don't think either side is "right" or "wrong."

On that subject, sure there's an unavoidable jingoistic element to Davis Cup. But remember that the intent of Davis Cup is to foster understanding and friendship between nations. In a subtle way, the patriotic overtones of Davis Cup are vital to the mission because Davis Cup often shows that nations can compete, with a fair amount of chest-pounding and flag waving (and wearing), without the shivs and brass knuckles coming into play. A paucity of this national "pride" would ultimately be a detriment to Davis Cup, begging the question: So what's the point? The best ties are the ones in which national pride and an appreciation and embrace of the visiting squad are displayed in equal measure.

Anyway, the Swiss establishment is allegedly angry at Federer, although it's in no position to vent its frustration. That's one of the great strides the game took when the players wrested control of their own destiny from the federations. But the federations always have a whole lot riding on the Davis Cup effort, and Federer pulling out was an embarrassment to the Swiss - especially, but not exclusively, for the functionaries and swells who like to parade around at these ties like bantam roosters.

In the end, though, Davis Cup is also about grow-the-game efforts in every nation - not just in terms of prestige, but financially as well. TMF has grown the game a thousand-fold more than any program or initiative of the federation suits, but you can see why they're bummed out and simmering. The Davis Cup decision also impacted Federer's popularity at home. As one scribe so colorfully put it, "Roger still has the wind of the Swiss people at his back, but that wind is now a little colder."

That wind, of course, could warm up pretty quickly should Federer re-establish his sovereignty, and especially if he continues to add to his impressive Davis Cup credentials. Whether he does or not may hinge partly on Cahill. So everyone is wondering: Is Cahill the magic bullet Federer needs to gun down Nadal? Will Cahill bring the only ingredient that may be missing to Federer's quest for ultimate status in tennis history? I have mixed feelings on that score.

One friend/lurker emailed me to say that she wasn't sure Cahill was the right choice. Let me quote her:

I think Cahill likes to school someone regarding point construction and such, so to speak.  That's why Andre and Lleyton are perfect pupils. Would Federer's personality be suited to that? No! I see Pete and Fed as more intuitive players - they like to practice the basics etc., but less is more when it comes to talking about what to do on the court, if you know what I mean..

I think there's some truth in that. On the other hand, at the time he hired Cahill, Andre Agassi was already a fully developed, mature player, as well as a towering personality and wonderful analyst of the game - his own and that of others. Yet he freely admitted that Cahill brought a lot to the table. So we can be pretty sure that Cahill isn't going to drive TMF nuts by nit-picking his technique or boring him to tears with complicated strategic theories over breakfast on the morning of the Wimbledon final.

On the other hand (I have three, as you've probably noticed in the past), Cahill hasn't entirely convinced me with his analysis/commentary, and I buy into my friend's doubts on that score. It's not that I've disagreed with his observations as a commentator, it's more like they've left me more inclined to shrug than to smack my forehand and exclaim, "Of course!" And I'm fully aware of how perilous it is to take that position, given Agassi's endorsement. I guess we'll see how it works out with Federer, because there probably isn't a trickier coaching assignment in tennis.

I think TMF needs a "big picture" guy and, first and foremost, a wingman. Therefore, I place the "emotional" component of coaching ahead of the technical aspect. We're not just talking about support and seeing eye-to-eye here; sometimes, a great coach doesn't see eye-to-eye with his protege. A big part of the coach's job is to secure the confidence of the player and to figure out just how to dissent in a constructive way. Pete Sampras used to drive Annacone nuts, because he liked to show that he could beat anyone at his own game (the legendary Alex Corretja match was a great example). Annacone's mantra, meanwhile, was: You're Pete Sampras, the dominator. Go out and dominate them.

That back-and-forth didn't hurt the relationship because Paul knew how to make his view clear without seeming to be at loggerheads with Pete, and the two men had built up enough mutual trust and confidence to disagree comfortably.

This is an especially important consideration for Federer, because he's coming to this coaching game awfully late (so late, in fact, that the Sampras-Annacone model may be valid in only a limited number of ways). But it's also important because of this "control freak" issue. A fair number of people out there suspect or even fear that Roger Federer has imprisoned himself in the gilded cage of his own perfection, and any tennis player out there will tell you that the hardest thing to break or change are your own habits and convictions - that's especially true if your way of doing business has wrought enormous success and rewards.

It's up to Cahill to penetrate TMF's Inner Circle and distinguish himself from all the others camped in there. It's tough, but not impossible, assignment.

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Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" *ball-bashed my way to 10 grand slams ;-)* 03/10/2009 at 06:14 PM

"Jose Higueras would be his new coach, the Swiss media had hoped to interview Higueras. "

Pete - I'm still reading but was that meant to be Cahill instead of Higueras?

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" *ball-bashed my way to 10 grand slams ;-)* 03/10/2009 at 06:15 PM

Pete - don't worry now I see it was not a mistake.

Posted by crazyone 03/10/2009 at 06:19 PM

great piece, Pete. as a Fed fan, I have no complaints with it :)

Was just curious about this bit:

*Pete Sampras used to drive Annacone nuts, because he liked to show that he could beat anyone at his own game (the legendary Alex Corretja match was a great example). Annacone's mantra, meanwhile, was: You're Pete Sampras, the dominator. Go out and dominate them.*

I thought previously you had said that Sampras was all about sticking to his own game (this is how you made the Nadal-Sampras comparison). The showing that he could beat anyone at his own game is Federer to a T, though.

I have some concerns about Cahill too, akin to your friend's, but as long as the personal relationship between Federer and Cahill is a good one I think the emotional side of coaching, as you noted, will be a huge asset for him. No other player I can think of or heard of has gone it alone for so long as has Federer. The only worry is that he's essentially "uncoachable" now.

Posted by 03/10/2009 at 06:23 PM

Federer until very recently is the world, make that the interplanetary, no. 1 and GOAT candidate."

until recently is? huh?

Posted by CL 03/10/2009 at 06:24 PM

I think Fed does have a 'wingman' - whose name I am currently blanking on. He is a businessman, not a tennis guy, so I don't know if that makes him a fully qualified wingman or not. Name anyone?

Have to digest this more...alka selzer at the ready. But the above semi-factoid is the first thing that jumped out at me.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war 03/10/2009 at 06:26 PM

Hey Pete and everyone,

I have nothing useful to contribute, but this made me laugh:

"That might avert a potential public relations disaster (although it's hard to imagine one emerging from a Higueras interview)..."

"Is Cahill the magic bullet Federer needs to gun down Nadal?" - I really hope that is not the major reason for hiring Cahill - would hope it is more general than that and therefore more likely to be useful. Also hope that Cahill can gain Federer's trust. Can't wait to see the results, anyway. Have they gone past the trial period yet?

agreed about the trickiest job, too, I always remember the Wimbledon commentators looking at Roche dozing away and saying "Must be the easiest job in the world, coaching somebody who's as perfect a player as Federer." But 'tricky' is a much better description. :)

I guess also that stubbornness and pride etc are some of the things that make you a champion, so that must make it even harder to let go of them and change.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war 03/10/2009 at 06:27 PM

Hm - I said a lot considering I had nothing to say.

What is a wingman?

Posted by Pspace 03/10/2009 at 06:27 PM

Nice one, Pete. I wonder how much we should be using commentary to judge Cahill's coaching abilities. The stuff he says on TV is obviously dumbed down, and any reasonable player knows what he's talking about. One suggestion that he made was to be more aggressive on the return. It's obvious, but not so easy to make the mental and technical adjustments. Finally, regarding the gilded cage around TMF, I think this one hurt badly enough for him to knock off a few reservations. But, we'll see. There's no real "solution" to Nadal, so it might just help to have an Aussie in his box.

Posted by Andrew 03/10/2009 at 06:28 PM

Like crazyone, no complaints here. I'm sure they'll have a different view at the mothership, but division of labor, etc.

Obviously, we don't know the full shape of the Federer-Cahill partnership (assuming it happens) nor will we for at least eighteen months. Is it a fifteen week advisory, a la Roche/Higueras, or the full monty, a la Lundgren?

I don't think Higueras had enough time to make a significant impression on Federer's game. Let's see where things stand a year from now.

One possibility (a very attractive one from my PoV - others may differ) is that Federer gets over the hump in terms of major titles in 2009, and that this somehow releases him to simply enjoy playing - the wins come when they come, but there's a liberation of the spirit. With or without Cahill, you'd have a lot to look forward to.

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/10/2009 at 06:28 PM

That was a great post Pedro!
I would tend to agree with your e-mail correspondent/lurker, especially about Fed being an intuitive player. But, with all due respect to TMF, i really think he's gonna have to lose the "I don't need to change my game" attitude. There is simply no denying that Fed is supremely talented, but i fear that if he doesn't allow Darren Cahill to do his job, he'll be back to square one.

Posted by crazyone 03/10/2009 at 06:28 PM

though I will nitpick with this ;)

*It's legitimate to ask just how badly he's hurt if he can be hitting balls and preparing for Indian Wells with Cahill while the overmanned Swiss are struggling in Birmingham,*

From the beginning, Federer's statement was essentially to the effect: "I believe I need the time that would have been taken up by Dubai/Davis Cup to strengthen my back fully since I feel I need to do some more work on it since injuring it last fall." I didn't read anything into this that precluded training sessions, in fact I always thought that was what he would be using this time for, most specifically doing physio work and working on his serve.

Do you know anything about why the Federer-Lundgren relationship didn't work out? Lundgren seems to have had a lot of personal problems (alcoholism?) and I assumed that played a role. It was that relationship failing and Federer's immediate success in going it alone in 2004 that led to his current limited coachability, IMO.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" *ball-bashed my way to 10 grand slams ;-)* 03/10/2009 at 06:29 PM

Like I had said earlier when the coaching announcement was made, the dynamics of "mutual respect even when we disagree" is going to be key to the relationship. The only thing that just occurred to me though is that that could also be a disadvantage in the sense that if I respect you that much, I'd rather:

1. call it off neatly and move on by myself
2. continue with the coaching relationship but blind my eyes to what you point out and close my ears to what you say and just do my thing when I get out there on court

Posted by Andrew 03/10/2009 at 06:29 PM

CL: you're think of Reto Staubli, the good looking guy who used to sit next to Mirka in the player's box.

Posted by Pspace 03/10/2009 at 06:30 PM

jewell, A "wingman" is an air force term, for the guy riding in the back of a fighter plane to advice the pilot of events that he cannot see. (Goose in Top Gun?) It's come to mean an "assistant" of sorts. For example, you see a cute girl at a bar with her not-so-cute friend, and your buddy is willing to hit on the not-so-cute one, while you work your magic on the cutie. Buddy is your wingman.

Posted by crazyone 03/10/2009 at 06:31 PM

CL: Reto Staubili, who's supposed to have "coached" Fed to a comeback win over A-Rod at Wimbly 2004.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war 03/10/2009 at 06:32 PM

LOL, Pspace, and thank you. :)

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war 03/10/2009 at 06:36 PM

" that Federer gets over the hump in terms of major titles in 2009, and that this somehow releases him to simply enjoy playing - the wins come when they come, but there's a liberation of the spirit."

I would also like to see this. I like happy light-hearted Federer. :)

Posted by 03/10/2009 at 06:36 PM

"Put bluntly, Sampras never had to contend with a Rafael Nadal."

I'm going to nobly resist the temptation to list the players that Sampras did have to contend with in his glory days.

Perhaps you could elaborate upon what you meant by this statement, Pete, unless you want to reopen a so-called "weak era" debate, which I'm pretty sure you don't.

Posted by tennisFANo1 03/10/2009 at 06:36 PM

nice post.

Posted by Obispo 03/10/2009 at 06:37 PM

I'm a long time lurker but I've never been this clost to the top of the comment section before. Third?

I want to think that Cahill will be a good match for him just because he probably shares some of the same Aussie mentality to Peter Carter. I've never been exposed to them, but it seems that Aussie tennis players (with the exception of Hewitt) tend to come from similar molds.

And Pete, from a technical aspect, I sometimes wonder if a slight grip change on the backhand to make it more eastern (like Gaudio, for example) would enable Federer to handle Nadal a little better. Kind of like what you wrote about Sampras shortening his backswing on the return and winning 4 straight Wimbledons. Just a thought

Posted by Obispo 03/10/2009 at 06:39 PM

Apparently not third.

Posted by Rosangel 03/10/2009 at 06:41 PM

Headless at 6.36 was me.

Posted by Check Six 03/10/2009 at 06:42 PM

A wingman is not the other guy in a two-seat fighter plane. That would be the RIO, Radar Intercept Officer. A wingman is the guy flying in the other fighter plane beside you, watching your six (aka the rear, standard air attack position) and helping you take out the target.

As noted, wingman has lately come to be used mostly in the pick-up game sense.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war 03/10/2009 at 06:42 PM

*welcomes Obispo anyway*

"Put bluntly, Sampras never had to contend with a Rafael Nadal."

I read that as Sampras not having one great rival above all others - one who was actually winning the H2H. Not really a comment on the era...which reminds me...

Pspace, are you still working on your metric to end all metrics?

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war 03/10/2009 at 06:43 PM

thank you, Check Six.

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/10/2009 at 06:48 PM

Definition of wingman = John "cryer" Hayes (i know most of you won't know who that is, look him up, legend!)

Posted by Amit 03/10/2009 at 06:49 PM

I feel Higueras has been influential in Federer being a little more patient than he was around this time last year. There was a sense that he was trying to end points pre-maturely up until the summer HC season. I didn't quite sense that impatience in late Fall/AO 2009. Most of the rallies with Murray and at the AO were incredibly good, I thought.

There is a delicate balance to be achieved between aggression and biding your time, and Federer's natural aggressor instincts will have to remain his USP. His ability to execute point-ending shots in the middle of a ho-hum rally needs to stay; it's the build-up to that shot that needs variety. Cahill's job, I imagine, would consist of adding that variety.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/10/2009 at 06:52 PM

Emma - I get an astrologer, an MP, some stuff about Hansard, and a rugby player. More clues, please. ;)

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 06:53 PM

Well C1 beat me to it in the "nitpicking", though to my mind this is a huge factual error.

"It's legitimate to ask just how badly he's hurt if he can be hitting balls and preparing for Indian Wells with Cahill while the overmanned Swiss are struggling in Birmingham,"

Federer never ever said he was injured. To misrepresent the facts is a tad careless.

as to the "Anyway, the Swiss establishment is allegedly angry at Federer"
Really? Who? When? If you can't quote the source then it just becomes hearsay and gossip.
Still in all it all just reminds of two things.
If there is one thing worse than being talked about... it is not being talked about
and .. There is no such thing as bad publicity.

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/10/2009 at 06:55 PM

lol jewell, the rugby player. he's so dedicated, and cries everytime the national anthem is played!
and i've just realised that hott sauce will most likely face tipsy in the 2nd round, thats trés harsh!

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/10/2009 at 06:57 PM

Thank you, Emma - this one?

The man stole Rafa's nickname!

Posted by Nick 03/10/2009 at 07:02 PM

As I understand it, the arrangement Federer has with Cahill is tentative, according to The Ticker's blurb. It's "apparently a trial" and "nothing set in terms of a signed agreement". In other words, it's all tentative. As an astute friend pointed out, if Federer is gonna have a coach, just do it outright in full, or else why bother? Why all the unfixed terms to the arrangement? It's as though neither of them wants to fully commit to the other.

And seriously - this will be Federer's 4th Coach since he became #1, following Lundgren, Roche and Higueras. He did extremely well both with and without them. At the end of the day, getting or replacing a coach is about improving your results. This means reversing Federer's losing trends against Nadal, Murray, Simon, etc. over multiple matches. Federer has done great stuff without a coach, and actually having one around hasn't improved his already stellar results (how could it?). He hired Roche because the cry came from Tennis Type Armchair Coaches that he needed a coach because he kept losing to Nadal on clay, and coaching will stop it. He hired Higueras not only to win the French Open, but also to continue this idea of "beating Nadal on Clay". Since neither turned out any differently than when he was coach-less, what will having Cahill do for him, especially considering the quality of the coaching he's already had? What does Cahill have in his coaches bag that Lundgren, Roche and Higuears didn't?

Posted by gauloises 03/10/2009 at 07:02 PM

I flove John Hayes. He's under-appreciated to almost Richard Hill-esque standards.

I don't think I've ever heard Cahill commentate, but I'm very curious to see how all of this plays out.

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/10/2009 at 07:03 PM

Lol jewell, thats the one, the nickname is unbelievably apt, and even as an avid Rafanatic, i'll forgive Hayes the use of it!
He's the ultimate wingman cos he's such an integral part of our team, he's always there whenever the lads need him.

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/10/2009 at 07:04 PM

gauloises, i sooo agree, he's horribly underappreciated!

Posted by crazyone 03/10/2009 at 07:07 PM

Nick: Federer has only had two coaches since becoming #1: Roche and Higueras. He terminated his relationship with Lundgren before becoming #1.

Posted by Nancy J 03/10/2009 at 07:07 PM

"2 - Federer is at a stage in his career than can be called "delicate."

It's such a weird thing to think of Fed as "delicate." But this year at the AO -- at some point during the match, I felt that maybe Roger was a little mentally afraid of losing. I have never sensed that of him before.

Actually, I find this downturn in events for Fed quite exciting. How will he bounce back? Cahill may not prove the magic formula for Fed (especially if Pete's observations are accurate) -- but doing this trial run with a coach at least shows that Fed has accepted that he has to make some changes/additions.

As for Davis Cup -- as much as I've always enjoyed the team aspects of FedCup and Davis Cup, I feel that both of these institutions are moving towards death. It seems that there is always a struggle to get the top players to commit -- whether due to schedules, or supposed injuries, or players needing to rest. Especially with the women. So, I don't see why anyone is surprised that Roger didn't show. Especially if he has back issues, and maybe feeling some confidence issues too...

That said, I love Andy Roddick. I love how he stood up in Dubai to the injustice against Peer, and love how he played this most recent Davis Cup tie so hard and with heart and pride. He almost made me a believer again -- then I read an article over the weekend in a UK online news source where a top South African player says that all these guys are getting paid big bucks to appear (while his federation couldn't or wouldn't even provide him with a business class plane ticket - and since he felt that he couldn't risk losing "income" from his "job" on the ATP tour, he passed). He says it's all about "pay to play" (to use a Hollywood term). Wow. I didn't know that. I guess I've been under a rock. Heck, do they pay the Olympic tennis players too???

Posted by Pspace 03/10/2009 at 07:10 PM

nT, if you look at yesterday's thread, jhurwi (on Page 1) cited several articles with expressions of anger. Hlasek is a name that comes to mind off the top.

I think Pete is right in that there are two ways this can play out: (1) He gets Slam 14 and 15, and everyone's happy (Switzerland gets to shout about it's greatest citizen), or (2) He doesn't and will come across as a less than exemplary teammate.

I find it a tad surprising that Severin Luethi hasn't come out in support of his decision. Given that he would've been the first to hear about it. Perhaps, friendship has kept him from speaking his mind.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!) 03/10/2009 at 07:11 PM

Pete ~

Lots of food for thought here. One question: If you're of two minds about what Cahill can bring to the table, is there anyone specific that you think would be a better fit, in terms of being the "big picture" person Fed needs?

Posted by Nancy J 03/10/2009 at 07:12 PM

By the way, I like the use of the term, "wing man." Gil Reyes is a good example of what I considered a top flight "wing man" for Andre Agassi. He seemed perhaps the most important person on his team -- especially emotionally (outside of Steffi, when she came aboard).

Posted by Rosangel 03/10/2009 at 07:19 PM

"If you can't quote the source then it just becomes hearsay and gossip."

Let's talk about Watergate....

Obviously Pete has better sources within the tennis community than most of the the rest of us. Either you trust his veracity or you don't. I do.

Posted by Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 07:22 PM

Obispo, you were still close!! :) Welcome.

Posted by frances 03/10/2009 at 07:22 PM

I think Federer also needs to look on other guys like murray

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 07:29 PM

Pspace.... that is not what those articles say at all.
the first is headlined "Federer would never lie"... boy that is a harsh criticism from Luthi
It then goes on to say such things as "His morale is in his boots"says certain supporter(oh yes who, where, what, when????) But then directly quotes Paganini as saying "I don't understand this reasoning at all, how can you blame his withdrawal on his mental condition. He is a fighter"
And the whole article is like that. Supposed quotes from unidentified sources that are then contradicted by actual folk who have something to do with Fed.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 07:30 PM

ros I have no reason to doubt Mr Bodos veracity. However I doubt the motives of people who will gossip but not be quoted, for whatever reason.

Posted by Pspace 03/10/2009 at 07:33 PM

nT, This is what jhurwi said:

Under the headline "Hlasek's consternation," the former Swiss Davis Cup player Jacob Hlasek, says he is “extremely disappointed” with Federer’s attitude and is clearly very angry; he is described as “saying out loud what many people are muttering under their breath.”

Or is that incorrect?

Yes, one of the articles was Luthi defending him. I forgot about that one. But, defense is needed only when there is some offense, right? As you quote: "I don't understand this reasoning" ... well a certain angry line of reasoning.

Posted by evie 03/10/2009 at 07:35 PM

Fed will never again have a coaching relationship like a "typical" one, or one you can point to and say, "See, their relationship really worked." That shipped sailed long ago. Mirka is an unusually powerful force in his tennis life for someone not considered his coach, and that's never going away. And he's had too much success "on his own" for him to be as open to someone new as, say, an Andy Roddick. Plus, you just don't instantly bond with a person, no matter how great the fit might be, at this stage in a career. Roger is 27, not 17.

Much of what any coach can do with Fed at this point is around tactics. That's why I think everyone's high hopes for -- demands for, even -- a coach for Federer are unrealistic. There is no magic bullet. But he doesn't necessarily need magic. All he may need are some ideas to execute around the edges.

I hope so, because realistically it's all we're going to get. That and, you know, maybe Djoko or Murray will take out Nadal before a given final.

(p.s. count me in as contributing to your typical doubling of comments)

Posted by Rosangel 03/10/2009 at 07:38 PM

NT: well, I actually think it's very interesting to know what some people are prepared to say behind the veil of anonymity, and I don't doubt that Pete is aware of the difficulties of dealing with anonymous material and sources. I've sometimes had to deal with the same issues myself in my work, and sometimes you need just to make judgments based on how reliable a source has been in the past.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 07:39 PM

«Federer est un homme honnête. Je sais qu'il voulait jouer cette année», affirme René Stammbach

"Federer is an honest man. I know he wants to play this year" confirms René Stammbach.

Mensch ist das aber schwer oder??
boy is that harsh or what??

Posted by VE 03/10/2009 at 07:39 PM

So Pete was Heinz Gunthardt ever in consideration for the Federer assignment?

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 07:42 PM

PSpace Hlasek is an ex player not a |"member of the swiss establishment"
I could give a rats asz what he thinks and I would imagine that Fed thinks the same .. and even more so now.

Posted by Rosangel 03/10/2009 at 07:43 PM

...and, damn it, I've been told some juicy bits of tennis gossip even during the times I've been to tournaments for TW, but I've kept most of them to myself, either because they were not intended for repetition and I didn't want to finger the person who told me, or because I was unsure of the source.

Posted by Bismarck 03/10/2009 at 07:43 PM

*then I read an article over the weekend in a UK online news source where a top South African player says that all these guys are getting paid big bucks to appear*

oh sure. and this is nothing new. at least not in germany.
during the end of germany´s tennis glory years (1995) boris becker had a contract with the german tennis federation that they would pay him 2.6 million deutsche mark per year (i think that was the sum, would be dunno, maybe 5 million $ today? too lazy to figure out all the inflation stuff...)
anyway, michael stich at the same time had only a contract over 1.5 million DM to make himself available to play DC.
during the year stich "demanded" to get paid the same as becker (sorry, i´m blanking out on the details), it made public waves, the press ran with the story in a "stich being greedy and stuff and not patriotic" way if i remember correctly (but stich had always the problem with us germans that the masses and the mass media just loved boris more, whatever stich did he always felt like he would get critiqued anyway).

in that year the DC draw ment that germany could meet the US in the final at home.
the german federation had figured out in advance that they would make at least 10 million DM on that final alone (becker! stich! agassi! sampras! 95 DC final in germany! germany was still tennis crazy back in the day...)
and the german federation was still *rich* back then cause they made tons of money with the tennis boom which boris and steffi had driven into impossible heights.
they wanted this "dream final" and that´s why they paid huge bucks to boris and michael to play DC (i assume not only in that year and not only to them, our federation was throwing money into all kinds of directions never thinking about the future after the golden years... but i digress)
tragic end of the 95 dream:
stich lost the live 5th rubber in the SF in moscow on slooooow clay, something like 12-14 or so in the 5th set, having had 9(?) match points on his own serve in one game way earlier, around 7-6 or so... heartbreaking stuff.
it was nuts. the match went on for more than an hour after that multiple multiple MP game...
kinda amazing that this tie and match never gets talked about here since i´ve been following TW, but i guess the DC final of that year (pete and his heroics in moscow) are more important for you yanks than the german failure in the semis... ;)

i blame my then young age and my fuzzy memory if i made factual errors. and sorry for this long post.
hope its content is close enough to the "gilded cage" topic.
it is about DC i say in my defense.

Posted by Andrew 03/10/2009 at 07:45 PM

Rosangel: I don't think we need to invoke weak eras or the like to make the case that having Nadal and Federer playing GS winning tennis at the same time is a unique situation.

It's also, I think, worth making the suggestion that Sampras, Agassi and (to some extent) Federer represent points on a continuum. You could make the case that Sampras is a super-Henman, and Agassi a super-Safin (albeit shorter) - more effective versions of the same basic game.

In the same vein, I wouldn't be insulted by the idea that Federer is a super-Haas.

But Nadal? Nadal is sui generis, a genuine one of a kind. The unusual combination of left FH with natural RH, plus the high curving topspin FH, means that there's no continuum Nadal behind Nadal. You don't say - ah yes, playing against X helps you prepare for Nadal. He's one of a kind.

Posted by Alexis 03/10/2009 at 07:47 PM

Roger Federer does matter and that's all I have to say.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/10/2009 at 07:49 PM

Regarding Jacob Hlasek's comments ... if I recall correctly, Federer was largely responsible for ousting Hlasek from his position as the Swiss Davis Cup captain, and replacing him with Peter Carter, many years ago. The two never saw eye to eye. Federer actually led the coup to oust Hlasek, and he was amply supported by the other Swiss players. So ... don't expect anything complimentary to come out of Hlasek's mouth where Fed is concerned ! LOL !

Posted by Pspace 03/10/2009 at 07:54 PM

nT, I guess our interpretations of establishment differ. I took it to mean the players/officials (current and past), and press. I guess there's a narrower interpretation to the current officials. Of course, those guys are just scared of Roger ;-). Anyways, if past players' opinions don't matter, why even bother with the current officials. Basically, Roger is the establishment, and they wouldn't be anywhere without him. So, he can do as he damn well pleases.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/10/2009 at 07:55 PM

I agree with Pete's comment that Sampras never had to contend with Nadal. As Andrew pointed out ... you cannot compare the players that Sampras faced with Nadal - Nadal is truly one of a kind. Agassi was never Sampras' nemesis - in fact, the match-up was more difficult for Agassi. Edberg and Becker were on the decline around the time that Sampras peaked, so the timing worked out well for him there. Players liek Krajicek that actually troubled Sampras, were not consistent enough to be a factor in every grand slam, so they had barely any impact on his legacy. Nadal, OTOH, being as consistent a player as Federer every was, and being a factor in every major event, impacts Federer's legacy big-time. He is the nemesis that Sampras never had to contend with.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 07:56 PM

regarding Feds presence in the next round.
"We will ask him if he will be there beside us" smiled Wawrinka.

«Nous allons le lui demander, et vous aussi d'ailleurs», souriait Stanislas Wawrinka.

«On ne connaîtra sa décision qu'après le tirage (réd: prévu le 12 mai). Mais je pars du principe qu'il sera présent. Le contraire me surprendrait».

we won't know his decision until after the draw(expected on the 12th of May) but I start from the principle that he will be there. The opposite would suprise me greatly.

yep they sound furious

Posted by Pspace 03/10/2009 at 08:03 PM

Andrew, regarding Nadal, just the amount of topspin he gets doesn't make him sui generis in and of itself (imo). The new strings let guys put more topspin on the ball. Federer is no wuss in that department, coming in second only to Nadal. I could see Nadal as a super-Moya of sorts, learning how to harness the new technology to his benefit. The fact that he is lefty gives Fed problems, but Sampras encountered his share of lefties. Of course, he never engaged them in baseline rallies. For example, maybe a guy like Muster would've been able to punish his bh if he stayed back.

Posted by gustavo kloh 03/10/2009 at 08:07 PM

"Put bluntly, Sampras never had to contend with a Rafael Nadal."

Sampras didn't have to cope with a GOAT contender, with a positive h2h and 6 slams at 22 years. Period.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 08:09 PM

Rosangel, now which of us girls doesn't love a bit of gossip?? Seems even red blooded, hard bitten, hard nosed, heterosexual journalists are not immune. We are all human, no?
but the gossip often tells us more about the gossipers than the gossipee I think.
Seems to me bitchiness is not confined just to the WTA and certainly not just to the little world of theatre and dance that i inhabit.

Posted by Rosangel 03/10/2009 at 08:15 PM

I don't want a "weak era" debate myself, which is why I asked Pete to clarify...but if others choose to pick up on it, I must point out that 11 of Federer's 13 Slam wins did not come against Nadal, and even so (addressed to gustavo) Nadal is far from being a GOAT contender as yet. The Federer era is not the same thing as the "Nadal era", should he later become a GOAT contender. CfR says that you cannot compare the players that Sampras faced with Nadal. Well, maybe so, and maybe not, but there's far from being a complete overlap in eras.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/10/2009 at 08:17 PM

The Swiss can be furious all they want. This is a country that had a world number one and grand slam champion for the first time ever. And how many in Federer's own country even follow tennis ? Not many. He can walk about in Zurich without being stopped for autographs, he even gets turned away at restaurants. They don't go out of their way to appreciate him. It's not like the Swiss worship Federer the way that Nadal or Djokovic are worshipped in their countries. The people who truly care and appreciate Federer will still support him, and they are the ones whose opinion will matter to him. The Swiss DC captain Luthi, players Stan Wawrinka, Michael Lammer and Marco Chuidinelli have all spoken up supporting his decision. And those are the people that know him well and that he cares about.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/10/2009 at 08:22 PM

There you go again, Rosangel ... again with the "11 of Federer's grand slam wins did not come against Nadal." Well, 6 of Federer's grand slam losses came against Nadal. 5 of these in the final. So, without Nadal, Federer would be virtually guaranteed to have 19 grand slams instead of 13 at this time. You just don't see our point of view, do you? Nadal's peak overlaps with Federer's peak, and Nadal's youth allows him to impact Federer more than Federer can impact him. Has Sampras ever lost 5 grand slam finals to the same player?

Posted by Grant 03/10/2009 at 08:24 PM

"I don't want a "weak era" debate myself"

Don't worry, we won't throw you into the briar patch.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 08:26 PM

LOL but maybe you want that argument Ros.
Sorry. But it is just funny.

Posted by Syd 03/10/2009 at 08:27 PM


Terrific column on my favorite subject. As someone else said; ' Lots of food for thought. ' Not sure what you mean by "overmanned" Swiss team, I would have thought that they were "undermanned" lacking the presence of the big cheese.

Regarding his back; Federer did not use the words "I am injured", or "my back is injured" just that he was using the time to strengthen his back. Clearly, he also used the time to work with Cahill and try on this new relationship. So, I can quite see that certain elements of the Swiss Federation might be a tad peeved. Not that I think Roger was wrong to do this, as you say he's at a "delicate" juncture his career; just that he might have been more forthright in saying that he needed to clear his head and work with a potential new coach. Surely, that would have been acceptable.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/10/2009 at 08:27 PM

Also, Rosangel ... regarding the overlap ... which year did Federer establish his domination? 2004. Which year did Nadal make his mark, winning the French Open and 4 Masters shields? 2005 ! How many of Federer's peak years have been marked by at least one grand slam loss to Nadal? 4.5 out of 6 years (counting from mid-2003 onwards as his peak years). Now Federer is in the latter stage of his career. Nadal could potentially stop him from achieving any more majors. And you say there isn't a complete overlap? The overlap for Federer is more than enough to rob him of all his major milestones and impact his legacy for good.

Posted by skip1515 03/10/2009 at 08:29 PM

1. Regarding Federer v Nadal and Sampras v his competition during his heyday: Nadal is legitimately poised to be a candidate for Best Ever, depending on how the next few years pan out for him. With all due respect to the players Sampras faced, I'm not sure any of them had that future lying ahead of them as a possibility. Maybe Agassi, but I'd need convincing.

2. I think it entirely possible that Federer's back led him to pull from Davis Cup, especially when he considered the physical burden a full year of DC commitment would mean, as Pete suggested. And I don't think that such a reason for not playing precludes working out with Darren Cahill, again as Pete wrote above. Nonetheless, it would have been something special if Federer had been in Birmingham to cheer his teammates on. Am I being naive?

3. To my mind Cahill offers the most promising upside for Federer as a coach. There are caveats to this, as to all things, most especially:

If there is an equally incisive coach with a lower profile it would not burden the partnership with such high expectations, which expectations might not work to Federer's advantage. However, I have no idea who that "equally incisive coach" might be, or if he exists. (Bob Brett?) Whether or not someone less high profile would command enough respect from Federer is another question, but I see that as secondary to the potential for there being unhelpful pressure from high expectations. (see: Higueras)

The plusses are many. Cahill is familiar with the life of a top ten player. Like Roche, his being Australian not only ties him into a tradition that I believe resonates with Federer, but he also appreciates aspects of attacking (first initiative?) tennis that coaches oriented towards clay courts might not. More so than Roche, Cahill is familiar with today's shotmaking standards and nuances. Last and certainly not least, Cahill is low key enough in his demeanor that I think he'd fit in well with Federer's Swiss-ness. While Cahill obviously has a sense of humor [heard in his commentating], he's definitely not Gilbert.

Pete's point about Cahill appearing to be an x's and o's coach, and Federer's not being that kind of player, might be the fulcrum on which this coach's tenure balances; without having to establish firm patterns of play, my read of the Federer/Nadal matches is that Federer hasn't found a "place to go to" in choosing his shots. Once pounding Nadal's backhand proved tatically futile, his play has appeared *too* free flowing to be effective. To this observer, equals of this level have to make each other fear certain shots, or dislike them anyway, and I'm not sure Federer's done that to Nadal yet. Whether Federer will appreciate having x's and o's pointed out to him as a way of achieving this is the big question.

It'll be interesting. Always is.

Posted by Vie 03/10/2009 at 08:30 PM

Lately, Federer is super-Blake at times. Rafa is most definitely unique. Though I notice, players are catching on to his lasso forehand and finding some use for it.

Don't know, Roger is a very private, reserved person. He seems to keep his own counsel a lot. And he definitely wants to improvise more than plan or deliberate during a match. He may have been losing the battle at the baseline lately; he seems high-strung. And of course that serve.

Posted by Bismarck 03/10/2009 at 08:31 PM

*This is a country that had a world number one and grand slam champion for the first time ever*

eh what?
oh sorry. for a brief second i thought women count for something too.
then again, in some parts of switzerland women didn´t have full voting rights till 1990 so... carry on. it kinda fits.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/10/2009 at 08:33 PM

skip1515: "Pete's point about Cahill appearing to be an x's and o's coach, and Federer's not being that kind of player, might be the fulcrum on which this coach's tenure balances; without having to establish firm patterns of play, my read of the Federer/Nadal matches is that Federer hasn't found a "place to go to" in choosing his shots. Once pounding Nadal's backhand proved tatically futile, his play has appeared *too* free flowing to be effective."

Well said ! I think practising point construction and set pieces may actually benefit Federer, especially against Nadal and Murray.

Posted by Rosangel 03/10/2009 at 08:34 PM

Crazy-for Rog:...there you go again:)

It's not exactly rocket science to note that the eras don't completely overlap. Nadal has had to beat Federer for all six of his GS titles, and he's lost his other two two GS finals to him, so at the moment, his "era" is completely subsumed within that of Federer, but the reverse isn't true.

Sure I see your point of view; it just happens to be the case that there's more than one way of looking at the issue. Actually the best way of viewing it will be after both players' careers are over.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/10/2009 at 08:36 PM

Bismarck ... I should have said in mens tennis. Of course I remember Martina Hingis ... one of my favorites of all-time. I'm a woman, so, of course I didn't mean to downplay women's tennis, by any means.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/10/2009 at 08:38 PM

Rosangel ... whose era is completely submerged by the others is not the point ... I think the point we're making is whose career is most affected (adversely) by the other. I don't think I can get my point through to you, so let's just leave it alone.

Posted by Rosangel 03/10/2009 at 08:41 PM

And, not to put too fine a point on it, one key reason why there hasn't been a comprehensive if never complete overlap is because it took Nadal until 2009 to reach a hardcourt Slam final. I always said that the so-called "rivalry" felt incomplete until that happened, mainly for that reason.

Posted by Bismarck 03/10/2009 at 08:43 PM

no worries, CfR.
my "upset" was playful anyway. though in print it may look a trifle harsh... i was kidding, mostly.
these days it´s not easy to work hingis´ name into the conversation given how irrelevant she´s now, so i just jumped at this opportunity, jejeje.

Posted by Rosangel 03/10/2009 at 08:45 PM

CfR: as I said, I understand your point, and in the terms in which you define it, agree with it, but I don't define the "debate" in the same terms as you do.

Posted by CL 03/10/2009 at 08:45 PM

Andrew & Crazyone- thanks for the name. Obviously Rene doesn't fill the need as a coach or traveling best buddy/emotional support system. But then, we don't know how often he and Roger are in touch.

Posted by Ruth 03/10/2009 at 08:46 PM

I have to agree with Pete's notion that the "emotional" component in the relationship between Federer and his new coach will be a very important one. And I'm not referring to having anyone like a coach supply the kind of emotional support that Mirka and Roger's parents supply in good measure.

It's just that I felt this component was lacking, for example, during the Roche period when TR seemd to be often both physically and emotionally distant at times when Roger needed him to be THERE. It was sad to hear Federer hint at having no contact with Roche, even by phone, at certain times (after a loss or a tough match) when he needed such contact.

That is why, even though I've always felt that Fed needs to have a coach, I was neither surprised nor disappointed when he parted ways with Roche. We'll wait to see how Cahill fills this part of the bill!

Posted by ladyjulia 03/10/2009 at 08:49 PM

Nice post Pete!

Rosangel...true...if Nadal had reached hard court finals in 2006, 2007, Fed may have had a worse record...or a better record. We will never know.

" wait until both their careers are over"

That should end a lot of discussions!!!

Posted by CL 03/10/2009 at 08:49 PM

Oh, also C1, I thought Mirka, who often gets subtly and not so subtly dissed***, had some input into Fed's Wimby rebound vs Roddick.

*** I don't mean by you C1... but by others both on this board and other boards.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 08:49 PM

smiles at Skip

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/10/2009 at 08:51 PM

Rosangel ... that doesn't make much sense. Nadal has won hardcourt Masters events before. He has been a grand slam champion, and defeated Federer on hard court (Miami, Dubai) long before 2009. He beat him for the first time in Miami 2004. Nadal himself is capable of being beaten by other players on hard-court, if they play exceptionally well on the day. Whether it is Youzhny, Gonzo or Tsonga. Trouble is that the other "hot" players stay hot only temporarily, then fizzle out. Whether he makes it through to the final depends on the draw as much as whether he runs into a "hot" player. So, just because Murray defeated him in last year's USO SF, you don't count 2008? Saying that you don't count the years that Nadal did not make a HC slam final makes no sense to me. On the contrary, it proves my point even more ... that Nadal, more than anybody else, has impacted Federer's legacy adversely. Because he is the only one that Federer has lost to in a slam final.

Posted by ladyjulia 03/10/2009 at 08:54 PM

Cahill may look upon this assignment as maybe the biggest coaching challenge (given what is at stake) compared to Roche who may not have looked upon it in the same light.

Maybe that is also the reason why he might have more success.

Posted by Sher 03/10/2009 at 08:57 PM

The only one on from Swiss DC that seems 'cool' towards Federer is -- shockingly -- that guy whom Federer had fired from captainship when he was 19. Strange coincidence? I think not.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/10/2009 at 08:57 PM

Oh, this will be Cahill's biggest coaching challenge ever ! Tactics aside, getting Federer to not freeze up or give up when he plays Nadal or Murray will be a challenge in itself !

Posted by Sher 03/10/2009 at 08:57 PM

CL, word on the mirka thing :)

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 08:57 PM

by the way, for those not of an Australian persausion and may not have paid much attention to Killuh as a player

Posted by My Perspective 03/10/2009 at 09:00 PM

A few overall comments:

1. Would it have mattered if Fed outright said no to playing the first round of DC vs saying a yes first and then pulling out. Maybe, because there would not have been the hype in the first place. But frankly the fact that some top players like him dont attach the same importance to DC than to their careers is a bit bothering. At the same time, I guess its understandable when you have to balance between individual goals 90% of the time and team goals 10% of the time over a long 11 month season. You have to fend for yourself in this sport. What might be easier, is him declaring he has no intention of playing DC at all for the rest of his career rather than turning up in Sept or saying he ll play and then pulling out (after all he has paid his DC dues).

2. Federer, mentally, does not have it to beat Nadal. Period. He has shown this time and over again. Talent wise they both are loaded and Federer is probably better. Not sure what a coach can do to change his mental attitude in a few months time. A lot of is innate self belief gathered over years. We all know how he could never get it together mentally in the slams in early 2000s despite having loads of talent (remember the first round losses in FO is 2002/2003 during which he said he may take his entire career to get over it).

Posted by CL 03/10/2009 at 09:00 PM

Sher - thanks...

I can hardly wait to see how this Gilded Cage is being received at Though they may still be so deep into the draw they won't have bothered to check this out.

Posted by ladyjulia 03/10/2009 at 09:00 PM


Do you also get to hear anything about Roger's willingness to trust/listen/implement a coach and his techniques completely from Roche and Lungdren, given now that they are not under his control anymore?

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 09:01 PM

I think fed might have fun

Posted by ptenisnet 03/10/2009 at 09:01 PM

That guy had no business being the captain of the DC team when he was 19. Oh, you meant the other guy.

Posted by Sher 03/10/2009 at 09:03 PM

ps. I have just seen the IW draw and I would like to say:


Posted by 03/10/2009 at 09:05 PM

Bodo do you even bother to check your facts? "How badly can Fderer be hurt if he's hitting balls in Dubai????" He needed to STRENGTHEN HIS BACK!!! He NEEDED to do the work. It's not injured, it's just not strong enough. So he's working with his physio and now he's training. He said that all along. Get it right or get a new job.

Posted by Curious 03/10/2009 at 09:11 PM

Rosangel: "I actually think it's very interesting to know what some people are prepared to say behind the veil of anonymity"
Is this the same person who criticses anyone who says anthing here without putting a name to it? Or does that theory only apply when it is criticism of Federer?

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/10/2009 at 09:13 PM

CL: "I can hardly wait to see how this Gilded Cage is being received at"
They don't like Bodo over there (or at least, a majority of them). They think he's too negative about Federer. Nothing he writes is going to be well received over there, I can pretty much guarantee that !

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 09:14 PM

ouch indeed Sher
but maybe our ouches are different.
Raffuh has no probs. Nor has Djoko .. at least as far as the quarters

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