Some of us brought out many of the same points in the article below concerning Roger's 180 degree turn about from the way we all were used to seeing him play. Although, he's still been a factor in the previous three slams. He made two finals and one semi after all - and until he played Rafa at Wimby, he'd only been broken twice, and he didn't lose a set until the final, so over all, when we speak about his not playing the way we know he can, it should be stressed, that we notice it more upon his losing.
I think Roger would take something positive away from working w/Cahill, but I'm still not sure he needs a full time coach. Anyone think they'll speak during this fortnight?
From The Sunday Times August 24, 2008
Last chance for Roger Federer
Roger Federer starts the US Open tomorrow knowing that nothing less than a successful title defence can save his year
Barry Flatman, tennis correspondent
The words of Roger Federer almost a year ago as he luxuriated in the victorious glow of what transpired to be his last Grand Slam title now possess an almost eerie quality. Much has happened to the once authoritative Swiss since he claimed his fourth US Open victory but little that he would care to remember; most certainly not his comment on whether Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic was the better equipped for the battle to dethrone him.
“Number two, number three, it doesn’t matter much,” insisted Federer with the sort of commanding air that was deserved after collecting a 12th major title to suggest Pete Sampras’s record of 14 was ripe for the taking in 2008. “It’s number one that matters.” Now four years of supreme dominance that legitimised crested white blazers and monogrammed cashmere cardigans have come to an end. Surpassing the Sampras record now looks improbable and Federer goes into the year’s last major battling his own inner belief as much as any opponent.
Being second seed does not seem to fit with Federer but this is an unusual year for the player that not too long ago many were willing to revere as the greatest ever to pick up a racket. Not only has his confidence suffered a pummeling but his game, so often so close to flawless, now seems full of nagging imperfections.
Almost half a decade has passed since the number of singles defeats suffered by Federer in a single year had risen into double figures, yet defeat to James Blake in the Olympic quarter-final was his 12th since wandering off Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena in January, outplayed by the younger and more nimble Djokovic.
Losing to Blake saw Federer hit 56 unforced errors compared to his opponent’s 38, a figure incomprehensible just a few months ago.
The forehand, once regarded as probably the finest shot in the game, has become erratic and unreliable. The service on break-point down lacks bite. The volleys, which once distinguished Federer as one of the most natural net players to have emerged since the likes of Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg, are now few and far between.
Not since he first won Wimbledon five years ago has Federer so needed to succeed at a major as he does at Flushing Meadows’ Arthur Ashe Stadium. Nobody in the men’s locker room would have the temerity to suggest he is a spent force but that air of invincibility that came with 237 unbroken weeks at the top of the rankings - a record that hugely surpassed the consecutive achievements of Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and Sampras himself - now seems consigned to history.
However, some speculate that Federer almost appears winded by his greatness, worn out by the pressure to be perfect. It is undeniable that he started the year less than fit after an apparently mild but nevertheless debilitating bout of glandular fever. Ever since he has been climbing a treacherous incline to try and recapture his position but every time he gets close the muscular form of Nadal or some other young lion pushes him down again.
Nadal’s quickness and the extraordinary topspin he imparts on his groundstrokes have blown a hole in Federer’s balanced, cerebral game. Other players, such as France’s Gilles Simon in Toronto, Ivo Karlovic in Cincinnati and Blake in Beijing, have been only too happy to capitalise.
In explaining his defeat against Blake, a player he had beaten eight times in succession previously, Federer was brutally honest. “It’s a lack of practice,” he admitted. “I haven’t had time to practice whatsoever since February. I blame myself the most.”
Of course it would be naive to suggest that Federer, 27, is a spent force. That he finally gathered Olympic gold in the doubles with countryman Stanislas Wawrinka could easily reenergise him for the tests on concrete that lay ahead in the next fortnight.
Federer did not shy away from the issues as he contemplated the US Open and admitted the title would save his year. The Olympic triumph is something to treasure but Federer is not a doubles player. Two minor singles titles from Estoril and Halle this year are insufficient to satisfy his demands.
Since leaving Beijing for a brief stopover in Switzerland before heading to the US, there has reportedly been a summit meeting in Team Federer. A small circle of trusted confidantes including girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec, agent Tony Godsick, fitness coach Pierre Paganini, Swiss Davis Cup captain Severin Luthi and hitting partner Reto Staubli have all offered theories on how best to recapture that invincibility.
For the first time in five years Federer is set to play with a designated coach sitting in his player’s box in New York. Jose Higueras, the Californian-based Spaniard who was recruited to help Federer through the clay court season but then jettisoned when the focus switched to grass, has been recalled.
Federer’s game has become tentative and hesitant. His footwork, once regarded as almost balletic, has been slow, and observers maintain he is not stepping in on shots aggressively. Higueras’s presence therefore seems understandable as his coaching expertise focuses on footwork and shot selection.
Yet it seems only a temporary liaison, as Federer has long been of the opinion a coach is more a hindrance than a help. He ended the relationship with Australian Tony Roche 16 months ago because of a lack of communication and at the end of 2003 dispensed with Peter Lundgren almost on the eve of his ascension to world No 1.
The mentor most credited for the making of Federer as a player was the late Peter Carter, the Australian who died in a road accident in August 2002. Carter’s long-time friend and contemporary was Darren Cahill, the coach who guided Lleyton Hewitt to world No 1 then breathed new life into a veteran Andre Agassi’s career.
Since Agassi’s retirement Cahill has spent most of the time in the television booth as an analyst on American and Australian television.
Many believe he has the perfect credentials to jump-start Federer’s career. What price a conversation between the pair during the next fortnight in New York?
The number of times Roger Federer has tasted defeat in singles tournaments this year. The last time his losses in a single year reached double figures was 2003, when he lost 16 times but claimed his first Wimbledon crown