Crack reporter Peter Bodo has a new article about the state of Roger Federer, which includes lots of “off-the-record” observations from unidentified sources close to the game. I’ve highlighted the most intriguing parts, but please, click here to read the original.
On Mirka & Co.
As an enormous international superstar from a small nation, (Federer) has a great deal of personal power. And while TMF (that’s “the Might Fed”) is at heart a live-and-let-live guy who’s intensely and fully dedicated to his career and tennis self-interest, he also appears to be, to use a direct quote, “a control freak.” A less charitable analyst suggested that Federer is surrounded largely by courtiers or, if you prefer, “yes” men. And in Mirka, he has a unique and powerful gatekeeper.
On Federer’s code of silence:
I learned last weekend that when Federer announced that Jose Higueras would be his new coach, the Swiss media had hoped to interview Higueras. But the Federer camp insisted on a media blackout. That might avert a potential public relations disaster (although it’s hard to imagine one emerging from a Higueras interview), or the broadcast of state secrets that TMF might rightfully prefer to keep under wraps. But as one journalist put it, “This was a fifty something year-old Spanish guy with a lot of experience and previous exposure to the media and the fans. All you do by keeping him silent is raise questions and feed speculation and rumor.”
On his DC withdrawal and Darren Cahill:
. . .Davis Cup is also about grow-the-game efforts in every nation – not just in terms of prestige, but financially as well. TMF has grown the game a thousand-fold more than any program or initiative of the Federation suits, but you can see why they’re bummed out and simmering. The Davis Cup decision also impacted Federer’s popularity at home. As one scribe so colorfully put it, “Roger still has the wind of the Swiss people at his back, but that wind is now a little colder.”
That wind, of course, could warm up pretty quickly should Federer re-establish his sovereignty, and especially if he continues to add to his impressive Davis Cup credentials. Whether he does or not may hinge partly on Cahill. So everyone is wondering: Is Cahill the magic bullet Federer needs to gun down Nadal? Will Cahill bring the only ingredient that may be missing to Federer’s quest for ultimate status in tennis history? I have mixed feelings on that score.
On Roger’s future challenges:
A fair number of people out there suspect or even fear that Roger Federer has imprisoned himself in the gilded cage of his own perfection, and any tennis player out there will tell you that the hardest thing to break or change are your own habits and convictions – that’s especially true if your way of doing business has wrought enormous success and rewards.
Interesting stuff, especially about Fortress Roger, but personally, I feel like much of the hand wringing is a little overdone. Roger’s a superstar athlete who has big time ambitions. His own methods have served him well for a long time, but last month’s tough loss to Nadal has convinced him to make some needed changes. So now he’s hired a top flight coach who he already trusts and is preparing for the rest of the (long) season ahead of him. In terms of Davis Cup and the non-injury injury, at some point we gotta say “sh*t happens and life goes on.”
Speaking of moving on, don’t forget to check out Roger’s Sky Sports interview where he talks Indian Wells and the upcoming Masters 1000 events (click here).