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NYT: Federer is the savior of men's tennis

Tennis Fool
07-03-2004, 06:42 PM
SPORTS OF THE TIMES
Sagging Tour Looks Toward Federer
By HARVEY ARATON

Published: July 3, 2004


Wimbledon, England

LISTEN to the voices within the greater tennis community, singing the praises of their new Swiss sultan, Roger Federer. Hear them hunger for his continued success, for him to become an iconic character they can present to the world without apology, with pride.

Hear the words the former champions John McEnroe and Boris Becker use to describe Federer while broadcasting on the BBC - brilliant, masterful, genius - or the valued opinion of Rod Laver, who hails Federer as "one of these uncanny talents whose instincts for the game don't come along too many times.''

Note how the world's best women players, unrestrained by competitive honor or fraternal envy, become starry eyed and practically tongue-tied at the mention of the name.

"I mean, as a tennis fan, I mean, Roger Federer is the most amazing thing to watch,'' gushed the normally smooth-talking Lindsay Davenport. "I mean, the way he plays, the way he moves, the way he acts. I mean, if you were to mold a perfect tennis player, that would be him.''

Perfect?

"He's just so perfect out there,'' Serena Williams agreed. "I mean, Roger is just, like, unbelievable.''

Here at Wimbledon - where rain prevented the men's semifinals from being completed yesterday with Federer leading Sébastien Grosjean of France by two sets and with Andy Roddick up a set and a break on Mario Ancic - Federer continues to draw comparisons to the all-timers, and then some. His steely resolve is likened to Bjorn Borg's. His athleticism is said to be akin to Pete Sampras's. His touch and improvisational skills are reminiscent of McEnroe's. His all-court adaptability is a throwback to the days when Laver the legend could rule on Wimbledon's lawns and Paris's red clay.

"He has the potential to win on all surfaces,'' said Tom Gullikson, who was here coaching Jennifer Capriati.

And what would tennis give to have Federer actually make a run at a calendar-year grand slam? In the age of specialization and anesthetizing baseline sameness, a period when only Federer has won as many as two Grand Slam tournaments in the last 10, he is suddenly being held up as the amalgam and the artist and possibly the ambassador to one day cross all international borders. At least from the purists' point of view, he is the chosen one, the man to lead this sagging sport out of the matrix of declining global interest.

"Pete won 14, but a lot of people say Roger's the best player ever,'' Gullikson said in defense of the retired Sampras. "He's a phenomenal player, but for a while everyone was saying he was an underachiever. Now he's won two grand slams and everyone says he's invincible.''

Projections based on potential are nothing new, and as with the Williams sisters, are often unfair. But Federer has clearly touched something with the tennis regulars, who do not want their sport to experience further public atrophy. They sense something different about Federer, an easygoing 22-year-old in a trademark headband wrapped over deep-set eyes, with his shaggy hair neatly tied. Call it contemporary mystique or retro-Borg, Federer stands apart from the rangy twentysomethings in their ubiquitous baseball caps.

Nothing against Roddick, who is capable of serving Federer off Center Court and any other court, and in many ways is the ideal stylistic and emotional contrast to Federer's comfortable cool. Gullikson even compared Roddick's second serve - which in the men's game ultimately separates the very good from the great - to Sampras's, the best of all time.

But for all of Roddick's positive energy, he is more evocative of an industry that in recent years has tried to endear itself to disenfranchised youth with jazzy promotions, with a pumped-up volume of power tennis. Net effect: more and more graying baby boomers who think, "I'm too old for this,'' before packing the golf clubs into the car.

What Federer is capable of doing is renewing the belief that tennis can still be about footwork, instinct and touch, intuitive strategizing that currently does not even require the use of a coach.

Against Lleyton Hewitt in the quarterfinals, Federer played most of the match from the baseline, choosing not to give Hewitt a target he craves. By yesterday evening, he was back to using all of his hybrid skills, his entire side of the court a showcase in diverse shot making against Grosjean.

Grosjean was on his way to a quick exit before nature intervened - though not as fast as the departure of Alejandro Falla, the dizzied opponent against whom Federer completed a second-round three-set sweep in 54 head-spinning minutes.

While Tiger Woods has never done anything more charismatic than having his Nike cap surgically attached to his head, American networks may soon be asking how they can sell a European who does not throw tantrums, shave his body hair or lapse into arm-pumping convulsions upon converting a break point.

The promise of greatness, I would remind them, is in the pure performance. Just this spring, a horse proved that.

Tennis Fool
07-03-2004, 06:45 PM
This the most apt part of the article:

Call it contemporary mystique or retro-Borg, Federer stands apart from the rangy twentysomethings in their ubiquitous baseball caps.

Nothing against Roddick...he is more evocative of an industry that in recent years has tried to endear itself to disenfranchised youth with jazzy promotions, with a pumped-up volume of power tennis. Net effect: more and more graying baby boomers who think, "I'm too old for this,'' before packing the golf clubs into the car.

Skyward
07-03-2004, 07:10 PM
" "Pete won 14, but a lot of people say Roger's the best player ever,'' Gullikson said in defense of the retired Sampras. "He's a phenomenal player, but for a while everyone was saying he was an underachiever. Now he's won two grand slams and everyone says he's invincible.''

Pete and his coaches can sleep peacefully. His records are untouchable. Nobody saying that Roger IS the best ever, but he has the potential to be one of the best. That's all.

maratski
07-03-2004, 07:25 PM
Roger is definitely a great player and might even be the best, but I kinda stopped listening to what former players have to say about the current top players. They just go with the flow.

The "future" of tennis keeps changing. In 2000 all the talks were about Marat, in 2001 Lleyton was da man, 2002 was still lots of Lleyton and 2003 was the year of Ferrero, Federer and Roddick. Every commentator talks positive about them when commenting on one of their matches, cause that's what they're paid for.
Their comments can be funny, but I wonder sometimes why Boris "boom boom" Becker says tennis is all about serve. Didn't his serve give him his nickname? :confused:

amethyst
07-03-2004, 07:59 PM
While I agree that Federer is a brilliant player and has unbelievable talent we should remember he still has to prove a lot before he can be compared with Sampras.
And I agree with maratski about the talk of former players. I follow tennis for about four years now and I can´t even remember how often I´ve heard "This player will dominate tennis for a long time" and none of it came true!

Gonzo Hates Me!
07-03-2004, 08:19 PM
I think Roger is the true future of tennis! I think, whenever they said that about Marat--Lleyton, blah blah blah, they meant it because the moment allowed them to. Those were guys who achieved number 1. They deserved to be in the future of tennis because their respected moments permitted! But Federer, people must say that about him and be so certain. How can you not be, you'd have to be in denial.

I think and hope Roger can can be succesful enough in his career to challenge Pete--and he can--hopefully no injuries. To say he's only got 2 Slams--that's funny. What's Roger, like 22? By the time he is done, there should be no reason that he shouldnt have ahieved what Pete has

I love Pete though, alot alot alot--so I wouldnt want Rogi to exact or surpass his record :) Maybe people dont want Pete to be surpassed, atleast, American sports analysts :)

but Rogi, I think he is the best player ever in terms of skill

amethyst
07-03-2004, 08:27 PM
Mrs. Guga, I don´t think it´s denial to say Federer still has to prove he can keep this level for years (and that it´s a long way from his two Slams to 14). I wouldn´t be surprised if he came close to Sampras achievements one day, but all this talk about "the greatest ever" comes much too early.

LDVTennis1
07-03-2004, 09:39 PM
Nothing against Roddick...he is more evocative of an industry that in recent years has tried to endear itself to disenfranchised youth with jazzy promotions, with a pumped-up volume of power tennis. Net effect: more and more graying baby boomers who think, "I'm too old for this,'' before packing the golf clubs into the car.

You've cut to the core of the problem with tennis today. As more and more of those baby boomers pack the golf clubs in the car, fewer and fewer tickets to local tennis tournaments get sold.

Ultimately what keeps selling those season box seats at tournaments like Indian Wells and Key Biscayne is the sense of awe that comes from a player whose play seems to border on the impossible.

Women's tennis used to have such a player. Her name was Steffi Graf. Coincidentally or not, her biggest shot was also the forehand. I never thought twice about spending 7 to 8 thousand dollars on box seats just to see her play. I cancelled those subscriptions a couple of years after Steffi retired. The brute force of Serena, Venus & Co. just never sparked my imagination.

Recently, however, I've thought of getting season box seats again. Federer has captured my imagination just like Steffi did decades ago. I want to see this Federer guy play. He produces his own hype.

On the question of hype. All of the buzz around players like Roddick and Serena may mean big TV ratings. But often, and the experience of attending many tennis tournaments tells me this, there is a disconnect between high TV ratings and high attendance at local tournaments. A lot of people, in the US at least, seem to tune in to watch the Williams' sisters on TV, but for one reason or another they don't buy tickets to see them play. I've been at large tournaments (e.g., Key Biscayne and Indian Wells) where their matches are often poorly attended. Given that a significant fraction of tickets for these tournaments are purchased by retirees, particularly at Indian Wells, this is not surprising at all. This is an audience that hasn't warmed up to Roddick, Serena, Venus et al., because they play a kind of tennis that lacks variety, that lacks virtuosity, and that hearkens back to an era when many of these people first discovered tennis. You've also got to figure that many of these people still play tennis recreationally. And, that for them, there is something more evocative about a brilliant drop shot or slice backhand, shots that they can probably hit, albeit not as well.

Of all the players in the last 5 years, Federer has the most potential to renew these people's interest in the sport. If he succeeds, he will secure the financial future of many local tournaments. It is those tournaments that are the backbone of the sport.

Action Jackson
07-03-2004, 09:45 PM
Their comments can be funny, but I wonder sometimes why Boris "boom boom" Becker says tennis is all about serve. Didn't his serve give him his nickname? :confused:

He got his nickname for his antics in a closet with a Russian woman.

Skyward
07-03-2004, 09:48 PM
He got his nickname for his antics in a closet with a Russian woman.

:haha: :haha: :haha:

Havok
07-03-2004, 10:34 PM
You've cut to the core of the problem with tennis today. As more and more of those baby boomers pack the golf clubs in the car, fewer and fewer tickets to local tennis tournaments get sold.

Ultimately what keeps selling those season box seats at tournaments like Indian Wells and Key Biscayne is the sense of awe that comes from a player whose play seems to border on the impossible.

Women's tennis used to have such a player. Her name was Steffi Graf. Coincidentally or not, her biggest shot was also the forehand. I never thought twice about spending 7 to 8 thousand dollars on box seats just to see her play. I cancelled those subscriptions a couple of years after Steffi retired. The brute force of Serena, Venus & Co. just never sparked my imagination.

Recently, however, I've thought of getting season box seats again. Federer has captured my imagination just like Steffi did decades ago. I want to see this Federer guy play. He produces his own hype.

On the question of hype. All of the buzz around players like Roddick and Serena may mean big TV ratings. But often, and the experience of attending many tennis tournaments tells me this, there is a disconnect between high TV ratings and high attendance at local tournaments. A lot of people, in the US at least, seem to tune in to watch the Williams' sisters on TV, but for one reason or another they don't buy tickets to see them play. I've been at large tournaments (e.g., Key Biscayne and Indian Wells) where their matches are often poorly attended. Given that a significant fraction of tickets for these tournaments are purchased by retirees, particularly at Indian Wells, this is not surprising at all. This is an audience that hasn't warmed up to Roddick, Serena, Venus et al., because they play a kind of tennis that lacks variety, that lacks virtuosity, and that hearkens back to an era when many of these people first discovered tennis. You've also got to figure that many of these people still play tennis recreationally. And, that for them, there is something more evocative about a brilliant drop shot or slice backhand, shots that they can probably hit, albeit not as well.

Of all the players in the last 5 years, Federer has the most potential to renew these people's interest in the sport. If he succeeds, he will secure the financial future of many local tournaments. It is those tournaments that are the backbone of the sport.
When I went to the TMS here in Montreal, I've overheard quite a few conversations of these older tennis fans and they were just as excited about watching Andy as they were about watching Federer, or Agassi, etc. And in all seriousness, the majority of these fans in attendance will always be a younger audience, so it doesn't really matter anyways.

vene
07-03-2004, 10:51 PM
Recently, however, I've thought of getting season box seats again. Federer has captured my imagination just like Steffi did decades ago. I want to see this Federer guy play. He produces his own hype.

Of all the players in the last 5 years, Federer has the most potential to renew these people's interest in the sport. If he succeeds, he will secure the financial future of many local tournaments. It is those tournaments that are the backbone of the sport.
I agree with you. I hear Roger is even better in real life than on TV! I look forward to watching him play this summer in the US. Maybe I'll even learn to play tennis so I can really appreciate all his shots!

faboozadoo15
07-03-2004, 11:32 PM
i don't like reading articles about single players "redeeming" the tour, but i'm glad theres one about federer instead of all of them being about roddick who has but one win over federer. the ones about federer at least address tennis ability and talent rather than ball bashing and record breaking serves (which take a lot of talent, don't get me wrong, but none of that wins you a match against the best... it takes the extra mile).
GO ROGER!!!

alfonsojose
07-04-2004, 12:31 AM
Federer is so :zzz:

tangerine_dream
07-04-2004, 12:37 AM
Gee, I can't wait for the Federer backlash to begin. :rolleyes:

alfonsojose
07-04-2004, 01:22 AM
JesusFed, save me !! :bowdown: :angel:
Stop DareDuck :devil: tomorrow and save the world :baby: :hug: :D

...

these journalists :rolleyes:

LCeh
07-04-2004, 01:24 AM
Argh, TF and his misleading titles...

Tennis Fool
07-04-2004, 01:59 AM
Q: Do you consider yourself sometimes unbeatable on the court?

ROGER FEDERER: No, I always feel like, you know, my opponent has a chance. Of course, this year has been fantastic for me. You know, it's still very difficult for me to understand, you know, why and how come that I'm so dominant this year. But, you know, every match I go with the same attitude out on the court. I know my opponent will try everything to beat me. If there are days where I'm not going to play well, you know, I might lose. I know that this can happen any day.

Gonzo Hates Me!
07-04-2004, 05:14 AM
You know, Roger, you know, um, you know, yeah, you know... you know what i mean, right!


ROGER FEDERER: No, I always feel like, you know, my opponent has a chance. Of course, this year has been fantastic for me. You know, it's still very difficult for me to understand, you know, why and how come that I'm so dominant this year. But, you know, every match I go with the same attitude out on the court. I know my opponent will try everything to beat me. If there are days where I'm not going to play well, you know, I might lose. I know that this can happen any day.

chris whiteside
07-04-2004, 07:14 AM
There is already talk that Federer's wrist action will necessitate an operation within a couple of years.

There were many while recognising that Sampras was a great player found that his domination of Wimbledon through the 90s took a lot away from the tournament.

Federer looks as if he could become difficult to beat on any surface, perhaps the most chance to do so would be on clay, but I don't believe dominance by one player would be good for the game.

RonE
07-04-2004, 08:21 AM
"Federer looks as if he could become difficult to beat on any surface, perhaps the most chance to do so would be on clay, but I don't believe dominance by one player would be good for the game."

I don't think there should be too much to worry about in that regard. The men's game today is so deep and so volatile that it's almost impossible to see any one player dominating with an iron fist the way Sampras or McEnroe or Lendl did in their heyday.

I agree, however, that Federer is a breath of fresh air in terms of his style and maneuvarability on the court- a lot of the players today look as if they've come off an assembly line in terms of the way they execute their shots and their style. No disrespect intended, of course, many of them get the job done very efficiently, but a player like Federer, I think, adds another dimension to the game.

Tennis Fool
07-04-2004, 10:27 PM
There is already talk that Federer's wrist action will necessitate an operation within a couple of years.


Fed was asked about this a couple of days ago. He seemed unconcerned about speculation.

Marc Rosset is Tall
07-05-2004, 09:24 AM
You know, Roger, you know, um, you know, yeah, you know... you know what i mean, right!

Um, you know I wonder if you know were able to speak 3 languages, you know as well as Roger, yes you know I didn't think so. Yes, you know what I mean when you know Lleyton Hewitt and Jen Capriati you know use as many if not more you knows and English is their first language, you know what I mean you know.

Action Jackson
07-05-2004, 05:57 PM
Um, you know I wonder if you know were able to speak 3 languages, you know as well as Roger, yes you know I didn't think so. Yes, you know what I mean when you know Lleyton Hewitt and Jen Capriati you know use as many if not more you knows and English is their first language, you know what I mean you know.

You know I understand, you know the problem with the 2nd or 3rd language thing you know. It would be interesting to you know see, if Mrs. Guga you know speaks more than 1 language.

You know you forgot Tim "you know" Henman in the "you know" league of athletes, who use 'you know" and English is their first language. I hope you know, that you know, that you know you shouldn't ever forget this, you know.

MajorcanBoy89
07-05-2004, 07:13 PM
GORA EUSKAL HERRIA & VISCA ELS PAÏSOS CATALANS!

shaoyu
07-05-2004, 07:23 PM
You know I understand, you know the problem with the 2nd or 3rd language thing you know. It would be interesting to you know see, if Mrs. Guga you know speaks more than 1 language.

You know you forgot Tim "you know" Henman in the "you know" league of athletes, who use 'you know" and English is their first language. I hope you know, that you know, that you know you shouldn't ever forget this, you know.
:haha: You guys are just hilarious :haha:

Action Jackson
07-05-2004, 07:29 PM
:haha: You guys are just hilarious :haha:

You know, you forgot to thank you know Marc Rosset is Tall for his contribution to this, and you know Mrs. Guga, you know has to step up to the plate and you know answer the question you know that was asked of her, but you know we'll be waiting a while, you know.

Marc Rosset is Tall
07-05-2004, 08:28 PM
You know, you forgot to thank you know Marc Rosset is Tall for his contribution to this, and you know Mrs. Guga, you know has to step up to the plate and you know answer the question you know that was asked of her, but you know we'll be waiting a while, you know.

Thank you so much for you know, recognising my contribution, you know it's not easy, but you know we'll make it through, you know.

J. Corwin
07-05-2004, 09:19 PM
I always thought Fed to be more articulate (even in English) than a bunch of "you knows". I guess not. ;)

Marc Rosset is Tall
07-05-2004, 09:23 PM
I always thought Fed to be more articulate (even in English) than a bunch of "you knows". I guess not. ;)

His English is quite good, better than most of the other players on the circuit that speak it as a second language. Then again I was taking the piss out of Mrs. Guga ragging on Federer for using all those you knows, when I used Hewitt, Henman and Capriati as examples of where it's their first language and she doesn't rag on them.

Then again you know there is definitely you know lack of double standards, you know.

Tennis Fool
11-27-2004, 12:38 AM
Bump. I'd especially like to hear the thoughts of my peers 30+ and over :)

Daniel
11-27-2004, 07:29 AM
Roger :worship: :yeah:

WyveN
11-27-2004, 08:54 AM
Save tennis from what?
Everyone adds something to the tennis tour even guys like Roddick.

Ferrero Forever
11-27-2004, 08:55 AM
yeah, tennis isn't on TV very much, but other then that it doesn't need saving, it just needs more time on the box

ae wowww
11-27-2004, 11:32 AM
Very interesting article (and thread), I think it is the same as the 'Is Federer the Death of Tennis' - which was basically people saying no, then the reasons why not, but this has a far better [& more appropriate] heading.

I definitely like this part:
"Call it contemporary mystique or retro-Borg, Federer stands apart from the rangy twentysomethings in their ubiquitous baseball caps.

Nothing against Roddick...he is more evocative of an industry that in recent years has tried to endear itself to disenfranchised youth with jazzy promotions, with a pumped-up volume of power tennis. Net effect: more and more graying baby boomers who think, "I'm too old for this,'' before packing the golf clubs into the car."

But counted a total of 5 "I mean"s in just two quotes: one from Serena, one from Lindsay. And I mean, that's just shocking.

RonE
11-27-2004, 11:48 AM
"Federer looks as if he could become difficult to beat on any surface, perhaps the most chance to do so would be on clay, but I don't believe dominance by one player would be good for the game."

I don't think there should be too much to worry about in that regard. The men's game today is so deep and so volatile that it's almost impossible to see any one player dominating with an iron fist the way Sampras or McEnroe or Lendl did in their heyday.

I agree, however, that Federer is a breath of fresh air in terms of his style and maneuvarability on the court- a lot of the players today look as if they've come off an assembly line in terms of the way they execute their shots and their style. No disrespect intended, of course, many of them get the job done very efficiently, but a player like Federer, I think, adds another dimension to the game.

I can't believe this was my very first post on this board :o

Just to add to it- I do not believe that any one specific person has the ability to save or destroy a sport. And, like I said in the quoted post, the game is so deep and volatile that there will always be high quality players at each other's throats providing great tennis and so not even Federer will be able to dominate as much as he has done this year (although I wouldn't object if he would :D )

But Roger is highly unorthodox in so many ways he plays the game and that coupled with his sheer genius is what makes his style so appealing to watch for me.

Experimentee
11-27-2004, 02:09 PM
I dont like when players are hyped so much :rolleyes:
Yes I know Roger is good but its way too early to be comparing him with the greats. If he has another year like 2004 we might think about it, but not now. One year does not make one the greatest player.

alfonsojose
11-27-2004, 06:25 PM
If u touch his bandana, your diseases will go away. Save me, JesusFed :bowdown: :angel: :worship: .... :yawn: :zzz:

Daniel
11-28-2004, 08:55 AM
If u touch his bandana, your diseases will go away. Save me, JesusFed :bowdown: :angel: :worship: .... :yawn: :zzz:

he will save you, just touch him :drool: not only in the bandana :angel: :devil:

undomiele
11-28-2004, 07:35 PM
What I do like about Roger is that he'll raise the standards of the game for everyone else, the only way players can beat him is if they diversify their games, but its too early and naive to say that he'll dominate tennis. Especially when there are players like Rafael Nadal, who did beat Roger this year, who can reach the sky with their tennis. I can definitely see a rivalry happening there if Nadal is given a chance to maximize his potential. ;) [I also harbor a secret belief that Coria will become an even better player.. Go Guille!]Ppl can be fairly single-minded, they assume that because Sampras dominated during a big stretch of the nineties, that the same can be assumed for Roger, but the tour is broader and deeper than in the past, it would be stupid to say that no one else in the field can break out and become a tennis god in his own right.... (ahem! Nadal.... )