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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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Comments
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Posted by vetmama (Fed's a Damn Liar!!) 03/10/2009 at 11:52 PM

You guys will never silence me. :)

Posted by naughty T, Storming the Bastl with the wookie and Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:53 PM

Ah I do it all the time Sherlock.
ok that is really it for me. cop you later

Posted by vetmama (Fed's a Damn Liar!!) 03/10/2009 at 11:55 PM

Neil, I find turds to be very cute. Which is why I called you one.:)

I encounter frequently in my line of work. Sometimes even in my pocket, when I reach for my pen. After some little..uh, little cutie has secretly deposited it there when I pick them up.

Good times.

Posted by Sherlock 03/10/2009 at 11:59 PM

Good night, Naughty. :)

Vetmama, are you packed and ready to go?!?

Posted by jb (IW or bust!) 03/10/2009 at 11:59 PM

lol - it just registered that naughty is storming the bastl with a (the) wookie and sherlock...

oh dear, i MUST go to bed.

'nite all!

Posted by Sherlock 03/11/2009 at 12:00 AM

'Night, jb. :) And when do YOU leave???

Posted by neil in toronto 03/11/2009 at 12:01 AM

Hehehe Vetmama, i love that word, and i'm still laughing!!!

Posted by vetmama (Fed's a Damn Liar!!) 03/11/2009 at 12:01 AM

Not even close, sh'lock. I've always been a frantic packer.

Posted by jb (IW or bust!) 03/11/2009 at 12:04 AM

i leave on thurs at 2:30 'lock! don't get there till 10... sigh. but that's ok, i've a direct line to the bartender at the hyatt, my drink should be awaiting me when i roll in... :)

Posted by vetmama (Fed's a Damn Liar!!) 03/11/2009 at 12:07 AM

I'll be rolling into IW at 10am (I'll be waiting for the gates to open, with my nose pressed against them) on Friday.
Heeeeee!!!

Posted by vetmama (Fed's a Damn Liar!!) 03/11/2009 at 12:07 AM

Anyway, nighty night.:)

Posted by glenn 03/11/2009 at 12:08 AM

Hi Pete and the rest of Twibe,

My name is Glenn, and i've been a lurker since '08 Monte Carlo.

I enjoy Pete's and Steve's writing, and the blogging hardly ever lacks for intelligence and wit.

My 3 favorite players are Nadal, Blake and Kolya.


Personally, Davis Cup means nothing to me(i'm a US citizen). I would be quite content if it went away.

I don't care if Roger is lying or not. If he wants to focus on his personal goals, more power to him. I think most tennis players use the doctor's note at some point or other to focus on what is important to them, and not be penalized. I don't have a problem with this at all.

As for Cahill, i really enjoy him as an announcer, and he's actually very competitive. Look for him to try to get Fed to play some mind games on Rafa(perhaps even knock over the water bottles! ;).

IMHO, the single biggest issue facing Fed is the whole GOAT thing, which for me is a waste of time and energy.

Trying to prove someone is the greatest tennis player, composer, scientist,etc. is truly impossible. Same thing when people talk about which was the greatest NFL team, i just laugh.

Different eras, different surfaces, equipment, competition, weather, supplements. It's just crazy!

There is no question that Fed is one of the all time greats. That should truly be enough for him and his fans, but apparently it's not, and that's a shame.

If Someone can convince Fed of this, then things will get better.

There is some hope. At the AO, i saw Fed say(I'm paraphrasing) that he doesn't want to be the GOAT, just the greatest of the Open Era(Too bad it isn't the Everybody Era then Fed could try to become the GOATEE). That's a little progress, but not enough.

I truly hope that the bulk of Rafa's fans and Rafa don't get fixated on the GOAT thing in the future.

Posted by jb (IW or bust!) 03/11/2009 at 12:08 AM

vetmama - i shall be there - diet coke in hand! after all, it'll be like, 13 oclock my time, so i'll be totaly awake and 'up and atom', as my mum used to say...

Posted by Christopher 03/11/2009 at 12:09 AM

Hi Crazyone! Davis Cup was a blast! Our seats were so-so, but for 4 out of the 5 matches we managed to sneak into empty seats about three rows back from court for about about 1/2 of the match (had to wait until we were sure the seats were empty and that the ushers had let their guard down). I love watching doubles live and was excited to see both Blake and Stan play (Roddick played some quality tennis, but I'd seen him a few times before). Stan's down-the-line backhand was humming in the Blake match. A thing of beauty. Of course I couldn't help but think about how great it would have been to see Roger, but I tried not to dwell on it. Weather in the mid-70s and lots of BBQ definitely dulled the pain!

Now I have to catch up on sleep (and work)...

Posted by Sherlock 03/11/2009 at 12:10 AM

'Night, Vetmama. :)

"but that's ok, i've a direct line to the bartender at the hyatt, my drink should be awaiting me when i roll in... :)"

Heee! jb's ready to go!! :)

You guys will have such a great time. Dang it, I wish I could go. :)

Posted by Sherlock 03/11/2009 at 12:12 AM

Hi, Glenn. Welcome aboard!! :)

"My 3 favorite players are Nadal, Blake and Kolya."

Good choices there. :)

Posted by glenn 03/11/2009 at 12:15 AM

Thanks Sherlock!!

You can't make it to IW??

Posted by Sherlock 03/11/2009 at 12:21 AM

Glenn, nope. Too much bloody work. :)

How 'bout you? Though I guess I should ask where you are from first. :)

Posted by Sherlock 03/11/2009 at 12:28 AM

Well, I've got to call it a night. Hope to see you again soon, Glenn. This place is addicting though, just so you're properly warned. :)

'Night, all.

Posted by Rolo Tomassi 03/11/2009 at 01:08 AM

Hi, all -

Pete, I thoroughly enjoyed this piece and the questions it raises/explores.

I had a thought while reading it: As you know, but few others here do, I just spent a ton of time covering an international cooking competition. It takes place in France, and many longtime observers beleive that it doesn't matter where you come from - if you want to win, you have to cook straight-up classic European cuisine. Some chefs can't bring themselves to do it - they know that what they do is great, even groundbreaking, and they don't want to play the game just to win a freakin' medal - they'd rather be true to themselves and go down with the ship. I thought of those cases when reading this piece because at some level I feel that Roger might rather go down with the ship - he doesn't want to stand at a trophy ceremony like Agassi did in his later years, and thank/acknowledge a coach for helping to get him over the finish line. (It was cute when he credited his friend for the rain delay advice at Wimbledon against Roddick a few years back, but really how radical was the suggestion to serve and volley on grass? Has he ever given an official coach that much public credit at a moment of victory? He may have, but I don't recall it.) Fed is such a smart guy, who I think sees intelligence as part of a champion's make-up, that I think he sees the need to import another person's ideas in order to cross the threshold into most slams ever as an admission of a very basic inefficiency. He's Roger Federer - he's not there to execute somebody else's game plan - he's there to decode and demolish - even though he's openly admitted that Rafa is the one guy he can't just come out and deconstruct in a matter of minutes.

All of which is to say that I think your weighting of the emotional aspect of the relationship may very well be correct - it's the most intangible and credit-worthy component of the relationship, but also (strangely) what I think Fed needs most. It's not like Rafa is blowing him out of the water (except on clay) - so you have to say that the emotional/mental piece of the puzzle may be the one's that's missing (or misplaced) right now. But it's so far misplaced where Rafa is concerned, that I can't quite imagine the pep talk that gets it back for him - we're talking a need for Dr. Phil/Tony Robins-level inspriation here. As I type, I wonder if he just needs some time with a sports psychologist - those are closed-door sessions and the doctor wouldn't be able to talk to any reporters about it...ever. Might be the perfect scenario for Fed.

I realize these thoughts are a bit convoluted but it's late and the editing part of my brain has turned in for the night - in any event, IW should be interesting....

Posted by Amit 03/11/2009 at 01:21 AM

Rolo Tomassi,

You've put it much more succintly than I would, but some of our thoughts on this overlap. I sometimes wonder if Federer feels that getting a coach is an admission of inadequacy; he doesn't need it the same way he doesn't need to look at his box.

That'd be a shame, since it ties Cahill's hands rightaway. I do hope Federer is receptive to any thoughtful wisdom.

Posted by koalakoala 03/11/2009 at 02:42 AM

osted by Sherlock 03/10/2009 @ 11:51 PM
Ah, spared by koalakoala and the lovely AM. Hi AM! :)
___________________________________

Hi Sherlock, nice to meet you.

English is not my first language, so my tone might sound direct and harsh unintentionally.

Pardon me, Pete. I have been following your blog for a while. I love your writing style and psychological analysis. You are neutral and I appreciate it.

Posted by koalakoala 03/11/2009 at 03:02 AM

osted by glenn 03/11/2009 @ 12:08 AM
Hi Pete and the rest of Twibe,
My name is Glenn, and i've been a lurker since '08 Monte Carlo.
......................
Personally, Davis Cup means nothing to me(i'm a US citizen). I would be quite content if it went away.
I don't care if Roger is lying or not. If he wants to focus on his personal goals, more power to him. I think most tennis players use the doctor's note at some point or other to focus on what is important to them, and not be penalized. I don't have a problem with this at all.
As for Cahill, i really enjoy him as an announcer, and he's actually very competitive. Look for him to try to get Fed to play some mind games on Rafa(perhaps even knock over the water bottles! ;).
IMHO, the single biggest issue facing Fed is the whole GOAT thing, which for me is a waste of time and energy.
Trying to prove someone is the greatest tennis player, composer, scientist,etc. is truly impossible. Same thing when people talk about which was the greatest NFL team, i just laugh.
Different eras, different surfaces, equipment, competition, weather, supplements. It's just crazy!
There is no question that Fed is one of the all time greats. That should truly be enough for him and his fans, but apparently it's not, and that's a shame.
If Someone can convince Fed of this, then things will get better.
There is some hope. At the AO, i saw Fed say(I'm paraphrasing) that he doesn't want to be the GOAT, just the greatest of the Open Era(Too bad it isn't the Everybody Era then Fed could try to become the GOATEE). That's a little progress, but not enough.
I truly hope that the bulk of Rafa's fans and Rafa don't get fixated on the GOAT thing in the future.
___________________________________________
Glenn, thank you very much for your post.
What you said is exactly how I feel. I cheer for my home country(China) as well as Australia in Olympic with enthusiasm. But tennis? I love Federer no matter where he is from.

"the greatest ever" crap is absolutely a demon in Roger's head. He needs to take a page from Nadal, learn to "live for the moment", win point by point, game by game and match by match. Let the history worry for itself.

Posted by koalakoala 03/11/2009 at 03:12 AM

Glenn, believe me. Nadal won't let the GOAT stupid talk into his head.

I remember once Djoker claimed that he was in control before he got injured in the match with Nadal. Nadal's reaction is "Ok, if he said so". What do you think Roger will react in the same situation? Roger will criticize Djoker, no doubt.

I have to admit that Nadal is more mature in this aspect than Roger. Nadal doesn't waste energy on making sure everybody proclaiming he is the best.

I wholehearted wish Roger could change his attitude.

Posted by Amused 03/11/2009 at 03:17 AM

'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!).'

You got me right there, Pete. I envy your job: getting paid by writing craps about a guy you really dislike and at the same time generating traffics on your blog by posting it. Almost all your writtings on TMF invoked huge protests from Fed fans and consequently the counter camp as well. Life is beatiful.

while you do not get paid by our comments, your web page's advertising rate goes in proportion to its hit rate, isn't it?

Much ado about nothing -- my feeling on your piece this time. After all spinnings and twists and declaration of innocence, you just told us two things:
A. TMF is hated by the Swiss coz he skipped DC (but you guys are too naive to know);
B. Cahill may or may not help TMF.

I'm perfectly fine with Issue A. Of course the Swiss should/would/could hate anyone who skipped representing their country, no matter what reason. Big news! Issue B: even TMF only stated it's only a trial run with Cahill. Again, big news.

Posted by Or 03/11/2009 at 03:33 AM

Good article, Pete.

I do think that the Swiss anger is probably going to be, you know, short lived. If not, they are an ungrateful bunch, and I don't think they are.

Disappointment - yeah. Kinda like Israel is always disappointed when Yossi Benayoun find himself injured before every single national squade match, we forgive him at the end, because he's ours, and he's the best we've got.

The Swiss don't have many 'Federers', and if they worse thing they can say about his personality is a 'control freak' - they lucked out.

Furthermore, I think Roger cooled off his relationship with the press greatly during 2008, I think he expected a bit more support than what he got, maybe it was a childish way to look at things, but he often alluded to that.

It's hard to know what's going on the Swiss Media, unless someone from the mothership is translating articles into English.

Posted by Or 03/11/2009 at 03:41 AM

Rolo Tomassi -

I completely and totally agree with you on that. Roger want to be able to say 'I did it on my own'. He's been so independent from a very young age.

I think that if he wins FO this year, he won't relish on the idea of thanking Cahill.

He never blamed a coach for losing, and he wont' blame a coach for winning - he didn't fire Roche because he was losing, from everything I understood, he fired Roche because he felt like Roche didn't care much, or didnt' think it was a big deal.

And I don't recall him ever thanking a coach, he doesn't thank people by name ever, either. I mean, maybe he did when he was younger, I don't recall any of his 2004 speeches, but he didn't thank Peter L in Wimby 03, and he thanked 'his team' in AO 06 - but in both of those interviews he was too busy doing tears management.

I asked Pete in the past whether he thought Roger was already seeing a sport psychologist - and how we just didn't know it, because he won't admit it, and he said that he doesn't think so, and I tend to agree. I do think it would help him, he just hasn't looked like a happy camper playing tennis for a long while now.

Maybe Cahill can help, I hope so.

Posted by Corrie 03/11/2009 at 03:58 AM

Hope I'm not repeating others on this issue that rolls endlessly on like a river.
First, Hlasek's views are not representative of anyone but his own bruised ego - he and Fed haven't got on since RF, aged 19, said he couldn't work with him as DC captain and as a result Hlasek went. Fed seems to have had particularly good relationships with all the other Swissies though. ( I recall Stephane Bohl wearing a t shirt at the previous tie saying "My God is Federer"). Perhaps he is far too godlike in Switz. but where would Swiss tennis be without him, or even their Olympic success? (He and Stan brought 50% of the gold medals.)

Second, Boris Becker said that when he refused to play DC, in order to save himself for the GS, he got a lot of flak in Germany but it all reversed when he started winning big ones. That's what they cared about, he said and they forgot all about DC.

Third, Luthi did say very supportive things about Fed not playing DC in the Q&A interview to Swiss questioners he did before DC.

I think Fed's main problem is lurking chronic back problems, which I'm quite sure I saw reflected in his serve over the Aus summer, and I can't see what Cahill can do to change a deeply-entrenched-in-habits, stubborn, older player.

Posted by Or 03/11/2009 at 03:59 AM

Pete -

**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?**

I think it is more about idolizing and loving Roger than fearing his warth. Roger, if he want to play some doubles, doesn't have to pick Allegro, he can choose anyone and maybe get more than one or two matches. He said years ago when Rafa asked him to play, that he doesn't play doubles with anyone else but his Swiss friends, and kept true to it.

And when Stan came back from an injury, Roger played several double matches with him, just to help the guy out.

So, I think they understand, I also don't think they want to see him play DC at the expense of his own career, I think they are good enough friends not to want to see that.

As for Hlasek, the relationship between the two is so notoriously bad, I don't think he needed much guts to say that, he was never in Roger's good graces.


Posted by koalakoala 03/11/2009 at 04:05 AM

Roger mentioned he went to see a psychologist once in his career. He did not make any comment on the result though.

I hope he is seeing one now. Keep it as a secret. We are fine with that.

Just do what ever helps you to win, Roger.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 04:10 AM

Hey again all.

thinking about it, there's not much much Cahill *can* do without Roger actively seeking to change his approach - if he needs to. If Roger can't or won't give of himself, the relationship is just not going to work.

also I think Mirka gets one of the shortest straws in all of this. :) Can't be easy for her.

Posted by koalakoala 03/11/2009 at 04:11 AM

Thanks for your post, or.

Stan said he fully understood Roger's decision and he was definitely not lying.

Posted by rg.nadal 03/11/2009 at 04:22 AM

Hello all!

Posted by rg.nadal 03/11/2009 at 04:24 AM

Here is a prediction from my end: Roger would win either IW or Miami.

Rafa has a tought R1 match- Kevin Anderson who defeated Novak in the first round at Miami!

Posted by Amused 03/11/2009 at 04:29 AM

Well, "much ado about nothing" does not bother me. One can blog on anything, if only just for the sake of blogging. What amuses me of Pete's piece most is NOT that he dislikes TMF, it is the effort he makes to hide his dislikes.

On Hlasek, Pete acclaimed his courage to speak out. On TMF's teammates, Pete pointed TMF's ownership on them. Both are righteous points. For a non-Fed fan, these two points together inevitably gives your (Pete's real) point: TMF's iron grip on everything silenced all fair critics. Imho, that's hardly the whole story. Pete, why not also acknowledge that Hlasek, having his own bad experience with TMF, can be biased as well as courageous? Why not also riddicules that TMF's teammates of being money-driven instead of principle/honor-driven? With a somewhat full picture, any reasonable mind would see each sides of Swiss has its own points and issues, and it's a complicated issue, but hard to fault any one side. With Pete's tailored partial input, it's all TMF's fault -- not only he skipped DC, he also silenced all protests :-))!

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 04:43 AM

Hey rg! That would be nice. :) Probably I'll get lynched for saying this but if Rafa loses early I won't be too bothered. (yes, he's the favourite etc etc etc - I'm saying I personally won't mind too much.)

Hopefully Murray will do well and Djokovic as well.

It's not necessarily critical of Federer to say that fans and federations were disappointed by his not playing in DC, or even to say that DC tie was lower in his list of priorities than keeping healthy for Slams and adjusting his play for the whole year ahead.

Well, work calls...see you all later. :)

Posted by rg.nadal 03/11/2009 at 04:45 AM

ciao, jewell.

Posted by Net Pick 03/11/2009 at 05:40 AM

Pete-
I'm hearing from comments that you dislike Roger Federer. I think your article was very fare and didn't see any resentment towards TMF. Please post what your dislikes are if that statement in peoples comments are true, on Roger Federer.

Posted by tony snedker 03/11/2009 at 05:42 AM

nadal is at his peak;

murray may also reach his peak soon;

fed can't improve anymore;

we might see federer losing frequently to nadal-murray ;

nadal is superior to federer;

probably murray too;

but federer can continue beating joker 50% of the time;

Posted by Rosangel 03/11/2009 at 05:45 AM

Oh, Tim:)
"Sherlock must have mixed his herbs and chanted his mantras again lol"

Sherlock and his hemlock, or perhaps Sherlock the Warlock?

Posted by piyush 03/11/2009 at 05:46 AM

it is sad but federer is losing his contemporary relevance by losing again and again to rafael;

and to murray, too;

he does not look like the no 1 anymore;

Posted by Rosangel 03/11/2009 at 05:47 AM

Pete: thanks for the response. That's all I wanted to know.

Posted by john 03/11/2009 at 05:49 AM

are federer's fans in denial about fed being inferior to nadal?

Posted by Rosangel 03/11/2009 at 05:49 AM

Welcome to TW, glenn.

Nice post.

Posted by Net Pick 03/11/2009 at 05:50 AM

Remember when Sampras and Agassi was losing alot before they came back strong. Sampras didn't win a tournament for 2-years before he came back strong again. I have full confidence that Federer will also do it. Wait until you see him in the final at Indian Wells. Cahill has given him all the emotional support and has regained his killer instant to go after Djok,Murray, Simon and finally Rafa. He needed to look at Rafa as the enemy and not his friend. Wait and see. Let Federer's racket do the talking.

Posted by Net Pick 03/11/2009 at 05:51 AM

Remember when Sampras and Agassi was losing alot before they came back strong. Sampras didn't win a tournament for 2-years before he came back strong again. I have full confidence that Federer will also do it. Wait until you see him in the final at Indian Wells. Cahill has given him all the emotional support and has regained his killer instant to go after Djok,Murray, Simon and finally Rafa. He needed to look at Rafa as the enemy and not his friend. Wait and see. Let Federer's racket do the talking.

Posted by Split Infinitive 03/11/2009 at 05:56 AM

One perspective on sporting nationalism is about whether you come from a place where there is a strong culture of a national team / individual representing the country. I would submit that in the US, given the strong city franchise/college team culture, this might be a little underappreciated.

If you come from such a place, I'd think that your investment into the sport that your country plays (as opposed to an individual or franchise) makes the actions of individuals in the team resonate more.

Posted by john 03/11/2009 at 06:01 AM

Netpick:

federer has always lost to nadal except in nadal's growing up years;

there is nothing fed can do now;

except retire in grace;

rather than lose again and again to nadal ;

and then murray;

and finally, to joker too;

federer does not have the game to match these guys;

federer is inferior;

Posted by john 03/11/2009 at 06:03 AM

federer is living off past glory;

federer's days are over as no 1 or 2;

fed cannot beat murray;

Posted by Rosangel 03/11/2009 at 06:05 AM

Curious at 9.11, after I'd gone to sleep:

"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?"

You truly can't see why I would differentiate between random anonymous people on the internet, and material in an article written by Pete, who I have met, with whose blog I assist, with whom I correspond regularly, and who I know for a fact has strong contacts within the tennis community and among journalists? Heck, I've been introduced to quite a few of Pete's contacts, and from my own work I'm familiar with the practice of protecting your sources.

Posted by john 03/11/2009 at 06:05 AM

net pick

look at federer's results against murray and see where he stands : 2-5;

lost last 4 matches;

does federer have the calibre to beat murray;

not , if you look at their last 4 matches;

Posted by gabriela valentina 03/11/2009 at 06:23 AM


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. @ ANDREW

reading through comments I came across this and thought it worthy of note. Is this what most people believe to be a correct assessment of Nadal's playing? Just wondering. I don't know enough to have my own opinion on the matter...

Posted by rg.nadal 03/11/2009 at 06:29 AM

So excited about the first Master Series event of the year. For me Del Potro is the fella to watch outside the big four. Whats the latest on the Murray illness? Is it mono as some suspected or something not that strong?

Posted by Spacenoxx (El Stupido aka The Moron From Majorca) 03/11/2009 at 06:37 AM

H/L 03/10/2009 @ 11:21 PM

I think you may be right especially when Pete even hints at -ve about Roger and the sorrounding paraphernalia ;-)

But then I have to say that most anyone would probably do the same. I would defend if Pete said something -ve about Rafa when I feel its justified ...so there.

Posted by rg.nadal 03/11/2009 at 06:37 AM

gabriela: Hola, oh scholar! how are thee?

Posted by john 03/11/2009 at 06:45 AM

are we about to witnes federer's exit from no 2 to no 3 soon

Posted by koalakoala 03/11/2009 at 06:46 AM

Rg, as far as I know, it is confirmed that Murray does not have mono. But the real cause of the problem is still unknown.
He was given medical clearance for light/moderate exercises.

John, I am really sorry that It seems Federer is going to stick around for a while and kick a** from time to time.

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 06:47 AM

federer, the fallen star..

falling further down.......

Posted by john 03/11/2009 at 06:49 AM

koalakoala :

but farther away from no 1

Posted by john 03/11/2009 at 06:51 AM

koalakoala

fed cant beat murray today;

in 2 years time gulbis, cilic, et al will beat him regularly;

fed does not have the calibre to be no 1 in the times of nadal and murray;

Posted by john 03/11/2009 at 06:53 AM

koalakoala

we will soon forget fed was once a goat contender;

Posted by tony 03/11/2009 at 06:53 AM

is federer arrogant?

Posted by piyush 03/11/2009 at 06:56 AM

pete bodo is one of the most respected sports journalists in the world;

the best of tennis;

and kudos to rosangel and the tennis.com team for excellent analysis, presentation,..

Posted by koalakoala 03/11/2009 at 07:00 AM

John

You have every right to cast a crystal ball and talk about who is going to be next American President.

Whatever you say, man.

Posted by Tennis Observer 03/11/2009 at 07:03 AM

"If the team advanced, he was facing maybe away ties at Argentina and Spain"

Yeah, good old Roger thought better to let the team slide into the relegation than another embarassing meeting with Nadal.

Posted by rg.nadal 03/11/2009 at 07:04 AM

koalakoala: Thank you.

Posted by gabriela valentina 03/11/2009 at 07:08 AM

hello rg nadal! sorry,I've just seen your greeting(ha,ha...some scholar I am!) because I had to absent myself for a while.

I see that no one has bothered to answer my question. perhaps it was a foolish one or a boring one?

Posted by gabriela valentina 03/11/2009 at 07:13 AM

Tennis Observer: I do think that comment about Fed's wanting to avoid a DC meeting with Nadal is a tad bit cruel and,I suspect,not grounded on any evidence but your own gut feeling(to which,of course,you are entitled).

If it be true that Fed tries to avoid Nadal,I'd say that only in as much as Nadal tries to avoid Fed. It is MY gut feeling they both prefer meeting each other in the grand finals where, as the world's best players, they probably feel they rightfully belong.

Posted by gabriela valentina 03/11/2009 at 07:18 AM

"john" would appear to be that sort of poster who should best be left to his own devices and, perhaps, when he realises that he is being ignored, he will become bored with his silly, little game and run along and play elsewhere....as on other occasions and to posters of his ilk,I have suggested amusing past times for them , such as gargling peanut butter.......

Posted by Spacenoxx (El Stupido aka The Moron From Majorca) 03/11/2009 at 07:19 AM

Gabriela, I dont think Rafa feels about "rightfully belong"ing in a GS final but I get your point.

Posted by gabriela valentina 03/11/2009 at 07:20 AM

jewell? are you not dispensing the brew of peace today? everybody seems a bit peevish or testy today.... We need another tennis match PRONTO!!!

Posted by gabriela valentina 03/11/2009 at 07:23 AM

spacenoxx: I know I didn't make myself sufficiently clear but thank goodness for clever posters like yourself who make up for my failures. I'm glad you realise that it wasn't about either of them being arrogant but more the fact that both of them acknowledge the other as the worthiest of rivals....

Posted by rg.nadal 03/11/2009 at 07:26 AM

gabriela: this my answer: Nadal is a tennis genius in his own right. Till now the term genuis has been associated with the likes of Mcenroe and Roger, players who have an array or shots at their disposal and whose games looked fluid. Whereas games of players like Borg and Nadal have been associated with words like consistency, tenacity etc. Nadal's biggest strength in the recent times has been his willingness to tweak his game a little here and a little there. No major changes, but changes that reflect his drive to improve constantly by adding newer dimensions. At the same time, he has not brought about major changes in his game, thus successfully maintaining its core.

Posted by ava 03/11/2009 at 07:29 AM

fed-related posts in TW are a conflict flashpoint. Any careless comment and Fed fans/haters will fall on you. Anyhow, I would wait for a while before proclaiming what effect Cahill will have on Fed. Honestly I don't think a coach can radically change a players game/mindset in a few months or years. The initiative must come from the player himself. The thing Cahill can help with would be the tactics and strategies before big matches. I just hope fed hasn't hired Cahill to specifically beat Rafa because now Fed's problems extends beyond Rafa. I would actually predict Fed finds his groove after Wimby(I personally don't see him winning;although it is far too early to predict) and sweeps the hard court season along with USO.
I wonder why Rafa fans are so not bothered if Rafa were to post bad results in IW and Miami. Strange things have happened since AO. Anyhow, I wish Rafa all the best and may he win IW and Miami hard as it may be.

Posted by Eoin 03/11/2009 at 07:34 AM

Hey guys,

Does anyone know where I can find the mens singles draw for IW???
The Indian Wells and ATP tennis websites don't have it yet

Posted by koalakoala 03/11/2009 at 07:37 AM

Just want to talk a little bit about Federer in China if anyone is interested.

Tennis is still a minor sport in China but has been growing in popularity very rapidly. Federer has been the biggest draw card for the past few years. When he plays in Shanghai, the overwhelming majority audience will be on his side no matter what. Murray had to deal with the agitated crowd last year. Other than having been the number one for a few years, The fact that Federer playing with ankle injury in 2005 and back injury in 2008 has earned Federer people's hearts.

Nadal's popularity is also on the rise.

Their fans are fighting like cats and dogs, just like what is happening around the world.

Posted by gabriela valentina 03/11/2009 at 07:38 AM

thanks rg nadal. I think what you write is pretty clear and well expressed and I have seen other people say similar things but Andrew seems to think(if I understood properly) that Nadal's game is revolutionary and a one-off and that it can't be duplicated. I was wondering if others( who know far more about tennis and the history of other players than I do) agree with this...

I only inderstand that there is something in his game that I find exciting. Could it be that I have picked up on the "difference" Andrew is talking about?

Posted by rg.nadal 03/11/2009 at 07:43 AM

Eoin:
Men's Draw: http://tinyurl.com/ag2f7x
Women's Draw: http://tinyurl.com/d3eqh9

Posted by pau. 03/11/2009 at 07:44 AM

evie 3/10/09 7:35PM
"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."

Tactics, tactics, tactics! I wonder if Cahill will be able to do what others have not managed and instill in Federer the discipline necessary to execute tactics effectively. It seems to go against Fed's craw to follow advice on tactics, even from savvies like Higueras... or perhaps it's just beneath him - or beyond him - to carry through completely any plan devised for him...

Posted by rg.nadal 03/11/2009 at 07:44 AM

gabriela: Agree with Andrew. Its both one of a kind and revolutionary. Doubt if it can be dublicated for similar results.

Posted by koalakoala 03/11/2009 at 07:45 AM

Rg

Well put. Nadal has been underestimated by a lot of people, including Roger himself, I think.

His ability to adjust his tactics is amazing.

Posted by gabriela valentina 03/11/2009 at 07:45 AM

AVA: you point out something interesting..the fact that Rafa's fans(of whom I am one) do not get so hot and bothered by his losses or feel that they indicate that he is on a downward spiral. This could have to do with Fed's having been the rightful crowned head for so long and because Rafa was in the position of the eternal challenger for so long that we all grew used to them occupying these rĂ´les. It could also be age related as, undeniably, Fed is (at least on paper) chronologically nearer his decline than Rafa is(although I deny Fed's already being IN the decline that will inevitably arrive one day...)


Posted by gabriela valentina 03/11/2009 at 07:49 AM

rg nadal: I am beginning to think that there is something to this opinion that you and Andrew share...

pau: can any of us successfully put ourselves into the mind of a tennis genius like federer and post here about what a coach can or can't do for him?

Posted by koalakoala 03/11/2009 at 07:51 AM

Ava,
If Federer thinks Nadal is the only enemy this year, then Federer is screwed.

Federer is stubborn but he is not that naive, don't you think?

Posted by rg.nadal 03/11/2009 at 07:57 AM

koalakoala: Thank you.

gabriela: haha. Also, i am happy that commentators have stopped saying things like "built like a construction worker" about Rafa.

Posted by gabriela valentina 03/11/2009 at 08:02 AM

koalakoala: do you think Fed has underestimated Rafa? if so, that attitude is way in the past. This year, just before the AO, everyone was touting Murray to be one of the finalists, if not the winner of the title...everyone, except fed, who seemed almost petulant at the idea and was clearly expecting Rafa to meet him across the net in the final.

Posted by rg.nadal 03/11/2009 at 08:02 AM

got to go. Ciao.

Posted by koalakoala 03/11/2009 at 08:02 AM

gabriela valentina

The poll will show Federer is still the favorite because Federer's dominance on hard court is more consistent.

I would rather Federer fights under the radar, to be honest.

Posted by gabriela valentina 03/11/2009 at 08:07 AM

Nadal has been underestimated by a lot of people, including Roger himself, I think.@koalakoala @7:45

Koalakoala: you yourself posted that you think Fed underestimates Rafa and i don't see any evidence of that.

Posted by gabriela valentina 03/11/2009 at 08:08 AM

so long for today rg nadal and I'll be moving along too.

So sorry to have missed jewell and many others!

Posted by koalakoala 03/11/2009 at 08:20 AM

gabriela valentina

You might be right. Still, Roger has been very slow in acknowledging Nadal's genius. He did not seem to expect himself to decline so early and Nadal catch up so early. Roger probably thought he could have picked up 16 GS by 2008...

I don't know, I am just guessing.

Posted by yello fuzzy 'jumping into the fray' 03/11/2009 at 08:22 AM

hello ladies and germs

Roger is just choking on the big points. In his last 2 matches against Rafa at the slams, Roger had his chances and he choked...this is so oddly similar to Jana Novatna, but in reverse.
the choking leads to tears,then to slam success...Roger goes from confident,clear thinking,no hesitation tennis=GS success, to choking, then tears
Roger needs to say "I choked." and get over it. Maybe Cahill can get him to acknowledge that .' tree it' as they say, and move on.

Posted by koalakoala 03/11/2009 at 08:34 AM

Federer choked because he worries too much about the GOAT crap. I think If he has only 10 title now, he will be coping with Nadal better.

Dam* GOAT, pointless.

Posted by yello fuzzy 'jumping into the fray' 03/11/2009 at 08:39 AM

Rafa owns property in Rogers head .

Posted by Antoinette 03/11/2009 at 08:54 AM

This article provided no new insight in my opinion. I think the fact that people in Switzerland would be upset with Roger for not participating in DC was a given....it was an unpopular decision yet he made it and perhaps for selfish reasons. So what? the fact that Federer keeps a tight knit and close circle of people he trusts around him is not exactly news, I guess the "news" is that Federer has become somewhat isolated and may therfore fail to benefit from advice etc from a new coach, I think that is a somewhat obvious conclusion given Federer's penchant for going it alone.

In any event now that tennis in on the horizon i look forward to more tennis related discussions as against the player related discussions that have dominated this board in the recent past. I am looking forward to seeing Nalbandina playing again as I wonder if he will make up for his dismal showing at the AO, I would dearly love to see him make it deep into one of the upcoming events at IW and Miami.Also I am anxious to see how Federer pitches up after the extended lay-off

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 08:55 AM

'morning peeps! Wow, these federer debates and analysis can go on forever. I've only got one observation that hasn't been mentioned before.

Immediately before the AO final, roger gave a brief interview which i've now seen several times. He seems very relaxed and confident about the match saying he's excited to "be playing the #1 in a final for the first time and playing for the history books." To me it is apparent that he thinks he's going to win the match. He doesn't mention that nadal had an epic 5 hours plus semi two days before, but that could have only added to his confidence level. He played an extraordinary match until the 5th set where i believe he choked when he realized there was an unstoppable force across the net who wasn't not tiring and not going to give up.
Like koalakoala and yellow fuzzy just said, I think it wasn't until THIS match that federer realized how truly tough nadal can be. This disappointment and realization prompted him to seek out a coach and hopefully retune his game so that he can break the rafa code so to speak.
Like rafa said to him at the awards ceremony, i know he can do it. I want him to do it. My tennis fantasy for 2009 is for Fed to get #14 at wimby and for rafa to complete his career golden slam at the USopen. Then all of these two great players fans can be happy. How does that sound?

Posted by rafadoc 03/11/2009 at 08:59 AM

Pete: Being the psychology nerd that I am, I zoned into this part of the post:

>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.I have said for a while I thought Roger could benefit from a coach- I think I last mentioned it in Pete's first coaching series post. And, being in the profession I am, a lot of it does border on the psychological. Roger doesn't need to learn a new stroke. Technically, I agree with C1-he needs to learn new patterns of play which a coach can help with. This is also connected to coming up with a "game plan" against a player and THEN, if the plan works, great, if not, you have someone to share responsibility with and go back to the drawing board with. To me, that takes a lot of pressure off.

....I guess to finish the loop...less pressure and less sense of TOTAL responsibility= better sense of self, which in turn enhances confidence...throw in a great set or a win here and there....confidence increases, rinse, repeat. <

I think we agree Pete:)


Posted by rafadoc 03/11/2009 at 09:04 AM

Okay....type pad editing posts now...lets try again: (mods feel free to delete my prior post)

Pete: Being the psychology nerd that I am, I zoned into this part of the post:

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

I posted this a few days ago:

I have said for a while I thought Roger could benefit from a coach- I think I last mentioned it in Pete's first coaching series post. And, being in the profession I am, a lot of it does border on the psychological. Roger doesn't need to learn a new stroke. Technically, I agree with C1-he needs to learn new patterns of play which a coach can help with. This is also connected to coming up with a "game plan" against a player and THEN, if the plan works, great, if not, you have someone to share responsibility with and go back to the drawing board with. To me, that takes a lot of pressure off.

....I guess to finish the loop...less pressure and less sense of TOTAL responsibility= better sense of self, which in turn enhances confidence...throw in a great set or a win here and there....confidence increases, rinse, repeat.

Anywhooooooo, I think Pete and I agree that the coaching aspect is very importantly, an emotional/psychological one.

Posted by metu 03/11/2009 at 09:06 AM

I see the technical and emotional as equal parts. Clearly Fed has enough game for Rafa (those last two loss's were mighty close). With a change or two... Just as clearly he has a mental challenge ahead.

The biggest statistic is the break points not converted by Fed. This is a huge problem. This can't be overlooked and must be fixed. You improve those percentages and suddenly you have have a new ballgame. And a new mental outlook.

That problem is easily located. No one can miss it. Rafa hits his serve there all the time. Fed does nothing to change the outcome.

It's been noted that Fed's slice, which is so troublesome to so many, does not bother Rafa.

So he needs to be aggressive off the return and to do that he needs to get off the baseline. He needs to move into those returns, not turn his shoulders and lunge/slice.

Posted by yello fuzzy 'jumping into the fray' 03/11/2009 at 09:11 AM

Annie
Like koalakoala and yellow fuzzy just said, I think it wasn't until THIS match that federer realized how truly tough nadal can be.

I agree ,to a point...if Roger was just finding out how tough Rafa is , in Jan 2009, he is delusional. After that pasting at last years french( and previous years FO's) , how could Roger not see not only the potential ,but the ability of Rafa to play big on some of the worlds biggest stages. DUH! I thinks Rogers ego gets in the way, thats what drives his greatness. When he believes he's the best , he's dripping with it. He reeks of overconfidence(arrogance), he struts around the court with that snobs sneer knowing that he can beat his opponent shot for shot. Everything he does(when he's TMF) is better than everyone else. When he's less than confident he sulks around the court, looking down,barking out occasionally, talking to himself. when Rogers on, he's the silent assassin, preening and smirking all the way to the bank.

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