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The Silk Shirt 11/17/2009 - 12:42 PM

by Pete Bodo

You gotta love The Mighty Fed. Just about the time that everyone is trying to adjust to a world in which Roger Federer doesn't - or maybe, no longer can - win everything in sight, he comes out with this (in an interview with Paul Kimmage of The Times of London):

"I'm midway [through my career]. It feels like the second part of my career right now, although I am trying to avoid saying that because the second part sounds like ‘neehhhhrrrrr' [motions straight down]. You can definitely play your greatest tennis until 32 or 33, it's just a matter of how you look at it. I've always been a big believer in looking at the big picture. It's not about, ‘What will we do tomorrow?', it's about, ‘How will my life and tennis look in the next five years?' And I still have the same vision, so that's going to help me."

I had laugh out loud when I read that - especially the "neehhhrrr" bit. Anybody want to talk about handling pressure with grace? Actually, the entire piece is a good read; you could call it TMF's Sermon on the Mount - a discourse on how to handle being the guy with the target on his back in perpetuity, a meditation on the importance of taking joy and pleasure out of even a stressful life, an exposition of the workings of the mind of a confident, imperturbable genius. This guy needs a coach! It may be the dumbest thing I've ever said (but stick around, there's always tomorrow).

If you want to understand Federer, you really need to start with the fact that despite his resemblance to a regular if very nicely-dressed guy, he really is different; you have to throw out everything you known about other guys who have walked in similar shoes.

For example, look at the contrast between the way Federer and his pal Pete Sampras drove on to greatness. Having written Pete's book, A Champion's Mind,  with him a couple of years ago, I feel pretty qualified to make this comparison. Pete took his mission to make the most of his God-given talent as a challenge, and decided a few years into his pro career that he was willing to make the sacrifices required to fulfill his destiny. His drive to secure that sixth-consecutive year-end number 1 ranking (a first-order record that is now safe even from Federer,which makes it hard to imagine anyone every toppling it) almost wrecked him; the day he won his record, 14th singles title, he was ready to quit. Sampras had as deep and abiding a love for the game as any player who ever laced them up, but he grew tired of having to wear the hair shirt.

Federer's shirt, by contrast, is made from silk. And you can't help but notice how much, well, easier, it all seems for him. In the interview, he even mentions how he decided to take pleasure out of the things that drive so many pros batty - the travel, the itinerant lifestyle, the 24/7 bugle-call of competition. Once Federer decided that winning majors and making a run at the record established by Sampras was a worthwhile goal, he essentially shrugged and decided: Well, it's going to be a bear, but I may as well have fun doing it. . . 

And that's a conclusion that escaped most of our other, recent male tennis icons. Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lend and Sampras were all about the discipline of greatness (anyone else notice that the word "discipline" just doesn't appear to be part of Federer's vocabulary, and probably won't be, until his twins, Wimby and Rolanda (sic) start school?). Jimmy Connors was all about bringing the poor schmo across the net to his knees, begging for mercy. John McEnroe's schtick was, as that successful but cheesy reprise of the famous James Dean Rebel Without a Cause poster (on behalf of Nike) demonstrated, mostly about being the misunderstood, alienated genius. And what is Roger Federer about? Try enjoying life; having fun. Nike probably rejected the idea of a poster: We can't dress Roger up like Cyndi freakin' Lauper!

Andy Roddick, 16-14 in the fifth in the Wimbledon final? Hahahahaa! Isn't this great! Rafael Nadal, beating him to a pulp on the red clay?  Man, this is going to hurt in the morning, but it's kind of cool seeing all those Spanish princes and stuff here . . . Juan Martin del Potro at the US Open? Alright, I had him, but you can't win 'em all and did you catch that serve of his, pretty awesome, huh?

I can think of only one aspect of Federer's legacy that may be negative. It's going to make you wonder why all those other guys seemed so tortured, why everything had to be so danged dramatic, like in some stupid Ken Russell flick.  No matter what Andre Agassi might say, it's possible to love this game, from beginning to end. The "sacrifice" narrative is a gripping, honorable one, great fodder for hero-worshippers, role-model seekers, and amateur psychologists.

But what about the "fun" narrative?

Federer has made his life in pro tennis seem a little like the story of a a teen-ager who got to go snowboarding instead of back to school for the entire month of January. Sure he wiped out a bunch and got a little tired as Februrary bore down, but it sure beat struggling with geometry.

It turns out that even that tearful, post-Australian Open final moment earlier this year wasn't nearly as traumatic as some wanted, or hoped, it was. When Federer, wiping way a tear, said,  "God, this is killing me. . .", he was referring to having to make a speech while in the grip of turbulent emotions, not the actual, emotional pain of losing. It was more like having to talk to your mother on the phone while sitting in the dentist's chair, having a cavity drilled, than having to address the mourners at your best friend's funeral. 

I thought this nugget from the interview especially telling:

He (Federer) begins with a story about a script he received for a commercial for Nike with Tiger Woods in 2007. "We had these different lines," he explains, "and I was reading through it and said" ' I’d like to take the text where it says, ‘I love winning’. And they said, ‘Well, that works perfectly because Tiger says he hates losing’. So that’s a part of it, I suppose. I feel I’m the ‘love winning’ rather than the ‘hate losing’ type.” 

This is a pretty radical confession, given what we know about most great players, who fall almost exclusively into the Woods camp on the subject. And it's easy to underestimate how difficult it is to take the Federer stance on this, either naturally (which almost never happens) or through a lot of hard work on the mental aspects of competition. For you risk a lot more when you hitch your wagon to the idea of winning instead of the fear of losing, in roughly the same way that it's a lot easier to avoid doing bad than it is to actively do good.

The desire to win is driven by hope and optimism; the hatred of losing draws to a greater degree on fear, a constant looking over your shoulder. The guy who hates losing stands in danger of becoming a hoarder, a miser. The guy who loves winning stands a chance to become rich and make others wonder how come he's so "lucky."

And let's be frank about this: haven't we all thought, at one time or another, that Federer is lucky? That he's got that "easy" game, that rational, even-tempered nature, all those cupcake draws, all those unworthy Grand Slam final opponents, greasing the skids for his slide to tennis immortality. If Nadal wouldn't have come up lame at Roland Garros, Federer would still be chasing Sampras! Yeah. Cry me a river, begrudging his success. Then try opening your eyes, unclencing your fists, and relaxing that frown on your face.

As Roger well knows, life can be fun. And so can tennis.

PS - This is also your Watercooler post for today.

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Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/17/2009 at 12:56 PM

first? niiice.

Very nice pete. Federer is a great champion on and off the court. Hope he's around for many years to come. And why wouldn't he embrace his nomadic lifestyle? he's got the means to go first class all the way. I think it would be fun,too.

Posted by Tfactor 11/17/2009 at 01:06 PM

"You gotta love The Mighty Fed"

I do! :)
I have always admired his self belief, even if others see as arrogance at times. Keep on going Mighty One!

Posted by Andrew 11/17/2009 at 01:09 PM

Yup. Nicely done, Pete.

The documentary "Facing Federer," made at the end of the 2004 season, is still very relevant today. Federer discusses, at the start of the Houston YEC, how to have a great match which the fans will enjoy both players have to be playing well.

I took from that (and some of the other examples you cite, like Federer's attitude to travel) that Federer is one of those rare players able to sustain a genuine love for playing tennis, and playing tight tennis matches, even those that he loses. In the moment of defeat, he clearly does feel great disappointment, and his losing handshakes are usually friendly and respectful but brief. But he doesn't seem, as you write, to allow disappointment to curdle, or breed a fear of losing in the future which will change his attitude to playing the next match.

I think Djokovic commented reacently that he didn't much enjoy playing matches, and certainly Lendl and McEnroe didn't. This enjoyment in the sport itself helps to turn the hair shirt into a silk one. Nice image.

One thing I would counter is the observation that "anyone else notice that the word "discipline" just doesn't appear to be part of Federer's vocabulary, and probably won't be, until his twins, Wimby and Rolanda (sic) start school?".

Earlier this year there was some kerfuffle when an assertion was made that Federer wasn't taking his conditioning seriously. I think multiple observers have noted (and the man himself is a bit prickly on the topic) that Federer's conditioning work is very thorough and intensive. I think there's an awful lot of discipline which is maintained outside the view of casual observers. Some of it is mental, too: you don't keep banging the serves down at 14-14 in the fifth set of a Wimbledon final without a core of steel.

Posted by Tennissy 11/17/2009 at 01:11 PM

Good one pete.
His "i love winning" attitude has given other players an all together different and higher pedestal to compete at

Posted by Master Ace 11/17/2009 at 01:12 PM

Tennis Channel will show all matches LIVE except for the singles final, which will be showed on ESPN2. Now, question is will ESPN2 show it live.

First 7 days(6 days of round robin AND semifinals)
Afternoon session - 7:30 AM for doubles and 9:15 AM for singles
Evening session - 2 PM for doubles and 3:45 PM for singles

Doubles to be played at 7:30 AM
Singles to be played at 9:30 AM

Draw will be done to determine the groups at 4:45 AM Wednesday

Posted by Master Ace 11/17/2009 at 01:13 PM

Speaking of the topic, one of Tigress' hopes for Roger is for him to win the Calendar Slam next year. If he does, I will stop posting at TW when the Davis Cup semifinal starts which is 5 days after the USO.

Posted by Alexis 11/17/2009 at 01:14 PM

"he's got the means to go first class all the way. I think it would be fun,too."

He didn't always go first-class. And those other 'tortured soul' champions went first-class too.

More than anyone, Fed has chosen to embrace all the aspects of being a professional tennis player. And Mirka choosing the same has made the ride even better for him. No wonder he'll be around for many more years!

Thanks Pete!

Posted by Alexis 11/17/2009 at 01:15 PM

MA - it would be a real shame if ESPN2 did not show the YEC finals live. Of course, we never got it live when it was in Shanghai either.

Posted by arbiter 11/17/2009 at 01:15 PM

Wow! Is that the Federer we all know? Hardly...this story is like a fairy-tale.
The guy who likes winning...but cries and complains and complains and complains when losing? Who never gives credit to opponents? Who is self-centered, miserable even after winning many tournaments?

I don't know...the story is FAKE. They are talking about Federer that NEVER EXISTED.

Posted by Tfactor 11/17/2009 at 01:16 PM

Well then Master Ace, as much as I like Roger and as much I would love to see someone -anyone- get a calendar slam, I will be hoping Roger doesn't so you continue posting here ;-)

Posted by Syd 11/17/2009 at 01:18 PM

Arbiter, pathetic.

Posted by mri 11/17/2009 at 01:19 PM

Nice article Pete. A large part of Federer's success early on was his stable relationship with Mirka. That, Mirka was older and mature and keenly interested in tennis only helped Federer further. Right now, Federer's game waxes and wanes from tournament to tournament. Plus he is due for an early loss at a Grand Slam too, after that insane run over 5 yrs. He never lost to anybody other than Nadal in a grandslam final, that changed at the US open.
Speaking of Nadal, my CB says Nadal takes the WTF just like Novak did last year. The Australian open champ has been winning the YEC since 2006.

Posted by BlueDog 11/17/2009 at 01:19 PM

Master Ace- Why stop posting? I understand the idea of making a sort of sacrifice/promise, but this one would rob us all of something enjoyable. Now odds are you won't need to act on the commitment, but what if?

Posted by Master Ace 11/17/2009 at 01:20 PM

Indeed, it would be shameful if ESPN2 did not show it live but they did show the final live from Doha with Cliff Drysdale and Pam Shriver doing the commentary. If anyone can get the part of the telecast where Pam said who was going to be in the top 5, please let me know? I was streaming that day and posting on TW. If I read correctly, Pam said that there were going to be one American, one Belgian, one Belarussian, and 2 Russians.

Posted by zenggi 11/17/2009 at 01:20 PM

Any post about Roger is welcome, Pete.

Anyway, you and Roger say it: Roger have fun doing his dream ideal job. And it's a hard job. Playing matches takes about 1/4 of the time that he is officialy "on duty". He is already dedicated about 2/3 of his life at it and starting it from an age that could be considered elsewhere as "child-labour". Of course this is the rule for almost all the players but only a few say the word "fun" related to playing tennis.

I think his secure and trusting family enviroment has contributed to make him a happy person in general. Roger made the choices and his parents supported him. An ideal situation for anyone to develop a satisfying and successful career.

Posted by BlueDog 11/17/2009 at 01:23 PM

arbiter= are bitter.

Posted by Master Ace 11/17/2009 at 01:24 PM

Things do change as the AO starts in January but my "promise" is based on Rafael coming back healthy and winning back the French.

Posted by Alexis 11/17/2009 at 01:26 PM

oooh... arbitrator, your hatred is showing.

This is the Federer that most fans know. He is extremely gracious whether he wins or loses. You choose not to see it - no problem - there always has to be people who see the world as 'half-empty.

Posted by Grant 11/17/2009 at 01:26 PM

You can't spell arbiter without 'bait', I see.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/17/2009 at 01:27 PM

MA: you're freaking us all out. Why would you stop posting? Would that be tennis nirvana for you so there would be no need? pfft. We need you.

Posted by zenggi 11/17/2009 at 01:29 PM


I've marked 17 september 2010 on my agenda :)

Posted by Grant 11/17/2009 at 01:29 PM

"Why would you stop posting?"

The fact that it's not gonna happen is probably a factor.

Posted by jb (Chocolate FTW!) 11/17/2009 at 01:31 PM

*waves madly at Pete!*

nice post - funny I had taken particular note of the loving winning quote also. I agree that seems to be key in Fed'a ability to keep on loving the sport; and in his loving to play matches.

Its also been a bit telling that when he talks about which matches he's proudest of they're often great matches that he's lost. Rome w/ Rafa, Oz w/ Marat etc. Its prolly part of that 'not hating losing' that may enable him to look back on a great match and be proud whether he won or lost. And nice that he has the perspective to be able to do that fairly quickly, not years after he's retired.

As for making lemonade about the travel etc; I do think a major portion of his success has been the fact that Mirka has almost always travelled with him. If he was homesick, lonely or less content on the road - it may not have been quite so fun to travel aand taken more a toll on him.

anyhow - just wanted to pop in to say hey before this degenerates into a fedal war. sigh. but maybe this won't? :))

Posted by SLice-n-Dice 11/17/2009 at 01:31 PM

Aw, Pete, now why'd you have to go and write this up? It just makes me like the guy even more!

I recall as a 5th grader, we went outside one spring day (I thinbk we called it May Day) and ran races, did long jumps, etc., for the entire afternoon. One tall, lanky kid who'd been held back at least two years (he must have been 6-foot tall in the 6th grade), lined up at the starting line, then yelled back to all of us watching to yell at him that "the cops are on your tail" as he motored down the dirt "track" as fast as his long limbs could carry him. Fear... the great motivator.

But I am more in line with Federer's thinking. The thrill of winning, especially of ekeing out a tough one which had at one point seemed lost, is a phenomenal feeling. Losing? Generally, I can just chalk it up to being outplayed or not being completely into it, being a bit uninspired, that day.

But here's the rub: I don't play for my living. And those who do tend to feel fear in the same way a cubical employee is afraid to "make waves" or miss a deadline, anythin that might bring on the dreaded "Hey, Pete, have you got a minute?" from one's manager.

How wonderful that federer has amassed so much wealth ($50 mil just in on-court earnings) that he can breathe easy, knowing no one has the moxie or the authority to pull him aside and read him the riot act or hand him a pink slip.

Must be nice. And perhaps he understands enough about the world that most of us inhabit to have gained that invaluable perspective.

Posted by jewell 11/17/2009 at 01:31 PM

Evening, everyone. :)

Master Ace, from the other thread - I don't know really, just an impression after the match with Vera. :) Just teasing really.

Why would you stop posting?

Surprisingly positive read on Federer, Pete, can see how much he loves to play, particularly when everything is going well - I mean in a match, with the actual strokes - he just seems, well, joyful. :)

But I think you could see around the clay season and onwards this year that he has plenty of discipline (if you didn't see it before) - it may not be obvious, but it's absolutely there, although he may prefer to do the hardest work out of sight of the cameras.

Posted by Tfactor 11/17/2009 at 01:32 PM

"The fact that it's not gonna happen is probably a factor"

This may be all Roger needs to make it happen :)

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/17/2009 at 01:32 PM

Master Ace,

I simply don't believe you! YOU are the poster of the year.

Posted by words 11/17/2009 at 01:32 PM

arbiter...thinks, err bait ? Yes, hence bitter.

Posted by BlueDog 11/17/2009 at 01:33 PM

Grant- you should have put the "probably" after "it's".

Posted by VC 11/17/2009 at 01:37 PM

"anyhow - just wanted to pop in to say hey before this degenerates into a fedal war. sigh."


On a serious note, nice article.

Posted by evie 11/17/2009 at 01:37 PM

Mirka. She clearly was the difference, especially compared to the others you talk about. It's much easier to have fun trudging through the prosaic aspects of the tennis tour when you have a person you love and trust with you every single day.

It's not quite the same, but I also think the Williams sisters enjoy their longevity and determination to keep winning because they have each other on tour. A coach, or even a parent, is not the same as sharing the road with an equal partner.

Posted by Grant 11/17/2009 at 01:45 PM

BlueDog - Given that I am more confident that Federer won't pick up a calendar slam next year than in my ability to gauge somebody's motivations, I'd say I put the 'probably' in the right place. However, the great thing about pessimism is that when you're wrong it tends to be a pleasant surprise.

Posted by TripleF-FedFanForever 11/17/2009 at 01:45 PM

I knew it was coming as we approach of the WTF.
Great piece Pete! Great piece!

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 11/17/2009 at 01:46 PM

Happy Birthday Nic,another wonderful Scorpio I see,yes there should be more of us lol!

Have a great day.

I missed Mina last night she also got her acceptence papers to Medibank good for her.

Thanks Pete,good article.

Good Morning Everyone.

Posted by BlueDog 11/17/2009 at 01:46 PM

The difference in how job performance is determined in sports vs almost all other professions, is the lack of ambiguity. You win or you lose, end of story, no matter the reasons. If you win, you get a bigger paycheck.

If only this were true for CEO type jobs. In that world you make millions regardless of if you drove the company into the ground. I don't begrudge sports people their earnings for that reason.

Hi jewell:)

Posted by Underspin 11/17/2009 at 01:47 PM

agree with Arbiter at 1:15...this is all image creation/maintenance. Federer is likely the greatest, but he is a sore loser and still steals the spotlight when he loses. Interesting that Pete B. likes to ignore this side of the man.

Back to all the dialogue on Djoke and his win in Paris v his subdued win in Basel...I have to agree with some posters that 21,22 year old champion boys nowadays have different ways of expressing themselves than the average club player. So what if Djoke has a scary expression, it's his way of letting go some tension, relief and celebrating. Seems like a normal testesterone filled guy reaction when they have to fight day in and day out to be at the top of the world (see Andy Murry in his scream fests)...and from a small country that we have no idea what it was like to be raised in since we generally have lived in the land of plenty. We expect everyone to act like Rafa (so humble as a champ and as a second place finisher)...likely that is not the norm. Rafa makes Federer seem graceless at times.

Posted by zenggi 11/17/2009 at 01:48 PM

The picture of the WTF. In two parts :)

Posted by Grant 11/17/2009 at 01:49 PM

"If only this were true for CEO type jobs. In that world you make millions regardless of if you drove the company into the ground. I don't begrudge sports people their earnings for that reason."

Yes, but you have to offer guaranteed millions in order to attract the best and brightest talent. After all, we can't have our companies driven into the ground by just ANYBODY, can we? -_0

Posted by Anand 11/17/2009 at 01:50 PM

Wow.... speechless Pete.

Really loved the way you took it from sacrifice to fun as another level. You have such a gift at clarity of expression, and you finally cracked it (it = what to express :) ).

I hope you get to write Fed's autobiography, you may be the first sports writer who has come so close to understanding Fed. You are a thinker first and writer next. Keep up the good work, you're really opening up!

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/17/2009 at 01:51 PM

MA: i am so on board with wanting rafa to win the french next year. I like your positive outlook.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 11/17/2009 at 01:52 PM

I became a Roger fan through and through when he beat Sampras at Wimbledon many moons ago,which may I add nearly created a divorce in my household lol!.My hubby a ardent Sampras fan never has gotton over that match ever! lol!

Well I have seen so many changes in Roger,hence the pony tail has gone? thank goodness.I have seen Roger mature as a man.Though all these years the thing that has stuck me the most is his geniune love for the game.

Posted by BlueDog 11/17/2009 at 01:52 PM

I knew what you meant Grant, it's just that it can't be a fact until it actually does or doesn't happen.

Believe me, pessimism is my stance too, and I'd enjoy being wrong except for the loss of MA at TW. Maybe we can renegotiate his contract if Fed pulls off the improbable.

BTW, I love your wit!

Posted by jewell - Just say no to Fedal wars... 11/17/2009 at 01:53 PM

Hi BlueDog! How are you?

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeeee!) 11/17/2009 at 01:54 PM

I like the "loves winning" vs. "hates losing" angle.

One of the more intriguing things to me is how Fed will respond one day when/if he's no longer consistently winning and going deep in majors. Will he be content to hang out in the top 20, happy to get to the second week of slams, hitting some good shots and giving the crowd a few thrills, just for fun/love of the game? I'm used to Fedominance, so I'm having a hard time visualizing it, but man, if he sticks around, Santoro-style, that would be something to see.

Co-signing on all the comments re: Mirka. She's a huge part of Fed's success, and it's sweet that he so readily admits it. :)

Posted by VC 11/17/2009 at 01:55 PM

*but he is a sore loser and still steals the spotlight when he loses.*

Show me a good loser and..... you know the rest. It's strange the ultra-high standards people have for sportsmanlike behaviour after a defeat, having never experienced the disappointment of failure at the highest level. What you're getting from the top guys at the moment is probably as good as it's ever likely to get.

Posted by BlueDog 11/17/2009 at 01:55 PM

"Yes, but you have to offer guaranteed millions in order to attract the best and brightest talent. After all, we can't have our companies driven into the ground by just ANYBODY, can we? -_0"

The best CEOs make driving a company into the ground look effortless.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 11/17/2009 at 02:00 PM

Hey we all know behind every successful man there lies a even greater woman? lol!

Posted by greenhopper 11/17/2009 at 02:04 PM

So, it's official. Poor Roddick.

Posted by Grant 11/17/2009 at 02:06 PM

"The best CEOs make driving a company into the ground look effortless."

Well, ignoring the existence of modern military leaders, CEOs are the modern military leaders. It used to be you'd get a bronze statue for leading your men off to a glorious defeat, but now all you get is a golden parachute.

Posted by BlueDog 11/17/2009 at 02:07 PM

Jewell- I'm fine thanks. I'm looking forward to the WTF. It's actually quite exciting to have all these guaranteed match-ups between the top guys. I also like that I get to see fed three times at least, even if he's playing horribly (not that I'll enjoy it...).

I'm hoping that Murray and Fed will be in the same half, as that will be an interesting re-match if they are both somewhat in form.

In your posts, you seem to have quite rational expectations.

Posted by Tigress 11/17/2009 at 02:07 PM

Very intriguing piece on Roger. The point that Roger essentally emphasizes the positive and loves winning more than hating-fearing losing is a telling one. He clearly knows how to take and enjoy the best life has to offer, which is quite a lot in his case.

He reminds me of a Regency Dandy: aesthetic and silky stylish, and also a tough-as-nails warrior underneath. A Scarlet Pimpernel, if you will. In this regard his much-derided (i loved it) Wimbledon outfit was a perfect illustration. Roger walked out to combat on Centre Court in his gild-trimmed dandified outfit. He then proceeded to take it off, go out and win a fifth set 16-14 epic battle requiring iron nerve and courage, then put the dandy outfit back on (complete with gold '15') and thoroughly enjoy the fruits of victory. The Warrior in Silk. Sir Percy Blakeny returning to English high style after winning his battles on the field.

However Pete, I think you're dead wring about Federer lacking the "discipline of greatness". His trainer, Pagnini, has outlined Roger's arduous fitness and training regimens. They may be the toughest in all tennis and underlie his silkily easy play and demeanor on court.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 11/17/2009 at 02:08 PM

GH Thanks for the link,so sad for Roddick that he could not over come his knee injury in time.Hoping he comes back strong in 2010.He is starting his 2010 season in Brisbane International.

Posted by Cotton Jack 11/17/2009 at 02:09 PM

I'm going to be incredibly inane:

Oo, I liked this!

Now off to cook

Posted by zenggi 11/17/2009 at 02:09 PM

To go along with Pete's article. CNN's interview:

Posted by BlueDog 11/17/2009 at 02:10 PM

Wouldn't seem so unfair if it was literally a golden parachute.

Posted by Alexis 11/17/2009 at 02:13 PM

"*but he is a sore loser and still steals the spotlight when he loses.*"

Really? Name me a time when Fed has absolutely tried to steal the spotlight after a loss? That would be NEVER. Fed has said repeatedly that he wished he didn't get emotional after the AO this year because he wanted Rafa to get his just due, and didn't want people to feel badly for him. Anyone who actually saw that ceremony could see that Roger broke down AFTER some fans yelled out "We love you, Roger". And Roger still made sure that Rafa spoke last as the deserving champion.

And honestly, didn't Rafa enhance his legacy by being incredibly gracious back to Roger??? I thought Rafa was a sweetheart in how he handled it.

But go ahead, name me a loss where Roger tried to steal the spotlight from his opponent? Wimbledon 2008? Uh no. Roger was incredibly heartbroken but he watched as Rafa climbed the stands in celebration. What about that crushing defeat at RG in 2008? Uh no. Roger even jokingly said "Oui, c'est moi" to the crowd. And what about to Delpo at the USO? Roger hoped Delpo's 1st GS win was as magical as his. Or Djoker in Basel? Nope.

I swear, I really hate it when people don't give Roger or Rafa their due as great sportsman. They are two of the best. Trashing Roger doesn't make Rafa any better. Trashing Rafa doesn't make Fed any better.

Posted by Alexis 11/17/2009 at 02:14 PM

So now that Roddick is out, Soderling is in. Kind of want to see Soderling in Rafa's group. That would be a very interesting rematch. You know Rafa is going to want major revenge!

Posted by feedforward 11/17/2009 at 02:15 PM

I love it, Pete. I appreciate your appreciating how Roger is conducting his life and career.

Not that Roger has it all together, but he comes closer than most elite athletes.

Not to get too pedantic, but there is research showing that when you pay children for play or otherwise provide them with external rewards, they quit loving to do it. Thus, most pro athletes who used to play their games as children long after their mothers called them home for dinner, come to have a love-hate relationship with their "game" ( or as Andre said, a hate-love relationship).

Truly nice to see someone who enjoys his game and his gift of talent. Even the Roger haters would probably like having Roger and Mirka as friends. Got to give Roger's parents some credit for his sanity as they seemingly never really pushed him and even now support him without being intrusive. And Mirka seems to be quite good for him and steadying.

As for his not needing a coach, Roger seems to have reached a point where only he really knows what he can and wants to do. It took Agassi to point out that Roger has the largest hitting zone he has ever played against. Yes, many of us who are big fans and students of the game think we could help him, but I am not sure we could really not do more harm than good, by such things as telling him to come in more often or hit out on his return of serve more. One thing I have learned from coaching is that you as the coach cannot hit the ball for the player so your aim has to be to do only those things that help a player do what he or she does best.

If Agassi could play well into his thirties and old timers like Gonzales and Laver were formidable until near Forty and even after, the belief that tennis players are over the hill by 28 is a bogus myth. Yes, injuries accumulate, but if you keep yourself healthy and avoid burn out, no reason not to play well into your thirties. Michael Jordan was winning titles and MVPs well into his thirties and basketall on hardwood puts a severe strain on the legs. Let's hope Roger can still win a major or so per year for another 3-4 years and the Olymkpics in 2012 (before the world ends according to Mayan myth). I want that majors record out of reach as much as I loved Sampras' game.

Posted by thebigapple 11/17/2009 at 02:17 PM

Master Ace, I agree that it is unlikely that Fed will take all the majors in 2010. But I am puzzled by your threatening to deprive us of your company. Would it be our fault if he did? Perhaps you should wager something else like - going to a dip in the ocean in winter, shaving your head, cutting off the little finger on your left hand (assuming to are a right hander) or so?

Nice one Pete. Like the silk shirt idea.

Posted by BlueDog 11/17/2009 at 02:18 PM

Tigress- Pete had a post awhile ago about just that topic. He used a word, Spamontti, or something, describing exactly the dandy warrior.

That said, I didn't like the W outfit at all. Thank goodness he won. Can you imagine how silly that outfit would have seemed in defeat? No wonder he served so well, there was a lot riding on it.

Now don't claw me! I like almost all of his other outfits.

Posted by jewell - Just say no to Fedal wars... 11/17/2009 at 02:21 PM

Good-oh, BlueDog. :)

I am excited for the WTFs too...and I know what you mean about Roger, I feel that way about Rafa, LOL. Also it being in London is fun. :)

do you mean rational expectations for the whole event, or for Rafa or Murray specifically? I don't think I've said much about it at all really, I spent most of this morning frazzling over that imaginary Murray-Montanes Wimbledon final. :)

Posted by Master Ace 11/17/2009 at 02:21 PM

"I simply don't believe you!"


"I've marked 17 september 2010 on my agenda :)"


Posted by Master Ace 11/17/2009 at 02:23 PM

Things do change but I based it on Rafael being healthy and taking the French Open once again.

Posted by Master Ace 11/17/2009 at 02:25 PM

"As Roger well knows, life can be fun. And so can tennis."

I wonder will Roger keep that attitude up next week especially if he is serving match game and/or match point down in any match next week and in 2010 where Novak will be the "hot" player and Rafael would probably helped Spain repeat as Davis Cup champions.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 11/17/2009 at 02:27 PM

Master Ace Me likey and appreciate your thoughts regarding Rafa at RG,please let us take one Slam at a time.Rafa has to make major changes to his schedule next year.I am meaning he has to drop a clay tournament,if not we may see the same thing happening this year.His knees will always be ongoing,the mamagement of this consition is of the upmost importance in his future,I have always maintained this.Hence his h/court tournaments prior to clay is another factor as well.

Posted by Alexis 11/17/2009 at 02:28 PM

My favorite Wimby look was the cardigan (and he lost that final!) This year was not bad - very "Officer and a Gentleman", but I'm glad he didn't wear that jacket at the ceremony, win or lose.

Posted by BlueDog 11/17/2009 at 02:33 PM

jewell, I meant for WTF and beyond. I know you frazzle with the best, but you tend to see things in a way that conforms to (what I take for) reality. In Rafa's case, that he isn't playing his best, yet there is always a chance that he will.

With Murray, I enjoy his tenacity, and in a not mean way, he's very interesting to watch when he begins growling and spitting in frustration. I can identify with him, sadly.

Posted by Vie 11/17/2009 at 02:38 PM

Just saw this and a a lightswitch turned on my brain to partly explain Roger: commercial commitments through the decade. Sampras, Connors, McEnroe didn't have this easy endless vein of riches to draw from. It's a business.

Credit Suisse to sponsor Roger Federer thru 2019

Posted by jewell - Just say no to Fedal wars... 11/17/2009 at 02:39 PM

I liked the fencing waistcoat aspect of Federer's last Wimbledon outfit best of all. Didn't like either the cardigan or Murray's sweater-thing very much, though.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/17/2009 at 02:39 PM

Alexis; i loved the wimby look with the cardigan and trousers. someone pointed out that he put the pants on backwards after the match...well who can blame him after that epic brawl? and it was basically dark out.

Posted by Tigress 11/17/2009 at 02:40 PM

Thanks Pete. You've inspired me to invent a new nickname for Roger: The Warrior in Silk.

Wait.. better yet: "The Silky Warrior". I love it. Think it sort of captures the essence of Federer on court.

Posted by Syd 11/17/2009 at 02:42 PM

Federer lacks discipline? Yes, it's a crying shame, he could have been a contender.

Posted by me 11/17/2009 at 02:42 PM

we have a new name for Nadal at my house.

Chap a$$

Posted by Grant 11/17/2009 at 02:44 PM

I personally find it difficult to pronounce dollar signs, but to each his own, I guess.

Posted by BlueDog 11/17/2009 at 02:44 PM

Alexis- I liked the cardigan too. He gave it to Serena afterwards, and I've always kind of wondered how that transaction went.

Maybe he threw it on the floor in a heap, Serena came across it and asked if she could keep it, and he said he never wanted to see it again.

Posted by jewell - Just say no to Fedal wars... 11/17/2009 at 02:45 PM

That about sums it up, BlueDog. :)

I have my rages too, I quite see where Murray is coming from, LOL. I like how he's started using his frustration in a positive way over the last year or so, too.

Posted by greenhopper 11/17/2009 at 02:47 PM

OMG. Guess who is going to be AMG's full time doubles partner now that VRP has retired?
They're going to compete in all slams.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/17/2009 at 02:48 PM

Chap Ass? sorry but i don't get it.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 11/17/2009 at 02:50 PM

GH Did you ever get to see the under foot of the guy yesterday at all? remember the warts lol!

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 11/17/2009 at 02:51 PM

Grant LOL!

Posted by jewell - Just say no to Fedal wars... 11/17/2009 at 02:52 PM

Although whether it bears any resemblance to reality or not, I don't know...guess we'll find out next year.

Off to cook, bye everyone. :)

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/17/2009 at 02:52 PM

Apparently Brad Gilbert got rafa racket from that match. I wonder how he pulled that one off.

BTW, brad gilbert comes across as a nice guy in agassi's book. a little odd but nice. I used to always roll my eyes whenever Gilbert mentions andre when he's commentating (which is every time) but now it won't bug me as much.

Posted by BlueDog 11/17/2009 at 02:52 PM

me- humor fail for those over 12.

Posted by Grant 11/17/2009 at 02:52 PM

"OMG. Guess who is going to be AMG's full time doubles partner now that VRP has retired?
They're going to compete in all slams."

Suddenly, a certain someone cares about doubles.

And I don't mean Mr. X.

Posted by Arun 11/17/2009 at 02:55 PM

Grant: you mean winning dubs will no longer be the lamest way of getting into the hall of fame?

Posted by Master Ace 11/17/2009 at 02:56 PM

I read across that yesterday about Anabel and Caroline. They did win Beijing in 2008 but Virginie did not officially say she has retired from the game. Know Virginie and Anabel did not perform well since winning the French Open.

"Suddenly, a certain someone cares about doubles"

Did that someone say doubles do not carry as much weight as singles?

Posted by Arun 11/17/2009 at 02:56 PM

hi, BlueDog.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 11/17/2009 at 02:57 PM

Annie Brad Gilbert was watching Rafa practice during Wimbeldon he had become a true fan,he calls him Ralph.He said to Rafa if he won Wimbledon could he have his racquet.When Rafa did win Wimby 08,Gilbert waited for Rafa after he did his press etc,Rafa remembered and gave him one of his racquets he used during the match.Gilbert made a special glass cabinet and proudly displays it.

Posted by Grant 11/17/2009 at 02:57 PM

Arun: That depends on who wins.

Posted by BlueDog 11/17/2009 at 02:58 PM

Grant- I have no idea whom you're talking about. Go Scandinavia's number one doubles champion!

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/17/2009 at 02:59 PM

Nice story AM. think that's cute he calls him 'ralph.'

Posted by Christopher 11/17/2009 at 02:59 PM

I found this piece particularly striking as I'm about 1/3 through Andre's book. That means I've just slogged through 135 pages of (admittedly decently written) whining about tennis and every imaginable thing in any way connected to tennis. And this is still years BEFORE he starts hitting the crystal!

I do think this is one of the reasons why I find Roger so appealing. It's fun to watch someone who is generally enjoying himself. Actually, Nadal usually gives me a similar sense. He seems to really enjoy his tennis life, despite it's obvious rigors.

Posted by BlueDog 11/17/2009 at 03:00 PM

Hi Arun.

Bye, jewell.

Posted by me 11/17/2009 at 03:00 PM

I know my rear end would be chapped if I dug at it that much.

Posted by L.Rubin 11/17/2009 at 03:00 PM


The word is "Sprezzatura." I don't remember the exact definition, but it was, I think, something along the lines of "kicking ass and looking good while doing it."


Posted by Master Ace 11/17/2009 at 03:02 PM

My thoughts exactly on doubles. Caroline had to include doubles to get rhythm as Roadmap will limit her schedule on how many tournaments she will play. Good thing for Caroline is she will be eligible for at least 500K(Playing all Premier Mandatories and Premier 5 events AND play both 700 Commitment tournaments)

Posted by Arun 11/17/2009 at 03:03 PM

good point, Grant.

Posted by greenhopper 11/17/2009 at 03:04 PM

MA, she hasn't? Do you think she'll try to play another year?

I doubt we'll Scandinavian appreciation for this form of the sport, depending on how this affects her singles play.

Posted by zenggi 11/17/2009 at 03:06 PM

BlueDog and Liron,

I was looking for that word (and preparing dinner at the same time).

"Sprezzatura" as to conceal all art and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort. Coined by Baldassare Castiglione in "The Book of the Courtier" (1528).

Posted by BlueDog 11/17/2009 at 03:06 PM

Liron- Thanks for looking that up. The best I could do was a cheap wine reference.

I think that's a dictionary worthy definition, too!

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