Thanks for all the articles
It's always interesting to read what Roger has to say.
A link to the following interview has been posted on GM (and surprisingly not been moved to the Federer forum as usual):
Huge thanks and a big ďMUWWWAH!Ē to French reader ďwhynotmeĒ for translating this fantastic article that was written for the French sports daily, LíEquipe - I believe itís only in the print version but not online. Whynotme posted the article in the comments section of the ATP draw post and, man, itís so good, I just had to post it on its own. (Long time readers will also remember ďwhynotmeísĒ keen insights into Rafael Nadalís ďPoulidor SyndromeĒ problem at the French Open last year.)
Of course Federerís opinion on the Tiger Woods scandal is of general interest (is it?) so I put it in the headline. But really, the best stuff in this article is Rogerís no bullshit thoughts on his goals, present and future, and his opponents, past and present. Unlike many interviews, I think thereís some new insight in here Ė and NO diaper questions!
So please enjoy, and a big ďMERCI!!!!Ē to whynotme!
Tuesday January 5th, 21h30, Roger Federer is chatting on the backseat of the car that drives him back from the stadium to the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Doha. The interview has been suggested to him unexpectedly and he said : ďNo problem, just get in the carĒ. When this kind of things happen, you donít ask the driver if heís got his driving license; you just jump in the car. Here we go. Federer is beginning his 12th year on the tour. But this one is different: ĎItís the 2nd half-time of my careerí he says. Grand Slam titles record? Done. Roland-Garros? Done. So whatís left?
Q: For the first time since a long time, you start the season not having to answer those 2 questions: ĎAre you going to break Samprasí record any time soon?í and ĎAre you finally going to win Roland-Garros?í Do you miss them?
RF: (he laughs) Now Iím done with unpleasant questions! Frankly, itís relaxing. A year ago, I was No. 2 in the world, I was about to lose the final in Melbourne and people were relentlessly questioning me.
Q: Now that youíve won at least once each of the Grand Slams, now that you hold the Grand Slams titles record, donít you feel a sense of emptiness?
RF: Itís the end of a period. Within one month last year, between RG and Wimbledon, I reached those 2 great goals. I think it changed my life, but I never felt Ďemptyí afterwards. Iíve never woken up one morning asking myself: ĎWhat do I do now?í Weíre lucky because tennis is a very dense sport. Thereís the rankings, Grand Slams, Masters 1000, head-to-headsÖ Sometimes I motivate myself just by thinking about the history I have with one player. [whynotme - Murray at the end of last year? LOL]
Q: You havenít felt the need to think about what happens next, about your goals?
RF: No. The desire to play comes naturally. What I often do is that I go back to the beginning: why did I chose tennis as a kid? Why did I work so hard during all those years? What do I like so much when I play tennis? And the answers come easily. Itís simple: I donít really think there is someone who loves tennis more than I do.
Q: But donít you feel like a burden has disappeared?
RF: Yes and no. Personally I think the pressure is always there, and itís a good thing. Itís a different pressure, but it has not disappeared. Anyway, if one day thereís nobody to put pressure on me anymore, Iíll still be there to put it on myself. I donít even remember having played a match without feeling any pressure.
Q: You like challenges [whynotme - they do not mean Hawk-Eye ], so here are some. Tell us if youíre motivated by them.
RF: OK, here we go.
Q: You need 2 more Masters 1000 to beat Agassiís record of 17.
RF: Mmmmmh. Iím not really excited by that. Masters 1000 have been existing only for 20 years, and I donít know how many of them great players from the past could have won. So this record does not mean much.
Q: Another challenge. If you stay world No. 1 after RG, youíll beat Samprasí all-time record of 286 weeks.
RF: This is an important record to me. When I beat Connorsí record (consecutive weeks as world No. 1) I already thought it was really great. Staying in the front that long when you know who is behind you, itís not easy. By the way, my main goal this year is to finish the year No. 1 in the world. It has been so hard to get that ranking back.
Q: So you want to stay No. 1. What else?
RF: To win more tournaments. Last year, I won 4 of them. They were big ones, but I have to be able to do better. I lacked titles in smaller tournaments. True, I had to withdraw several times, because of an injury or because I needed some rest (Dubai, Halle, Tokyo). So I focused entirely on big tournaments, and I donít really like it. Before I withdraw from Tokyo last year, I had told Seve (Luthi): ĎIím going there to serve-and-volley on 1st and 2nd servesí. Because I thought it could help me later.
Q: Speaking of later, when do you think youíll end your career?
RF: To calm down everybody, I said Iíll play until the 2012 Olympic Games in London. But itís a minimum. I donít think Iíll stop there. I see myself playing after, but differently. Iíll try to play some new tournaments, to do some exhibitions in South America, where Iíve nearly never been to.
Q: Youíre in the top 10 since youíve entered it in October, 2002. Do you think todayís top 10 is stronger than back in 2002, with Safin, Hewitt, Novak, Henman, Grosjean, Ferrero?
RF: Tough question. Iím not so sure. Nowadays, the guys have less weaknesses but maybe also less main strengths. Before, players were more surprising, with more varied games. It was harder to dominate on a specific surface. Nowadays playing conditions are been standardized and the players as well. Often, when I watch players like Davydenko, Del Potro or Djokovic, I wonder what their best shot isÖ
Q: If you had to chose one player that is going to reach a new milestone in 2010, who would it be?
RF: If I had to chose only one, it would be Murray. He has built himself cleverly, he won a lot of Masters 1000, he already has a lot of experience. That being said, Del Potro never won a Masters 1000 but still won the US Open. A year ago, I would never have said predicted that. He was not really using the strength of his serve, unlike now. Heís improved so much.
Q: And what about the winner of the World Tour Finals, who just beat you 2 times in a row?
RF: Oh, Davydenko! I can tell you Iím going to follow him very closely in Melbourne. The Australian Open is going to show us if he can keep up with this rhythm, and if he can beat us in best-of-five matches. This is so interesting!
Q: Monfils, Tsonga, Simon, Gasquet, youíre interested?
RF: A lot. We all know they have a big potential. Letís say they confirmed it last year. Now, they need to make a breakthrough and therefore to be less injured. Richard is going to go up quite fast. The big question is how far?
Q: Nadal has not won a tournament since Rome last year, in May. Some think heíll never be what he once was.
RF: This is bullshit ['conneries' in French]. It reminds me what people said about me last year. Iíve seen Rafa play in Abu Dhabi and in Doha: he lacks absolutely nothing. Granted, heís not won in a long time. But look at those who beat him: Del Potro, Murray, Davydenko, Djokovic, SoderlingÖ Theyíre not bad! Think about it: had he played Wimbledon last year and not lost 2,000 points from his victory in 2008, where would he be right now? He came back from injury, so itís normal that he lacked confidence. But to me, the really great Rafa is still to come.
Q: You never had any serious injuries. The Australian Open is your 41th GS tournament in a row. Is it hard work or luck?
RF: Both. Iím expecting myself to be fit in big tournaments. You cannot just come at Grand Slams with a small injury. Ladies can handle the 3 first rounds while healing, men just canít. My style of play helps me to last longer. Most of the time, I decide how the point is played, I make the other one run. When Rafa takes 45 minutes to win a set, I can take 30. I worked really hard when I was a junior to build myself an efficient armor. Now, I work less hard, but more precisely.
Q: Youíre 28 and you canít recover as fast as before. Is it why you hired Stephane Vivier, a French physio?
RF: Heís from Marseille on top of that! (he laughs) Itís true that your age matters. Until this season, I always had masseurs, and I wanted to work with a physio. He had worked a long time with the ATP and I didnít want people to think that I was stealing him, like ĎSorry guys, but Iím Federer. Now heís mineí. I think everybody took it well.
Q: What do you mean by Ďworking more preciselyí?
RF: When youíre young, you donít warm up. You play on your PlayStation and when youíre called to play the match, you leave. Now, I consistently take a 10-minutes muscle warm-up right before the match. I strengthen my back nearly everyday because Iíve had problems in the past. Iíve always felt my back wasnít strong enough.
Q: And what about your sleep? Word is that you sleep like a log.
RF: True! If I donít sleep 11 or 12 hours a day, itís not right. If I donít have that amount of sleep, I hurt myself. When the twins cry and Iím in a tournament, I put my earplugs in and I go back to sleep.
Q: You withdrew from the Davis Cup 1st round. Is it because itís against Spain, in Spain, and on clay?
RF: Not because itís Spain. Just because itís on clay. Between Dubai and Indian Wells, it just doesnít fit. It saddens me, but I know why I took that decision.
Q: Some said it was self-centered and unpatriotic. People thought that after having beaten Samprasí record you would be able to play the Davis CupÖ
RF: People have to understand that itís just not possible to do everything. Had I made another choice, maybe I wouldnít have won RG last year. Do people prefer me to play the Davis Cup or to hold the GS record? Donít Swiss people prefer having me as the world No. 1? If I play it and then it costs me in the rankings, people will always be there to tell me: ĎHo, hum, youíre not no1 anymore!í
Q: Is it really impossible to do both?
RF: I consider that a Davis Cup round amounts to take out one Masters 1000. And Iím not ready to do that. I still favour my individual choices; time will come when this changes. You also have to understand that I do not have a team as abundant as Rafaís with Spain. Iím not complaining. Itís just a fact. Rafa hasnít played the quarterfinals and the semifinals last year. But people saw him as the star in the finals. They just forgot he wasnít there before.
Q: Have you spoken to Tiger Woods since his problems were revealed?
RF: Yes, he is my friend and I told him I was there to support him. Itís really tough for him and his family to see their intimate problems flaunted everywhere.
Q: Have you learned something from the magnitude of this story?
RF: This is instructive. The tabloids are going crazy, sponsor contracts are falling apartÖ Iíve always been aware that the image you patiently construct for an entire career can be ruined in a minute. It scares you a bit, but thatís the way things are. Tiger needs calm. And soon heíll become the wonderful golfer that we know again.
[this last question is a translation from some American media - whynotme]
whynotme: ďThereís also a comment on Federerís training with Monfils yesterday in Melbourne and a guy in Monfilsí team said: ĎThey were playing really well. During the 1st set, Roger was literally flying on the court. I felt like he was playing without his racket! When you see him playing like that, with so much ease, you start thinking that he could really play until his mid-30s.í
So apparently no problem with the wrist!Ē