01-10-2010, 08:28 PM
We know how it feels
Join Date: Aug 2006
Re: Roger news and articles
This is from last November, but I didn't find it in here so far. It's an excellent read
Roger Federer: confessions of a tennis dad
First he wins it all; now he’s embraced fatherhood. In a rare and revealing interview, the Swiss explains himself
How did Roger Federer become the greatest? He was not born in Sweden (Bjorn Borg). He was not shaped by a dominant parent (Ivan Lendl). He is not fuelled by rage (Jimmy Connors) or tortured by demons (John McEnroe). He has never had sex in Nobu (Boris Becker), smoked crystal meth (Andre Agassi) or been afflicted with odd sleeping habits (Pete Sampras). He is as affable as Tim Henman.
Somebody will have to explain him.
We meet in Basel, the city of his birth. He is looking fit and relaxed after a lengthy break from the most remarkable season of his life. It began in tears at the Australian Open in February, when, six months after losing the greatest final ever seen at Wimbledon, he lost again to Rafael Nadal.
It was his fifth successive defeat to Nadal in a final, and it raised an interesting question: how could he be deemed the best of all time when he might not be the best of his own era? But the obituaries were premature.
In April, he married his long-time girlfriend, Mirka Vavrinec, and a month later beat Nadal to win his first tournament of the year at Madrid. In June, he won his first French Open and equalled Sampras’s record of 14 Grand Slam titles. In July, he beat Andy Roddick in an epic final at Wimbledon to surpass the record, and became a father two weeks later when Mirka gave birth to twins. In September, he lost the US Open to Juan Martin Del Potro — his sixth consecutive appearance in the final.
He did not marry a supermodel (Roddick). He does not make fun of his rivals (Novak Djokovic) or pick continually at the crack in his backside (Nadal). He has worse fashion sense than Andy Murray.
How does he explain it?
He begins with a story about a script he received for a commercial for Nike with Tiger Woods in 2007. “We had these different lines,” he explains,” and I was reading through it and said I’d like to take the text where it says, ‘I love winning’. And they said, ‘Well, that works perfectly because Tiger says he hates losing’. So that’s a part of it, I suppose. I feel I’m the ‘love winning’ rather than the ‘hate losing’ type.”
“That’s interesting,” I observe, “because it would be easy to consider them to be the same thing.”
“No, I see it in two different ways, but both work.”
“McEnroe said this about you: ‘One of the important things [Federer] has over everyone, and he has it more than any other player I’ve seen since Connors, is his love for the sport. Real love. He loves to be out there, to be around tennis, everything about it . . . There is none of the angst that I had, no demons playing with him’. Can you explain that love?”
“Well, I’m a positive person, a very positive thinker,” he replies. “That’s why I like the more positive approach of ‘I love winning’, because to hate losing, to me, is a bit negative. I guess my love for the sport started as a little boy watching Becker and Edberg facing off in the Wimbledon final. I dreamed about it but I never thought it would happen to me. It’s so difficult to keep winning and to keep your love for the game because of all the travelling and the sacrifices, but I just said, ‘I’m not going to let that happen to me. I’m going to take a positive approach that travelling is great and that I’m going to see different cultures and places I would never see if I wasn’t a tennis player’. My wife loves it. I love it, so ‘let’s have a good time because it’s not going to last until I am 70’. And so far that approach has worked for me.”
“A lot of the great tennis stars have had some sort of kink. McEnroe referred to it in that quote: they were all driven by demons.”
“Yeah, he did have some,” Federer responds with a laugh.
“You seem so normal but have achieved more.”
“It was difficult in the beginning,” he says. “People were always saying you can’t be a nice guy and be No 1 in the world. And I was like, ‘So, I have to be mean? Is that what it takes?’ We had Connors and McEnroe and Agassi and Sampras and Becker, and they all had something [an edge to them] where you thought, ‘Oh, okay’. And then I came along and it was, ‘This guy speaks three perfect languages! He’s from Switzerland, neutral, he’s nice, polite, he plays a wonderful game . . . what’s wrong with him?’
“It was difficult to handle. People used to say, ‘He’s so talented, it’s too easy for him’. It wasn’t until I showed more grit when the going got tough that they started to respect me. Then it was, ‘Well, this guy is not just a wonderful shotmaker, he can also fight.”
“Can you pinpoint when that was?” I ask.
“The first time I really showed it was against Nadal in Miami [April, 2005]. I was down two sets to love and a break and two break points down to go down a double break. He would have crushed me 6-2 7-6 6-1 but I came back and won 7-6 6-3 6-1. That for me was a key moment. I was able to turn around the match and dominate Rafa in the end.”
“This rivalry with Nadal is fascinating. You sent him a text message later that year to congratulate him when he won in Madrid, and spent time with him this year in Basel. When is the last time you sent him a text?”
“When he got injured this year. He congratulated me for winning Paris, and I sent back a message saying I hoped he was going to be okay when he pulled out of Wimbledon. But we see each other quite often because I’m president of the players’ council and he’s vice-president, so we have a lot of stuff to talk about.”
“I ask because another of the things that surprised McEnroe about you was how friendly you are with your rivals.”
“He hated Lendl and Connors [Federer laughs]. He doesn’t understand how you can be so friendly with Nadal."
“Has the chemistry between you changed over the last couple of years?”
“No, not really. I’m surprised myself by the degree to which we actually get along because we’ve had a very intense rivalry and you could say he has hurt my career and that I’ve hurt his career, but we’ve actually helped each other become the players we are today. And the rivalry has helped the game. It’s nice that the two greatest players in tennis, or in a sport, actually get along well, because normally there is all this hate and it’s so negative, and I don’t like that. We’ve had enough controversy in recent years with athletes and it’s a welcome change.”
“You don’t like controversy?”
“I don’t mind it. I don’t care. It’s interesting sometimes, but at the end of the day we are also role models for a lot of children, and sometimes that gets forgotten.”
HE HAS pulled up a chair and put his feet up. We are revisiting reflections he has made at different points on his climb to the summit and I want him to join the dots . . .
“You’ve just won your first Wimbledon and have taken a holiday in Sardinia,” I announce. “You’re lying on a beach with the sun beating down, and this is what you say: ‘So now you’re a Wimbledon champion. Nobody can take that away from you’.”
“This was after I won my first one?” he queries.
“Yes, in 2003.”
“A year later, in the autumn of 2004, you return home feeling pretty pleased after winning the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. You have now won four majors. This is what you say: ‘Everything from now on is only positive. I’ve lived up to all expectations. It’s a huge relief. I can look in the mirror and know I can achieve.”
“Yeah,” he nods.
“Now we jump forward to the Australian Open this year. You’ve won another nine Grand Slams since the ‘relief’ of 2004 but have just lost the final to Nadal, and the quote that jumps out at everybody is: ‘God, this is killing me’.”
“Yes.” He laughs. “Is there a question?”
“The question, I suppose, is your changing mindset as your goals continue to evolve. In 2003, it was almost enough to have won Wimbledon. In 2009, you’ve just failed to win a 14th major and it’s: ‘God, this is killing me’.”
“That quote . . . was seen the wrong way. The thing that was killing me was having to talk while crying. What I meant was, ‘I wish I could stop crying and could talk normally and give Rafa the stage he deserves and not make everybody feel so bad [for me]’. This was upsetting me more than having lost the match. The last thing I wanted was for people to feel bad for me. I played a great tournament. I was happy with the way I played. I wish I would have won, but I had to accept, and accepted without a problem, that Rafa was better on that day. So it was [misinterpreted].
“I left the court and went on holiday and came back and heard all these things like, ‘He started crying . . . He’s gone . . . This is it . . . The downfall’, and I was like, ‘What?’ I have been crying after losing matches since I was five years old, so to have cried after the loss of a Grand Slam final was normal for me, but there was this big fuss that I didn’t understand. It was almost amusing how it was taken out of proportion.”
“You say you love winning, but the flipside of that is that losing hurts. I read a line somewhere that you had not looked at the 2008 Wimbledon final and would never look at it?”
“You won’t look at it again?”
“I’ve seen highlights, but, no . . . not because I want to run away from it, but it’s the whole positive thing again. I lost a massive match in the fifth. That was a negative experience. It was a final and we played great tennis and I know what I did wrong. I analysed it in a second when I left the court, so it was fine.”
“How long does it take to recover from a defeat like that?”
“The tough part is the trophy presentation [laughs]. That was hardest because I have been on the winner’s side and it’s so enjoyable, but on the losing side it’s just, ‘Please let me go’. Then I come into the locker room and take a shower, and once I have done the press, I’m fine. You think about it for half a day or maybe next morning when you wake up — ‘What could I have done differently?’ — but it goes pretty quickly, the winning and the losing.”
“You played another epic final at Wimbledon this year. Given what had happened a year before, how tough would it have been to have lost against Roddick?”
“Really tough. I don’t know if I was thinking about the Nadal match during that Roddick match, because I didn’t really have time, but with five- setters there’s definitely a bit of luck involved. But I’m a great believer that you can push luck on your side. I also believe things happen for a reason, and maybe that sixth [successive] Wimbledon in 2008 was not meant to be. Rafa was playing great early on and I just kind of didn’t believe . . . I lost the first two sets, and then the rain delay came and woke me up.”
“I heard a story that your wife intercepted you as you walked to the locker room during the rain delay and said: ‘Remember, you are Roger Federer’. Is that true?”
“I don’t remember that.” He smiles. “She wouldn’t say that, I don’t think, to be quite honest.”
“It’s a good story,” I say, laughing.
“No . . . the Roddick match . . . it was a different approach facing Andy than facing Rafa. I have such a tremendous record against Andy that the expectation was, ‘This is a match I cannot let go’. I had beaten him three times before at Wimbledon and knew that if I played well, I should come through. I never expected it going 16-14 [in the fifth] but my belief was so strong because of my record against him. And maybe what had happened the year before, knowing that mentally I should have started stronger against Nadal . . . I didn’t allow that to happen in the Roddick match, and that’s why I came through.”
“Where are you mentally with Nadal now? You lost to him in Australia but beat him in Madrid.”
“We haven’t played much,” he says. “We played in Australia, we played in Madrid, and that’s it this year. There was a time where we played almost every other week — Dubai, Monaco, Rome, Paris, Wimbledon — it went on and on. But it’s, like, up in the air right now.”
“On the day after he was knocked out of the French this year, you were quoted as saying, ‘Of course my dream scenario is to beat Rafa here in the final’. You don’t seriously expect us to believe that, do you?”
“I never hope guys lose. Tennis is a sport [in which] you have to beat whoever is across the net. I’ve never played Rafa at the US Open but I’ve been there the past six times in the final, so it’s not my mistake, you know?
“I’ve tried really hard for years to win the French, and everybody figured, ‘He needs to go through Nadal to be a worthy champion’, but I disagree. Tennis is different. Tennis is beating whoever is on the other side of the net. Sure, the perfect way would have been to beat Nadal, because he has beaten me so many times [there] but it was not the case and I don’t think it takes anything away from what I achieved. The courage and grit I showed over so many years at the French finally paid off, and it’s probably one of the great achievements of my career.”
“How does it feel, having done it? You’ve broken all the records now.”
“It’s a big relief, especially getting first [the win in] Paris and then the 15 [Grand Slam titles] at Wimbledon within a month. I was shell-shocked that it happened so quickly. To go from being criticised [at the Australian Open] for not being the same anymore to being called the greatest ever was a very fast turn.”
“The year was special for other reasons. You got married in April. You were dating for nine years. Why did it take you so long?”
He smiles. “I started dating Mirka when I was young. I was only a teenager, but the last three or four years it was something we talked about openly. I knew it was not going to be possible in 2008 with the Olympics, so I just said, ‘From 2009, I am ready for whatever you want . . . marriage, kids, whatever’. So it all came together and I’m very happy. We had a beautiful wedding and the kids are healthy. I couldn’t have hoped for more.”
“When did you find out Mirka was expecting twins?”
“In Australia, before the Del Potro match. I beat him 6-3 6-0 6-0, so it gave me wings, you could say.”
“Does it change anything? Does marriage and fatherhood change anything?”
“Yes. I feel more proud when Mirka says ‘husband’. I like it better when I can say, ‘[this is] my wife’. I always thought ‘girlfriend’ was cute, and I loved it, but ‘wife’ to me just sounds so much more serious and better. It goes way beyond what I thought as a teenager that marriage would be. And the babies . . . phew [exhales], that just gives a different dimension to life. To see the fire in the eyes of my wife, waking up 15 times a night if she has to . . . to see that and knowing what she would do for me, knowing what she would do for them, is very emotional.”
“Do you get up?”
“I do sometimes, but Mirka is too quick on her feet. She likes when I get involved, and of course with two you don’t have a choice, but I want to be part of it. I haven’t missed a day apart from my kids yet and I’m very fortunate to be able to experience that.”
“Ivan Lendl never won another Grand Slam after he became a father. And you’ve already lost one [the US Open] against Del Potro since the kids were born.”
“Yeah . . . these are statistics that I really don’t buy into.”
“I’m only kidding,” I insist.
“No, but you’re right. Those stats exist, but normally when you have kids as a male tennis player, it’s later in your career, so that kind of makes sense. I’m still actually pretty young, so that’s okay."
“Where do you see yourself now in terms of your career? Have you reached the downward curve?”
“I’m midway. It feels like the second part of my career right now, although I am trying to avoid saying that because the second part sounds like ‘neehhhhrrrrr’ [motions straight down]. You can definitely play your greatest tennis until 32 or 33, it’s just a matter of how you look at it. I’ve always been a big believer in looking at the big picture. It’s not about, ‘What will we do tomorrow?’, it’s about, ‘How will my life and tennis look in the next five years?’ And I still have the same vision, so that’s going to help me.”
“Have you set a date for retirement? You’ve spoken about London in 2012, when the Olympics are held at Wimbledon, as a good exit point.”
“No, I didn’t mean it as an exit point.”
“It’s a target?”
“Many people were asking me, ‘When are you going to retire?’ And I said, ‘Well, I'm definitely going to play until the 2012 Olympics’, but that was to shut them up, really. It depends how fit you are, but I would like to play beyond that, and Mirka has said that she would like our two daughters to see me play. So they need to grow a little bit and I need to play a little bit, but we’ll see where it takes us.”
01-10-2010, 08:33 PM
We know how it feels
Join Date: Aug 2006
Re: Roger news and articles
Is there a compelling storyline involving Roger Federer coming into 2010? At one level the question is a joke. For the majority of people who follow sports at all, Federer is the only story in tennis; from a distance, everything and everyone else seems so mortal by comparison. But for those of us familiar with the history of the game and Federer’s place in it, 2009 was the year in which he crossed all finish lines, removed all obstacles, wrapped up all stories, and reached the dramatic emotional peak of his career. With a men’s-record 15 majors and a career Grand Slam, Federer could have walked offstage and called his life’s work complete.
So what does an athlete do when his after-life begins at age 28, when he’s still No. 1 in the world, when he’s just come off a season in which he was two sets from becoming the first man to win the calendar-year Slam in 40 years? I think we’ve found our storyline. Federer may be the first athlete in any sport to show us how a living legend—the best his game has produced—finds the motivation to compete over the course of a significant amount of time.
How will he do? In November, talking to London’s Sunday Times, Federer laughed when he contemplated one of the possibilities. “It feels like the second part of my career right now, although I try to avoid saying that because the second part sounds like ‘neehhhhrrrrrrr’ [motions straight down].” Federer knows that’s an unlikely possibility, of course; he wouldn’t have joked about it if he actually thought it might happen. In the next line from the same interview, he says that he believes he can compete at the highest levels until he’s at least 32 or 33. It won’t be his talent or fitness that allows him to do that—though an injury, something he hasn't experienced to any major, career-changing degree, could alter all plans (Federer has been so healthy for so long, it’s hard to believe he’ll ever be sidelined for any reason.) What will keep him going, what will keep him motivated even after he’s broken all records, is a simpler but much more reliable force: his vaunted love of competing at tennis.
Another guy who spent a lot of time competing as a living legend, Michael Jordan, never stopped needing to prove himself, to his opponents and to the fans who may not have seen him play before. Federer is not as vicious or personal a competitor as Jordan; he’s driven less by the desire to conquer and more by the satisfaction he gets from living up to all of his athletic gifts and putting on a superior tennis performance.
We know that already. We also know that pretty much anyone would love competing at tennis if he won as often as Roger Federer wins. (I love to compete, therefore I do it well, which makes me love to compete even more, which makes me do it even better—it's a beautiful thing he's got going.) What we don’t know is whether Federer will continue to relish the battle as much if he’s losing more frequently, if he’s not routinely putting on the superior tennis performance. In his later years, Andre Agassi seemed to detest everything that came along with the sport—ball kids included—except for the moment of victory (of course now we know that Andre kind of specialized in detesting tennis). In Federer’s case, as in all cases, the years are going to be accompanied by more losses to more players, maybe guys he once owned. We got a glimpse of that possible future today in Doha when Federer lost for the second straight time to Nikolay Davydenko, an opponent he had beaten all 12 times they had played before last November.
When we say a player “loses a step,” it’s usually a figure of speech meaning, more generally, that he just isn’t a good as he used to be. Looking at two of the top-ranked players who preceded Federer, Pete Sampras and Lleyton Hewitt, I’d say it’s consistency, or the loss of consistency, that’s the primary culprit for decline from No. 1. It’s hard to believe now, but in his prime Sampras could rally with someone like Agassi, and his topspin backhand was a heavy weapon. Neither was the case later. As for Hewitt, his game was predicated on the simple fact that he could hit more balls in the court than his opponent. Any drop in consistency, however slight, was going to have a big effect on his effectiveness.
Federer’s game has never been based on consistency. He’s always taken risks by hitting the ball on the rise and lived with the shanks and frame shots that come with that style. But timing those balls, creating those famous angles, and playing a first-strike game is never going to get easier for him. Federer failed to win the calendar-year Slam in 2009 in part because he was outplayed by Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro in the finals of the Australian and U.S. Opens. But those matches ended with similar breakdowns from Federer: In both fifth sets, he couldn’t find the court with his ground strokes, and he lost each of them badly, 6-2. Sometimes it’s his forehand that abandons him; today against Davydenko it was his backhand that he sent sailing into the alleys.
What I found peculiar at the end of last season, and which seemed to be continuing in his quarterfinal match against Ernests Gulbis in Doha, was the relative lack of juice on Federer’s shots. Maybe it’s tied to foot speed, I don’t know, but he suffered from it in losses to Djokovic in Basel and to Julien Benneteau in Paris. Gulbis also dictated long stretches of their three-setter before imploding at the end. Of course, Gulbis hits a monstrous ball and he's going to dictate most matches, but he’s not going to be the last of the big hitters, either. Tsonga, Monfils, del Potro, Soderling: Federer will have to go toe to toe with all of these young bombers in 2010 and beyond.
As I look at the coming season, I’m curious to see how some of Federer's individual match-ups play out: With Nadal, of course, with Murray, who he seems to have turned the tables on, with Davydenko, with Djokovic, with Soderling, and most of all with del Potro. After the Open, Federer wanted badly to beat the Argentine at the World Tour Finals, but he couldn’t do it. He’ll want to beat him even more badly should they face each other in Melbourne. Federer may not win too many smaller events, he may suffer a few bizarre upsets, but that should only make him savor the chance to prove himself against a guy like del Potro on the big stage at a Slam that much more. In 2010, we’ll begin to see if Federer's veteran’s knowledge and savvy can blunt the raw power of brutal youth. Trying to do that has already inspired him to use the drop shot more; we’ll see if he can expand his repertoire again.
I think Federer will win one major in 2010—it could be any of them, though the most likely candidate is Wimbledon, where, like the aging Sampras, his serve and reputation alone can continue to spell the difference between victory and defeat. But is waiting to see if he breaks his own Slam record a real storyline? In my last post, I said that Nadal will be worth watching in 2010 for the emotional roller-coaster he puts tennis fans on from one match to the next. The reason to watch Federer is simpler. It’s the same reason you might have wished you’d seen Muhammad Ali or Pele or Jordan—or, in my case, Lew Hoad and Rod Laver—in their primes. Because, as all those people who don’t follow the sport closely know just as well as you and I, he’s Roger Federer. Because future tennis fans will be jealous that you got the chance. Because you always wanted to know what tennis in the afterlife looked like.
01-11-2010, 12:26 AM
Join Date: Dec 2009
Re: Roger news and articles
Roger Federer, top of the pops
* Leo Schlink
* From: Herald Sun
* January 09, 2010 12:00AM
HE makes and breaks records, has reigned over tennis's hit parade for the best part of a decade and is considered the greatest of all time.
But Roger Federer's taste for success remains undiminished and he has no intention of relinquishing his No. 1 position just yet.
PERFECTION is Roger Federer's signature.
Records are Federer's calling cards.
Aesthetics and numbers, the most unlikely bedfellows, swirl around Federer in rare synchronicity.
John McEnroe says the Swiss is the most beautiful player he has ever seen.
Pat Cash says the world No. 1 is freakish, "possibly super-human".
Jimmy Connors says Federer stands alone in a generation of baselining automatons.
"In an era of specialists, you're either a claycourt specialist, a grasscourt specialist or a hardcourt specialist -- or you're Roger Federer," Connors said
His prophecy, delivered in 2008, was hauntingly accurate.
By virtue of a benchmark French Open victory, Federer is now one of only six men to have won all four major titles - Don Budge, Rod Laver, Andre Agassi, Roy Emerson and Fred Perry are the others.
No man in history has won as many grand slam titles as Federer's 15. He is 28 years old and unscarred by injury - remarkable testimony to an unheralded ruggedness.
Yet even after the victory in Paris, which removed the last sliver of doubt over Federer's worthiness to be included in debates over the sport's greatest players, the naysayers continue to quibble.
In the rush to anoint Federer's permanent successor as world No. 1, qualities such as durability, toughness and fitness are lost.
Since his Wimbledon victory in 2003, Federer has been the sport's measuring stick, with only Rafael Nadal able to constantly trouble the Swiss.
Tellingly, Nadal considers Federer the sport's finest player, despite his own 13-7 record against him, usurping him as world No. 1 and Wimbledon champion and beating the Swiss to Olympic Games singles gold.
It is the ultimate judgment. And timely. Federer was supposedly washed up before the start of last season, yet no one has since come even close to approaching his metronomic consistency in grand slams.
Federer responded to the barbed whispers by almost winning the Grand Slam, bookending the season with five-set Australian Open and US Open defeats either side of French Open and Wimbledon victories.
Scarily, Federer did all of that while awaiting, then adjusting to, the arrival of twin daughters Myla Rose and Charlene Riva on July 24.
Refreshed by a short off-season break, Federer says he has the scope to take his game to unprecedented heights.
"I think I can definitely, if my body allows me, win many more tournaments than (the four) I did last year," Federer said.
"I really just had to focus on the big tournaments, the major events last year. Obviously those are the hardest ones to win, and it reflects in the tournaments I was able to win. I hardly played any smaller events.
"But if I am healthy this year I can win many more tournaments. And that could also get me more confident, more momentum, and even more things could also become possible - even though last year was fantastic."
Another under-rated aspect of Federer's arsenal is his athleticism.
His economical and point-shortening style means Federer has had few of the injuries that trouble Nadal and Lleyton Hewitt.
"It's just important to listen to your signals," Federer said.
"I think that is also one thing I did really well when I became No. 1 in the world. I had all the things going for me and huge opportunities, to go and chase money or tournaments around the world (and) I said, 'I'm not going to do it'. I said, 'I am going to look at the big picture' and it's been paying off - so I'm very happy with my decisions over the years."
The International Tennis Federation's poster boy, Federer has not pleased the sport's ruling body by opting out of Davis Cup.
For the famously ambitious Federer, personal goals are his prime motivation.
"I would like to stay No. 1 in the world. It's an obvious goal, there are no secrets about that, because going from No. 2 to No. 1 was hard work," he said.
"And not an easy thing to do, especially with Rafa playing so well, and with other guys around.
"That was a major accomplishment for me and I would like to stay there as long as possible. And try to finish 2010 as world No. 1."
Federer regained the top spot after Nadal succumbed to injury at the French and the Swiss claimed an epic Wimbledon final against Andy Roddick.
The grand slam year started with a marathon loss to Nadal at Melbourne Park.
It would finish with an almost identical defeat at the hands of Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro at the US Open in New York.
Federer had won the previous five US Opens.
Typical of the way Federer's near flawlessness is not sufficient for some, among the first questions he faced at the post-match media conference was this pearler: "How disappointing is this, not to get to No. 6?"
Federer hardly batted an eyelid.
"Five was great, four was great, too. Six would have been a dream, too," he said.
"Can't have them all. I've had an amazing summer and a great run.
"I'm not too disappointed just because I thought I played another wonderful tournament. Had chances to win, but couldn't take them. It was unfortunate."
Federer's first grand slam final victory came against Mark Philippoussis at the All England Club in 2003.
His multitude of major triumphs are so crammed with unforgettable peaks, his reign is blurred by brilliance.
Yet Federer's encyclopaedic recall means he understood exactly how Del Potro felt in New York four months ago.
"I think the first major is always a big deal," he said.
"Best feeling on the planet after all the hard work you put in.
"Especially nice when it comes when you're quite young because it comes kind of unexpected for him as well even though he put himself in a good opportunity and position.
"But it's great. It was good to see him being so happy and emotional about it."
Federer's desire remains unsated.
He has won 37 of his past 40 matches at Melbourne Park, hoisting the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup in 2004, 2006 and 2007.
He was beaten in the 2005 semi-final by eventual champion Marat Safin after holding match points. He lost to Novak Djokovic, also the eventual champion, in 2008 when suffering mononucleosis.
Reflecting on 2009, Federer makes it clear grand slam success - and plenty of it - is the only thing that matters.
"I hope I can keep it up because I'm playing great tennis right now," he said.
"I'm confident and I think I'm hitting a good ball.
"I had a great (2009) season. Looking how deep the game is right now. To finish on top for me is phenomenal. I finished No. 1 in the world. So I don't have many regrets."
Nor should he. Federer remains the flag-bearer for the sport, apparently immune to controversy and intemperate displays.
It wasn't always that way. Federer found the transition from junior to senior level difficult. If not for the influence of his former coach Peter Carter, it would have been much tougher.
The problem for most players is that they do not have enough options or variety in their games. Federer had too many. At length, he became more circumspect while retaining the flair that prompted McEnroe's praise.
His early forays at the Australian Open, and grand slam tennis in general, produced modest results.
Federer lost twice in as many years to Frenchman Arnaud Clement, a Melbourne Park finalist, a supremely fit baseliner - and best remembered in the locker-room for his admission that Celine Dion was his favourite musician.
Federer's graduation, when it took hold, was outwardly meteoric.
A year after being given a lesson in the value of doggedness by Argentine David Nalbandian, Federer surged past two of his old nemeses, Hewitt and Nalbandian, to flog Safin in the 2004 final.
The evolution continues.
Federer learnt the art of winning in defeat. None cut so deep as the loss to Hewitt in the 2003 Davis Cup semi-final when the Australian warrior came back from the brink to prevail after trailing by two sets to love.
It takes a certain intelligence and bravery to review and be self-critical. Federer did that and tapped into some of Hewitt's ruthlessness.
The Adelaide baseliner, who won seven of the pair's first nine matches, has not won in 14 subsequent matches against Federer.
When Federer steps out at Melbourne Park next week in practice, there will be only one thing on his mind -- victory.
He will be oblivious to assessments that his days of domination are over.
He will focus, as ever, on his core business - winning seven best-of-five set matches in succession.
Federer will do so with the ultimate advantage of knowing that in his time at the top only a handful of players have been able to stop him.
And while the debate rages about how much things have changed at the top, the facts speak for themselves.
Federer is the world No. 1, the top seed and the tournament favourite - and he remains the man to beat.
FED BY THE NUMBERS
CAREER PRIZEMONEY: $US53,362,068
GRAND SLAM SINGLES TITLES: 15
Six Wimbledon, five US Open, three Australian Open, one French Open
GRAND SLAM FINAL DEFEATS: 6
Three French Open, one Wimbledon, one Australian Open, one US Open
CAREER SINGLES TITLES: 61
Olympic Games gold medallist: Doubles in Beijing in 2008 with Stanislas Wawrinka
CAREER WIN-LOSS: 678-161
237 Most weeks in successon at world No. 1 (264 overall, second to Pete Sampras's 286)
15 Most grand slam singles titles by a man
21 Most grand slam singles finals by a man
10 Consecutive grand slam finals
22 Grand slam semi-finals, or better, in a row
01-14-2010, 04:05 PM
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Hong Kong
Re: Roger news and articles
Federer fully armed for assault on another slam
January 15, 2010
ROGER Federer will head into the Australian Open confident the forearm that troubled him during the Qatar Open won't hamper his quest for a fourth title at Melbourne Park.
The 28-year-old Swiss champion lost his semi-final in Qatar against Russian Nikolay Davydenko and later said his right forearm hurt during their match. After arriving in Melbourne Federer pulled out of this week's Kooyong Classic.
In Collins Street yesterday, where the world No. 1 was judging a competition for chocolate manufacturer Lindt, he said his arm was ''no problem'' and he trained for three hours on Wednesday, two hours yesterday and would have another two-hour session today.
''It [the forearm] was just the one thing that hurt me in the match itself, but not something that hurt me that much that I couldn't play,'' he said.
''I finished the match and Davydenko was the better player - that happens, but I'm sure it's going to be fine for the Aussie Open.''
Federer missed his traditional Kooyong warm-up tournament two years ago due to illness, but said his decision to pull out this year was based more around spending time with his family.
''This year is very different. It [was] a precaution, but also I've played quite a bit of tennis already.
''I played six matches in eight days in the Middle East and when I came here I wanted to enjoy the family, settle into Melbourne and then see where it takes us.
''I've had a couple of hits, it's been good weather [and] I've been hitting well, my forearm is where it's supposed to be and I'm moving well and that's always important at the beginning of the season.''
After breaking Pete Sampras' record of 14 grand slam titles and again finishing last year as the highest-ranked men's player, Federer has looked to adding to his astonishing record.
Four days out from the first major tournament of the year he looked relaxed and said there was much to achieve.
''I'm excited … the first grand slam of the season is around the corner. I love playing in Australia, especially here in Melbourne with the fans and Rod Laver Arena, it's an amazing stadium.''
01-14-2010, 06:43 PM
We know how it feels
Join Date: Aug 2006
Re: Roger news and articles
Roger’s Records To Stand Test Of Time
by Paul Macpherson
Roger Federer has set many records that may never be broken.
Like Mozart and Michelangelo, Roger Federer’s body of work ranges from exceptional to sublime. The Swiss has set multiple records that will likely stand the test of time. Below we look at 10 of Federer’s most amazing feats and quantify [with totally unscientific methodology!] the chances of the achievements being matched or topped during his lifetime.
1. Winning five consecutive titles at two different Grand Slam tournaments
About The Feat: Since the abolition of the Challenge Round [when the defending champion was automatically placed in the following year’s final] Federer is one of just four players to win the same Grand Slam tournament five consecutive years. [Tilden six at the US Open 1920-25; Emerson five at the Australian Open 1963-67 and Borg five at Wimbledon 1978-81]. But Federer is the only player in history to win two different Grand Slam titles [Wimbledon 2003-07 and US Open 2004-08] for five consecutive years.
Chance of Feat Being Topped: 1%
2. Winning 15 Grand Slam titles in the span of 26 majors
About The Feat: After going titleless in his first 16 Grand Slam tournaments, Federer has made up for lost time. Beginning with his 2003 Wimbledon breakthrough, the Swiss has won more than 50 percent of the majors he has contested. In contrast, Pete Sampras won his 14 majors over a span of 45 Grand Slam tournaments.
Chance of Feat Being Topped: 2%
3. Reaching 17 of 18 consecutive Grand Slam finals between Wimbledon 2005 and US Open 2009
About The Feat: This record goes beyond consistency. It speaks to Federer’s unrivaled excellence at the pinnacle of the sport – the Grand Slams – and his ability to play his best under pressure and when it counts most. No other player has come even close to a streak of Grand Slam finals appearance like this – and no one likely ever will. Federer will try to make it 18 of 19 at this month’s Australian Open.
Chance of Feat Being Topped: 3%
4. Reaching 22 consecutive Grand slam semi-finals (or better) from Wimbledon 2004 to US Open 2009
About The Feat: To put this feat into context, Federer’s ongoing streak of contesting 22 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals is more than double the length of Ivan Lendl’s 10 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals reached – the next best streak. The last time Federer didn’t make the last four at a major was in 2004 at Roland Garros, when he was beaten by three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten in the third round.
Chance of Feat Being Topped: 3%
5. Winning 22 consecutive finals
About The Feat: In 2004 and 2005 Federer won the 22 consecutive finals in which he appeared and was two points from winning his 23rd and last final of that two-year period. That’s astonishing considering that Federer was going up against the second best player in each of those particular tournaments. In finals, you not only have to play well, you have to play clutch. Ironically, Federer’s streak ended in the final of the Tennis Masters Cup. Although he came into the tournament with an ankle injury, Federer led arch rival David Nalbandian two sets to love and later, in the fifth set, was two points from the match on his own serve before Nalbandian rallied to win a fifth-set tie-break.
Chance of Feat Being Topped: 4%
6. Reaching all four Grand Slam finals in the same season three times
About The Feat: Only two singles players have ever reached all four Grand Slam finals in the same year: Rod Laver, who did it twice when he completed calendar-year Grand Slams in 1962 and 1968, and Federer, who did it a remarkable three times in the past four years. Considering also that Federer is the only man to reach all four Slam finals in the same year on three different surfaces (hard court, grass and clay), it seems even more unlikely that someone will top that feat in Federer’s lifetime.
Chance of Feat Being Topped: 4%
7. Three-year period of dominance
About The Feat: Between 2004-2006 Federer went on a tear that is unlikely to be matched during any future three-year period, compiling a 247-15 match record. His season records during that time were 74-6 (2004), 81-4 (2005) and 92-5 (2006). He won a stunning 34 titles, including eight Grand Slams, nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000s and two Tennis Masters Cup titles. Had he served out the 2005 Tennis Masters Cup final against David Nalbandian [instead of losing in a fifth-set tie-break] Federer’s season record that year would have been 82-3, the same as John McEnroe’s unrivaled match record in 1984.
Chance of Feat Being Topped: 5%
8. Holding the No. 1 South African Airways ATP Ranking for 237 consecutive weeks
About The Feat: Federer’s 237 consecutive weeks at No. 1 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings (from 2 February, 2004 to 17 August 2008) is best contextualised by looking at the next best streaks: Jimmy Connors at 160 weeks, Ivan Lendl at 157 weeks and Pete Sampras at 102 weeks. Federer, who has been No. 1 a total of 265 weeks (as of 11 January, 2010), is now within reach of Sampras’ all-time (non-consecutive) record of 286 weeks at No. 1. [Federer has five times finished as ATP World Tour Champion, just one year shy of Sampras’ six finishes as year-end No. 1. But Sampras finished No. 1 six consecutive years - a separate feat that Federer, now 28, is unlikely to ever match.]
Chance of Feat Being Topped: 7%
9. Sixty-five consecutive grass-court match wins
About The Feat: Federer’s 65 straight wins on grass could so easily have ended at 39 when he saved four match points against Olivier Rochus in the Halle quarter-finals in 2006. But history shows that Federer scratched out a win and ultimately extended his record streak to 65 before he lost 9-7 in the fifth set to Rafael Nadal in the 2008 Wimbledon final. With modern-day grass-court tennis no longer favouring a dominant serve-volleyer like a Sampras, Becker or Edberg, it will be more difficult for one player to dominate on the surface and threaten Federer’s streak.
Chance of Feat Being Topped: 12%
10. Winning one Grand Slam title a year for seven consecutive years
About The Feat: This is a category in which Federer does not hold the record – yet. The Swiss has won at least one Grand Slam title for seven consecutive years, just shy of Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg, who won at least one major for eight consecutive years. Assuming Federer wins a Grand slam title this year to get a share of the record, what are the chances someone (other than Federer) will extend it? It sounds a tough record to break, but Rafael Nadal is already riding a five-year streak. And despite his lapse at Roland Garros last year, he’s likely to be the leading contender for that title for many years to come, as well as at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, where he is a former champion.
Chance of Feat Being Topped: 25%
01-16-2010, 04:45 AM
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Hong Kong
Re: Roger news and articles
Gary from Wonthaggi and the Zurich kid
January 16, 2010
WHEN Gary from Wonthaggi met Roger from Zurich it was fleeting and it was 2006 in the bowels of Rod Laver Arena. Roger Federer was top seed at the Australian Open then, as he is again this year.
Gary Hamilton, meanwhile, was hunched over the great Swiss player's eventual opponent in the men's final, Marcos Baghdatis, the friendly Cypriot who became the crowd's darling that year.
Hamilton is a masseur. He was one of a pool of therapists at the Open for players in need. He met Federer in passing but never laid a hand on him. All that was to come. He looks back now on his close relationship with one of the world's greatest sportsmen in the years since as a "privilege."
It all started in 2007. Hamilton treated Federer at the Open by chance and Federer liked him. Hamilton found out later this was because of his magic hands — he's a remedial massage therapist in Wonthaggi on the Gippsland coast — but also because he was laid-back and not overawed. An Australian, in other words, the third to work closely with Federer after early mentor Peter Carter and former coach Tony Roche.
"Quietly as you like, one time Rodge just said to me 'I was just wondering, can you look after me for the rest of the tournament?' " Hamilton recalls. The treatments were after matches in Federer's hotel room. His girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec (now his wife and mother to six-month-old twins) would sit in.
Federer won again that year and Hamilton, 45, went back to sleepy Wonthaggi, population 8000. He is a former local footy player who had a run with the Hawthorn under-19s in the early '80s. Later he helped coach Gippsland Power to a TAC Cup premiership in 2005. He knows footy. He has also worked with the Australian cricket team. But he couldn't boast any knowledge of tennis. "I play very poorly," he says. "I was never a huge fan."
In 2008, in Melbourne, Federer requested Hamilton again. He lost a semi-final to Novak Djokovic and was diagnosed with glandular fever. Two months later Hamilton's phone rang. It was Federer's manager. He was offered the job of full-time masseur, travelling the world. Wherever Federer was he was too, deep in the inner sanctum: fitness trainer, manager, coach and him. Soon they would be calling him 'Gary from Wonthaggi'.
"I told them it used to be called the Gateway to the Golden Beaches," he says. "They'd say 'how many people live there? I'd tell them 8000 and they'd say 'what — only 80,000?' "
It was a whirlwind. Hamilton left Wonthaggi in May 2008 for Rome and Germany then the French Open and Wimbledon, neither of which Federer won, his body still recovering. Then Europe again, then the Beijing Olympics. Between times Hamilton went to Federer's home in Zurich. Private chartered jets and the like. One night there was a dinner with Thierry Henri, the next would be Gwen Stefani. Most places they stayed in hotels but for Wimbledon they rented a house. Courtside at every match and training session. Once, the pair had a hit. Or tried. Hamilton attempted to serve but he couldn't clear the net.
Last year was the 2009 Australian Open, Monaco and clay court training and then the French Open and Wimbledon once more. Federer sensationally won both, regaining his number one spot and becoming the greatest player in Grand Slam history: six Wimbledons, five US Opens, three Australian Opens and a French Open.
"I couldn't have scripted it," says Hamilton, "to see him come back from illness to achieve that. And to now count him as a close friend as well is incredible.
"What you see is what you get. He's polite, he's humble, he's relaxed. He has a great respect for the game."
Hamilton has now bowed out. Federer wanted him to keep working but he can't -- he has two young sons into sport and a business in Wonthaggi and that's where he wants to be.
He is with the Federer camp at the Open again this year, but just watching.
He says he feels honoured. "Sometimes I would wonder about it all," he says, "just two men hitting a ball. But the more I got to know Rodge the more in awe I was. It was a blessed job."
01-16-2010, 07:49 AM
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Hong Kong
Re: Roger news and articles
Fed up with the grind? Far from it
January 16, 2010 .
Focused ... world No.1 Roger Federer warms up in Melbourne yesterday. The Swiss maestro is chasing his fourth Australian Open crown, his last win coming in 2007 against Fernando Gonzalez. Photo: AFP
Even with 15 grand slam titles, Roger Federer is still motivated to tour the world with family in tow playing the game he loves, writes Will Swanton.
"Boris Becker once asked: ''Where do you go when you're the best in the world? What's next?'' One of Becker's detours led to a broom cupboard of a London restaurant called Nobu with a woman he had known for five minutes. Their dalliance resulted in the end of his marriage, a $48 million divorce settlement and a little girl called Anna, who is now nine years old.
Roger Federer is among those to have followed Becker into the world No.1 ranking. At 28, he's in the similarly powerful position of having achieved everything he ever wanted in tennis. Like Becker, what came next was fatherhood. But there were differences. He created his twin daughters with the help of his wife, Mirka, and the moment of conception is unlikely to have been the broom cupboard of a London restaurant.
Federer is a sensitive soul prone to crying after wins and losses, and so we imagine he is a doting dad going ga-ga goo-goo all day and night. When he disappeared from the tour for six weeks last year, turning his back on big-wheel tournaments at Tokyo and Shanghai, there were murmurs of waning motivation. He was approaching middle age, he had two new responsibilities, every man and his dog already regarded him as the best of all time. He'd won more majors than anyone who every learned the alternative meaning of love and advantage. Could his days be numbered?
''I have no idea when I want to retire - and that's a good sign,'' he says in the official program for the Australian Open. ''Luckily, we are in a position to travel quite easily. I can assure you, my desire to play is exactly the same as it was before. And I am happy that Mirka told me: 'Look, we do not have the babies in order for you to stop playing tennis. That's not the goal. I like it on the tour, and I want to keep on travelling and not stay at home while you are lonely on the road.'''
Fatherhood can make an athlete rethink. The toughest and roughest footballers can smell their newborn daughter's skin, look into her eyes and find he'd been wasting his time on trivialities. The wonderful calm that has descended on the formerly hot-headed Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting has been attributed to the walking, talking addition to his clan. Federer says his daughters are ''the big priority'' but part of his dedication to keep playing is to give them the chance to watch him. They're going to be pleasantly surprised, eh? Daddy hits them all right.
''I am really motivated. I realised this during my time off,'' Federer says.
''I could have thought that it was nice not to have to do anything. But I was glad when I could practise, when I could get back to the tournaments and feel the buzz. As long as it stays like this, I will keep on playing for a very long time. Mirka is my wife and the mother of my kids. She's usually the one who gets up at night when the girls are crying. I have a job where I need my sleep, and Mirka is very fast on her feet.''
He said this with a smile before adding: ''But I also try to feed and change diapers. That's important to me, and I am happy that I can be part of this fascinating time. So much is happening but I haven't missed one day of their lives so far.''
Federer had previously hinted the 2012 London Olympics, with tennis to be decided on the hallowed turf of his favourite place of all, the centre court at Wimbledon, being the perfect time and place to draw the curtains and say goodnight. But re-energised by winning his first French Open, the one major on an unhelpful surface that threatened to elude him and discolour his place in history, he's looking well beyond the Games in the Old Dart.
It's a reason to rejoice. Too many of the greats have retired too early - Bjorn Borg walking away at 26 remains a crying shame - and Federer now thinks he can last as long as Andre Agassi, the American who walked out of the game at the ripe old age of 36.
''My goal is to play as long as possible,'' Federer says. ''Like Andre did. The eagerness is still there. My pleasure of playing and my love for the sport are bigger than ever.
''It's very relaxing for me to know I won the French and my 15th major. That takes away a lot of pressure to prove myself again and again. I always knew I would get the chance to win number 15. But with the French, I wasn't that sure since I only get one chance a year. That's why the French was maybe even more important than my 15th slam.''
Another eight years? Could we be presumptuous enough to give him two majors a year from now until he's done his dash? He owns Wimbledon, more or less. Surely, there are plenty more triumphs to come at the All England Club. The hardcourts of the Australian Open and US Open are right up his all-court alley, and he's the top seed this week at Melbourne Park. He'll attack the French Open with a dangerously gay abandon now his greatest fear, a permanently blank space next to Roland Garros on his CV, has been filled.
Two majors a year for the next eight years is no gimme but stranger things have happened. Less than a year ago, when Rafael Nadal beat him at the Australian Open, and he'd yet to experience his ultimate Parisian joy, he was dead and buried, remember?
Two majors a year: Federer would take his final bow in 2018 with … 31 majors! Preposterous. Give him one a year. Even if he only ever succeeds again at Wimbledon, he'd be a 36-year sporting god with 23 majors to his credit. Pete Sampras's previous men's record of 14 would seem like the child's play preferred by his daughters, Myla Rose and Charlene Riva.
Eight more years would give Federer a shot at the unthinkable, a chance to move within reach of a record that was never meant to be broken. Australia's Margaret Court, her swag filled with 11 Australian Opens, won 24 majors. Women's tennis is less competitive than men's so Federer's toppling of Sampras's haul was always deemed to be his mightiest possible achievement.
However, if he's good to his word about lasting as long as Agassi, if his poetic game stays competitive enough, and if he continues to find ways to beat all the young punks coming after him, maybe the unthinkable, Court's record, is in range. Then again, who cares?
The cause for celebration right now isn't the number of trophies he might end up with. Rejoice in the fact he wants to entertain us for nearly another decade. The fact he has no intention of putting his racquets in the broom cupboard any time soon.
Yep. Daddy hits them more than all right.
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