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 Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 09:15 AM

So true metu. The bp's not converted problem would have to be the obvious first order of business. And somehow getting around the serve to the bh. He did it successfully only a couple of times in the AO final. I thought pmac was going to blow a gasket over that one. He just couldn't get over it, saying repeatedly, if he knows where the serve is going why doesn't he make the necessary changes to his stance etc. etc. (easier said than done maybe).

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 09:15 AM

Annie, i agree with you and koala and yellow fuzzy, maybe it took losing to Rafa on a hardcourt to remove the last asterisk on their rivalry.

Hopefully Cahill will bring something fresh to his mind if nothing else. It was awful to see Roger so distraught at the Australian Open, even if i loved loved the fact that Rafa won.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 09:26 AM

Hi neil! glad you agree. If they make it to the finals of IW it will be some anticipated match. It'll feel like a major won't it? The pressure is really on roger now but i'm confident he'll meet the challenge with help from a good coach like cahill.

Posted by koalakoala 03/11/2009 at 09:28 AM

Amada

Thanks for the post. I totally agree with you that Federer was confident on his hard court ability before the match.

Federer's lethal weapons are: forehand, serve, movement and sense of ball. In AO final, his forehand was terribly inconsistent probably due to losing a step hence affecting his positioning, and his serve was poor. Only ball sense did not betray him.

He played baseline defense game well enough and his backhand was impressive. But with 3 of the 4 lethal weapons under par, he could not attack effectively.

I think Federer is an attacker by instinct, he can play defensively for ever. His frustration was built up and patience lost, then he simply collapsed...

Federer needs to get back his weapons, otherwise, it will be extremely difficult for him to win another slam.

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 09:30 AM

I think it would be great to have another Fedal final, i just can't get enough of them, even though my stomach disagrees intensely, because its just so nerve wracking.

My only concern is that Fed fans more than Fed have expectations that things will change for the better overnight, which it could, but more likely any change will happen after a period of time.

Posted by koalakoala 03/11/2009 at 09:31 AM

Sorry, I meant he can't play defensively fnorever against Nadal. It is a losing game unless he can strike at the proper time.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 09:33 AM

koala: the only thing is fed has the best attacking game there is but rafa can pass anybody. It really is a ying and yang kind of thing. I love the matador and the bull metaphor. it's so perfect for these two.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 09:34 AM

"It was awful to see Roger so distraught at the Australian Open, even if i loved loved the fact that Rafa won."

agreed.

Neil!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 09:36 AM

OT here, some poster was teasing fed about wearing a hat with his initials on it but i think it's a really cool monogram.

Posted by koalakoala 03/11/2009 at 09:39 AM

Neil

No, change will not happen overnight. It might never happen...But I do have hope in him.

I will cheer for Federer no matter what. Honestly, I never realized I cared about him so much until he started to lose. I mean his dominance took away suspension and anxiety, which I think it is part of fun of sports...

Amada, sorry, I should call you Annie.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 09:40 AM

no problem koala, i knew you meant me! :)

hi jewell and rafadoc!

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 09:43 AM

jewell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Man, youtube is dangerous, i searched for a couple songs from my ahem youth, and that led to a downloading marathon LOL.

koala, i have faith in him too, and yes it may take awhile for Fed to adjust to NOT dominating, but he'll get through it, he's too smart. Tennis can get a bit boring when one person dominates, so i'd also like to see Murray and Djoker make it a TRUE big four.

Posted by thebigapple 03/11/2009 at 09:45 AM


Fed is back this week, finally. Cannot wait. Thank goodness he did not quit.

He is just a pleasure to watch...Nadal, not so much. Two nice chaps, however.

Everytime I look at this blog I am amazed that Fed generates so much discussion. His lady, his cage, his hat, his hair, his Dubai policy, his back, his coach,his this, his that. Give him a break...talk about Nadal now, he is the ruling Number 1.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 09:45 AM

neil, can we throw sweet hot crepe gilles simon in there too?

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 09:45 AM

Hey everyone, properly.

mm, catching up - interesting posts through the morning, and nice to see piyush doing his/her thing. :)

Agree with rg.nadal on Rafa.

Fuzzy, I kind of see what you mean about Federer, but on court, when Rafa's feeling good - I kind of see the same aura about him. To me it's more like the confidence that comes from knowing you're at your peak than arrogance.

Posted by yello fuzzy 'jumping into the fray' 03/11/2009 at 09:46 AM

neil in toronto
Rafa has done so many things Roger hasn't done...
Gold Medal, Davis Cup(?), French, French Wimby combo and this year, we are all talking about the real possibility of The Grand Slam!(quality or quantity)
nailbiting time in Federerland. Rafa could overshadow Rogers legacy this year.
not just because of the above mentioned career hi-lights, but mainly because he did it during the reign of The Federer. Take note also on how Rafa has done it , ailing knees, 5 hour marathons, grinding it out mentally and physically on the clay and every year he gets tougher to beat

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 09:47 AM

the big apple: man, do i second that. reading through all of yesterday's posts was exhausting.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 09:49 AM

"talk about Nadal now, he is the ruling Number 1."

And then lots of other people will come out and say that Pete doesn't like Nadal, he's always criticising him, he prefers Federer...etc, etc. ;-)

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 09:52 AM

yellowfuzz: when you put it that way rafa really is amazing. a truly unique one of kind player. although i'm noticing more players trying out his buggy whip forehand and i bet there are righthanded kids out there trying to play leftie!

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 09:53 AM

I know it's in doubles but Roger *does* have a Gold. ;)

Part of me thinks he'll still be around for London 2012, too - isn't that going to be at Wimbledon?

I'd kind of like Murray to have a shot at that one too.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 09:54 AM

Did rafa have to beat federer in Beijing to get his gold medal? obvious question but i didn't follow the tennis at the olympics.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 09:57 AM

jewell: yes it will be at wimby in 2012. can we get our tickets now? i'm not kidding. we have to go to that. a big TW contingent.

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/11/2009 at 09:57 AM

Good Morning everyone!

Jewell at 9:49, you're so right.
Ya can't please everyone!

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 10:01 AM

Hey Annie, no, Rafa beat Fernando Gonzalez for the Gold. I think Rogi lost in the quarters to Blake.

I agree that Rafa is the start of a new continuum , no one before him has played a game like his, its unique, and it'll be fun to see if and how many players of the future his game influences.

As a fan, i take Rafa's success on match by match. I'm not yet going to make any grand pronouncements about future success, tho i wish him all the world for it.

Annie, absolutely Rafa's accomplished a ton during Fed's reign.

Posted by thebigapple 03/11/2009 at 10:06 AM

Do not get me wrong...I am a hardcore Fed fan. He changed me from a long-time TV tennis fan to a buy-airline-ticket and go the tournament tennis fan.

But he is after all just a young man doing his thing. The scrutiny is just a little stunning.

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 10:09 AM

thebigapple, hopefully in 4 years, we'll all be tired of discussing the brilliance of Nadal's game :)

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

Does Rafa's potential legacy have to overshadow Federer's?

Federer has things that Rafa does not, as well. 5 Wimbledons in a row, however many USOs - four? And of course the 13 and counting.

I so much love that we have both guys and the rivalry. And I don't think the rivalry is necessarily over yet, either. Things can change.

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 10:14 AM

Sure jewell, we can love and respect them separately, but i think the more casual fans are likely to see them forever as intertwined.

i think its 5 us opens in a row for Fed, i could be wrong.

Look at me all Fedensive today... LOL

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 10:19 AM

big apple: there are people who look on rogers game as an art form and on him as a true artist. The late writer David Foster Wallace wrote a glowing article about his game (help me out people i can't remember the name) elevating it to pure perfection etc etc. I think that's why some people wax poetically about him for pages and pages and pages...because they do find his 'art' stunning.

Posted by yello fuzzy 'jumping into the fray' 03/11/2009 at 10:19 AM

Rafa is like a Hingis on steroids(er...not to imply that Rafa is on steroids), spin , consistent, angles,quickness, court savvy, mediocre serve
(that is improving)

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 10:20 AM

Well I see that they're intertwined - hard to talk about one without mentioning the other, and I like that - but why does one have to be better? (apart from the obvious point that Roger's greatness is mostly achieved and much of Rafa's is potential, that is.)

Why is it that when one is criticised, the other must also get their fair share of criticism? It's just...strange.

and LOL, neil - soon you will be getting accused of "spoiling tennis.com with Fedadoration". ;)

Posted by BG 03/11/2009 at 10:20 AM

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

Ok, Pistol Pete only had to deal with an eight-time Slam champion, world #1, and the only living holder of a career Grand Slam besides Laver, not to mention all the punks he beat back before they could develop enough career momentum to become a legitimate threat to his supremacy. Pete played a spectrum of greats from Lendl, McEnroe, Becker, and Edberg to Agassi, Courier, and Rafter all the way to Federer and Roddick - but you're right that Pete never played Nadal.

It would be interesting to have another Asia tour at the end of this year with three matches between Pete and Rafa! On grass or indoor, of course.

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 10:21 AM

To me yello fuzzy, that was the most surprising thing about the A.O. 5th set. Rafa's serve was the best it had been the entire match!! He only lost 3 points and those first 2 service games were won at love. Amazing.

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 10:22 AM

jewell, can i think apply for British Lesbian status as well?!?!? I've always wanted to be exotic ROFL

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 10:22 AM

Roger Federer as Religious Experience?

I haven't read it - I should.

But I can certainly go all poetic over Rafa's game for pages and pages...should anybody wish it. ;)

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 10:22 AM

ugh, can i then, not can i think...duh.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 10:23 AM

Of course Rafa's dominance on clay is a whole other story. Talk about art form. He's a sight to behold imo on that surface. I'm a clay junkie anyway. I think the game is more beautiful to watch on clay but that's just me.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 10:24 AM

*confers British Lesbian status on Neil in manner of Queen Elizabeth bestowing a knighthood*

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 10:26 AM

Excellent!!! Its all sensible shoes and flannel shirts from here on out :)

AAAAH Annie, Rafa on clay...it just makes so much sense. The bits of the Davis Cup i saw this weekend were a thing of beauty.

Ferru as well, good on him, i hope he makes his way back into the top ten with Rafa and Fer.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 10:27 AM

oh neil, congratulations on your new status. i think some sensible shoes are in order here..

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 10:27 AM

and now I've probably officially wrecked this thread, and spoiled tennis.com with triviality and frivolity, to boot. Oh, dear.

Oh, I love watching Rafa on clay! But it's going to be hideous when he loses two or three matches on the surface in a row.

I love watching Roger on grass too. It seems like his natural habitat to me. He's so smooth and beautiful.

Posted by thebigapple 03/11/2009 at 10:30 AM

neil in toronto, if in 4 years I have to talk about Nadal's hair, I do not know what I could possibly say. Wavy,thinish and dark?? Does not make for riveting conversation, I am afraid.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 10:30 AM

LoL neil, well we got the shoes part right.

the other thing about fed that's unusual to me is that he's so beautiful when he plays. he doesn't grimace when he hits the ball or grunt or anything. how does he do that? simply amazing. Maybe some grunting and grimacing might be in order if he's going to beat rafa in the future.

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/11/2009 at 10:31 AM

neil, "fedensive" = best word ever!
i find myself being more and more fedensive lately, and im not sure why.
Im a Rafanatic, and a tennis fanatic, and yet even I sometimes think of Rafa and TMF as being somehow intertwined. Im just grateful we have both of them. I'd be well gutted if TMF retired early! And tbh, i think Rafa would as well.

What i fail to understand is how some fedfans hate rafanatics, and vice versa. Thses two greats have respect for one another, and yet certain fans show themsleves to be classless drones by spouting vitriol about the other player, or said players fans.

Jewell, "fedadoration" is also genius!

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 10:32 AM

bigapple: i don't get it. no one's mentioned rafa's hair or butt picking once this morning. that's very good for TW.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 10:34 AM

I think if you're looking for strictly tennis talk with no fluff or silly stuff 'concrete elbow' is the place to go. For me that's too dry and technical.

Posted by yello fuzzy 'jumping into the fray' 03/11/2009 at 10:34 AM

neil in toronto
Rafa served well , but roger returned worse...

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 10:35 AM

Emma - sadly I didn't invent Fedadoration, but our favourite anti-Fed piyush said I was spoiling tennis.com with it. Still makes me giggle. ;)

I didn't realise that sensible shoes were a necessary lesbian accoutrement.

thebigapple - welcome, btw, if you're new - ooh, I could go poetic about Rafa's hair, all right - I adore it! I won't though, LOL.

Posted by mikey 03/11/2009 at 10:38 AM

i am really concerned about cahill as fed's coach - i really disdain his commentary, especially at the AO where basically him & p-mac are imploring fed to play high risk tennis against nadal which is neither his nature or strength - and unless he plays this style against all opponents, it's doomed for failure. sure, he needs to adjust tactics by cutting off the serve in the ad court, but they want him to run around the serve in the ad court and smack the ball - once in a while, it's fine, but not a full dose. More net forrays are not workable against nadal, as you are asking to be passed. hopefully cahill just was trying to agree with p-mac and didn't really mean the commentary he was making

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 10:38 AM

I've never checked out "talk about tennis" either. is that a good site? do they have crazy lunatics like we do here? neil, i'm not talking about you.

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/11/2009 at 10:38 AM

LOL jewell!

rafa's serve: much improved, i too thought his 5th set of the aussie final serving stats were incredible, and his return game: unreal!

and i like concrete elbow, its witty and always a fun read.

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 10:39 AM

We have to get ready to witness federer’s inability to deal with nadal & murray;
And accept that he is not the GOAT he appeared to be against safin-hewitt-roddick-davydenko;
Federer can potentially end the year as no 3 or no 4 ( if joker plays well);

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 10:39 AM

Sure he did, and that i will not argue, but i think Rafa's serve, serves him well, it may never be the hardest, but it is a hugely effective weapon against Fed.

bigapple, i did mean Rafa's game, not his physical attributes :)

Emma, we're probably on the Fedensive, because the sum of the rivalry is greater than the individual pieces for the big picture of tennis.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 10:40 AM

Concrete Elbow is fantastic. I don't often comment as I feel a bit too "fluffy* for there.

There was a great discussion last week about what makes a true champion, I enjoyed it very much. ;)

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/11/2009 at 10:41 AM

neil, you're right. Beautifully put.

Posted by robbyfan 03/11/2009 at 10:42 AM

Good morning all.

I'm surprised noone has pointed out how many Slams RAndy would have by now if not for Federer.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 10:43 AM

I have noticed that when people post negative comments about federer they tend to do it anonymously to avoid the wrath of some of the fed fans around here.

It did occur to me after the AO final that this 'rivalry' had taken a turn to dominance by nadal. Their h2h is getting very lopsided. Fed has to start recording some wins against rafa or this wonderful rivalry will indeed be a thing of the past. *sheds tear*

Posted by yello fuzzy 'jumping into the fray' 03/11/2009 at 10:43 AM

jewell
I didn't realise that sensible shoes were a necessary lesbian accouterment.

Sensible footwear is one of the gifts of lesbianism, women no longer bound by the cruel rule of heterosexual couture

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/11/2009 at 10:43 AM

Jewell, me too. I always read concrete elbow, always enjoy it, and yet i rarely ever comment. I too feel too fluffy to post, and not hardcore enough to play with the big boys.

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 10:44 AM

yes jewell, best not to wreck another thread with your frivolity and lesbianism of the british persuasion :P. Things get just as fun over on the C.E., as they can get serious here.

Meanwhile O.T., early 80's New Order, why did i ever forsake your dark, ethereal music??? Perfect for a gloomy day.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 10:44 AM

mikey - I haven't ever heard Cahill commentate. It'll be interesting to see whether it's going to be a long-term, full-on coaching relationship, or a more part-time thing. But I'm not sure we can judge what Cahill will bring to the coaching by his commentary.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 10:45 AM

Well clearly i should be checking out 'concrete elbow.' thanks for the heads up folks.

Posted by Vie 03/11/2009 at 10:46 AM

Jewell, yes that is a hideous thought. But no one has appeared yet who might take Rafa's number yet. This teenager Dimitrov, do people think he might be good on clay? I think it might come from a teenager with the same big heart Rafa has.

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 10:48 AM

IMHO, Cahill was the most even handed of all the commentators in the american coverage. Brad gushes over Rafa a lot, which balances P-Mac's man crush on Fedsy. Dick Enburg sounded like he was at his best friend's funeral in the fifth. I also didn't appreciate Fowler's smugness at Fed's tears at the trophy presentation as well as the repeated use of the word frail in the wrap up piece. Even in his interview with Rafa, Fowler seemed to take delight a little bit when Rafa was discussing his honest sympathy towards Roger.

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/11/2009 at 10:48 AM

Neil, if its a gloomy day, then Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel's Come Up and See Me (make me smile) is the way to go, or, indeed, Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks! Cheers me up no end!

Posted by jhurwi 03/11/2009 at 10:52 AM

NaughtyT-- a belated (and by now pretty irrelevant) reply to your 11:34 pm comment: GoogleNews http://news.google.com/ is not the same thing as a regular Google search. It describes itself as "Aggregated headlines and a search engine of many of the world's news sources."

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 10:53 AM

Emma: "come up and see me (make me smile)' sounds delicious. definitely gonna check that out. and i love the kinks.

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/11/2009 at 10:54 AM

Commentators are predisposed to favour one player over another for the simple reason; that they're human. we all do it on some level. For example, on Eurosport, Chris Bradnham is clearly a Rafa man, and on the Beeb, Sue Barker like seriously loves TMF. That won't bother me until they start making disparaging remarks about the other player, or not giving the other player enough credit.
I don't see Chris Fowler commentate that often, but when I do, I like his hustle. Again, i think its just a personal preference thing.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 10:54 AM

ooh, the Kinks! I like Sunny Afternoon best for cheering-up purposes.

LOL, Fuzzy, I think. :) I only have seven pairs of shoes, I am useless from all perspectives.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 10:55 AM

okay guys, i'm really missing NP and ptenisnet. where the heck are those guys? anybody know?

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 10:55 AM

Thanks for the suggestions Emma :) I'll give them a whirl, but the nostalgic trip down New Order lane is just too good at the moment.

Vie, i think Monfils if he concentrates and Joe Willy if he's healthy pose a big threat to Rafa on clay. Gael's movement is every bit as good as Rafa's and Joe's got all the weapons.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 10:56 AM

pagination was a major turn off me thinks.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 10:56 AM

Speaking of commentators preferring particular players - does David Mercer simply adore Rafa, or am I just imagining things?

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/11/2009 at 10:57 AM

Jewell, Sunny Afternoon is a great song, reminds me of cider!
Annie, you should check out both Concrete Elbow and that Steve Harley song, cos both are great!

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 10:58 AM

I actually am coming around to pagination now that 100 comments get posted instead of 25. Saves scrolling through hundreds of posts over and over again to get to the latest and greatest conversations :)

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 10:58 AM

neil: i don't recall New Order. British? but it sounds like a boy band. no that's new edition. whatev.

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 10:59 AM

neil - good observations on the commentary! i will find it very interesting to see what fed say's when he beats nadal in a final. my feeling is he will apologize to rafa for letting his emotions get the best of him at the AO. I think he is highly embarassed, but obviously could not help it.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 10:59 AM

NP is busy with work but put in a brief appearance last week, I think. I thought ptenisnet was around a bit yesterday...maybe he is busy as well.

I miss Sam and Tari and Violetta as well.

Vie - I haven't ever seen Dimitrov. Somebody on commentary the other day during DC suggested Murray has a chance against Rafa on clay. And of course Djokovic and Fed can't be written off.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 11:00 AM

Jewell: mercer adores rafa and so does jason goodall. one of them referred to him as a "magnificent specimen" and said it dripping with serious admiration if you know what i mean.

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/11/2009 at 11:01 AM

Jewell, yep, David Mercer defo loves Rafa. (so does Andrew Castle, whom I love, but he spends enough time talking about Rafa's erm, assets, to make even me uncomfortable!)

Posted by C.F. 03/11/2009 at 11:03 AM

Annie - New Order is a pretty good British band, it was formed by the other members of Joy Division after Ian Curtis commited suicide in 1980. You probably know at least one New Order song: Bizarre Love Triangle.

It doesn't have the magic of Joy Division, in my opinion, but it's still good.

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

Someone posted a great interview with Fed yesterday where is said he was embarrassed by his emotions at the AO and said it was fine to cry when you win but not when you lose. I thought that admission was very interesting.

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

*happily* I love the way they talk about Rafa!

although sometimes I feel Mercer and Castle's comments shouldn't be broadcast before the watershed (9pm, that is, I think).

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 11:04 AM

Thanks anonymous 10:59 :). I'm smart AND pretty LOL

Annie, New Order was a dark british post punk band that was born from the ashes of an even darker punk band called Joy Division.

New Order went on to fairly good success world wide late 80's/early 90's, but they lost a lot of that dark edge that i had liked so much.

But i ramble heheh.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 11:05 AM

jewell: i only saw the one match with dimitrov at rotterdam. he was swinging for the fences and physically footwork-wise has a long way to go. Not a threat to anyone yet.

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/11/2009 at 11:05 AM

Annie at 11:00 LOL!
Jewell at 11:03 LMAO, and you're right!

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 11:06 AM

How's Verdasco on clay? maybe he will be a big challenger to rafa at the FO.

Posted by C.F. 03/11/2009 at 11:08 AM

hahaha, neil, at least in music, we seem to have similar tastes. Who are your favorite players? (let's see if we're like-minded on the actual subject of this web site, too)

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/11/2009 at 11:08 AM

Annie, Raf and Fer played at the French in either 07 or 08, and Rafa basically shamed him off the court. La Monf may threaten at the French, but i still feel its rafa's for the forseeable future!

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 11:08 AM

Good call C.F. Blue Monday was another huge song of theirs. Apparently still the best selling vinyl 12 inch single of all time.

Anonymous 10:59. I don't think Roger would say anything specifically about the A.O. should he defeat Rafa in another Major final, but he's been fairly complimentary when he has beaten him, so i'd expect more of the same :)

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 11:09 AM

jewell and emma: it might have been castle with the magnificent specimen remark i'm not sure but i'll never forget the way it was said! :P

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 11:09 AM

Does Dimitrov have the 1HBH? I'm not convinced of his threat on clay in that case.

I doubt it, Verdasco-wise, but he's a different Verdasco to last year's FO (and wasn't he injured last year?) so maybe. But the look on Verdasco's face in last year's FO match with Rafa is one I will never forget. He looked so utterly helpless.

I like Djokovic still for the threat - and Roger. Roger's been leading against Rafa on clay before.

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

Was it over DC at the weekend, Annie? I think it *was* Mercer.

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

Well folks, it's been a complete pleasure but i've got to run. Catch up with you later.

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

I agree jewell Verdasco if he's healthy, esp this year, after all the work would be a worthy opponent. If Murray gets over his "I'm crap on clay" mindset he could be as well, but i don't think that'll happen for a while.

Posted by yello fuzzy 'jumping into the fray' 03/11/2009 at 11:13 AM

Annie
New Orders is pretty good....try 'Ooooh Baby' by Siouxsie And The Banshees for that new wave, late 80's happy new wave pre-goth sound and there's nothing like some old school rock for a dreary day , like David Bowies' Cracked Actor ' (probably not a good choice for younger listeners)

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 11:14 AM

I'm not sure about Tsonga this year on clay at any rate. I think I remember Pspace saying he hadn't played many matches on clay.

Posted by Annie - In DC withdrawal- Vamos Armada and USA 03/11/2009 at 11:15 AM

Bowie is fantastic. havent listened to his stuff in ages. good suggestion yf.

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/11/2009 at 11:16 AM

Bye Annie.
Lol Jewell, I was about to say i thinks it was andrew castle who said it! but whatevs! Castle defo said "look at those biceps" in a jonathan ross-esque manner! i was crackin up!

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

Verdasco should technically be the best matchup against Rafa on clay, since Rafa's FH is going to straight to his FH. But their head-to-head doesn't really bear that out, in fact before the AO they played two times and only once did they have a very close match (on grass at Queen's in 2006) with Verdasco winning his (then) only set against Nadal.

<<      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