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Bercy Diary: In the Room 11/10/2010 - 11:22 AM

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by Gauloises, Contributing Writer

I picked up my press pass on Sunday but I have yet to spend time in the pressroom, mainly because I’m thoroughly intimidated by that windowless, airless pre-fab bunker, which has its own entrance and is connected with the rest of the venue only by a single door that leads to the segregated press seats in the arena. The message is clear; journalists aren't there to enjoy themselves, or to particpate like fans. They're expected to observe, sit and write.

I, however, am not acting as a journalist as much as impersonating one, and I definitely am here to enjoy myself. But when I hear that Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will be giving pre-start press conferences, I can’t resist. So, after taking in a couple of matches I touch up my makeup, screw my courage to the sticking-place, and forge tentatively into unknown territory.

It’s the first time I’ve seen the press room full. Television screens on the walls show the matches in progress; journalists are crammed eight to a table that, were it a business meeting, might seat five. I know people, but not well. I don’t have a desk, so I head to the far end where the British journalists are gathered and grab a vacant seat. Soon a group of reporters files back in from the interview room where they've just finished with David Nalbandian. The journalists tease each other about the questions they asked and the answers they received. Everybody knows everybody else; politically incorrect banter is exchanged across the table, and rude emails from agents and coaches are read aloud to rumbles of laughter.

Without warning, the PA announcer bilingually announces that Roger Federer is on his way to the presser. Everyone bolts, scrambling for notebooks and pens, and hurries up the long hallway, Rushing to catch up, I see Federer slipping through a special door that leads him directly onto the dias.

Up there, he’s all monograms and Rolex, and he sits hunched forward, the brim of his cap pulled down low over his brow. His arms rest on the table, folded. His posture seems awkward, which surprises me; I’d expected him to be more at ease. On the other hand, he’s perched on a raised platform in an airless box of a room, head-on with fifty strangers weilding pens. Each time he shifts position, shutters and motor drives whirr and snap to a crescendo. I don’t imagine one can ever be at ease with this ordeal, no matter how often he's endured it.

It’s clear that Federer is pretty good at this—like most things—as soon as the questioning begins. He listens politely and responds directly, maintaining eye contact. He adds modest gestures. His replies are full, occasionally funny, and sometimes surprising—I’m startled by the ease with which he admits that in the past, the race to the year-end championships has cost him sleepless nights.

I notice that he uses ‘we’ and ‘us’ in reference to the players, and sense how ready he is to speak for them: We only have one indoor Masters. I think it’s time we shifted back a bit. We’re working together on this issue. It just becomes so hard for the players. Players like to play. Maybe the white glare off those fifty blank notebooks tempts him to efface himself, to seek camoflauge as "just one of the boys." But it could also be that Federer simply enjoys the locker-room camaraderie, that he genuinely sees himself as part of something bigger that himself.

I wish I shared that feeling. At the end of the English portion of the presser, the British journalists rise to leave but the hissing disapproval of the French photographers and cameramen, whose view is momentarily blocked, keeps me glued to my seat just long enough so that I feel I missed my opportunity to slip out unnoticed. So I sit through the French questions and answers, trying to look bilingual.

106418985 By the time I make my escape, I have only a few minutes to type out some thoughts before the PA summons us again, this time for Novak Djokovic. I’m behind again, coming in just as Djokovic has taken a seat and started to banter—in French, no less—with the reporters in the front row. Djokovic's hair is still wet from a shower. He leans back in his chair, allows his limbs to loll, and awaits formal questions. When they come, he leans forward to the microphone with a confiding smile and talks seriously and fluently, creating an impression of great thoughtfulness. He’s sharp, too; when a French journalist asks a question about Davis Cup, Djokovic turns it into a joke that has the whole room disarmed and laughing with him before the question is even fully finished.

From his almost flawless English grammar to the way he works to comprehend a mangled question about Rafa delivered in a strong accent, I feel like he’s making an effort for us, that he’s made himself open to the room and he's willing to talk. I feel bad for him that the room is only half as full as it was for Federer. I want to ask him a question he can get his teeth into, but I don’t, because the journalists are handed a microphone to voice their questions and I don’t know how the microphone works. There might be a button you need to press, and I’m scared to embarrass myself. I don’t understand; I’m here as a journalist, the supposed scourge of the top players, and yet I’m the one who’s scared while he looks relaxed enough to be in his slippers at home.

It’s not until I notice the almost convulsive way that Djokovic swallows about every thirty seconds that it dawns on me: He’s nervous, too. I might not be the only one in this room who's afraid of a public misstep. If I fumble, no-one except me will remember; if he says the wrong thing, he’ll never be allowed to forget. I’m filled with admiration for his ability to be charming under such pressure, to act like he’s on our side, rather than an adversary. His performance is so graceful it’s almost moving.

I still don’t hold up my hand for the microphone, though. Djokovic done this far more often than I have.


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Posted by AB 11/10/2010 at 06:03 PM

Hi CWATC: My Swiss German colleagues could speak High German, French and about half could speak English. My Swiss French colleagues could speak High German, but refused to so either they spoke French or English with their Swiss German colleagues. My Swiss Italian colleagues spoke High German, French, Italian and most spoke English.

I didn't bother to try to learn Swiss German, but I did end up understanding it far better because, though their intentions were good when it came to speaking High German, the Swissies could rarely maintain it and would usually end up back in their own dialect.

The Swiss don't have a written language. It's a free-for-all.

Roger would have had to learn French in school regardless of where he lived in Switzerland.

Posted by Colette 11/10/2010 at 06:06 PM

I can attest to the necessity/total immersion thing. Had the good fortune to be sent as an exchange student to Chile in high school (after studying French since 5th grade). Probably took about 2 mos. to be somewhat fluent and by the end of the year, I was dreaming in Spanish. (Later in life, spent 6 1/2 yrs. in Italy, so Italian pushed a lot of the Spanish out of my brain.)

Was always amazed at other Americans in Italy who didn't care or want to make any effort to learn the language.

Altho' I pick up "speaking" languages easily, I could never write as fluently - or with the nuances and wit - that many of the posters here (who I believe are not native speakers of English) do. That's one of things that amazes me about TWibers.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/10/2010 at 06:07 PM

I find the English language is full of slang

My dad said keep with it he was a hard man at times

Though I took French and Italian in my school studies so it worked out well for me lol!

Posted by highpockets 11/10/2010 at 06:11 PM

Gauloises,

Absolutely loved this! Breath of fresh air are you.

Yoda

Posted by Jay 11/10/2010 at 06:11 PM

In case I don't catch-up with you again tonight, its been a great conversation. Such an interesting group with diverse backgrounds. Sorry about the xenophobes, Samantha.

Got to go home now, and start working. :))

Posted by CWATC 11/10/2010 at 06:12 PM

Thanks, AB.

Yeah, I would have thought that as well about Roger, but he and everyone who knew him at the time have said in multiple interviews he couldn't speak or understand when he first arrived in the french-speaking part. A classmate remembered going up to him the first day of school and introducing himself in french, and Roger answered in german!

Maybe he didn't pay much attention to any french lessons he may have had prior; he supposedly wasn't a very good student, lol. :)

Posted by Colette 11/10/2010 at 06:13 PM

AB, that's so interesting about Swiss German not having a written language! I never knew that, even tho' my grandmother was Swiss German. My grandfather was Swiss French, and they always spoke English around us.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/10/2010 at 06:16 PM

Colette My mum was Swiss French too

Posted by Colette 11/10/2010 at 06:19 PM

You have a very interesting background, AM. I remember when you posted your photo, and you said your husband thinks you look French Swiss. Reminded me of when I was at the language school in Perugia (many moons ago), and the Italian guys would watch all the people coming out of class. One day when I walked by, they said "Questa e' Svizzera" and I was *flattered.*

Posted by x-fan 11/10/2010 at 06:21 PM

There is a saying in Spanish that basically translate to:
What does the donkey know about toothpaste?
That's what came to mind reading Tim's comment about Nadal having a hard time speaking Spanish... as if he would know! LOL


Ladyjulia,
If you are around... we're still alive, but barely.
Neither Nole nor AndyM impressed me today.

Posted by x-fan 11/10/2010 at 06:22 PM

Oh and where are my manners?

Excellent post, Gauloises, much appreciated.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/10/2010 at 06:23 PM

Colette LOL!

My hair is lighter thats why I looked so French.Normally I look like my dads side of the family.

My daughter is the spitting image of my mum and looks nothing like me at all.

Honey blonde hair fair skin and big blue eyes.

Posted by AB 11/10/2010 at 06:27 PM

You know, AM, you look a lot like a Swiss Italian colleague of mine. She was naturally very thin (she said she took after her father) and she had a hard time keeping the weight on, too.

I admire the TWiber's whose fluency and wit in written English surpasses 85% of the native English speakers I've met. gauloises, gabriela, Mr. X and all the rest who can really make the language dance, I tip me 'at to you and thank you for making this site so much fun.

Posted by Christopher 11/10/2010 at 06:30 PM

As a language teacher (Chinese), I do find it depressing that so few Americans have an interest in learning other languages. But Samantha is right, it's really a question of necessity. If Mexico was the world economic power I'm sure far more Americans would be speaking Spanish.

Of course language classes are some of the first to be cut under tight budget circumstances at both the high school and college levels in the US. It's really a shame and will no doubt have negative long-term consequences.

I'll second the comments that the Scandinavians (and I'll add the Dutch) are just stunningly impressive in their language skills. If I didn't know Samantha wasn't a native English speaker, I would have never guessed it from her posts here.

Posted by Colette 11/10/2010 at 06:38 PM

Dutch people I met when I lived in Italy spoke really fluent English, and they claimed it was because their TV shows were in English, not dubbed, so they grew up listening to it! I think learning at a young age certainly helps. I knew parents who had to turn to their children for translations.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/10/2010 at 06:40 PM

on a tennis note, no matter what language he's speaking, Fred Federer has another historical first in ATP history... first to win a Slam, Masters 1000, 500 and 250 series titles in the same year...

hop Suisse!

head to head shcmead to head! lol

Posted by Colette 11/10/2010 at 06:48 PM

AM, did you say your dad was originally from Sicily? One of my favorite places I've visited (Taormina)... still remember the swordfish, seafood pastas, ocean vistas from atop the hill ... (In my family, vacation memories are often based around memorable meals. Italy will do that to ya')

Posted by x-fan 11/10/2010 at 06:49 PM

Looking at the OOP for tomorrow, pretty good matchups.
Some of them can go either way.
I have confidence in Novak taking care of Llodra rather easily and Fed is looking good so I don't think Stepanek represents any danger.
The rest I'm not so sure about.

Posted by blush212 11/10/2010 at 06:53 PM

"He's all monograms and rolex" by the esteemed Gauloises who??oooopps ,i see she is a journalist so she says...lol...It's no longer a surprise really to have her say these negating comments against Federer.Come on, She cant help herself ....She is first and foremost a Rafa fan and some other lowly tennis players fan except for Federer of course and you would catch her dead first before you see her praise Federer.So you ought to forgive her if she isnt at all starry eyed with him.She has poor taste you see.LOL.....Too bad the one with all the monograms and rolex can just look down at her from afar!LOL

Posted by beth 11/10/2010 at 07:02 PM

so - that match between Fed and Richard went better than I expected. As a Gasquet fan , I had braced myself for the inevitable loss - but figured it would be one of those second set blowouts - featuring bakery products.
so I was relatively pleased with the scoreline . at least it looked as if Richard were trying hard - and seemed to get better on the return games as the match progressed. Obviously , Federer was the way superior player today - but all in all - Gasquet did not play that badly

Now - who in the world is Forget going to pick for Davis cup ? If I were him I would tearing out what was left of my hair. Llodra is the only player who has played that well this week. And he needs him desperately for dubs - Can he play singles as well ? And carry this crazy team ? Or will he turn to Gasquet or Simon - neither one is exactly setting the world on fire at the moment . And heaven help us - Monfils at number one ? mon dieu as they say !
I half expect Monfils to break his ankle sliding into a between the legs , leaping tweener and be done for the year ! That would be horrible !

how rude of me - Gauloises , you rock ! This article was great - and I hope you do get the courage to ask a question - because I am sure it would thought provoking and delightful !

And if any are interested , there is a great interview with Richard in the Times Online UK
His english has vastly improved , and unlike the French press which remains intent on crucifying him for his introverted personality , the Times journalist presents a very fair picture of the young man. And it is a good , interesting read about all the things he has been through in his tennis life. After reading it , as a mom , I wanted to give him a hug .

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/10/2010 at 07:06 PM

Colette Sicily is renowed for fishing and sea food I guess

I adore fresh sardines with a little lemon and olive oil just grilled

Yummy!

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/10/2010 at 07:09 PM

Beth Richard didnt play bad in his match at all with Roger.Roger was just too good on the day

Simon just self destructed in the 2nd set after not playing a bad 1st set

Guy wll have some hard thinking to do

I would go with Richard.Simon also did a similar thing in his game against Granollers last week.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/10/2010 at 07:13 PM

AB She must be a wonderful person lol!

I take after my mums side in the physical side

My brother is 6ft 5in though wiry.

Posted by beth 11/10/2010 at 07:13 PM

It is going to be tough choice , AM
None of the French players have really done all that well against the Serbs of late
The Llodra/ Djokovic match will be very interesting , I think , in terms of the choice .

Posted by jb (chocolate FTW!!!) 11/10/2010 at 07:14 PM

*waves at beth*

i'm bummed i missed the Feddy / Reeshie match; work is just SO inconvenient!

Not sure who will be on the French DC team. I think you have ot have Llodra. IF he can get a singles point, and the dubs, and Monfils can scape out 1 point, its the Cup. Lloders, and Monfils definately. Clement for dubs, as I don't think Benny will be ready. and of Reeshie / Gilles? not too sure. Gilles has improved quite a bit recently, maybe take him? Though that last set doesn't bode well for anything.

Times online. i used to read that till they went to subscription. Boo. :(

Posted by beth 11/10/2010 at 07:19 PM

jb!!!!!
darned work - it really does get in the way
I hope you were at least able to tape it
although the scoreline was pretty routine , there were some really amazing shots made
more by Federer , of course, but Richard got off a few winners

I think your DC scenario is probably what Forget is gonna do
throw out Monfils and Llodra on day one , Llodra / Clement in dubs
and then just hope and pray that the french are up 2 - 1 at that point .
See if Llodra can go one more , of if he needs to bring in the "understudy " at that point
and just try to figure out over the course of practice for the month - which of Richard or Simon is better prepared as the back up .
From what I read , Forget plans on bringing everyone to Serbia to workout - and naming his team based on who is in form at that time - and how they play on the surface at the final .

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/10/2010 at 07:20 PM

Beth Yes Llodra has been playing well of late

Though do you think him playing singles and doubles is a good choice?

Just thinking thats all

Posted by jb (chocolate FTW!!!) 11/10/2010 at 07:21 PM

interesting AM, you think Reeshie would hold up at DC away? I'm just afraid the fans and the occassion get to him, and he wouldn't be able to play at the level he's capable of. Which would certainly be good enough for at least one point, and give a heck of match against Nole.

Sigh. not sure he's confident enough in his game at the moment. though am not sure what it will take to get him there either. ;)

Posted by beth 11/10/2010 at 07:21 PM

yep - the subscription at the Times Online is a bummer
someone posted the article over at the menstennisforum site for Richard
so you can read it there
it is in Articles and Interviews
if I can figure it out , I will post a link
but I usually screw those up

Posted by jb (chocolate FTW!!!) 11/10/2010 at 07:23 PM

lol beth, i did try to tape it, but managed 2 hours of in the middle of the nite on some random channel. teaches me not to try and set a recording when i've just woken up on the couch... :))))

I always like to see Fed/Reeshie play. When they're both on, its great fun to watch as I like both their games so much.

Posted by beth 11/10/2010 at 07:25 PM

I actually think Richard might hold up better in Serbia than he would do in France
given his ability to fold mentally
He seems to suffer greatly under the microscope of his own country .
But - at no time , would I consider him a strong mental player , and I would worry about putting him out there with the Finals on the line
I am sure Forget is aware of that
However, Simon's DC record is absymal
and Richard at least has had a few wins along the way

putting Llodra out there for three matches is asking a lot of him .
http://www.menstennisforums.com/showthread.php?t=37196&page=264

Posted by beth 11/10/2010 at 07:26 PM

well , maybe you can catch the replay , jb :)

and look ! I successfully put a link to the article on the page
it is about halfway down

Posted by jb (chocolate FTW!!!) 11/10/2010 at 07:26 PM

i'll check the men's tennis forum, because even with a link, it will be blocked beth.

am - i think they'd put him in for first singles to shoot for a point. wait. he'd prolly be second, which puts him against nole first, doesn't it?

actually, how DO they do the draws? do they do it that way? 1st plays 2nd, and the draw just decides which match is first? or does the draw actually do the matchup?

enquiring minds want to know - someone in the TWibe must know that, no?

Posted by jb (chocolate FTW!!!) 11/10/2010 at 07:27 PM

oooh - the mens tennis forum link! you rock!

*trots off to read about Reeshie*

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/10/2010 at 07:29 PM

Waves to JB

Posted by Andrew 11/10/2010 at 07:30 PM

gauloises writes:

Up there, he’s all monograms and Rolex, and he sits hunched forward, the brim of his cap pulled down low over his brow. His arms rest on the table, folded. His posture seems awkward, which surprises me; I’d expected him to be more at ease. On the other hand, he’s perched on a raised platform in an airless box of a room, head-on with fifty strangers weilding pens. Each time he shifts position, shutters and motor drives whirr and snap to a crescendo. I don’t imagine one can ever be at ease with this ordeal, no matter how often he's endured it.

It’s clear that Federer is pretty good at this—like most things—as soon as the questioning begins. He listens politely and responds directly, maintaining eye contact. He adds modest gestures. His replies are full, occasionally funny, and sometimes surprising—I’m startled by the ease with which he admits that in the past, the race to the year-end championships has cost him sleepless nights.

I notice that he uses ‘we’ and ‘us’ in reference to the players, and sense how ready he is to speak for them: We only have one indoor Masters. I think it’s time we shifted back a bit. We’re working together on this issue. It just becomes so hard for the players. Players like to play. Maybe the white glare off those fifty blank notebooks tempts him to efface himself, to seek camoflauge as "just one of the boys." But it could also be that Federer simply enjoys the locker-room camaraderie, that he genuinely sees himself as part of something bigger that himself.


Er, roger that.

The description of Federer's body language is exactly in line with my own recollection of seeing Federer in press conferences in 2008, 2009 and 2010 at Indian Wells. He's not ill at ease, but he's definitely not laid back: Andy Roddick has a more relaxed air than either Federer or Nadal. Language matters: Federer's English is better than it was in 2003, but he's always translating the question mentally and translating his answer, and occasionally he grasps for the right idiom.

In person, his eyebrows add an air of intensity: he does make and hold eye contact, and he also decides quickly how he's going to handle the question. If it's routine, his response is studiedly neutral. Silly personal or clebrity stuff gets a throwaway line or a dismissal. If it requires analysis about his opponent's play or some subtle aspect of his own play, he typically makes a genuine attempt to respond honestly and truthfully.

He also (to my mind) genuinely thinks of himself as one of the players - he is of them, not apart from or above them. I was struck by Ivan Ljubicic's description of Federer at Ljubicic's press conference at IW this year after Ljubicic had won the title:

"But the fact is that I think Roger himself brings a lot, you know, of that to all of us. I mean, he kind of -- the fact that he won the Stefan Edberg Award for so many years that's been voted by the players as the most fair player on tour, being No. 1, kind of guys, young guys how to behave in the locker room, on court, you know, in the press room.

He's the leader. Obviously he's our leader. I think, you know, because we have him as a leader we all try to respect each other. I think Rafa and him showed a lot how, you know, two champions should, you know, respect each other."


Djokovic is also a good interview - teasing and naughty at times, sometimes sensitive, never (in my experience) confrontational. I liked this line by gauloises:

"I’m filled with admiration for his ability to be charming under such pressure, to act like he’s on our side, rather than an adversary. His performance is so graceful it’s almost moving."

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/10/2010 at 07:30 PM

JB Well after what I saw from Simon today

I think Richard could hold his own really

Like a bagel in the 2nd set and as I said it was close in the 1st set

Posted by beth 11/10/2010 at 07:33 PM

glad to help , jb
it is a nice article
does not make any excuses , but presents him in a favorable light

got to go for a bit
will try to get back soon

Posted by jb (chocolate FTW!!!) 11/10/2010 at 07:36 PM

I'm back!

*waves at Aussiemarg*

how's tricks? which tourney's are you doing this year? Was it medibank and the open you attended last year?

and you're going to europe, aren't you? forgive me, i think i've read pieces here and there - but I can't remember anything other than an intense feeling of envy... :)))

Posted by Aube,To that couple in India,your billion dollar house is ugly! 11/10/2010 at 07:37 PM

Salut tout le monde!
Ahhhhh!!! comme c'est adorable que de parler d'autres langues!!!
Bravo a tous ceux qui essaient!!!Mention speciale a Federer,Rafael et Novak...
Clin d'oeil!!!

Posted by jb (chocolate FTW!!!) 11/10/2010 at 07:40 PM

yeah marge, i think simon really went melty.

not sure if part of it was the turnaround from valencia too. he's been out for so long, i don't think he's used to playing deep in tourneys. and it seemed like robin suddenly found the range on the forehand, and was doing some damage with it.

dunno. guess carting all the guys off to serbia is the way to go. then just see. I'm rooting the french, but wouldn't mind seeing the cup go to serbia as they're also a team i like. Though I expect them to have other chances at the final.. if they keep away from spain first round!

Posted by Moderator 11/10/2010 at 07:41 PM

Aube, bravo for the French, etc. Gentle reminder to translate into English anything longer than a short phrase like Vamos! or Kom sa....

Posted by jb (chocolate FTW!!!) 11/10/2010 at 07:42 PM

mhm. i suppose i should go forage for good m'self. sorry to chat and bolt AM - nice to run into you again! :)

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/10/2010 at 07:43 PM

JB Medibank as you know I own that tournament by now?

*ducks*

AO 2011 going in the 2nd week again.This time I hope see Rafa play?

Rome Master and RG 2011

Thats all soo far

Posted by jb (chocolate FTW!!!) 11/10/2010 at 07:43 PM

andrew - meant to say, your mention of eyebrows now has me envisioning groucho marx style wiggling of eyebrows when i think of Feddy in an interview..... :))))

Posted by Aube,To that couple in India,your billion dollar house is ugly! 11/10/2010 at 07:51 PM

Tim said:
"re the linguistics,
doesnt Rafa have enough trouble speaking spanish, much less english or any other language??"

This is why people should know never to take you seriously, and instead just to laugh out loud!!!

Posted by Aube,To that couple in India,your billion dollar house is ugly! 11/10/2010 at 07:55 PM

Oops sorry moderator and all twibers...

Here is the translation:

Hi all,
Oh how really nice it is to speak another langage!special thoughts for Federer,Rafael,and Novak...Hurray to everyone that tries!!!
Wink!!!

Once again moderator sincere apologies!!!

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/10/2010 at 08:04 PM

OK I need to get "my incredible hair" more "incredible"

It thats all possible

Tim please behave yourself no?

Back later

Posted by freddy 11/10/2010 at 08:11 PM

Well done again, Gauloises! Pleasure reading your reports.

"trying to look bilingual"..was brilliant - made me immediately think of PG Wodehouse :)

Posted by jb (chocolate FTW!!!) 11/10/2010 at 08:55 PM

i was right, i am envious of aussiemarg's roadtrips.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/10/2010 at 09:06 PM

aube, please pass your 7:51 on to the mama lions, and thank you :)

I dunno though, i wasnt really kidding, whenever Rafa speaks Spanish I cant understand a darn word he says!

Posted by Aube,To that couple in India,your billion dollar house is ugly! 11/10/2010 at 09:28 PM

I will Tim,but the problems is I do not know any Mama Lion,hahahahah
you are a "serial teaser"... If Rafa doesn't express himself well in spanish then he's screwed and then who would? hahahahahah

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/10/2010 at 09:42 PM

aube, i still think one of the funniest things i ever saw was the bloopers in the US Open Series "on the road" with the pros, when Rafa mistakenly said.."see what happen when the tennis is played in the road..."

LOL!

Posted by susan 11/10/2010 at 09:46 PM

AB, gauloises is English, I believe. (she just uses that moniker).

'all monograms and rolex' is definitely snarky!! but not mean, hateful snark. big difference.

always interesting to read the impressions of newcomers to the ATP players' press room, but everyone, including journalists (they're human!), take their personal biases with them.

the description of place is great.

Posted by GB 11/10/2010 at 09:56 PM

Just read an account from someone who went to see the players' art on display before the WTFs. She was talking to the gallery owner and apparently, when the negotiations for using his space weren't ended by money/tickets, the ATP sealed the deal by promising the dude a kiss from Rafa for his wife! LOL

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Flavia and Gisela YEC Doubles Champion and Winner of 7 Titles in 2010) 11/10/2010 at 10:05 PM

Hi everyone

Glad I went to bed when I did last night so I didn't have to watch Nalby self destruct and he was playing so beautifully. Anyhoo congrats to Muzz.

Gauly really enjoying your writing. Are you going to WTF, if you are maybe you can contribute there as well?

Posted by Joe 11/10/2010 at 10:06 PM

Tim, if someone talks to you in Spanish, can you understand at least one single word? I don't think so.....LOL

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/10/2010 at 10:14 PM

... sense of humor alert, aisle one!

*slaps forehead*

and YES I can, by the way, I am fully versed in the definition of "vamos" so there!

Posted by Joe 11/10/2010 at 10:19 PM

"slaps forehead" wow Tim, I'm impress!!!, vamos, vamos, LOL

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/10/2010 at 10:24 PM

yeah Joe, I learned it at TW, about oh, a billion times by now ... along with 'beautiful and talented', I think that's my next banned word, must submit this to the TW Board of Directors

Posted by Joe 11/10/2010 at 10:29 PM

Tim, you have to say "beautiful and talented" in Swedish, LOL

Posted by Tic 11/10/2010 at 10:46 PM

Body language of Rafa In the Room.

Approaching the task:
http://s1.postimage.org/43hjw1kno/f3edd75e73764b82a117536bce847459.jpg

Concentrating as usual, by smoothing down hair:
http://s1.postimage.org/43jj05hw4/23319268.jpg

Shielding behind a smile:
http://s1.postimage.org/43jpmavv8/23319217.jpg

Done, no more questions:
http://s1.postimage.org/43jnyrjdg/23318922.jpg

Posted by Colette 11/10/2010 at 11:16 PM

"...Are you going to WTF, if you are maybe you can contribute there as well?"

Been wondering the same and hoping you'll score some great "assignment" like interviewing Judy Murray.

Posted by Chris 11/11/2010 at 12:14 AM

Very well written, thoroughly entertaining! Thanks for sharing your perspective, it made me feel like I was in presser room sharing the same experiences. :-)

Posted by observer 11/11/2010 at 12:46 AM

Saw that L. Jon nominated Rafa for Sportsman of the Year this year. Oddly, there's not a clear favorite right now... and I can kind of see this happening. If it does, I will stay far farrrrr away from this and any other tennis board, as I can only imagine the nuclear reactions that will take place after Fed got denied for so many years.

My guess is the winner will be Spanish Athletes as a group, even with Contador's "problems"...

Posted by zenggi 11/11/2010 at 01:29 AM

Good morning,

Thanks to AM and Andrew for the match calls. It seems there was a debate about Roger's serve percentage being good or not. When he is firing on all cylinders, Roger first serve is between 65% and 70%. This doesn't mean that he'll not win matches with a lower % but it's a sure sign for evaluating his form and his health. I think he was saving himself for more difficult matches ahead this week.

Great wins for Robin Soderling (congrats, sf) and David Ferrer.

Poor Nalby, I think I jinxed yesterday. I hoped he could repeat his win in 2008 against Murray. Maybe he'll focus more next year.

Thank you Christophe and Colette. I feel very proud when you write that the Dutch are "stunningly impressive" in language skills. I may be an exception though, specially in the early mornings and late evenings when said skills drop appallingly.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 01:59 AM

Zengii

Good Morning

Just got back from having my "incredible" once more

Rogers placement on his serve was great.Richard could not get a handle on it

His overall winning points on his serve was good.Like what more do people want of him at times.Even at one point in the match when its was 30 all on Rogers serve he just pulled out a first serve down the tee which was unplayable.Like how many times has he done that in the past and present.

He also was taking the ball early and hitting the ball cleanly as well.

For his first rd match to me good.He knows it will get tougher as he moves forward into this tournament

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 02:00 AM

oops should read

Having my hair "incredible" once more

Posted by jackson 11/11/2010 at 02:42 AM

Thanks for those pictures Tic. Rafa has such a gorgeous smile. He's getting better looking as he matures and he's really a good looking man now but there are still glimpses of the impish looking boy. In one of the videos I saw yesterday there was a flash during all the interviews he had to do of him closing his eyes and taking a deep breath as the interviewer said something about one more question. The 'glamorous' life of a pro athlete is dimmed a bit when you think about them having to answer the same questions over and over and over again and try to be fresh and bright and personable as if they haven't already answered it a dozen times before. As Rafa has said, the tennis part is fun but the press and media part is the work. I couldn't do it.

Posted by zenggi 11/11/2010 at 02:54 AM

Hi AM,
I had to leave for work. Good to know that Roger can rely on his serve on big points. :)

Don't you love this picture of tenacious David Ferrer?
http://estaticos01.marca.com/imagenes/2010/11/10/tenis/masters_1000/1289418418_extras_portadilla_0.jpg

I read an article about Guillermo Coria "thinking" about returning to the Tour as Muster has done. He finds Thomas an inspiration though he says that it would be very tough for him to get in form to compete again.

On another article in the same paper Marca, Nalby laments that Murray
complays too much on court. Actually David says "Murray cries too much." :)

Posted by brewer 11/11/2010 at 02:57 AM

"but he's always translating the question mentally and translating his answer
"
Andrew, I'm not Roger Federer, but I can assure you, he does not do that. After a certain level of knowledge, foreign speakers stop doing the inner translating. You cannot speak fluently in a foreign language if you do that. Actually, the aim is to teach how to think in the foreign language while you speak it rather trying to translate the sentences from your own language to the foreign language. As someone whose first word were in English, I don't think Fed has ever had a phase when he needed to do that.

Searching for the right words, or using German idioms translated to English are different matter.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 03:03 AM

Zenggi Hi

Thanks for that link

LOL! I thought big boys dont cry?

Talk to your later

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 03:07 AM

Tic Thanks for the photos as usual

I saw some photos of Rafa in Disneyland LOL!

He is still a boy at heart.

Media work is part and parcel of any sporting professional.Rafa to me has improved in this area.

Posted by zenggi 11/11/2010 at 03:09 AM

"complays" = complains.

brewer,
It depends. I'm not Roger Federer either but sometimes I think directly in a foreign language and other times I find myself translating very fast from another one. Specially expressions, sayings, etc.
You want to find a parallel that express exactly what you want to say and
if you don't find it at that exact moment you search in your HDD (hard disk drive) for an alternative.
The fact that Roger's first words were in English doesn't guarantee his proficiency. His first language is Swiss-German. I'm sure English was only talked at home. He probably learnt at school how to write it. When young children are playing together or at school they don't want to speak in a foreign language. Much later when they are 10-12 years old is when they finally see that that skill is an advantage.

Posted by manixdk - Caro: is she starting to find her game? 11/11/2010 at 03:19 AM

My mum was French-Canadian, and was fluently bilingual French/English. My dad was from England. I spoke English with my dad, and Frenglish with my mum. If something was easier to say in English, we'd say it in English, easier in French, say it in French. When I was 4-5 years old, we lived in an immigrant neighbourhood, with Greeks and Italians. Our landlady was Italian, and after a while I was speaking Italian with her 2 sons. At least, I always thought it was Italian until I signed up for Italian 101 at university, and found out I was speaking a mixture of Abruzzese and Siciliano :)

Anyway, with that kind of background, I don't have a lot of difficulty picking up other languages.

The important thing is, teach your kids you mother tongue(s) if you're an immigrant, or have them take classes in it. It really helps. The more languages you learn as a kid, the easier it'll be later on in life. Something about a language centre in the brain that stays open if it's exposed to other languages at an early age.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 03:26 AM

Manixdk Hi! well said.Children do pick up language easy.

Though English to me was hard in ways.

I made sure my daughter learnt both European languages and that has helped her today in her job.

Posted by brewer 11/11/2010 at 03:52 AM

Zenggi, I agree, I do that too (translating quickly if one of the phrases are better in one of the languages than the other), but that's different than constracting a sentence in German, and translating the whole sentence into English while you are speaking. And vice versa, if you're having a conversation in a foreign language you don't translate for yourself what the other said to your mother language during the conversation. To know a foreign language on a level in which you can have fluent conversations, requires to be able to think in the structures of that language you currently use. This is the basic rule foreign languages are taught all over the world.

Roger's first language is without a doubt Swiss German as it was the language they used at primary school when he was attending it. Usually kids who use a certain language only at home, will have a good grasp on the language and it comes as natural to them, but it stays on a less developed level, they don't speak or write too sophisticatedly in that language. They have to work on it if they want to reach a certain level.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 04:21 AM

Zengii

One more important thing I left out

I missed Mirka and her Fab bag.Hmmm.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 04:37 AM

Roddick v Gulbis

Umpire is one of my favs Barry White aka Nouni

Gulbis won the toss and has elected to recieve

Commentators are Robbie and Jason

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 04:45 AM

Roddick a quick service game

Roddick 1-0 and Gulbis to serve

Posted by jackson 11/11/2010 at 04:47 AM

In a recent interview in Austria, Goran Ivanisovich talked about how impressed he was with Muster working so hard on a comeback but it doesn't sound like he's at all inclined to try it himself. He was also asked whether he was more impressed by "Swiss ace Roger Federer or Spanish star Rafael Nadal, Ivanisevic told the Salzburger Nachrichten: "Nadal, because his game has more character and more physical than Federer’s performances. Federer’s game is inimitable and elegant, but I personally prefer Rafa." That's a little surprising to me as Goran didn't have a particularly physical game himself so it's interesting that he's so impressed by it.

http://www.austriantimes.at/news/Sports/2010-11-08/28170/Ivanisevic_impressed_by_Muster_and_Nadal

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 04:51 AM

I see Andy is growing a beard or he has forgotton to pack his shaver

Roddick has 2 b/points

Gulbis with a unplayable 1st serve

Gulbis 30-40

Good b/hand Gulbis

deuce

d/faults???

ad to Andy

2nd serve for Gilbus

f/hand wide and Andy breaks

Roddick 2-0 and will serve

Posted by temes 11/11/2010 at 04:52 AM

I would call myself fluent in 2 languages, my native and English. Though when using English I often use a lot of the same words in succession, which often leads to some embarrasement. I try to work on this but it's not so easy to expand the vocabulary. I'm especially annoyed by my usage of the word silly, it's silly how often I use it, often I laugh myself silly reading some text I might have written it's just silly silly silly everywhere. I need to find some replacement words lol.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 04:53 AM

Well Goran is also impressed with Aussie Tomic and Goran has recently said before coming down under his admiration for Rafa.

Goran too is a good friend of Pat Rafters

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 04:55 AM

Roddick holds though had a bit of trouble with 1st serves

Roddick 3-0 1st set

Temes Well I love the word silly

Welcome I was getting lonely here by myself

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 04:57 AM

The Wild One aka Gilbus to serve

Love Barry Whites voice I wish he would break out

"Love to Love you Baby"

Barry Rocks.

Posted by temes 11/11/2010 at 04:58 AM

Hi AM. Well I am a silly person so it suits me lol. But I intend to read a dictionary some day.

Roddick in control.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 04:58 AM

Someone please pass Gulbis a comb?

Earnie pushing his first serve a bit he holds

Roddick 3-1 1st set

Posted by temes 11/11/2010 at 05:01 AM

I think Gulbis might be hiding illegal substances in his hair.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 05:01 AM

Indeed Temes Roddick is in control another good service game

Roddick 4-1 1st set and Gulbis to serve

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 05:02 AM

temes I think many birds could nest there myself

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 05:05 AM

Gulbis holds

Roddick 4-2 and will serve

Posted by temes 11/11/2010 at 05:08 AM

Lol AM yeah it's quite unsightly it's a shame there is a nice looking person hiding under there.

Roddick on the otherhand does he really need a cap indoors? Ok let me focus on the tennis lol.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 05:09 AM

Gulbis has a b/point

Andy s/volley

deuce

ad to Roddick Gulbis f/hand finds the net

2nd serve for Andy

Good b/hand slice by Andy and again Gulbis f/hand lets him down

Roddick 5-2 and Gulbis will serve

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 05:13 AM

A better service game from Gulbis

Roddick to serve for the 1st set 5-3

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 05:14 AM

Roddick service game to love and he takes the 1st set 6-3

Well done Andy

Posted by temes 11/11/2010 at 05:15 AM

Andy in excellent form.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 05:17 AM

Gulbis to serve 1st in the 2nd set

Gublis f.hand has let him down big time in the 1st set.Lets see how he goes in the 2nd.

Posted by temes 11/11/2010 at 05:20 AM

Great point!

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Dear Wayne is Free,VamosWayne 11/11/2010 at 05:20 AM

Bit of cat and mouse going on there

With slices eveywhere

Roddick attacking the f/hand of Gulbis and takes the point

Roddick good shot selection a drops a shot right at Gulbis feet

Gulbis 40-30 was 40 love at one stage Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

deuce now

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