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Roger Federer Interview: article

TheBoiledEgg
12-16-2003, 10:19 AM
Swiss stylist the all round big cheese
By Sue Mott
(Filed: 16/12/2003)
Daily Telegraph London


He chickened out. There had been much discussion on Sunday afternoon that Roger Federer, reigning Wimbledon champion, would wow the audience of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show by wearing a precious purple-and-green striped All England Club tie.

"Do you think I should?" he said, politely stricken, as the Wimbledon chairman hurried off to find him a spare for the occasion. We all agreed: yes, he should. But in the event, he adorned our screens that night in a stupendous suit, glossy long hairdo and black-and-white designer tie. What happened? "I'm sorry," he said contritely from Switzerland yesterday. "But it didn't go with my black suit."

The man has style. On court; off court. Federer may be a mere 22 years old, he may have collected more prize money than any other male tennis player this year, including $1.5 million (£860,000) and a Mercedes convertible for winning the Masters Cup, but he is imbued with delightful old-world courtesies, as befits a man who graciously received a cow called Juliette for winning the Wimbledon title.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/graphics/2003/12/16/stmott161203.jpg
New world order: Roger Federer finds that success at Wimbledon brings its own, unusual, rewards

How is she? "Juliette is fine. England loves this cow story. I have seen her twice now. I haven't had any cheese yet but maybe a big load is coming for Christmas." We may not have a British Wimbledon champion, but at least we have a champion with a British sense of humour.

He was making a fleeting pilgrimage to Wimbledon where he held aloft the golden trophy in July and changed, forever, his sporting destiny. "It looks smaller," he said, casting a wistful eye over the deserted Centre Court, scene of his triumph in the final over Mark Philippoussis, of Australia.

"It's very nice to be Wimbledon champion. It's like Superman in his cape, I feel I've changed. I feel more confident walking on court. It was such a relief to win my first Grand Slam, especially Wimbledon.

"It was always my favourite tournament by far. That's why it's great for me to come back there and drink my cup of tea." He demonstrated the fact with a decorous slurp. "It's been a big change in my life. I'm much more famous now round the world. Not only as a tennis player, but also as a sports personality.

"It meant so much to me to win. The moment I got the trophy was the most impressive of my career. It was everything I have ever dreamed of. To hold that trophy and to lift it up. Looking back, five months later, it was the most special moment of my year."

He cried. An endearing sob escaped him in the middle of his acceptance speech on the court and the favour of the Wimbledon crowd beamed all the brighter. "First of all, I told myself over and over, 'Try not to cry'. But in such a moment it was just impossible. I have cried before, but this time I could not escape into the locker room. It was just too much for my emotions. It was tough and nice at the same time. I worked so hard for this one goal. It was such proof.

"I think every sportsman has their own feelings. Let it out!"

This is a relevant thought as England's glorious rugby team in general, and Jonny Wilkinson in particular, are busy repressing every urge to go bonkers. Federer has no such cultural dampeners working on his behaviour. In fact, he was a horror. A full-blown, racket-smashing McEnroe during his intemperate youth.

"I just couldn't control myself. It was really difficult for me to accept misses. I'm a perfectionist. If I lost one point, I was fine. Two, I'm not happy any more. Three, now I'm angry. That's how it went.

"When I was 12 years old, I was just horrible. My parents were ashamed to watch my matches. I would play on a court at the local club and they would watch from the balcony. They would scream, 'Be quiet' to me and I would scream back, 'Go and have a drink. Leave me alone.' Then we would drive home in a very quiet car. No one speaking to each other.

"Until one day I smashed a racket so hard on the ground in Hamburg, I thought, 'That's it, I'm not screaming any more'. That was 2001, when I beat Pete Sampras at Wimbledon, and then I had a problem with being too quiet. I couldn't get enough fire. No more emotions. So I had to find the fire again. I felt like I was walking on a string. I'm happy now the way I feel on the court. I just have to feel I tried my best. No excuses.

"I still do get upset and scream and throw my racket sometimes, but rarely. I feel it is not necessary now."

Federer, born in Basle, is the product of a Swiss-German and South African axis. His mother, the South African element, is a rugby follower but the game is one of the few ball sports to which her son did not warm. He liked his ears too much. He prefers his violence from a safe distance, as in armchair to television when professional American wrestling is on.

"I just started to love playing with this ball. I loved ping-pong, basketball, soccer, everything. You could say I was born with a ball. It was always fascinating to me, even from the age of two, three."

It was a useful fascination. Only the previous night Federer had been voted Swiss Sports Personality of the Year in a landslide victory and his childhood idol, Boris Becker, presented him with the award. (This accounted for both of them only having had two hours sleep when you saw them on Sunday night).

It may not mean that much to us in Britain that Federer beat Sergei Aschwanden, Thomas Frischknecht, Markus Fuchs and Michael von Grunigen to the title but then maybe the Swiss have never heard of Phil Vickery.

He copes very well with the acclaim. He doesn't cope badly with the money - career prize money of $7.8 million (£4.4 million) - either. "I don't play tennis to earn money. It's just nice to have. In the end, to play tennis is what I always wanted as a little boy. It's difficult to explain how it feels as a 22-year-old to have so much money but I really feel I am not getting too over-excited about it. But I like Hugo Boss quite much."

Federer is clearly special. His game does not rely solely on howitzer shots from the baseline. The world No 2 is a novelty, a man who can stroke and spin the ball as well as fire it from the mouth of a cannon. He can even, like Tim Henman, take a hand off the racket to strike a backhand. Both McEnroe and Becker openly worship his talent. He is an expressionist.

"It's very natural, easy. That's why I have a lot of older players behind me. Because I have the best one-handed backhand in the world" - he coughed in apologetic immodesty - "they really enjoy watching me. I try to vary the game as much as I can. I am not a guy who is going to rally 25 times the same ball."

He has won tournaments on every surface, he is friends with Lleyton Hewitt (not an easy thing), he is a serious challenge to the gut-busting world No 1, Andy Roddick, and, with the help of his girlfriend Mirka, he has launched his own range of after-shave (called, unambiguously, 'Roger Federer'). All in all, he is pretty multi-tasking for a man.

Now one more thing has been added to his 'To Do' list. Find a coach. Just before his visit to England, the news broke that he had split with his long-term coach, the Swede Peter Lundgren. "The reason is that we have been working together a long time and I feel I need something else. I don't think we had the same fire that we used to. It was growing more like a routine. Like any long relationship, it had just gone a little bit stale."

One suspects a rather large queue of contenders will forming at his alpine door. The opportunity to work with the most angelically-gifted tennis player in the world is one slight advantage. But more to the point, think of all that free cheese.

jtipson
12-16-2003, 10:30 AM
Thanks TBE :-)

There's also one in the Times this morning http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,5205-933794,00.html

I haven't checked the Independent or the Guardian yet, but it looks like Roger did lots of interviews at Wimbledon on Sunday morning, before SPOTY at the beeb.

TheBoiledEgg
12-16-2003, 10:38 AM
Now one more thing has been added to his 'To Do' list. Find a coach. Just before his visit to England, the news broke that he had split with his long-term coach, the Swede Peter Lundgren. "The reason is that we have been working together a long time and I feel I need something else. I don't think we had the same fire that we used to. It was growing more like a routine. Like any long relationship, it had just gone a little bit stale."


So Mirka might be available soon ;) :drool: :hearts:

Doris Loeffel
12-16-2003, 11:29 AM
LOL and Thanks TBE - good to see Roger beeing that much respected.

Jo would you mind to post the article too - it's only awaiable for registered ppl. Thanks.

Billabong
12-16-2003, 11:53 AM
wow great article! thanks:)! I loved the way he explained how he cried in Wimbledon...

TheBoiledEgg
12-16-2003, 11:56 AM
Doris...... The Times Article

Champion longs for green grass of home
By Neil Harman

SUNDAY lunch at the All England Club with the chairman and his wife is not an invitation to be scorned if you want a bit of clout around the place. Roger Federer duly arrived in the pale winter sunshine after only a couple of hours’ sleep, a legacy of becoming Switzerland’s Sportsman of the Year. And he received only 47 per cent of the vote, Mirka Vavrinec, his girlfriend, moaned.
What the rest of the Swiss population were thinking when they cast their votes we will leave to their conscience, for it is difficult to imagine anything short of winning the football World Cup could possibly place the country as boldly on the map as it was on July 6, when Federer, at 21, became the Wimbledon champion.



Playing consummate tennis, Federer bestrode the championship in a style that was a throwback to the golden era when the sport was a joyous collaboration of player, racket and ball. He left Centre Court in rhapsody, an athlete at the top of his talents, and he returned on Sunday as the tennis master, duly crowned in Houston after five victories in five matches that left little doubt as to who is the finest player in the world. Only the rankings place Andy Roddick, of the United States, a hair’s breadth away.

As Federer drove down Church Road, SW19, a prickly sensation overcame him. Tim Phillips, the chairman, was waiting at the club’s front door and as Federer walked in the main entrance, the first thing he noticed was his framed picture on the wall, cradling the famous golden trophy. His eyes instinctively moved to the left and there was the cup itself, encased in strengthened glass. He could not take his eyes from it for a full minute.

Federer remembered the instant he laid eyes upon it. “Gold, gold, how nice I thought that was,” he said. “I remember holding it in my hands. It wasn’t over-heavy or too light, just right, just so nice. I saw it for the first time after the final and I felt: ‘Oooh, this is so wonderful.’ Winning Wimbledon does change your whole career, your life. You change inside. The view tennis takes of you changes.

“I would always pick to win my first grand-slam here because this is where it all began: the white, the grass, it’s such a classic. This tournament means so much.”

He could not walk on to court now (even members do not have unlimited privileges) because it is surrounded by electric wiring to ward off foxes. Federer did not mind. He was happy to clamber across the seats and immerse himself in memories wherever he was permitted to go. And yet, six weeks before this year’s tournament, he had lost in the first round of the French Open and the prospect of winning Wimbledon was as unattainable as an Alpine mountain top.

“I don’t even want to explain how I felt,” he said, “but I won on grass in Halle and as soon as I started practising for Wimbledon I felt 100 per cent. Actually, I practised horribly before the Masters, so that showed me I can practise well and win and practise badly and win, which is quite a good feeling.”

The 2002 season was not one Federer would remember with any pleasure. He lost Peter Carter, his foremost mentor, in a road accident; he lost in the first round of the French Open (again) and at Wimbledon to Mario Ancic, the young Croatian. As a former Wimbledon junior champion, he wondered what had gone wrong. “You get so few chances on grass to see how good you are,” he said.

“The season can be over in no time. For the two years after winning the juniors I was being beaten and I thought that either these guys return too well or I’m not serving well enough — what’s the problem here? “I started to think about it and wanted to work out what I needed to do with my game. Losing to Ancic was a huge blow. I had been coming in on my second serve because I thought that was the right thing to do and I decided I should stay back and play from the baseline, because if I played a baseliner and I’m outplaying them from there, they suddenly don’t feel so great. It is just like playing on clay. I don’t stay back all the time; I mix strategies. That’s the kind of player I have to be.”

And yet, as a callow youth who defeated Pete Sampras in the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2001, he did not believe it could get any better. “I lost to Tim (Henman) in the next round, but I still played a good match,” he said. “I had a little injury, but when I came back on the tour in the summer my motivation had gone. I kept saying to myself: ‘Why can’t I play like I did against Sampras?’ I couldn’t read anyone’s serve like I read his that day. I kept telling myself to stay in there. That’s what helped me so much this year.

“The great players play their best at important moments. It doesn’t matter how they get to the semis or the finals and this year at Wimbledon it was new to me because I’d never been that far before in a grand-slam. When I had to play Roddick in the semi-final I was so nervous. There was so much talk about him as the big favourite, I felt he had to be almost superhuman.

“From the moment he had set point in the first set, I played so nicely, with so much control. I was serving well and returning well, too, because if he gets on too much of a roll with his serve, he is a giant. When I had beaten him and had to play (Mark) Philippoussis in the final, I remembered the Sampras match and how much I had relied on that result. That match gave me such a lesson, about beating Sampras and what it meant rather than forgetting it and concentrating on the next one.”

At the moment he was winning Wimbledon, Federer was having second thoughts about his relationship with Peter Lundgren, the Swede who had coached him since his emergence on the tour. “We had known each other for so long,” Federer said. “It was going the same way all the time. It is not something I just came up with after the Masters. I had wanted to look at things differently for a while, maybe even a year.

“There have been phone calls to parents and friends, but nothing has come of anything yet. I am going to take it very slowly. I don’t need to rush. I know I gave Peter one of the happiest days of his life, but he gave the same to me. I am sure we will always remain friends. It is going to be interesting to see how I start 2004. I have been working hard during the winter. I don’t know how long it will take me to get the 2003 feeling back. I don’t think too long.”

Doris Loeffel
12-16-2003, 12:08 PM
:kiss: thanks TBE

Havok
12-16-2003, 09:31 PM
best backhand in the world:shrug:

Deboogle!.
12-16-2003, 09:34 PM
best backhand in the world:shrug:

Everything's subjective Naldo :) But his is certainly one of the best anyway.

Sjengster
12-16-2003, 09:43 PM
I think he was being slightly jokey, you have to put quotation marks around that statement since he was voicing the opinion of other ex-players like McEnroe and Becker who are constantly tripping over themselves to praise him. I certainly hope he isn't taking himself too seriously, because he hasn't got the best backhand in the world, although to use a familiar Hewitt expression, "It's right up there." It's probably the best backhand for variety, but as an efficient rallying shot it ain't the best (that vote goes to my man SS, naturally).

J. Corwin
12-17-2003, 12:56 AM
Thanks TBE.

Even though he meant that best backhand comment in jest, he appears to be at least a little egotistical to me.

WyverN
12-17-2003, 01:46 AM
I certainly hope he isn't taking himself too seriously, because he hasn't got the best backhand in the world


If you just look at the flat topspin backhand then no his is not the best but when you take into consideration that he can also place spin and slice it virtually at will it is probably the best backhand package.

faboozadoo15
12-17-2003, 02:02 AM
yea i agree. you'd be hard pressed to find a better backhand package.

lsy
12-17-2003, 05:20 PM
I hope he did mean it in a jokingly way. I certainly don't wish all this talk about him getting into his head too much. There's still long way for him to prove he is the best, at least till he grabs that No.1 from Andy and wins a few more slams. Having the talent is one thing but being able to shine through it is most imporant.

Dirk
12-18-2003, 01:26 AM
Um, as far as rallying weapons go Andre is the ultimate test. Anyone who saw that Cup final would have seen that Roger's backhand was holding up like steel to Andre's groundstrokes. Andre always went to the backhand and in most cases it held up and either produced an winner or made Andre crumble with an error. I would say he is allowed to have such high esteem for his backhand.

undomiele
12-18-2003, 11:00 PM
I hope he did mean it in a jokingly way. I certainly don't wish all this talk about him getting into his head too much. There's still long way for him to prove he is the best, at least till he grabs that No.1 from Andy and wins a few more slams. Having the talent is one thing but being able to shine through it is most imporant.


Well at least Nalbandian is keeping his head in check hehe ;)