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

by Pete Bodo

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

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

But on this subject, keep these things in mind:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/11/2009 at 11:22 AM

yellow, good call on bowie, i love his older stuff, especially rebel rebel and starman.

Posted by yello fuzzy 'jumping into the fray' 03/11/2009 at 11:23 AM

I love David Bowie..and his acting is as good as his music...if you haven't seen the movie The's an interesting take on Vampires..with Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon
(o and again not for the kiddies or the faint of heart)

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

Bye Annie!

Emma - well, I wouldn't swear to it being David Mercer - you may well be right. :) Great comment anyway.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 11:25 AM

I liked David Bowie in Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence best of all.

And maybe Labyrinth.

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/11/2009 at 11:28 AM

ohh, i loved labyrinth when i was a kid!! lol, random chats that happen on TW are always fun!

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 11:28 AM

Good morning all.

I just had to stop in and say a few things.

1. Before we go overboard in passing the torch of GOAT to Nadal, just keep in mind that last year, his supposed best ever, Nadal was 82-11. I am not in any way discrediting his wins at FO, Olympics or Wimby, but to put that into a bit of perspective, Fed went 4 years from 2004 through 2007 winning single digit matches each year, including a run from 2004-2007 where he went 240-14.

2. Given Federer's penchant for making GS finals, there is really no firm evidence to suggest that he won't continue to have more opportunities to add to his total of 13 titles. I don't think it requires someone to knock off Nadal before they meet in a potential final, as they seemed pretty evenly matched in the last 2 GS finals they played.

3. Federer's lack of adeptness on clay has been greatly exaggerated. Who seems to be able to beat Fed on the dirt aside from Nadal? And for that matter, there has really only been one occasion when Nadal has really outclassed Federer even on clay, obviously that 2008 FO final.

4. Having been an athlete, and having seen many of the greats over the past 30+ years, I can say that 27 yrs old is not exactly over the hill. Speed, strength and body control is peaking at this time, and doesn't really decline measurably for a few years. That other "greats" have had less than stellar results past this age could have more to do with desire and focus than it did with physical decline.

5. As for the young up and comers like Djoker, Murray, Tsonga, Simon, etc., let time tell the story. Djoker was touted as the giant killer, and he now sits with a 2-7 losing record against Fed.

6. Nadal is #1 right now, we all accept that, and I don't question his credentials in getting to, or his ability to remain at, that position. Still, Federer is a mighty challenger to win every tournament he enters, with only Nadal in his class.

7. A coach is not going to make many if any fundamental changes in Fed's game. Any suggestion otherwise would be almost ridiculous, as Fed is well entrenched in his tennis ways. That said, the right coach can give a player more confidence and maybe just a different way to look at and approach a match. We'll see if Cahill is the guy, or for that matter if there ever is a guy who can fill that role for TMF.

Sorry for the long post, but I had a lot on my mind....

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 03/11/2009 at 11:33 AM

Bye everyone, im off for a literal stroll in the park! Have a nice day!

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 11:33 AM

But it was such a *good* post, j6_strings. :)

I agree with your assessment of Fed and his chances, mainly; I do think he's down a bit at the moment - whether it is a rough patch or the beginning of decline (which is emphatically NOT to write him off, more to suggest that the dominance is unlikely to come again) - well, we'll have to wait and see - what I think is determined by my mood on any given day. ;)

and all of this in general tells me that the GOAT debate will never ever be decided definitively.

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

eek, hyphen abuse.

Posted by yello fuzzy 'jumping into the fray' 03/11/2009 at 11:36 AM

if you haven't seen 'The Hunger', check it's got great music from Bach to Bauhaus.
The film opens with "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus, a great song...very dark and with great lyrics

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 11:38 AM

Fuzzy - I haven't, but you make it sound intriguing! I love horror films (particular fondness for Hammer versions with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing) so I expect I'll like it. Thanks for the heads-up. :)

Posted by Sherlock 03/11/2009 at 11:38 AM

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

Preach it, Jewell. Strange indeed. :)

Neil, nice post on the commentators at 10:48. I just love listening to Cahill. Good analysis and seems like a geniunely nice guy. Fowler's smugness drives me nuts. I like Cliffie too. He and P-Mac work well together.

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

Excellent post, j6. I'd hate to see Nadal lose, but in some ways, I would laugh if Roger came back to win a couple slams this year. Many, including some of his own fans, seem quick to write him off. Two five-set final losses to Nadal and a USO win in his last 3 slams. Yeah, he's obviously history. :)

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 11:45 AM

I agree Jewel, I do think though, that Fed being "down" needs to be put into perspective by the naysayers, and I don't even think that naysayer is the right word here. Maybe it is that the true measure of tennis greatness is when you play in 3 out of 4 GS finals, make the semis of the other one, win the last one, and people still think you've lost it.

And, in the grand scheme, he may never win another match in his career (highly unlikely, of course, but bear with me), but that would still not diminish what was and probably will for a long time be the greatest level of domination over the game of tennis by one player that we have seen, at least in the Open Era.

Fed 2004-2007 RIP?

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

you should enjoy the's dark and sexy....and its about Vampires!

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 11:48 AM

I like Johnny Mac's commentary best of all, really. I love him at Wimbledon -

Sue Barker/John Inverdale: "So, Mac, isn't it great? Britain has two players into the second round! Is this a resurgence for British tennis?"

Mac: (looking worried, face working)..."Er...well...No."

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 11:48 AM

That "RIP" was meant a bit tongue-in-cheek of course.

Sherlock - that's where we are these days. It has seemed for the last two or maybe even three years, many of the commentators have wanted to be the first one to predict Federer's demise. I for one think the rumors of Roger's demise have been greatly exaggerated. :)

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 11:50 AM

Jewell - I also wanted to apologize for missing the second "L" in your name, I wrote Jewel before...

Posted by CL 03/11/2009 at 11:52 AM

Congratulations peeps! 5 pages of pagination! And I thought you couldn't do it!

Lots of great stuff AND Plush & John, the anti-baptist! Who could ask for anything more.

I really agree with just about all of what jb posted about 4 pages ago. Spot on.

The only thing I have left to add to the general discussion is a strong disagreement that Fed was slow to take Rafa seriously. In fact, Fed knew from the get go how dangerous to him Rafa was and what a great player...on ALL surfaces....he is. And Fed had good reason to know so after that 5 set Miami final very early in Rafa's career. Sometimes some Fed FANS may not have understood or acknowledged the full strengths of Rafa's game. Fed himself was never in doubt.

Posted by BlueDog 03/11/2009 at 11:54 AM

I wonder how un-coachable Federer really is.

I thought that the FO final last year was a disaster, in part, because fed seemed to be faithfully executing a new plan, even as it wasn't working. It seemed to me that the Higueras relationship actually ended up side tracking Fed from his more effective insticnts. Not blaming Higueras, just of the opinion that the chemistry produced a bad result.

If Cahill works out, I hope the result is better.

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

No worries about the L, j6. :)

And that's what I meant before - whatever Nadal does, doesn't diminish Roger in any way, and whatever comes next for Roger, it doesn't diminish the dominance he did have.

I don't remotely think he's dead or over or whatever, but that magic period seems to have gone. Nothing to say another one won't arrive.

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 11:56 AM

do you know what my fanciful fantasy is for this year? (though it's not my most preferred one)...Nadal wins the FO/Wimbly double, and gets to the USO final against Fed, and Fed beats him in the final, preventing *his* calendar slam...and getting #14 with Pistol in the audience (though I guess Pistol has only promised to be there for #15) and injecting some much needed symmetry into the rivalry...

Of course what I really want is another Wimbly-USO double by the Fed. I miss those ;)

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 12:00 PM

"Fed beats him in the final, preventing *his* calendar slam."

There would be an element of poetic justice in this, I have to admit.

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 12:00 PM

aha, I've found the person to defeat Rafa at the FO...Gilles Muller ;)

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 12:02 PM

I think a fitting end to Fed's career would be a 6+ hour finals win over Nadal at Roland Garros, winning 18-16 in the fifth set on a drop shot that Nadal falls to ground in reaching, but that he pops up right into the middle of the court and Federer has an open court to lightly tap the ball into.

*cut to the post-match interview*

At this point, Bud Collins walks over to Roger, Roger grabs a handful of red clay, and blows it into Bud's face. He then grabs the microphone and says that he is retiring so he doesn't have to listen any more to how his career is over and he should retire because of the omnipresent greatness of Rafael Nadal.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 12:03 PM

interesting point, BlueDog.

And CL - there's probably a page of nonsense made just by me. :) But seriously - agreed about Fed on Rafa.

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

"I for one think the rumors of Roger's demise have been greatly exaggerated. "

Totally agree, j6. :)

"Of course what I really want is another Wimbly-USO double by the Fed. I miss those."

Spoiled rotten, C1. :)

While your first scenario would be painful in New York, I'd settle for June/July part of it. :)

Actually, I'd trade Paris for NYC. I want Roger to get a French, and I'd like Rafa to get the career slam. Win-win!

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

jewell: Rafa can get the USO another year :)

But it would kill me if Rafa were to get the calendar slam beating Fed in every final in the process. Just too painful.

Posted by Syd 03/11/2009 at 12:05 PM

Crazyone: Let's hope Roger prevents the calendar slam for you know who at Wimby this year - that's my fantasy.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 12:06 PM

"Actually, I'd trade Paris for NYC. I want Roger to get a French, and I'd like Rafa to get the career slam. Win-win!"

Word! But I'd have to be guaranteed of Rafa getting the USO before I let Fed get the French.

crazyone - I can see that. If Fed was to do the same to Rafa, that would hurt (but probably less as I'd think Rafa had more time, maybe. Don't know.)

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 12:06 PM

Sherlock, if I knew that would happen, I'd trade...

and who's spoiled rotten now? My scenario involves Nadal winning the AO-FO-W... ;)

I do believe in Fed's ability to *still* get the French, but I don't see it happening this year. I see another year on clay of TFA handing other people their not so famous A's to them on a platter, at least at Roland Garros. I didn't see any of the DC matches but it looks like that's what was going on there.

Posted by BlueDog 03/11/2009 at 12:08 PM

crazyone- Heck, if it's a fantasy why be so practical and realistic?

I'd have to go with: Fed plays the best clay of his career, wins FO against Nadal. He then reclaims Wimbly, Pistol in the stands. At USO, he loses in an epic final to Nadal, but is happy with his great rival attaining a well deserved career slam in the same year as himself.

Back to reality...

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 12:08 PM

honestly I don't know how Venus did it. But at least there's some element of being happy for your sister and proud of your family's achievements, which Federer obviously wouldn't have. And it was by far her best result on clay.

Posted by geikou 03/11/2009 at 12:08 PM

"Let's hope Roger prevents the calendar slam for you know who at Wimby this year - that's my fantasy."

If we're talking about fantasies, mine is that Roger stops Nadal at the French this year. ^_~

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/11/2009 at 12:09 PM

Rumors are circulating that Darren Cahill has "backflipped" on the coaching decision, citing family reasons. He went home to Las Vegas while Federer travelled to IW with Luthi. So, it could just be conjecture at this stage, because, it's quite possible that Cahill could return to IW by the time the tournament starts.

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

"and who's spoiled rotten now?"

Hee. I can neither confirm nor deny....

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

Oh and the one more one more...mostly... coach/no coach, gilded cage/free as a bird, Dc/No DC, Swiss Adoration/less Swiss adoration... I just want to see Fed play tennis again. HIS tennis. Which i enjoy above all others' tennis by about a factor of 20.

And which is why the possibility of an Ivo meeting early on is not only frazzling but sort of depressing. Its not just that there is the possibility of an upset....esp. since the slower IW court gives Ivo more time to actually get to his shots... but even if, ('when' knock on wooden head), Fed does defeat Ivo, its all just survival mode stuff instead of the remarkable beauty of his game when it is flowing...never mind Full Flight. Just flowing is ok by me. And rust plus Ivo is gonna make that BERY difficult.

OK.. I'll stop now. I'm actually depressing myself. lol.

Posted by Syd 03/11/2009 at 12:11 PM


omg. a few days in the bosom of the Fed inner circle and its all over? yikes.

Posted by yello fuzzy 'jumping into the fray' 03/11/2009 at 12:11 PM

I'd hope roger would end his career without having to throw clay in some old guys face.
maybe his farewell season should consist of Roger razzing all the journalist for trumpeting the end of his career.

Posted by Mlelly 03/11/2009 at 12:12 PM

Morning everyone... occasional poster and constant lurker here... I was at the Davis Cup this past weekend, and just wanted to add a few observations about that experience.

Yes, I was disappointed that Fed didn't play, but I took it for granted that he made that decision based upon his need to address physical/mental issues that are legit. I was extremely impressed with Wawrinka's play and his attitude toward the job at hand. Would I have wanted to see Fed play? Of course, but his absence really didn't matter much given the quality of play.

It was truly a pleasure to watch Andy Roddick play a more nuanced, but still highly energetic style tennis. The Bryans are truly a phenomenon to behold playing live. I swear they moved faster than I could watch! Even watching Blake do his thing was special in its own way... he's really got one speed that's for sure. It goes in...or not.

The atmosphere of Davis Cup was unlike any professional tennis I've ever seen... it was a wonderful experience I won't soon forget.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 12:15 PM

thanks, Mlelly! - interesting. And, glad it was a good experience. :)

Posted by CL 03/11/2009 at 12:16 PM

Hey Mielly - terrific report. Great that you had such a wonderful time. I am very envious of your tennis watching experience!

Posted by Sherlock 03/11/2009 at 12:16 PM

"But I'd have to be guaranteed of Rafa getting the USO before I let Fed get the French"

LOL. Right there with you, Jewell. Just not sure how we pull that off. :)

Great report, Mlelly. Love that. :) Glad you had a great time.

"It was truly a pleasure to watch Andy Roddick play a more nuanced, but still highly energetic style tennis"

Andy fans drool. Especially Samantha. :)

"he's really got one speed that's for sure. It goes in...or not."

That's our James! :)

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 12:17 PM

Roger throwing clay in someone's face seems about as likely to me as Rafa saying "What's the difference between me and Murray? Six slams."

But it's a funny scenario all the same. :)

Posted by Master Ace 03/11/2009 at 12:19 PM

"The atmosphere of Davis Cup was unlike any professional tennis I've ever seen... it was a wonderful experience I won't soon forget."

Agree 100%. Will detail my DC experiences later this week.

Posted by BlueDog 03/11/2009 at 12:19 PM

"Oh and the one more one more...mostly... coach/no coach, gilded cage/free as a bird, Dc/No DC, Swiss Adoration/less Swiss adoration... I just want to see Fed play tennis again. HIS tennis."

I so agree, CL.

I think he'll get past Ivo, but you're right, it won't be pretty!

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 12:19 PM

Also I could live with Roger taking Wimbledon back.

Particularly if I was guaranteed Rafa getting the USO.

But then it would be nice if Djokovic, Murray, Gasquet and Bambi could all get slams as well. Oh...there's not enough to go round. It's not fair.

Posted by big one 03/11/2009 at 12:21 PM


Another boring blog entry about the Mighty Sore Loser Crybaby.

The delusional Federer fan boys will be happy tho.

Posted by Sherlock 03/11/2009 at 12:22 PM

BlueDog, was it you who said you were from Portland?

Jewell, good point. I'd love to see Nalby get one. USO perhaps? He and Murray are my top 2 priorities right now. I want Andy to get on the board. Rafa and Roger have enough for me really.

Posted by BlueDog 03/11/2009 at 12:24 PM

Jewell- You're right, Ithink we need to make the 1000's into slams, so there's enough for everyone.

BTW, I love your posts, especially the *actions*.

Posted by BlueDog 03/11/2009 at 12:27 PM

Hi Sherlock,

Yea, that was me. Looks like we have an actual sunny day!

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/11/2009 at 12:28 PM

Syd ... hopefully, it's just a rumor. We'll know more after Fed gives his first press-conference today at IW ... provided he is ready to talk, of course !

Posted by Vie 03/11/2009 at 12:28 PM

I wish the new generation will pick up the big ticket now or soon. It is their time. Rafa, Djoko, Murray, Gilles, Tsonga, Monfils, Dmitrov, Gulbis, now who else might I have forgotten, oh yes,coming-into-his-own Verdasco. We've been saturated for years with Fed-talk so I'm a little tired, though I love fedal finals. I feel queasy When Mr. Bodo has all these barbs directed at him and he gets defensive in his own blog.

Posted by BlueDog 03/11/2009 at 12:29 PM

"big one"-clearly...

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 12:31 PM

Preparation for work calls...later, everyone. :)

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 12:32 PM

Crazy-for-Rog, that's a scary rumor...what???

Posted by Sherlock 03/11/2009 at 12:32 PM

Bye, Jewell!

BlueDog, indeed. I'm actually in Salem, but nobody knows where that is, so I usually say Portland. :)

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 12:33 PM

OMG, it's in the NYT.

*Despite a lengthy test session with Darren Cahill in Dubai earlier this month, Roger Federer is still without a full-time coach.
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Federer, the 13-time Grand Slam singles champion from Switzerland, and Cahill, one of the most successful coaches in tennis, have long been considered a likely match. Both are understated and analytical, and Federer has a strong connection with Cahill’s home country of Australia.

But according to Federer’s agent, Tony Godsick, Federer and Cahill will not be working together going forward, in large part because Cahill was not prepared to travel as extensively as Federer would have required. Cahill has two young children and is now based in Las Vegas, where he moved when he was coaching now-retired American star Andre Agassi. Cahill also has a second home in Adelaide, Australia.

“Darren’s a great guy, and personally I think it was a good fit, but it just didn’t go much further once it came down to the traveling,” Godsick said. “Darren thought about it once he got there. Roger is a guy who lives in Switzerland and trains in Dubai, and Darren has kind of set up a comfortable life in Vegas. And I think he realized that just being on the road 20-plus weeks would be too tough a go for him with his young family.”*

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 12:34 PM

*wants to cry*

why did they let us get our hopes up????

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 12:37 PM

where did everyone go?

I don't want to tell Beckham :(

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/11/2009 at 12:39 PM

Gosh darn it ! The rumor is true. Cahill-Federer are a no-go !

See ... this is the problem for Fed ... the best coaches out there are at the stage in their lives where they don't want to travel much anymore. But, I wish we hadn't heard the initial news to begin with. It's cruel ! I was all excited, and now I am thoroughly depressed !

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 12:40 PM

If that is indeed the case, then I think Godsick might just be using a bit of spin. It seems unlikely that Cahill was unaware of Federer's preferred bases of operation. Maybe it just didn't work out, and to preserve everyone's reputation, they are using the "travel" excuse.

Posted by Sher 03/11/2009 at 12:40 PM

Hey if the two of them know after a week that they won't work out, it's better that they decide now than slog through the following months with no benefit to each other.

Also, naughty T when I was saying that the draw was OUCH i meant the same kind of ouch you meant. Basically everyone dangerous is on Federer's side. Oh well, I guess that's how the chips fall.

I don't however see the complaints from last year that Djokovic & Nadal fall into the same half too many times... ;-)

Posted by Mlelly 03/11/2009 at 12:41 PM

Interesting.... what this says to me if accurate is that Fed wants a "wingman" as discussed earlier and not just a part-time consultant. Sounds like he's actually given serious thought to what he needs from the coaching relationship and that's a full-time relationship. Can understand Cahill's issues too though... too bad.

Posted by Vie 03/11/2009 at 12:41 PM

oh, so sorry Crazyone, to be disappointed over Cahill not coaching...

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 12:42 PM

yeah, j6_strings, that is my theory too. Cahill's not stupid.
Gosh, there were such high of yesterday we were hearing he'd be at Indian wells!!!!

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 03/11/2009 at 12:42 PM

j6_strings ... I tend to believe Godsick. I think Cahill may have agreed to the type of arrangement that Federer had with Roche and with Higueras. But Fed probably wanted more of his time than he was willing to give. I don't blame Federer ... I think the part-time arrangement can only go so far.

Posted by Sherlock 03/11/2009 at 12:43 PM

Obviously we're all guessing, but I agree with j6. Cahill didn't know about the travel issues when he went to Dubai? Uhhhh, ok. :) Sounds like cover for something not working out quite right.

Too bad, really. Sure seems like a good fit from the outside.

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 12:44 PM

Alright, i'm late to the fantasy game, but here's mine. Rafa gets the calendar slam this year. Roger can get his two or three more in the years after. :)

Posted by BlueDog 03/11/2009 at 12:44 PM

Wow, that's disappointing!

Sherlock- It's odd how many state capitals are overshadowed by a large city in the same state. Is tennis healthy in Salem?

Posted by Sher 03/11/2009 at 12:44 PM

By the way, as for "travel excuse", yet again we have Roger saying he wants his coach to travel with him, and the coach saying he doesn't want to (very similar situation to Tony).

Still, I'm confident in about a month I will be reading about how Federer is too "stubborn" to work with a coach. Le sigh, I think I have become inured to this spin.

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 12:45 PM

it's possible that what Crazy-for-Rog suggests is true too.

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 12:47 PM

Man, that sucks, i honestly hoped that Fed/Cahill was on. Interesting that travelling would be the problem because Darren travels a lot to commentate no?

Alright...who's the most likely candidate now?

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 12:49 PM

Crazy-for-Rog may well have a point, but I would think the intended nature of the coaching relationship would likely have come out even before the tryout, so I still doubt the veracity of the travel spin.

That said, maybe we should just take Godsick at his word, or maybe wait until Roger comments on the situation, should he choose to do so.

Posted by j6_strings 03/11/2009 at 12:50 PM

Heck, I'm free to travel (my wife would love it...)!

Where do I send my resume?

Posted by jb (le sigh:( ) 03/11/2009 at 12:51 PM

oh dear. sigh. this make take a few GE's to get over.

WHY can't Fed give up dubai and move to the desert to play with darren, gil and andre?

*heavy sigh*

Posted by Vie 03/11/2009 at 12:51 PM

I do think it will be hard to travel and be coaching Roger. He's older and also he might not be that comfortable person to be with a lot. It can be lonely in so many ways for the coach. Mind you, this is conjecture ...

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 12:53 PM

*brief return*

It's mutual, BlueDog. :)

What??? - oh I'm so sorry about Cahill! But I hope Fed is still looking.

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 12:54 PM

also, what happened to the tight ship/control freak business? If this wasn't a done deal (at least in the sense of a try out at Indian Wells), why didn't Godsick keep mum until later? I had heard but not seen the quote just yesterday that Godsick said that Darren would be at Indian we hear (more officially, in the NYT via Clarey, doesn't get more solid than that) that Cahill is not to work with Federer at all...did they have a fight last night???

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 12:54 PM

jb, make Fed a few very strong GE's and kidnap him to Vegas. I mean desert landscapes are interchangeable no?

Posted by Sherlock 03/11/2009 at 12:54 PM

Yeah, that's what I don't get. Darren is all over commentating. Would this really be adding much more?

Neil, your fantasy is pretty cruel for Roger. :)

"It's odd how many state capitals are overshadowed by a large city in the same state."

Indeed, BlueDog. Frequent, yet strange. :)

"Is tennis healthy in Salem?"

Well, I'm not sure how you mean, or how to gauge it myself. I don't play a ton. Just hacking around with my son. One thing I do know. We used to love playing late on warm, summer nights. But the city has cut the budget for the lights. Really ticks me off. How much can it cost to run lights for a few hours. It's not like it's warm enough in Oregon for too many months to play at night anyway. :)

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" *ball-bashed my way to 10 grand slams ;-)* 03/11/2009 at 12:55 PM

*cross-posted from previous thread*

Hello good people!

I just saw the piece from the ticker. If this is true, it is unfortunate for Roger. This was one of the options I mentioned yesterday. I only thought it would occur after they had at least worked together for a while not just after the tryout in Dubai. I guess it happened earlier.

*re-posted from yesterday*

"1. call it off neatly and move on by myself"

I guess commiserations to Fed fans are in order. But I guess it just goes on to show that whoever will coach Fed must be ready to do it within Fed's current "regimen" and not Fed moving into that person's regimen like say F-Ved going to Vegas.

Posted by neil in toronto ( i tunes librarian) 03/11/2009 at 12:55 PM

Sherlock, not meaning to be cruel, he would still pass Sampras, i'll even throw in the 2010 French :).

Posted by Sherlock 03/11/2009 at 12:59 PM

Neil, LOL. That's sweet of you. :)

Like the nic, btw. :)

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

LOL thanks Sherlock, i had to get rid of some of the dead wood in my library, since i kind of went download crazy last night/early this morning.

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 01:01 PM

what does he commentate for? the slams, right? I guess the kicker might be traveling to EVERY Masters series and then also those training sessions in Dubai.

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 01:03 PM

well, Godsick says he's still looking, so send in your resumes...

I'm still not sure what changed from yesterday til today...

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 01:06 PM

"what changed from yesterday til today..."

the million-dollar question. :)

Posted by Bismarck 03/11/2009 at 01:10 PM

it´s already over between cahill and federer?
wowzer. that was short-lived.

what i don´t quite understand about the given explanation,
it´s not like cahill suddenly realised "wait! i have two children!", is it?
and i´d think that federer given how long this "he needs a coach yadda yadda" talk is already on the table and given past experiences with roche would know from the get go what he wants from a coach, ie. wouldn´t the very first thing, even before you have a meet n greet with a potential coach, be to tell him "i want you to travel x weeks with me per year, i want a full coach, etc etc"?
but maybe i´m imagining these scenarios wrong (and as i´m not a million dollar athlete and never hire a coach for anything what do i know?)

just seems from the outside kinda inefficient to meet and get to know each other and then much later to realise "wait! it can´t happen anyway cause what we want or are able to give respectively is totes not compatible logistically".

Posted by Stella 03/11/2009 at 01:13 PM

So here is everyone.

Sorry Fed fans like I said in the other post that's just cruel. The good thing is that he's still looking for a coach.

Posted by crazyone 03/11/2009 at 01:13 PM

Bissy: what you said, so my first suggestion is that something came up that made it not work out so well, and then Darren started remembering the kiddos more strongly...

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. Jelena J for Indian Wells 2009!!! 03/11/2009 at 01:15 PM

agreed, Bissy and crazyone.

Posted by Vie 03/11/2009 at 01:19 PM

Godsick said they were testing each other out. Cahill got cold feet, or, he's happy where he is in Vegas and business. Federer must be disappointed.

Posted by Vie 03/11/2009 at 01:19 PM

Godsick said they were testing each other out. Cahill got cold feet, or, he's happy where he is in Vegas and business. Federer must be disappointed.

Posted by Sherlock 03/11/2009 at 01:20 PM

Biz, you should repost that on the new YC.

Posted by Bismarck 03/11/2009 at 01:28 PM

yeah well, i guess in the end it´s kinda pointless to speculate.
unlikely that we´ll ever hear something like "cahill wanted a bigger paycheck than i was ready to sign" or "mirka. could. not. stand. him".

so... "travel problems" it is, jejeje.

Posted by 03/11/2009 at 01:57 PM

best that cahill is out - based on his commentary of fed, he would have him playing high risk tennis which will not work against nadal. I still think fed should inquire about uncle toni as a potential coaching candidate

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

can't believe that fed draws karlovic in the 3rd round at IW - This is the worse guy to play in early rounds because even if you beat him, you don't improve anything - oh well bring on the tie breaks.

Posted by vetmama (Fed's a Damn Liar!!) 03/11/2009 at 02:25 PM

What a downer.

Posted by F_express 03/11/2009 at 03:19 PM

I read almost every comment, but i never read one that clearly makes a point on how Cahill will help Federer (emotional support aside, of course). Anyone can exactly give a clue about the tactical changes he may bring to Roger's game? Is it just about attacking second serves? and how? just shortening the backswing? I really think that if Rog is going to spend a respectable sum , i guess is for something, no?
If anyone can give few exact ideas, it would be fantastic.

P.D.: MyPerspective: Rog does have the mentality to beat Rafa, is just he gets so frustrated when he can't break Rafa's serve because he has a huge advantage on deuce sides when he serves. He punishes his backhand at that side, and there's little that Roger can do and you could see at the AO that get got really frustrated and discoraged, even when he won the fourth set, i felt he was into a "this just too much, i have to do so much just to earn a point because of that" that his game just fell apart. This is "MyPerspective"

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