Re: Wimbledon and US Open outfits.
June 22, 2007
Federer keeping up appearances with stylish new look
Neil Harman, Tennis Correspondent
We can only surmise what they will look like in their new garb. In the case of Roger Federer it may be white trousers and collared shirt in the manner of Fred Perry – or perhaps he is going to don elegant designer shorts and braided jacket to go with his golden-flecked shoes. All will be revealed on Monday when the Swiss steps out for what he hopes will be the successful first stage of seven towards his fifth successive men’s singles title at Wimbledon.
Then there is Greg Rusedski, wearing the requisite LTA tracksuit with embroidered initials, travelling the length and breadth of the country seeking the brightest seven to 14-year-old talent and helping to nurture them into Britain’s future champions as the newest expensive recruit to the coaching hierarchy. It truly was a day of wonder in southwest London yesterday.
Federer and Nike, his clothing company, have collaborated closely on the design he will unveil in 2007 after the success of his Bill Tilden-like jacket last year. He would not be persuaded to divulge all yesterday, except to say that everything would be in the finest traditions of the All England Club. “It will be simple, but nice,” he said.
One could say the same about his approach to tennis, one that will be tested to its ultimate in the next couple of weeks, but has stood the test of grass-court time these past four years and, in his mind, will do so again. “For ten minutes after the French Open final [he was defeated by Rafael Nadal and missed out on his chance to hold all four grand-slam titles at once] it was ‘what a pity’, but once I got into the press room, I was fine again,” he said. “Life goes on. I went out to dinner with 30 friends that night, then went home to Switzerland and relaxed for a few days.”
Usually, Federer would have gone straight to Halle, Germany, and played the tournament there, admitting it left him sore all over and did not exactly enhance his Wimbledon chances. He could have fooled the opposition. This year, resting his aching limbs, the most energy he used was flicking over playing cards, relaxing in his new apartment in Zurich.
He accepts the expectations this year will be immense. “It is nerve-racking,” he said. “I recall how I did it last year, dropping only one set, in the final, I want to do better and it’s when you get out on the court you appreciate how difficult that was. And the grass is so dangerous, because matches hinge on a few points. Once you get one set, one match out of the way, all the doubts disappear, you focus on each point and you’re in the tournament groove.
“There are so many pictures and so much talk around that remind me of what I have achieved. The 1998 junior title, beating [Pete] Sampras in 2001, I can tell you each score of each match. I know how each one felt, the disbelief of the first, how cool the second one was, how exhausted I was and screaming at the top of my lungs once I’d won. Last year was special. Ever since the first time I came here, this tournament has been in my blood.”
What Britain would give to find a few with half his talent, charm and utter dedication. That is Rusedski’s task, as part of the Talent ID squad at the LTA, where he will be working with Steve Martens, the head of technical support. “As a top-five player in the world, his experiences will be a great asset to the team,” Martens said. It sounds fine in theory, but will it work in practice?
At least, Rusedski knows what it takes to battle, not least with sheer bloody-minded determination, to reach a level few believed he would attain. Tom, his father, made young Greg serve at tin cans in his back garden until his arm ached. If he can find a few like him, we might have a chance.