It’s been fun to speculate about Roger Federer’s coaching situation. We’ve explored all options, including Mirka, Darren Cahill, Brad Gilbert and recently, Boris Becker. But we’ve overlooked one major fact: Roger Federer already has a (kind of) coach. That man is Swiss Davis Cup Captain Severin Luthi – friend and long time coach/travel buddy to Federer. He’s in Birmingham, Alabama right now with his Roger-depleted Davis Cup team, and took the time to answer some questions (in German) via live chat. He talks about Roger’s chances at Roland Garros, his strategy against Nadal and if the recent snow storm in Alabama will be to the Swiss team’s advantage.
Check out Blick for the original and pardon my translation.
Q. Do you think Roger Federer is the best player the world has ever seen?
Lüthi:. I hope that he’s considered the best in history one day, but right now we’re about winning more Majors and beating Pete’s record.
Q. What’s Roger doing now?
Lüthi:. Training and preparing for Indian Wells and Miami.
Q. Can Switzerland win Davis Cup without Federer?
Lüthi:. We always believe it, but first let’s look at the first round (against the U.S.A.). And we want to win! Even if we are not the favorites. We have not traveled here to lose.
Q. Roger seems blocked at certain stages against players like Nadal, Murray and Simon. Could Peter Lundgren help psychologically, as he did in other transitional phases of Roger’s career? He and Roger made it back then, why not today?
Lüthi: I do not think at the moment that Peter is an option. He’s working with Dimitrov, a very talented young player.
Q: How do you see the rivalry between Federer and Nadal? Does Federer have a “Nadalkomplex”? How else to explain his uncertainty in matches against Nadal?
Lüthi: A complex, it is not. One must simply see that Nadal plays on an incredibly high level and dominates against almost everyone. In Australia and Wimbledon, Roger has two matches which he can win again, another time.
Q. Who on the DC team is the best at ping pong?
Lüthi: (after much deliberation) It is a very delicate issue. The winner is not always the same. We need a play off. Chiudi (Marco Chiudinelli), Stephen (Bohli) and Rog are mostly in the Leader group, but Stan (Wawrinka) and I make their lives difficult.
Q. The precise, deep slice in different lengths and speeds would be an effective variant against Nadal. Federer dominates that shot like no other, I think. In Melbourne, Roger showed that too little. Topspin duels against Nadal are not a good tactic. What do you think?
Lüthi: From the outside, it might look more simple than it is. But try once to play an aggressive slice on Nadal’s topspin. If the slice is too passive, Nadal dominates the point completely afterwards.
Q. Did Roger make the right choice in skipping Davis Cup?
Lüthi: For him, it is the right decision, because he wants to prevent injury to his body and have many more years of top performance. As Davis Cup Captain, it is of course a pity that he can not be here. But all of the team understands his decision.
Q. Do you believe that Roger can really win Roland Garros?
Q. Do you think the season is over for Nadal, physically?
Lüthi: One should not underestimate Nadal. It’s been said for years that he has is physically problems. But he wins his games more easily than before and can thus save energy. It is clear, however, that his game is physically complex.
Q: It’s snowed in Alabama! I hope you can use this as a “home” advantage! Do the players feel comfortable in the environment?
Lüthi: We feel very comfortable. We are in a super nice hotel, and have a Swiss chef to cater to our every desire.
What I take from this interview is:
1. Luthi is a good friend to Roger and agrees that he doesn’t need to change anything about his game (knowing Roger’s stubborness, this is probably a wise self-preservation tactic for Luthi)
2. Fans are thinking more about Federer’s chances at ever beating Nadal than of Switzerland chances of winning its tie (go team U.S.A.!)
3. The Swiss players were so worried about the food in Birmingham that they brought their own chef. I’m sure there are some good places to eat there, guys!
Also, when will Roger Federer do his own live chat?