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Around the World in 1000 Words 11/30/2010 - 12:40 PM

Debut by Pete Bodo

Hey, anybody know who won the final in that tournament in London over the weekend?

Seriously, though, Roger Federer's win over his nemesis Rafael Nadal this weekend brings with it a significant sense of "closure," at least to the tournament year in tennis. But, as I wrote in a post for ESPN, "closure" works better following an unexpected tragedy or bout in a court of law than in sports. So let's remember, there's still this little matter of the Davis Cup final coming over the weekend.


Bad News for Davis Cup Reformers

The run-up to this Davis Cup final vividly demonstrates the significance of the tournament to all but the most transcendent of international stars, and it ought to resonate with those who cling to the idea, promoted mostly in the American Davis Cup-averse media, that the premier annual international team sports competition is passé, or of no interest to anyone not wearing a seersucker suit and straw boater.

When Novak Djokovic said the impending Davis Cup final in Belgrade (where Serbia will host France) was a distraction that prevented him from perhaps having the kind of World Tour Finals he would ordinarily hope for, you know that this "nobody really cares about Davis Cup" meme is somewhat threadbare. And guess what? The increasing number of emerging, top-quality players from nations other than the U.S. is only going to boost the luster of the competition. 

Belgrade may not be a major tennis capital (yet) or media center, but if this final delivers what it promises, Djokovic may pull off a John McEnroe. When McEnroe arrived on the scene, Davis Cup was at low ebb in the U.S. He reinvigorated it, and it's safe to say he took the whole world with him. It was simply because he believed in the concept and credibility of Davis Cup. Also, McEnroe more or less shamed a number of his countrymen, including Vitas Gerulaitis and (briefly) Jimmy Connors into re-examining their indifference to the competition. So forget the problems of marketing Davis Cup, the so-called overloaded calendar, the trials of having to play a Davis Cup tie in the after glow of a major). The blunt truth is that top players—most top players—have the utmost respect for the competition and do their best to take part in it.

The Bureaucrat

While next weekend will belong to Djokovic, Janko Tipsarevic and company, this last one was all Federer's, although he did recognize his own supporting cast of two, even though neither man lifted a racket. After winning, Federer acknowledged the impact Paul Annacone has had on his results since they began working in earnest in June. Here's the exact quote from The Mighty Fed:

"I had to regain some confidence. That only comes through winning matches. After having somewhat of a disappointing clay season, Halle, Wimbledon stretch, where I wasn't able to win any tournaments and didn't play my best tennis, played a bit passive, it was important that I was able to pick up my game. I started moving better, started feeling well physically and mentally. I'm sure Paul has helped in this regard. So has Severin (Luthi). That's why I'm very happy with my team at this stage of the season."

This is typical Federer commentary, and it confirms the feeling that the guy could have a heckuva second career after tennis as something like a high-ranking UN official. Notice the baroque, elusive touches. "I'm sure Paul has helped. . ." not simply, "Paul really helped. . ." What exactly did he mean by "happy with my team at this stage of the season?" I thought the season was over. Note the patient stating of the obvious: "It was important that I was able to pick up my game."  How about the nod to Severin Luthi (how many part-time coaches can one guy have)?

The instinct to spread around the credit and not give anyone too big—or small—a share, to not leave anyone out while also not admitting to over-reliance on anyone, is typical Federer and not all that different from the hard-working bureaucrat's mindset. And yes, I know that you could parse anyone's comments, delivered in a press conference, in a similar fashion. There's a lot of fat and grisle in most conversations. But TMF's is of a certain kind that I believe sheds a little light on his personality. I have to admit that this manner of speech and the thinking it implies leaves me a little cold, because, hail, it is cold.

I don't want to take credit away from Luthi; he's served Federer steadily if, to us, opaquely. That's fine. But from here it looks like the big change in Federer's attitude as well as certain aspects of Federer's game, owe to Annacone, the apostle of aggressive, "show your opponent that you're Roger Federer and he's not" tennis. Or, if you prefer something less blunt and more literal: "Play to your strengths." (As in,  don't just bunt back some kind of return with your shotmaking arsenal.)

The rounded edges of Federer's speech can be explained various ways, starting with his talent for and presumed desire to avoid making waves. Note that Federer divulged no state secrets in praising Annacone and Luthi and contrast that to what we know about the working relationship between, say, Andy Roddick and Larry Stefanki, or even the late-career technical analyses freely offered by Andre Agassi, or even the obsession with the role of character in tennis so often indulged by Boris Becker.

Ironically, Federer's approach brings to mind something Becker once told me about Annacone's other iconic protégé, Sampras. I paraphase: Pete has a great talent for setting up walls that keep the rest of the world out and help him stay focused on his mission. You could say the same of Federer.

Three Things You Can't Avoid. . .

It's funny, but the news in tennis tends to come in bunches having a greater relation to the Grand Slam and Masters calendars than any other factor. That's because outifts like the ATP and WTA like to drop their big news items during moments when the eyes of the world are focused on tennis. Hence, it was a pretty big week for all kinds of news, resounding as well as ephemeral. Did you see that Serena Williams pulled out of Hopman Cup as well as the Australian Open? She's still recuperating from surgery and issued a heartfelt promise that she'd be back and "better than ever."

Rere Maybe, when she's fully healed, Serena could have a heart-to-heart with 40-year old Kimiko Date Kumm, who recently averred that she may not be able to compete in the next Asian games (she lost in the semis this year) because by then she'll be 44 years old. I'm just hoping Serena and her sister Venus Williams can stick around long enough to hit, say, 32. On the other hand, starting in their late 20s, players are basically hostages to the unpredictable master, injury.

Kimiko said she's been feeling the strain of top-grade WTA tennis in her 40-year-old body, and I say we need to immediately launch a Don't go, Kimiko! campaign. I'm not a sentimentalist who thinks players ought to quit while they're on top or near it. Play as long as you want and can, knowing that there are three things in life you can't avoid: death, taxes and the WTA or ATP ranking/entry system. That's something Serena will have to deal with as well, if and when she returns. She'll probably be out of the Top 10 by then.

Spouting off the Starboard Bow. . .

How about that tempest in a teapot in Wales, where the chief executive of Welsh Rugby Union got his shorts all in a bunch because the BBC stayed with that thrilling Andy Murray vs. Rafael Nadal match at the World Tour Finals. Because of the length of that match, viewers were denied the first seven minutes of a match between the Welsh and the All-Blacks (New Zealand). It's usually tennis advocates complaining about the lack of respect they get in the big picture, so while I sympathize with the Welsh, all I can say is:  a food chain is not a pretty thing, try to live with it.


Well, I'm already over my promised 1000 words, and I haven't even touched on the Aussie old guard, who are back in the news. John Newcombe called out 18-year-old Bernard Tomic for being in poor physical shape (while admitting he doesn't actually know what Tomic is—or isn't—doing, fitness-wise), and Tony Roche is back for another stint as Lleyton Hewitt's coach.

Let's leave the implications of those two items for the start of next year, when we'll be homing in on Melbourne and the Australian Open. For those of you who care, this is a spinoff of the News of the Day, which was a hard format to float because it appeared at random, and often dwelt on items (as does this piece) that are not exactly hot off the presses.

But this, or something like it, probably will become a regular feature at TennisWorld except during weeks when I'm traveling and providing on-site coverage. I'll try to keep to the word count, too. . .

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Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 01:08 PM

Well, lots of interesting boxes ticked in this one.

I saw that bit about outraged Welsh Rugby fans. I confess I sniggered.

Yes, what WILL the WTA do when Serena and Venus toddle opposed to just show up randomly? Caro is cute as a button but not sure she brings the same 'wham, bang, pop, pow', that the Williams sisters did, even on an off day. Comeback Kim is a great story though...hope she hangs in for a while, but it doesn't sound like she has any long term plans Justine? Hello? The roster of Russians bring something to the table but often in a headcase basket. Can all of them...not just the Russians...ALL of them stop screaming? Nah....

Fed and his coaching situation. I totally agree with what you say about what PA has brought to Fed's game. Even if the 'how' was 'only' because he is a fresh and respected pair of eyes, I think there can be no doubt that he fortified Roger's belief in himself as an attacking player. (The fact that his post AO was full of proof that he was a dead duck if he DIDN'T attack, probably also helped in getting him to re-sign on to the full steam ahead mentality.) As for Luthi - well, in truth, Fed didnt's fare SO badly when it was just Sven...not over the long haul anyway. And unless there is a Wiki leak of Fed camp memos I doubt we will ever know how much coach and how much coat holder was part of Luthi's job description.

Posted by Master Ace 11/30/2010 at 01:13 PM

Ace ATP rankings (Overall record; Top 10 record for London participant)

Titles (Finalist appearance if best result)

(1)Rafael Nadal (71-10; 11-5): French Open, Wimbledon, United States Open, Monte Carlo, Rome, Madrid and Tokyo
(2)Roger Federer (65-13; 16-6): Australian Open, World Tour Finals, Cincinnati, Basel and Stockholm
(3)Novak Djokovic (59-18; 4-8): Dubai and Beijing
(4)Andy Murray (46-18; 7-5): Toronto and Shanghai
(5)Robin Soderling (57-22; 6-9): Paris and Rotterdam
(6)David Ferrer (60-24; 7-14): Acapulco and Valencia
(7)Andy Roddick (48-18; 4-5): Miami and Brisbane
(8)Tomas Berdych (45-26; 6-10): (Wimbledon and Miami)
(9)Fernando Verdasco (43-22): Barcelona and San Jose
(10)Mikhail Youzhny (43-19): Munich and Kuala Lumpur
(11)Jurgen Melzer (51-25): Vienna
(12)Gael Monfils(45-19): Montpellier
(13)Sam Querrey (39-24): Memphis, Belgrade, London and Los Angeles
(14)Marin Cilic (40-22): Chennai and Zagreb
(15)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (31-16)

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 01:19 PM

The Welsh take their Rugby very seriously. I'd say it's their national sport and Wales vs the All Blacks is a huge game. So I'm not surprised that they were upset about the BBC staying with the Murray match.

Posted by Caroline 11/30/2010 at 01:21 PM

"I have to admit that this manner of speech and the thinking it implies leaves me a little cold, because, hail, it is cold."

But isn't this the whole point - I think it was Pete and Jon Wertheim who christened Uncle Toni Uncle Hardass. Roger has essentially been his own Uncle Hardass since he was very young. He was the one who put himself back on the train in tears when he went to the Swiss tennis centre and did his own hiring and firing. I think of it as the sort of professional discipline and ruthlessness which someone - or more typically a small group - in any organization must have to keep it at the very top for any length of time.

Just as a fan, if Roger were just had the Uncle Hardass part of his personality I am sure I would still love his tennis, but would think of him more like Ivan Lendl. He combines it - or at least appears to to this fan - a highly emotional and human side as well which enables to him to have pretty successful and long-lasting relationships from Mirka downwards.

Posted by yogi 11/30/2010 at 01:23 PM

From the words of Federer, he has always relied on his unique sence of opponent, and it is now time to rely on his own strength. It is excellent that Federer at some stage realized the point, regardless of whether somebody helped him to understand. I hope he can improve a lot. Let's see what reserves he has accumulated due to that economical style of play during all these years.

Posted by Tigress 11/30/2010 at 01:23 PM

In the wake of Federer's huge career win yesterday over the great rival of his era, I suggest that the tennis world should institute a new category: "Majors". "Majors" includes the 4 Grand Slams plus the '5th Major", the Masters Cup/World Tour Finals. It should be separate from pure Grand Slam calculations. But it would be a significant category in itself, since it would include the elite grand finale ATP event of the year.

The Majors category would be even more surface diversified, including medium/slow HC outdoors (AO), clay (RG), grass (Wimby), fast HC outdoor (USO), and medium HC indoor (WTF).

BTW: the present score in Open Era career Majors: Federer 21, Sampras 19, Borg 13, Lendl 13. McEnroe 10, Agassi/Becker/Nadal/Connors 9.

This new category gives a deeper perspective to the positioning of the top Open Era players.

But I think that to be more truly accepted as a Major Tournament, the WTF final should return to the best of five format.

Posted by Caroline 11/30/2010 at 01:24 PM

Wow - what a lot of typos.

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 01:25 PM

Caroline - maybe, but the point was very well made. I think there is sort of a semi-permanent typo amnesty at TW. There BETTER be, lol.

Posted by Caroline 11/30/2010 at 01:26 PM

On the rugby, it is worth searching out on Youtube a wonderful clip of the All Blacks playing I think against Samoa and simultaneously doing the Haka and the Samoan equivalent. Would love to see R&R doing something similar before the coin toss.

Posted by Caroline 11/30/2010 at 01:30 PM

Here it is - Tonga actually although the Samoans also have one. Do not look at the comments if you have delicate sensibilities:)

Posted by zenggi 11/30/2010 at 01:32 PM

"I have to admit that this manner of speech and the thinking it implies leaves me a little cold, because, hail, it is cold."

And I thought you were a Roger fan, a TMF admirer and a defender of the TMF faith. What a pity!

Luthi's relationship with Roger is a top state secret. :)

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 01:35 PM

zenggi - yes exactly - where's that Wiki leak guy when you need him? Oh, wait, I know..hiding from the Swedish police. Still the 'chatter' between Fed and Mirka's blackberries would be fascinating.

Posted by tennis RIP 11/30/2010 at 01:37 PM

"I have to admit that this manner of speech and the thinking it implies leaves me a little cold, because, hail, it is cold."

No, Pete, it leaves you cold because you despise Federer and look for things to dislike even in something as trivial as a vanilla acknowledgement of his team done off the cuff in a language not his own.

Wasn't anything he did with his racquet this week worth a few words from a supposed "tennis writer?"

Posted by Julia 11/30/2010 at 01:45 PM

I agree that RF's comments about his progress and coaching situation was incredibly vague. But then, he isn't a politician who's accountable to his electorate, is he? He's an iconic sports celebrity who's holding his cards close to his chest. For the journalist or star watcher who wants as much juicy meat as possible, this surely must be frustrating. Have a nice, quiet holiday with your family, Roger.

Posted by Master Ace 11/30/2010 at 01:46 PM

Davis Cup Final - LIVE on Tennis Channel

Serbia vs France (8 AM Fri - 9 AM Sat - 7 AM Sun)
Novak Djokovic vs Michael Llodra
Viktor Troicki vs Gael Monfils
Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic vs Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra
Novak Djokovic vs Gael Monfils
Viktor Troicki vs Michael Llodra

Gilles Simon is also on France's Davis Cup team

ALL lineups are subject to change as the draw is scheduled for Thursday

Posted by Tigress 11/30/2010 at 01:48 PM

Master Ace's chart at the top makes clear that for all of Federer's problems this year, Fed's ans Nadal's results were much closer than would first appear.

Example: If Federer had converted either of those 2 match points against Djokovic in the USO semifinal, he would finally have gotten Nadal where we've wanted him for years (USO Final), and very probably would have defeated Nadal for the USO title The WTF final last Sunday only reinforces that likelihood.

In that case (if all other results stayed the same) Federer and Nadal would each have won 6 tournaments and 2 Grand Slams in 2010. Fed would have led in WTF ("5th Major") titles by 1-0, and Rafa would have led in Masters titles 3-1 (3 clay Masters of course). Each would have won one 500 tournament.

Very equivalent years. So while Rafa unquestionably had a better 2010 season, it was much closer than first appears from the numbers. It hung on the results of two Fed match points in the USO semifinal.

Posted by buzzy 11/30/2010 at 01:49 PM

Well, I have to disagree on Pete's interpretation of Fed's words. Rahter than being cold, Fed is aware of one thing - how much of his own hard work, talent and thinking he's put into the game. Of course it helps, if you're having someone around to help you see another perspective, but no coach can just hand over the game to his protege. Either Paul nor Luthi were never even close to Fed's talent or level of playing and each great player's tennis is the result of his own creative process.

Posted by Slice-n-DIce 11/30/2010 at 01:51 PM

Federer as "bureaucrat"? Hmmm... I'd say more like diplomat.
But yes, he's a champion and he doesn't want to be throwing out there the notion that he owes some "sudden turnaround" to a coach, or a wife, or his twin girls. He's the man in charge, so he's kinda sorta gotta act like one. Doesn't he?

Posted by TMFunk 11/30/2010 at 01:54 PM

Could it just be that its a lot simpler than your bureaucrat theory? Maybe:
a) Fed uses phrases that sound funny to you coz English is not his mother tongue?
b) He just wants to make sure he's publicly crediting **both** coaches on his payroll so no one feels left out and hence becomes a disgruntled employee? I think that's the right thing to do and smart, not cold.

Posted by zenggi 11/30/2010 at 01:54 PM

Exactly again. It's quite possible that we read somewhere soon a leak about the reason behind "a bureacrats mindset."

By the way I received my 2011 RF calendar. Two adorable off court pictures among the usual professional ones (incredible light and location.) An stunning picture of Roger with Ethiopian girls during a trip for his foundation to Kore Roba. And an adorable one feauturing Roger in a swimming-pool with all swim aids in place. Fortunately it's been place in August when I'm always counting the days until my next birthday. Total bliss.

Posted by Vie 11/30/2010 at 02:06 PM

Well, Pete, you have a point, I think. What did you think of the victory speech?

Posted by Master Ace 11/30/2010 at 02:09 PM

I took your scneario and my Top 5 Ace rankings would read as follows:

Nadal based on his Clay Masters domination
Federer if he would have won the USO

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 02:10 PM

If Roger didn't credit both coaches, he would be accused by some of throwing Luthi under the bus. I think that he trying to build a strong unit and to discredit one would be detrimental to the team.

Posted by Tic 11/30/2010 at 02:11 PM

Monfils took to tweeting from his Balgrade trip (mixing French and English).

Scared by his captain Guy Forget's predictions of them travelling to hell (following some Serbian soccer fans being unruly in Italy), Gael tweets this pun:
"Just landed in Belgrage..."

Sounds a bit reassured, at least as hell's sleeping arrangements go:
"Very nice hotel (hyatt)..."

"On a des beaux t-shirts" (=We have nice t-shirts):

Then he amuses himself by taking photos of journalists (while they take photos of him):
"Bonjour a nos amis journalistes... " (=Good morning to our friends journalists):

He captures all their daily routines (meals, commuting, practice sessions). A funny, easygoing guy who seems to be in good spirits today - he started his day with "Bonjour twitter..."!

Posted by Syd 11/30/2010 at 02:13 PM

"This is typical Federer commentary, and it confirms the feeling that the guy could have a heckuva second career after tennis as something like a high-ranking UN official."

LOL so American spooks can spy on him?

Posted by dtl 11/30/2010 at 02:18 PM

Pete, very good assessment of Fed's mindset. Right on the mark. Fed's too proud to give anyone credit but at the same time he wants to appear nice. Thus the result.

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 02:21 PM

dtl: I think you missed Pete's point.

Posted by pogiako 11/30/2010 at 02:24 PM

Roger's words are from the heart. His words are not pre-manufactured like someone else's. Roger says what they are. Probably Roger will end up a UN Ambassador or an IOC official. But I rather see him earn a college degree in International Relation. Cheers!!!

Posted by Northernboy 11/30/2010 at 02:34 PM

While I sympathize with Welsh rugby - I think they have to be serious for a second. A match of that calibre and importance, between Andy Murray (who the British media love to wax on about over, win or lose) and the world #1 Nadal, could not be cut off when they were headed to a 3rd set tiebreak, especially given Murray had been down a break but fought his way back to even.

Can't recall how long rugby matches are but they only lost a few minutes at the start. Can you imagine what the outcry would have been like if they'd CUT from the Murray/Nadal match at 5-all in the 3rd set after Murray had broke back to level? Much much bigger outcry - I think even Wales rugby can figure that one out. No brainer programming decision really.

Posted by Fern 11/30/2010 at 02:39 PM

I'm always amazed how much sport stars' comments are scrutinized and interpreted. Fed is lazy, complacent etc for not having a full-time coach, then when he hires one and the professional relationship appears to become successful, there's whining that he's too shrewd in how he describes the working dynamics of his team! When Fed speaks candidly - admits injuries affected his game or jokes about "150,000 years" for a Brit Major winner - he's unsporting, deluded and an egomaniac. The guy can't win (even when he actually does, LOL).

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 02:44 PM

"And an adorable one feauturing Roger in a swimming-pool with all swim aids in place. "

zenggi - I trust that was a picture of Roger as a child? ;-)

Posted by ladyjulia 11/30/2010 at 02:46 PM

Federer does the right thing. Keeps the team behind the scenes (after all, he solves the problem in real time and does it alone), and don't talk about one over the other.

Its not fair to Luthi if Federer would suddenly come and talk about how Annacone helped him make those BH winners, or who exactly contributed how much.

There are two coaches in his team, one high-profile and one low-profile. And the player is Federer. Its he who the titles. His coaches did all the work before Federer steps on to the court. But that's their job, behind the scenes.

Once the player is on court, he wins the match. He thanks his coaches for "help" but is required to do no more, because he solved the problem alone, and in real time. All Luthi and Annacone did was watch from the stands.

Federer is a good people manager, if nothing else. He definitely knows how to manage his team. We can call him diplomatic, which i think is a compliment...but he sure knows how to extract from his team what he needs.

And he sure does know when to keep them in the background. It won't work very well, if they come to the foreground. Its most efficient and no wrangling if they don't obviously.

Posted by Holds2Love 11/30/2010 at 02:46 PM

Tic, thank you for sharing the Monfils tweets. "Bonjour twitter!"

Posted by Aube,"Colored girls" is a fine movie... 11/30/2010 at 02:48 PM

It's amazing how people read and understand what they please, which is their absolute right...from what Federer said I only see truth and sincerity,others find masquerade?what do I know?Cheers everyone!

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 02:54 PM

TNFunk - no, sorry. I can testify from long experience that Pete never buys 'English as a second language' for anything he, (Pete), sees as an odd or stilted Fed phrase or word. Since Roger's mother spoke/speaks English, I think Pete assumes Roger bounced out of the womb yelling, 'ok'! and "pass the hot dogs."

Me, I can often hear the gears shifting a bit as Fed searches for just the right word and I have given, (boringly often, so I won't repeat them) examples of same.

Having said that though, I don't really disagree all that much with Pete's interpretation. I think Caroline nailed it about right...Roger as CEO of a small but thriving corp., completely w/logo. And makes many professional decision that way. I mean if you look at his relationships with Lungren, (who never get enough credit, imo), and Roche, he didn't hesitate to hire or fire.

Posted by zenggi 11/30/2010 at 02:55 PM

He,he. I read now the footnote and the picture is taken at Lake Garda (Italy) in 1983. Roger was just or around 2 years-old. And you can see the inception of "the nose." Adorable.

Off to have dinner. Have a nice evening/night, everyone.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/30/2010 at 02:56 PM

Tigress, best of 5 format? By some reports, the losing finalist could barely finish 3 sets without an ambulance and an IV drip, can you imagine best of 5 set final? I agree in the 5th major, its probably essential, but seems like the only guy left standing would be the geriatric Swiss!

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 03:00 PM

Northern boy: You don't understand, Rugby is more important to the Welsh than tennis. The team is a source of immense pride and to miss the first seven minutes of the game, meant they missed the singing of the Welsh national anthem and the All Blacks doing the Hakka. Andy Murray may have been important to the rest of the UK and but not on the day when the Wales rugby team is playing.

Posted by Richou 11/30/2010 at 03:00 PM

." What exactly did he mean by "happy with my team at this stage of the season?" I thought the season was over. Note the patient stating of the obvious: "It was important that I was able to pick up my game." How about the nod to Severin Luthi (how many part-time coaches can one guy have)?

HE MEANT: I WANT BODO TO WRITE AN ARTICLE ABOUT ME. Because I know he likes reading too much into my comments!!
I'm a bureaucrat and proud of it!. But do u think I'm gonna waste my precious time read that f* article?¨

Posted by TMFunk 11/30/2010 at 03:01 PM

CL - Good to know :) ladyjulia said it quite well too - He's a good people manager, and a good ppl mgr doesn't favour one employee over another in public, irrespective of how he feels privately about needing both PA and Luthi going forward. Its just smart to deal with that out of the public eye.

Posted by Richou 11/30/2010 at 03:02 PM


Posted by knk 11/30/2010 at 03:04 PM

I think Pete needs a psycology degree to understand.....I think Roger tried to balance between the two of them. Also shame that u only talked about -ve stuff (also in your opinion) but did not mention anything about his victory. Just tired of your comments. Also jusy an fyi, read your comments make little things complicated in your words when u write...its u people that are politicians who write things in different ways when u actually mean something else....not Roger.
C'Mon give some credit to the true genius of Tennis.
Go Roger Go!

Posted by Corrie 11/30/2010 at 03:05 PM

Much as I love Djokovic and admire his dedication to Davis Cup I don't share Pete's love of it. It's all about nationalism, which has done the world huge disfavours and has been a major cause of wars. If Serbia wins I hope it doesn't fuel the nationalistic fires which are always there, although hopefully, things have permanently changed there.

Caroline's answer to Pete's words on Federer said it all. And of course he said the words off the cuff and was trying to be even handed with his two coaches. To read in to it "coldness" is really looking to find something to quibble about. Cold is the last thing that Fed is.

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 03:07 PM

knk: In fairness to Pete, he did write about Roger's victory it's on the ESPN website. There's a link to it in the first paragraph of this post.

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 03:09 PM

Anytime 2 big sporting events come up against each other, network execs. pull their hair and hyperventilate. No matter HOW popular Rugby is in Wales, or anywhere else, once you have committed to cover a match, you have to stay with it til its' conclusion. Unless of course you are ESPN and tennis has come up against, say, poker. But ESPN has the luxury of bouncing the tennis match to one of its other channels. I often wonder if any tv network ever considers using picture w/in picture? sometimes they do use it in tennis to show 2 important matches simultaneously. But usually, the end of one while the other is at some mid point. Journalistically, the execs made the right decision, though they may hear about it for quite some time. Which is fine, too.

Posted by Tic 11/30/2010 at 03:09 PM

Re Luthi situation, remember how many pundits and commentators were shocked when Federer almost casually referred to Severin as his coach for the first time and praised his input received during that rain-delayed 2010 RG tussle with Allejandro Falla. This from the post-match presser:

RF: But the first rain delay wasn’t too long. We got in and, and 10, 15 minutes later we’re back out. It was a matter of quickly changing shirt and getting a chance to speak to your coach and coming up with the proper game plan depending on the scoreline.
I think that helped me, actually, because after that I played a good set. He gave me some good advice, and obviously the second rain delay was actually quite comfortable because I was up two sets to love.

After this casually dropped coach bomb, journalists followed up with several more questions about Severin and his role and Federer explained that he doesn't "have the time to go scout out future opponents", also "it’s just good to have someone to be able to debate about my game and the opponents’ game and come up with a game plan, obviously" and "he’s got a good sense of what I’m doing well and not so well. Then you can structure a game around those problems or those strengths."

He also went to great lengths to emphasize this about his coach:
"Maybe he doesn't have the biggest name in the game because he wasn't No. 1 in the world himself or has coached 15 other top guys, you know. I don't think you necessarily need that to be a good coach, you know."

Despite that, many a pundit/commentator still continued to refer to Luthi as merely a Federer's friend and/or DC captain whenever he appeared on TV sitting in his box. And they continued to clamour for Federer to hire himself a coach.

So, when Annacone was hired, Federer carefully (coldly?) worded his explanation that Paul "joined our team". He never explicitly called him his coach and always explained his input as "advice". It seems Federer now has a coach and an adviser. And after WTF they both got a carefully worded praise.

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 03:14 PM

CL: I don't know if the Rugby game was shown nationally in the UK, but it wasn't the BBC could've switched the broadcast to the Rugby in Wales alone and shown the tennis to the rest of the country.

Posted by Galahad's Halberd 11/30/2010 at 03:15 PM

To wax a moment on Fed/Rafa:
I had been equally enthusiastic about Fed and Rafa since 2008.
Then Fed's dandyness began to cool me off. Rafa's perseverence and humility put him on the ascendancy.
Now the opposite is happening.
Rafa's junior-style fist pumping is wearing thin. His increased lack of humility (not in words, but actions) and even decency is growing tiresome. Celebrating missed shots of opponents more and more. Having been put on notice, taking even longer to take the court for the coin toss - especially vs. Fed.
In contrast, Fed's decency is starting to shine again. Plus Rafa says the same junk ("is going to be very difficult, no?") over and over and over again. Fed is both diplomatic and informative at the same time, and has "offended" fellow players many times simply being honest. Rafa, never - because he never says anything ("is going be very difficult, no?").
Make no mistake: This victory was huge for Fed, simply huge. Much needed. Much deserved.
It's great to root unreservedly for Fed once again!
Lastly, I didn't see the getting up from chair incident as equally childish on both their parts. It is Fed sick of Rafa's willful rudeness - he's had plently of time to amend - and decided to let him finish fiddling before getting up. There's no gray area there. Fed doesn't make people wait.

Posted by Christopher 11/30/2010 at 03:15 PM

Most journalists CONTRAST Federer's approach with the press with that of Sampras. The latter seemed to hate talking to the press while Federer clearly loves it and is happy to go on and on. I'm amused that Federer consistently gets criticized for wearing his heart on his sleeve (e.g. crying when he wins Basel) but Pete still thinks he's a cold fish. Odd. And not really connected to any reality that I see.

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 03:18 PM

Tic: Some in the media were even upset that Annacone was first hired on a trial basis and not from the get go. This is despite the fact that Federer hiring Annacone was tricky from the beginning because he was still under contract with the LTA.

Posted by OMG Pete's Still Writing? 11/30/2010 at 03:19 PM

Pete Bodo, you're just getting old dude...finding a story where none exists. You prior exploits may have helped establish your current job security, but you need to go back to what every pre-schooler is advised to do - read your own stuff an hour later and see if you still like it. Refrain from publishing first drafts..

Posted by Tigress 11/30/2010 at 03:20 PM

Master Ace:

Interesting Ace rankings. I guess Nadal would probably have been ahead on ranking points in that scenario and still won the year-end #1. But as to historical significance, it's more debatable.

The essential question is whether a Masters Cup/WTF is worth more than a 2 Masters differential. Which is worth more, Nadal's 3 Masters (MC, Rome & Madrid) or Federer's WTF and 1 Masters (Cincy)? On ranking points, Rafa's 3 Masters are: 3000 v. 2500. But in historical significance, I'd rate a Masters Cup/WTF title way above 2 Masters, or even 3. On the same basis, I'd be happy to trade 5 Masters for a Grand Slam. I'm sure Andy Murray would agree!

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 03:25 PM

Christopher- far be it for me to defend Pete, (heh), but most of what he was saying about Fed's perceived 'coolthyness' seemed, to me anyway, focused on the coaching aspect of Fed's professional life, not his overall state of warm fuzzies.

One thing that does puzzle me about that bit is that Pete contrasts the cone of relative silence around Fed and his coaches with, if I read it correctly, the tons we know of the Roddick/Stefanki relationship. Maybe this is just because I don't follow Roddick's career as avidly as some, but, what DO we know about that working partnership - other than the fact that Stefanki got Roddick to lose some weight?

Posted by TMFunk 11/30/2010 at 03:26 PM

Galahad's Halberd: Thanks for this - "Then Fed's dandyness began to cool me off" I'm a Fed fan thru and thru, but I just found that hilarious! If Fed manages to have a good 2011, I think you may have given me my next moniker - TheMightyDandy!

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 03:29 PM

Galahad's Halberd. Welcome to the Swinging Pendulum Club. Hold on tight! Next thing you know you will be back in the Nadal camp. ;-)

Posted by Master Ace 11/30/2010 at 03:30 PM

Yes, that would have made it for a great debate if your scenario would have happened but we all know what if, and, buts, candy & nuts lead to.

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 03:31 PM

CL: I'm with you. Other than Larry Stefanki telling Roddick that he has to lose 15 lbs, I don't know anything about their coaching relationship either.

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 03:31 PM

TNFunk - oh, clever you! But I think you need to wait til Wimbles to pull that one out. In the meantime though, he...and you too...could be TMDaddy.

Posted by Tic 11/30/2010 at 03:32 PM


And re Luthi, how much more explicit can you get (from the same Federer RG presser):
"People still think he's a part-time coach which he's obviously not because he's travelled the last two, three years now with me full time."

There were many pictures of Severin Luthi carrying Federer's racquet bag while walking two steps behind him, and recently holding one of his twins in his lap. But that doesn't make him less a coach, only a coach who's familiar/friendly/slightly submissive. But, as Federer aptly stated when asked about coaches, "every player needs different things".

Posted by CWATC 11/30/2010 at 03:33 PM

Speaking of Roger as a manager and the coaching situation, he mentioned earlier in the week that the Annacone/Luthi team works well because while Annacone has new ideas, he doesn't know Fed that well yet, while Luthi knows him like the back of his hand. So the two of them brainstorm about ideas using the strengths of each.

By retaining Luthi Fed has minimized the down side of hiring a new employee - the time it takes to familierize yourself w/ the ins and outs of the new job, while maximizing the upside - new ideas.

Best of both worlds if you can afford it.

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 03:33 PM

"if, and, buts, candy & nuts lead to."

MA - big butts? :-)

Posted by TMFunk 11/30/2010 at 03:34 PM

CL - he he, that's a good one too, but I agree with you. We get ahead of ourselves. For now, the funk stays...

Posted by Master Ace 11/30/2010 at 03:36 PM

Be nice :)

Posted by Heather 11/30/2010 at 03:36 PM

CL and Wilson: As someone who does follow Roddick closely, there's never been anything divulged regarding his working relationship with Larry other than the goal to lose 15 pounds? So I'm not really sure what Pete's referring to, in all actuality I would think Andy sort of runs a tight ship when it comes to information being released in the same vain as Roger so I don't see how it's different...

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 03:36 PM

Tic: I believe the times when Luthi was seen carrying Roger's bags was when he was having his back problems.

Posted by TMFunk 11/30/2010 at 03:39 PM

CWATC - Good point

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 03:43 PM

Heather: Thanks for that info.

Posted by Bob 11/30/2010 at 03:45 PM

Everything is subjective.

When people speak of Hewitt (or even Roddick now), they invariably mention their age, how they're from a different generation, in the sunset of their respective careers. Which also clearly lays out a different expectation for them and the results they get, so if they lose to a Murray or a Nadal, it's understandable and almost unfair to compare the two generations of players.

However Federer never gets this excuse and has been compared to Nadal for years now, funny thing is he's the same age as Hewitt and Roddick.

5 years in Tennis is an eternity age-wise, yet how come nobody factors that into the h2h numbers between Roger and Rafa?

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 03:45 PM

Heather - yeah...other than blabber mouth BG...and even he only blabs after the fact.... I honestly cann't think of a player/coach relationship where one or both are open about what is going on. MAYBE Connors/ part because of Jimbo's own celebrity and strengths a player. And I suppose Justine and Carlos which is just plain weird. And back in the day, Monica Seles and her dad.

CWATC - most of the people who have watched Fed's practicing see a real 3 way dynamic between Fed/Luthi and PA. Tinkers to Evers to Chance.

Anyway, I think we have drifted away from what Pete originally said which was that he found Fed comments on his coaches a bit "cold." Beauty in the eye of the beholder, cold in the ear of the listener.

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 03:47 PM

Heather - PS -please don't use "vain" in the same sentence with Roger, as "same vain as Roger" - You just KNOW where a little slip like that will lead. ;-))

Posted by Corrie 11/30/2010 at 03:49 PM

I've always felt Luthi was undervalued, devalued and dismissed by both fans and critics. Fed won a great deal in the last few years with Luthi as his coach. His speech simply reflected the new reality that now he has a second coach, who knows him less well, but can provide fresh new insight. Judging from how the two coaches chat together during matches they're harmonising pretty well.

Pete's suggestion of "coldness" was pure fantasy on his part and suggests he doesn't know Federer too well. He can be tough-minded, as you have to be to get to the top, and very decisive, but he's the opposite of cold.

Posted by Galahad's Halberd 11/30/2010 at 03:51 PM

One other point about the Fed/Nadal, on the head to head record:
Even when rooting for Rafa I saw this clear as day - The clay component skews both the overall record and of course the grand slam finals record.
It's really not much of a debate. Rafa simply couldn't get to Fed very often on hard court finals. Fed often blew the field away to get to Rafa on clay finals. So it is Fed's very skill on all surfaces - including far exceeding Rafa on hard court - that skews the H2H.
Without Rafa, Fed would likely have three to four more French Open titles.
Without Fed, Rafa would have zero more hardcourt slam titles.
That about says it all.
Let's see if Rafa can get to few more hardcourt finals of any sort and see what happens to him.
While clay is interesting and welcome, it is sort of like major league softball vs. major league hardball. Hardball is what the big boys play.
Fed, 6-1 in the third, loses the second five points total on serve lost. That has to be one of the most incredible stats anywhere, and shows his dominance even in the second.
Gallant, indeed.

Posted by Cosi 11/30/2010 at 03:53 PM

Well, I guess Pete strikes again.. takes a wonderful moment for Roger and his fans and trys to find a way to attack Roger's character (bureaucrat is not a nice description of a person) and says how cold the guy is. What in the hail please Pete, whatever your problem is with the Tennis great one, please stop subjecting me to it. Roger beat Rafa in a huge tournament, he won fair and square, and he was nice to everyone (his opponent, his coaches, and other players) in the interviews. That's it. Your opening statement that "who knows who won that tournament in london" is very telling... you wanted the other one to win maybe?, and of course if the other one had won, I'm sure your article would have had a different opening line, instead of a line implying that the year end championships of the atp are insignificant! Alot of people know who won that tournament, pete, there are thousands of articles about it from writers across the globe, do a google search,and none of those writers seemed to notice any coldness or bureaucratic tendencies in Roger Federer. What they focused on for the most part was the brilliance of the winner's play and the sold out matches day after day and the celebrities in the audience watching the great Roger/Rafa clash. Hmmmmmmm

Posted by Andrew 11/30/2010 at 03:54 PM

Federer's said the same thing over and over again: he has a team of people, Annacone has joined the team, but Luthi is an integral part of it. Federer, Annacone and Luthi share ideas: sometimes one travels to a tournament, sometimes another, occasionally both (I think this has happened at the US Open and London). I'd expect both to be in Dubai in December, and likely both in Melbourne in January.

I don't think at any stage of proceedings has Annacone been given the unique label "coach" or "senior coach" by Federer himself. Questions posed about Annacone often get a response in which Luthi's role is emphasized. I'm pretty sure that this was one of the explicit items that got worked through in the trial period - if Annacone had not been happy with this, he wouldn't still be part of the team.

I think after Annacone joined the team, Federer has played better and had good results. I think it's unlikely that Federer will, at any time soon, give all the credit for this to the new team member.

Posted by Galahad's Halberd 11/30/2010 at 03:55 PM

TMFunk: I have enjoyed your name above all others. Excellent.

Posted by Tic 11/30/2010 at 03:58 PM

When journalists at the pre-DC presser suggested to Gasquet that he and Llodra do not get along all that well, Reeshard did this:

Gael and Janko feeling out each other:

And of course, Gael was busy with providing material for his tweeting duties:

Posted by Galahad's Halberd 11/30/2010 at 03:58 PM

Andrew: What I've wanted to know is, what is it that Luthi brings? We've had no insights. Fed is very Rafa-like when referring to Luthi. "He's important part of team, no?" O-kaaaay... backrubs? Hair gel? Manicures?

Posted by Cosi 11/30/2010 at 03:59 PM

Corrie, I agree, there isn't much cold about Fed, the emotional sentimental one... he's the antithesis of cold actually.

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 04:00 PM

"Hey, anybody know who won the final in that tournament in London over the weekend?"

Cosi - I think Pete was being a bit 'ironic', not dismissive, with that opening. Especially given the number of posts about the match over the last 2 days. Just my opinion.

Posted by Heather 11/30/2010 at 04:03 PM

CL: Hahaha....what was I thinking?! I'm not really a big fan of the Fedal craziness so I've been just peaking in the past couple of days, I'll have to be more careful! :)

Posted by TMFunk 11/30/2010 at 04:03 PM

Agree CL - He was just trying to be funny with that opening line...

Posted by TMFunk 11/30/2010 at 04:03 PM

...and thanks Galahad's Halberd!

Posted by TMFunk 11/30/2010 at 04:04 PM

thats a cool moniker too btw - What does it mean?

Posted by Galahad's Halberd 11/30/2010 at 04:05 PM

PS CL/AtheGoat, pls translate the first few letters for me, if you'd be so kind.

Posted by Cosi 11/30/2010 at 04:11 PM

CL... yes pete's opening line could have been sarcasm.. but one could read something else totally off base into it, I wonder if that drives him nuts when people do that to him, too.. just like he called somebody a bureaucrat and cold for simply being careful when wording praise for two coaches and wanting to make sure neither was offended. The term for being tactful and polite is DIPLOMAT, and being Diplomatic is considered a good thing, a Bureaucrat is typically a loathed government official who wastes time and tax dollars by doing a job nobody thinks should even exist or enforcing policies nobody thinks should exist. perhaps Pete doesn't know the meaning and general use of the word Bureaucrat in the english language? Becuase there literally is nothing, I mean nothing that Roger does, or is or represents so far that in any sane conversation would make somebody say " hey that Fed sure is a bureaucrat ". Except Pete I guess! LOL

Posted by Tic 11/30/2010 at 04:11 PM

"what is it that Luthi brings? We've had no insights."

Read this:

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 04:11 PM

G/H - well, by the same token, what specifically does Annacone bring? I mean, I think that is kind of the point here. With VERY few exceptions, we know almost nothing of any of the details or even the overall dynamics between coaches and top players.

We can look at the results that Fed has had since Annacone joined the team and surmise that he has helped Roger fine tune his game and help him achieve positive results. But we don't know specifically how he did that. Some people assume because PA was a chip and charge player, that he is pressing a more aggressive mind set on Roger. Maybe he is...or maybe it is just a different style of aggression. Or neither. Nor do we know, for sure, that had Fed not hired PA, he might have found this form with just Luthi by his side.

Until people start writing their memoires, or there really is a 'Wiki leak' of tennis, I very much doubt we will know much of anything about the day to day and strategic discussion of coaches and their charges.

Posted by Holds2Love 11/30/2010 at 04:12 PM

Posted by Caroline 01:26 PM

On the rugby, it is worth searching out on Youtube a wonderful clip of the All Blacks playing I think against Samoa and simultaneously doing the Haka and the Samoan equivalent. Would love to see R&R doing something similar before the coin toss.

LOL, Caroline. And maybe this is how Welsh rugby fans should have dealt with their frustration.

Posted by tina (ajde, Novak: handsome and talented Balkans #1, world #3, Davis Cup hero, AO 2008 titleist, reigning USO finalist, cutest butt in tennis, rapper, the face of Belgrade t-shirts, Novak water and Restaurant - don't u wish your polyglot was hott like me) 11/30/2010 at 04:13 PM

One of the great experiences in watching rugby is seeing the All-Blacks perform the Hakka. Which would have been cut in this seven minutes, though the people of Wales have seen it before and will see it again.

The "if" regarding the missed MPs in the USO semi - well, even this Djokovic fan was surprised Roger didn't close it out when he could have. At the end of the day, for better and for worse, the score stands.

I watched this match in a group that included a stranger who remarkably "knew" me from being a lurker on here. He feels strongly that Novak will retire before Fed.

Gael is ridiculous: Belgrade is a very civilized city. Querrey and Isner (2 guys who don't strike me as the most sophisticated travelers on tour) lost in DC there, but enjoyed the city enough to return for the Serbia Open 2 months later. Querrey even won it.

Djokovic already is the "McEnroe of Serbia". And I'd say tennis is more popular in Serbia in 2010 than it was even at the height of the tennis craze in the US, decades ago.

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 04:20 PM

For those curious about the Federer-Luthi-Annacone relationship.

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 04:20 PM

For those curious about the Federer-Luthi-Annacone dynamic.

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 04:20 PM

G/H - well the CL stands for Cabbage Leaf and that is actually related to tennis in my case, but it is a long story I just related so I will skip that for now, if its ok by you.

The 'AtheGoat' part of my moniker is temporary... I just keep forgetting to remove it...but on this board frequent discussions of GOAT break out, i.e. Greatest Of All Time. In tennis. Since I don't believe a GOAT has ever, or now, exists, I am an atheist in the matter of GOATs. Hence the suffix. I normally only add it when their is a bout of GOAT herding around here, which happened the other day, but, as I said, I just keep forgetting to remove it.

Welcome to you BTW.

Posted by LeBen 11/30/2010 at 04:20 PM

Tennis RIP: Wasn't anything he did with his racquet this week worth a few words from a supposed "tennis writer?"
So true.
Not aging well, Pete ? First your sarcasm and criticism about Paris, ridiculous when semi-finals revealed top-level matches. Then again grumpy mood about London, with matches 'so exciting on paper they can't fulfill their promises in reality'. Like Roddick-Rafa, Murray-Rafa ?
Then indeed minimizing Roger's win, and Roger's week. You dislike indoors because it does not favor your type of player.
And more and more obvious, your preference for Rafa-like players: warriors rather than geniuses.
I'll tell you this: Roger won so cleanly every match it was outrageous. We'll see what Rafa produces at 29. Indoors conditions provide the best 'lab', as you call it, to analyze who is the better player in essence. No 5 hours to get into your opponents' head, no outdoor perturbations, just pure tennis. Nowhere to hide.
Roger outplayed everyone this week, Nadal included, and he will do so again during the course of next year. Wake up, Pete. Rafa is a winning-machine, he would have been in any sports. No one has never mastered the game of tennis like Roger has. Rafa does not come close, far below Sampras, Becker, Edberg, McEnroe. Not just fighters & winners. Geniuses, because they often flirted with perfection.
How are those knees, Brutus, all right ?
It's only going down from here, Pete !

Posted by wilson75 11/30/2010 at 04:21 PM

Sorry for the double post. But typepad was acting up again.

Posted by Sherlock 11/30/2010 at 04:23 PM

Well, at least Gaul will feel better about the comments on her post after seeing Pete get roasted left and right today. :)

Posted by CL/AtheGoat 11/30/2010 at 04:25 PM

tina - Novak will retire before Fed...according to this person? Wow...that thought would have never crossed my mind. Although, given Novak's health issues AND his, how can I put this without seeming to insult him...his obvious, for want of a better word, 'show-biz side,' and talents thereto, I guess I can see that he might be one who would find life off a tennis court more interesting sooner rather than later.

Posted by Galahad's Halberd 11/30/2010 at 04:25 PM

C/L: True on Annacone but we know more about him generally, pre-Fed. A lot more. Luthi has kind of an alien look and sound. "Luthi's phaser has saved me more than once. He is very logical..."

Posted by CL 11/30/2010 at 04:35 PM

G/H - true, but that may just be because 'we' are not Swiss. (You're not are you?)

Really off now...

***waves to Sherlock***

Posted by CL 11/30/2010 at 04:36 PM

Aw, phooey...have to leave just as Sherlock gets here. Booo. :-(

Catch you all later.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/30/2010 at 04:40 PM

Galahad's Halberd writes:

"Without Fed, Rafa would have zero more hardcourt slam titles."


Are you asserting that Federer GAVE Rafa the 2009 Australian Open title?

Are you asserting that Federer GAVE Rafa the 2010 U.S. Open title?

Is that what you are ASSerting?

ASSerting the above are you?

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"It's Kind of a Dance"
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