Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - The Gilded Cage
Home       About Peter Bodo       Contact        RSS       Follow on Twitter Categories       Archive
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.


507
Comments
Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.
<<      1 2 3 4 5 6      >>

Posted by 03/10/2009 at 09:16 PM

Crazy-for-Rog, a lot of people over at rf.com don't like him because they think he is not a very good writer.

Posted by Syd 03/10/2009 at 09:18 PM

Sher,

Surprised Fed has Murray to meeting in the semis again, (if either get that far) as they were on the same side at AO... thought that they alternated the seeds...

Posted by CL 03/10/2009 at 09:23 PM

Crazy-for-Rog. You're right. And they have even pretty much given up ragging on him. No fun.

My really tall 'ouch' for Fed is Ivo. Timing-wise it makes me very nervous. I console myself with the hope that Ivo didn't play quite as well at the end of last year as he did during the first half and I'm hoping for a continuation of that. ****sets preliminary frazzle on medium****

Posted by CL 03/10/2009 at 09:24 PM

syd - Muzzah was on Rafa's side of the draw at the AO...Verdasco took him down.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/10/2009 at 09:25 PM

Syd ... they don't "alternate seeds" considering past tournaments. The number 3 player could fall on either side of the draw (bottom half or top half), determined by random drawing. Then, the number 4 seed is placed in the opposite half.

Posted by Grant 03/10/2009 at 09:25 PM

"a lot of people over at rf.com don't like him because they think he is not a very good writer."

Those same people were ok with Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 'Memories of My Melancholy I Hate You Roger Federer'.

Posted by ladyjulia 03/10/2009 at 09:25 PM

Syd,

They do the 3rd and 4th seed randomly...so they can fall in either half.

Posted by Syd 03/10/2009 at 09:26 PM

CRF: thanks.

Posted by jhurwi 03/10/2009 at 09:26 PM

In case anyone wants to check on the articles I mentioned in the Swiss press, I'm re-posting my comment from the "Home Again" thread. The quotations in the Luthi interview are, of course, the criticisms of Federer to which Luthi is replying, not statements by Luthi himself. I had forgotten that Hlasek was not only a Davis Cup player but the Davis Cup captain whom Federer ousted in a coup.
------------------------------------------------------
Dcfan: Federer has been criticized quite a bit in the Swiss press, as you can see in the following articles posted on Google News Suisse:

1)Le Matin Feb 18 http://tinyurl.com/ba3frq In this article
Severin Luthi, captain of the Davis Cup team who has also acted as Federer's unofficial coach, replies to charges in the Swiss press that “he [Federer] is a hypochondriac”, “his morale is down in his socks”, “he is obsessed with Sampras’s record,” and “he disdains Davis Cup.” The article also contains an interview with Claudio Mezzandri, former player and captain of the Swiss Davis Cup team, who is described as “skeptical” of Federer’s reasons for not playing.

2)Swisscom March 2 http://tinyurl.com/cc4oo6
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.”

3) TSR Sport.ch March 9 http://tinyurl.com/dbatqp says that Federer's absence "undoubtedly cost the Swiss team the victory in the first round" in an article that praises Wawrinka's emergence as a leader.

We haven't heard much about this criticism at home because it isn't published in English. I'm not surprised that the Swiss team would not say anything negative about Federer to an American audience; there is such a thing as "not washing dirty linen in public."

Posted by darthhelmethead 03/10/2009 at 09:27 PM

I think that Cahill is about as good a coaching choice that Fed could've made, at least in terms of names we're familiar with. Who knows who Roger's team could have found if they'd looked hard enough? THey might have found some type of tennis guru in the middle of the Utah salt flats that could teach Roger to move the tennis ball with his mind.

But Cahill is a figure with a proven track record, a man who is worthy of respect, but he's also a man who'll get in the trenches with Fed. Roche and Higureas were reluctant to be around all the time. Cahill's a nice guy, I think their personalities will jive well, but I think he's not afraid to get up in his grill. And as a Roger fan I need to say this. Roger needs to remind himself how to win points. He did very poorly against Nadal in this regard when that 5th set rolled around. Cahill's astute enough to get Roger into winning patterns again.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 09:30 PM

once again the "quotes" which criticize Feduhruh in that first article are unattributed and could as well be made up or just from anyone walking down the street. It is just a piece of tabloid journalism masquerading as sports journalism.

Posted by CL 03/10/2009 at 09:32 PM

Grant- very overrated.

And headless... I don't think literary criticism is high on some of the RFers list of priorities. They don't like Pete because they don't think he likes Fed enough. Same as some Rafa fans think that Pete doesn't like Rafa enough. I think a completely un-biased reading of what Pete has written on the two men reveals that he doesn't actually like either of them very much at all. And isn't that crazy about tennis in general. Empirical evidence shows that he only likes the "game rich Andes", cowboy Luke and his pick-up.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 09:32 PM

Hlasek = big time still pissed off at Fed for getting him sacked.

Posted by Achhi 03/10/2009 at 09:34 PM

Peter Bodo
Congratulations now you are qualified to write for tabloid tennis.This article belongs in one of those tabloids not here.

Posted by Grant 03/10/2009 at 09:36 PM

"once again the "quotes" which criticize Feduhruh in that first article are unattributed and could as well be made up or just from anyone walking down the street. It is just a piece of tabloid journalism masquerading as sports journalism."

Sometimes journalists use anonymous sources. They know that such sources aren't optimal, but they are not immediately banished to write about Bigfoot's plot to kidnap Paris Hilton.

Posted by crazyone 03/10/2009 at 09:36 PM

LMAO CL. Genius, like the great Roger Federer himself ;)

Posted by Syd 03/10/2009 at 09:37 PM

Naughty, naughty, boy; Journalists use unattributed quotes all the time. It's not preferable, but sometimes its the only way. Would you rather have had the anonymous 'deep throat' or no 'deep throat.' I mean, as in Watergate, not in your person life. hehe.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 09:37 PM

top drawer CL

Posted by Syd 03/10/2009 at 09:39 PM

CL: rolf.

Posted by ladyjulia 03/10/2009 at 09:39 PM

I think Pete does a great job of writing, and analyzing the issues at hand..I am kind of a lurker here, but I like some of the analysis he does in his articles.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 09:47 PM

yeh Syd but this is clearly no deep throat it is just some random quote from some random unimportant person/s... "put forward certain supporters" yeh right.

Posted by Syd 03/10/2009 at 09:49 PM

Nt: Well, true enough.

Posted by jhurwi 03/10/2009 at 09:52 PM

Grant--by "that first article" are you referring to the article in Le Matin in which Luthi replies to criticisms in the Swiss press? Since I'm only able to access the articles that were included on the Google News Suisse site, I can't trace the sources of those quotes. However, the site does include some articles that appeared (under the authors' names)on the day Federer announced his withdrawal, questioning whether his back was the real reason for his withdrawal e.g. Bluewin, "The back, really?" http://tinyurl.com/buvuby Parlons Tennis, "Federer's back hurts, and it's the whole Swiss team that bows." http://tinyurl.com/c7vwu2
The only point I was making was that there was considerable criticism and skepticism in the Swiss press, not that the criticism was based on any inside information.

Posted by Ruth 03/10/2009 at 09:53 PM

Thanks for posting those links again, jhurwi. The cherrypicking of quotes that was going hereon had me wondering if I'd imagined some of the comments about feelings re Federer that I remembered reading the first time I checked out those articles, both from your partial translations and my own amateur translations of the original articles.

So,let's see: We're supposed to dismiss Hlasek's comments because he was a DC captain ousted by the young Federer, but we're supposed to embrace the defence of Federer by Luthi, the current DC captain who is hoping and praying -- and who can blame him? -- that Federer will actually play DC for him some time soon. Really?

And...we must accept Luthi's defence of Fed, but we must assume that the same Luthi is, for some reason, quoting criticisms and attacks made by ghosts or non-existent people. Why would Luthi mention such comments ifhe, at least, didn't know they were made by real people?

This is too much for me. I give up.

To allude to something Pete said, Logic 101 and Debate 101 are getting killed here tonight.

Posted by CL 03/10/2009 at 09:54 PM

****curtseys AND bows, but not at the same time****

thanks all.

Posted by federerfan 03/10/2009 at 09:59 PM

"any tennis player out there will tell you that the hardest thing to break or change are your own habits and convictions"

Completely agreed, best line ever, I might say.

The only change I may make is start with "any person" instead of "any tennis player"

Posted by CL 03/10/2009 at 09:59 PM

I would also like to point out that we are failing in what Pete predicted would be a doubling of responses. This post has been up for almost 4 hours and we have barely filled up 2 pages!?! I am shocked! If that isn't proof positive of the decline and fall of Federnation, I don't know what it.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 10:02 PM

The allegation is that the "powers that be" of Swiss tennis are angry with Fed. Meanwhile the article quotes the current President of the Swiss tennis Federation as saying "Federer is an honest man. I am sure he wants to play."
If you can get that to agree with your world view that Fed is now hated by the Swiss Tennis Big Wigs. Then more power to your pharmacist.

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

"Grant--by "that first article" are you referring to the article in Le Matin in which Luthi replies to criticisms in the Swiss press?"

I'm the wrong guy to ask - I was quoting naughty T.

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

indeed logic has died if people are believing anonymous sources rather than listening to what Stammbach, Luthi and Wawrinka themselves have said post DC.
Extraordinary.

Posted by CL 03/10/2009 at 10:14 PM

But I'm doing my best to fulfill the posting quota all by my lonesome.


One part of the Gilded Cage that did strike me as really telling was...well... the gilded cage part. I remember this small interview with Fed AND Mirka...sometime just before either Fed's 2nd or 3rd Wimby win. They were talking about how they preferred to rent a house as opposed to staying in a London hotel. When the interviewer pressed them a little on why, they both sort of hemmed and hawed, talked about how it was more 'normal and then either Mirka or Fed said that they like to do their own laundry??!!?! And when the reviewer expressed surprised and pointed out that in a hotel there were people who did your laundry for you, Mirka said, well yes, but we have a particular laundry detergent that we like to use. And they both laughed and blushed like any young couple. I don't know if Fed continues to rent a house rather than stay at a hotel at Wimby, but I'll bet dollars to laundromat quarters that neither he nor Mirka does the wash anymore. And I think as the simple things slip away, they can easily get replaced by gilded bars. And not the kind where you can get a drink.

PS ...as I was writing that it reminded me of an Agassi interview I saw once where he seemed heavily invested in doing his own laundry. Very concerned about keeping his whites separate he was. I could never figure out if the whole thing was a giant put on.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 10:15 PM

jhurw, you are referring to a blogger as "members of the press"???

Posted by Syd 03/10/2009 at 10:18 PM

CL:

As per usual, well said.

Posted by Ruth 03/10/2009 at 10:18 PM

Yes, all anonymous sources are wrong/bad/not real -- especially if people don't like what they have to say!

RIP, Deep Throat! LOL

And...goodnight, all!

Posted by CL 03/10/2009 at 10:21 PM

Thanks Syd

Keep posting people...we don't want Pete to be disappointed.

Posted by Pierre 03/10/2009 at 10:22 PM

Nadal must really be enjoying all this. The back, the coach, Davis Cup...what next?

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 10:23 PM

yep "various supporters" equals "deep throat" very very reasonable indeed
And as if FeDrawelgate is Watergate.

Posted by Almond49 03/10/2009 at 10:26 PM

I think it will be tough for Fed. Tennis is a sport of youth and with Nadal, who is a beast and right now unbeatable, Fed has a long hill to climb

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/10/2009 at 10:27 PM

I was just over at RF.com and since i'm not registered i didn't read any posts, BUT, i started reading the lengthy qanda section he has and was really enjoying it until i realized it's almost 5 years old! Roger, how about an update man?

Posted by Syd 03/10/2009 at 10:32 PM

'FeDrawelgate' hee.

Clearly, he wasn't in any shape to play DC; be it physical, mental, or more likely a combo.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 10:33 PM

It is worrying how much Fed has aged since winning the USopen last year. Scary. He probably will never make a final ever again after that... oh wait... didn't he... ? Nah, I must have fantasized that.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 10:33 PM

Syd the riddle is solved. Old Age.

Posted by Syd 03/10/2009 at 10:35 PM

Nt; I can relate to that.

Posted by vetmama (Fed's a Damn Liar!!) 03/10/2009 at 10:36 PM

CL -
"They don't like Pete because they don't think he likes Fed enough. Same as some Rafa fans think that Pete doesn't like Rafa enough. I think a completely un-biased reading of what Pete has written on the two men reveals that he doesn't actually like either of them very much at all. And isn't that crazy about tennis in general. Empirical evidence shows that he only likes the "game rich Andes", cowboy Luke and his pick-up. "

I'll add to the general consensus: ROFLMAO!

And I agree 100% about the laundry thing. To me, Roger seems to have changed a lot over the last 2 years. His achievements have finally taken some toll on his "normalness".
Along with the care he now takes with his personal appearance, he seems to take as much care with the rest of his image, and this makes him seem more remote and stiff-necked. Controlling "the image" and "the career" leaves less time for laundry, and being down to earth.

Although I'm rather fond of his current visage, it almost makes me want Goofy/Scruffy/Pooka Shell/Ponytail Fed back again.

Posted by Syd 03/10/2009 at 10:37 PM

Vetmama:

'it almost makes me want Goofy/Scruffy/Pooka Shell/Ponytail Fed back again.'

Yeah! specially the Ponytail.

Posted by jb (IW or bust!) 03/10/2009 at 10:38 PM

oh pfft cl - pete likes lisa too! heee!

i dunno - i usually don't post about fed, its just a no win situation, but against my better judgement, here goes....

were the swiss tennis fans, swiss journalists and anyone who gives a crap about swiss tennis incredibly dissapointed that fed didn't play? sure, of course! who wouldn't be? Hail, I'm from the US, and i was bummin'.

I guess, being a fan of DC - i'd lurve fed to be playing, but i won't give any player crap for chosing, for whatever reason, not to play. I figure I owe fed that same courtesy, even though, as pete so perfectly put it "Roger Federer matters"...

Dunno - I guess in looking at the last 8 years or so the man's been playing, and seeing how carefully he plans his schedule, and how seriously he takes a committment he's made, i gotta say he didn't pull out cause he's a liar, or a manipulator, or because he was scared. (those are my fav reasons i read this last week..) And I gotta think he's as dissappointed as his teammates to not play, given that with stan as the number 2, the swiss team would have had a decent shot. (But NOT,imo, a gimme, as some things i've read have implied.)

and I'll confess, a part of me may speculate about what part last years decision to play his way back into shape may have had on this latest decision. I think that was a pretty harsh, damned if you do, damed if you don't situation last spring. but that's neither here nor there, really, as its complete speculation.

as for the coaching situation, its not an enviable job, by any means... to me at least. but while i see what Pete's lurker friend means, i DO think that actually some of the x's o's may be really helpful to Fed. These are new guys coming up, and face, it, all of these guys can play. With so many matches being best 2 of 3, its like sudden death... there's not as long a time to figure out your opponent. Cahill may be able to give fed a 'cliff notes' version of approaches to help him deal with many of these 'new' players.

I'm cautiously optimistic, not expecting miracles. But seriously, Fed's won 13 slams, imo, the guy doesn't need miracles. He can indeed play tennis, he's NOT some fluke winner that needs to back up a lone win; but a good coach could just help him figure things out faster, easier, betterer.

er, imo anyhow...

Posted by vetmama (Fed's a Damn Liar!!) 03/10/2009 at 10:39 PM

syd, I knew you'd respond to that!!
:D

Posted by Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 10:40 PM

"Crazy-for-Rog, a lot of people over at rf.com don't like him because they think he is not a very good writer."

I'm sure Pete is really torn up about that. :)

Posted by Syd 03/10/2009 at 10:40 PM

vetmama: lol.

Posted by crazyone 03/10/2009 at 10:41 PM

as long as you guys don't want blond Fed back.

Posted by Pspace 03/10/2009 at 10:43 PM

""as for the coaching situation, its not an enviable job, by any means""

jb, I take issue with this statement ;-). It's the best job on the planet! Oh man...you are coaching Roger Freakin' Federer. You get to talk to him after he plays Nadal. Not to mention, the best seats in the house. Ok, Mirka texting nearby might be a little irritatin', but still. Even if you fail, you're not likely to get any blame because Rafa is so awesome. And, you'll have enough background info for a few years of color commentary.

Posted by vetmama (Fed's a Damn Liar!!) 03/10/2009 at 10:43 PM

C1, I said "almost" want that back.

and the blonde - uh, no. Just...no.

(he paid someone $200 for that travesty?)

Posted by jb (IW or bust!) 03/10/2009 at 10:44 PM

oh crap - that post was really long... sorry...

*slinks away to compile list of pics to get at IW*

Posted by vetmama (Fed's a Damn Liar!!) 03/10/2009 at 10:44 PM

"Ok, Mirka texting nearby might be a little irritatin', but still. "

Don't forget the gum-smacking...:)

Posted by vetmama (Fed's a Damn Liar!!) 03/10/2009 at 10:46 PM

Just looking at the draw.
1st round: Isner vs C. Rochus

*giggles*

Posted by 03/10/2009 at 10:48 PM

"Empirical evidence shows that he only likes the "game rich Andes", cowboy Luke and his pick-up. "


Oh, top notch! Come New Year's, CL, and I'm nominating that line for "Post of the Year." You did, however, forget to add firearms, hillbillies, and chewing tobacco.

Posted by L. Rubin 03/10/2009 at 10:49 PM

Yikes. Anonymous at 10:48 was moi.

Posted by piyush 03/10/2009 at 10:51 PM

guys,
I feel it may be difficult for fed to beat nadal anymore;

coach or no coach;

murray, joker, tsonga, simon............

they are also tough for federer

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 10:51 PM

vetmama that was my favourite 1st round match up too.
The long and the short of it

Posted by piyush 03/10/2009 at 10:53 PM

fed might manage to get to 14 with nadal injured or taken out before a final by murray;

but nadal might go down as a superior player; superior to federer;

Posted by vetmama (Fed's a Damn Liar!!) 03/10/2009 at 10:56 PM

nT: Hee!:)

Posted by L. Rubin 03/10/2009 at 10:58 PM

piyush,

Of course you think so! You have, after all, posted variations on those same four lines for the past six months. My only question, Piyush, is this: What happened to your seemingly endless supply of semicolons? :)

Posted by Syd 03/10/2009 at 10:58 PM

"but nadal might go down as a superior player; superior to federer;"

dunno, Piyush; he's certainly the gorilla in la crème de la crème.

Posted by vetmama (Fed's a Damn Liar!!) 03/10/2009 at 11:02 PM

and Liron, what happened to your post signatures? Then we would have known anonymous was you.:)

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:02 PM

Where is Greenhopper?
not quite Special kei but special anyway.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4LRJvaHDfw

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

A few things:

NT - I don't exactly consider it "gossip" when some of the most informed and interested people in the sport choose to share their thoughts on a given situation, based on their experience and daily contact with the the tennis community. It should be obvious that they can't always say what they really think, for quotation, because it may have repercussions. That was part of my point; Federer is a powerful man and most of those associated with him strive to win his confidence,not alienate him.

C-1 - Re. your first comment, Pete sometimes strayed from that "play your own game philosophy." I think he enjoyed playing with his food. But on most critical occasions (Slam finals) he didn't take that risk. What this screwing around boiled down to playing less aggressively than he did at his best and most intimidating, and it's also true that Pete actually enjoyed playing, working things out, seeing if he could do certain things, while knowing he could always revert to his basic nature. It was an excellent question, BTW.

VE - Heinz was never in the picture, and never made a move to put himself into it. I don't think he'd be entirely comfortable in the Federer camp. Heinz was worked on a temporary basis with quite a few players and has a need to feel comfortable as much as they do, which is why nothing much came of those trial runs.

Rosangel - no "weak era" implication at all, it's strictly that Pete had no Nadal. Safin for a moment, Hewitt for a moment, Andre in periods, guys like Stich, krajicek, Goran here or there, now or again. But nobody beat him often enough, in enough important matches, to be called anything like a nemesis.

On the weak back issue: Nah, I'd rather not go there any more than I already have.

And to many of you who cite the support Fed gets from his teammates and many others, you should consider this: Roger owns those guys, whether he wants to or not. It's a fact of life. Do you think Wawrinka wants to risk incurring his wrath, and perhaps losing an invite to pick up 50k as the set-up man in an exo? Or even criticize him and have to bump into him at the IW player lounge?

Personally, I think it took a lot of guts for Hlasek to say what he did; it just shows that he has Wilanders, and isn't afraid to speak his mind - that's true no matter how you feel about the substance of the comments. Much of this is a matter of opinion, isn't it, after all?

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:05 PM

yeh; Piyush; please bring back the semi; colons; we don't know when you are switching to a different; but related; theme; anymore.
guys.

Posted by Christopher 03/10/2009 at 11:07 PM

Rosangel (and others)-- I think we can actually talk about the comment "never had to contend with a Rafael Nadal" without re-entering the "weak era" debate. Nadal does represent a *situation* that Sampras never had to face, namely a rival who dominated him. Sampras faced a host of excellent players, but he tended to beat all of them more than they beat him. The only one he faced regularly who is similar to Rafa in stature would be Andre, but Pete generally had Andre's number, especially in majors. Moreover, Andre went off the reservation now and then for prolonged periods of time and Sampras rarely got into the position to play him on clay, where Andre arguably would have won more often. Sampras had to deal with great challenges, of course, but I don't think any of them were the same particular challenge that Rafa represents to Federer.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:09 PM

aaaaaah ok Fed rules by fear... wish he could do that to the only person that counts then.

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

And now I see from Pete's comment that he did have something like what I said in mind...

Pete, I loved "although the control freak, like the classic cuckold, is often the last to know."

A friend once told me, in a friendly way, that I was a control freak. It is no exaggeration to say that it was revelation that allowed me to explain many aspects of my personality that I hadn't been able to put together before. When I mentioned the observation to other friends and relatives, the response was basically, "Duh! No $#%@"

Posted by jb (IW or bust!) 03/10/2009 at 11:12 PM

oh i'm back. and what else a coach can do? clue fed in on recognizable patterns that HE'S developed, maybe help switch those up.

naughty! good heavens man. i have to ask. WHEN do you sleep? or do you? :)

Posted by Tim ($4.98 for cupcakes) 03/10/2009 at 11:13 PM

hi all- so another cupcake for Rafa and Rogie gets the evil Dr. third round... not exactly a shocker :)

Sherlock must have mixed his herbs and chanted his mantras again lol

Posted by crazyone 03/10/2009 at 11:13 PM

Christopher!!! How was DC?

Posted by ladyjulia 03/10/2009 at 11:15 PM

"aaaaaah ok Fed rules by fear... wish he could do that to the only person that counts then"

LOL :-)

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:15 PM

Sadly for all involved my body clock is a wild and whacky thing.
But i am almost done for the day, so you can all breath a sigh of relief shortly.


Posted by L. Rubin 03/10/2009 at 11:16 PM

vetmama,

Hell, you guys ouught to know my name by now. Just for you, however . . .

--Liron

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:17 PM

Timmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyy.
how goes it chappie? yeh it is a shocker of a draw. hey ho.
I am already which version of donut dave is going to show up.

Posted by Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:17 PM

Naughty, sorry for the bad news before bad time, but Stormin' George got beat in qualies today, so we'll need a new plan for tomorrow. Pity, I know. :)

Tim, you don't like Dr. Ivo early? :)

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:17 PM

I am already WONDERING...

Posted by Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:18 PM

"Before bad time"??? Wow. Freudian, perhaps? :)

Posted by jb (IW or bust!) 03/10/2009 at 11:18 PM

christopher, so true! the next step after realizing you're a control freak is to let someone else DO something. Not as well as you will. *shudder* and then you compliment them...ACK!

then go home, mix a very strong GE, and obsess about it.

eventually you pick your battles on what to control.

mhm. i wonder if a lot of tennis players are control freaks? given that tennis, as an individual sport, allows a good deal of over your own destiny...

Posted by Pete 03/10/2009 at 11:19 PM

BTW, I didn't mean to imply that Federer "owns those guys" in a cynical way; they're buddies, and Federer is your proverbial great guy. All the more reason to temper or withhold your criticism. Not many US players criticized Andre in his later years, while they dumped all over him when he was. . . less mature. There are a bunch of factors in that situation.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:19 PM

Damn that Wookie Sherlock. So looks like Chewin' Deli was the right guy for job after all.
so much for our half aszed ideas. Full on Head Cheese.

Posted by 03/10/2009 at 11:21 PM

nT: have you ever agreed with anything Pete writes in his posts?

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:21 PM

LOL excuse me sherlock that would before guaranteed good time in my case. Once again we give praise and thanks to the Swiss and their marvelous pharmaceutical industry

Posted by jb (IW or bust!) 03/10/2009 at 11:23 PM

*waves at Pete* just wondering, when was the last DC tie you went to? i don't remember you roadtripping recently-ish. but hail, i've a mind like a sieve...

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:23 PM

as I had to point out to Pete himself, oh anonymous one, indeed I have.
Thanks for the deep throating.

Posted by vetmama (Fed's a Damn Liar!!) 03/10/2009 at 11:24 PM

Chewin' Deli was the right guy to look at anyway. Even tho his game didn't stand up the the challenge, he was good window dressing...

Posted by jhurwi 03/10/2009 at 11:24 PM

NaughtyT: Since GoogleNews includes blogs in its searches, they presumably consider bloggers to be "members of the press." Some blogs (such as the Huffington Post) are now represented at White House press conferences.

Speaking of sources with a good reputation (or lack thereof), I was struck by the fact that the Tribune de Geneve has said nothing beyond a short factual article quoting Federer on the day he announced his withdrawal from Dubai and Davis Cup. Not only is the Tribune de Geneve the major French-language newspaper in Switzerland, but it is usually the best place to find "insider" analysis of Swiss tennis. In this case they seem to be deliberately avoiding the controversy.

Posted by vetmama (Fed's a Damn Liar!!) 03/10/2009 at 11:25 PM

I wouldn't be a control freak if others could do things as well as me.
No, really.

;-)

Posted by Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:33 PM

Naughty, you definitely live up to your name. Woo hoo! :)

"I wouldn't be a control freak if others could do things as well as me. No, really."

LOL, Vetmama. :)

Posted by neil in toronto 03/10/2009 at 11:33 PM

LOL vetmama, and it takes so long to teach people to do things the right way.

xo

neil, your turd LOL

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:34 PM

jhurwi, I appear in Google searches, don't make me a member of the press. A member possibly...

Posted by koalakoala 03/10/2009 at 11:45 PM

CL 03/10/2009 @ 9:59 PM

I would also like to point out that we are failing in what Pete predicted would be a doubling of responses. This post has been up for almost 4 hours and we have barely filled up 2 pages!?! I am shocked! If that isn't proof positive of the decline and fall of Federnation, I don't know what it.
_____________________________________________________________

Call me pathetic...I don't really care whether Swiss are disappointed with Federer or not. Tennis is an individual game.

I have been eagerly waiting for this article since yesterday. Honestly, I am a bit disappointed as Pete does not really provide insightful information about Cahill. But I understand this is the best we can get for this moment.

Anyway,IW has started. sure Pete will have more to say afterwards.


Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 03/10/2009 at 11:45 PM

Pete thanks for the post also your thoughts on Darren coaching Roger.

To a lot of fans Darren is now perceived as the "Knight in shiny armour" so to speak to bring back Roger from his so called decline.

Roger has a wonderful tennis mind and brain.To go coachless has he has and still win Master Series titles,Grand Slams is a testament to that.

We are now in 2009 Roger has just lost the AO slam to Nadal.It was a very tough 5 set match indeed,especially from a Rafa's fan point of view,long time coming hey.I thought in the 5th set Roger had lost it mentally with u/errors and d/faults.Rafa does have a habit of doing that dosent he.

With Darren recently taken on I for one will be interested to see what changes he will bring to Rogers game.Roger I feel is stubborn.This will be a waste of time for both parties if Roger dosent implement the changes in his game that Darrren wants.

I know Darren dosent like any outside criticism of his methods.That was a big factor in coaching Lleyton.

Well time we tell for sure.Maybe Darren can give more insight to Roger.Pretty dream job if you ask me.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:46 PM

Sherlock we may have done it again.

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:50 PM

Ah thank goodness for AM.

Posted by Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:50 PM

LOL, Naughty. The power to induce silence is rare. :)

Posted by 03/10/2009 at 11:50 PM

"I thought in the 5th set Roger had lost it mentally with u/errors and d/faults.Rafa does have a habit of doing that dosent he."

I thought in the 5th set Roger's BACK lost it with u/errors and d/faults.

Posted by Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:51 PM

Ah, spared by koalakoala and the lovely AM. Hi AM! :)

<<      1 2 3 4 5 6      >>

We are no longer accepting comments for this entry.

<<  Your Call, 3.11 Your Call, 3.10  >>




Wild Women of the U.S. Open
Wild Men of the U.S. Open
Roddick's Imperfect World
"It's Kind of a Dance"
Nadal's Kneeds
The Racquet Scientist: Canadian Tennis
The Long and Short of It
This blog has 3693 entries and 1646147 comments.
More
More Video
Daily Spin