Federer, the 28-year-old world No 1, has appointed Stéphane Vivier, one of seven ATP physiotherapists, to travel with him full time to make sure that he is in the finest physical shape every time he plays. If anything was certain to nail the suggestion that Federer is thinking of slowing down after winning 15 grand-slam singles titles — and reaching a record-breaking 22 consecutive semi-finals — this has to be it.
Like Andy Roddick, who snapped up Doug Spreen, a former full-time ATP trainer, to work with him on a private basis three years ago, Federer is placing his faith in someone whose responsibility has been to treat every player at his respective tournament.
Federer has an enormous amount of respect for Vivier, a Frenchman, going so far as to say that the physio knows how his body works even better than he does himself. Remarkably, although Severin Luthi, the Swiss Davis Cup captain, travels on an occasional basis with Federer, the world No 1 still has no permanent coach.
The Times did not mention Gary Hamilton, the Australian masseur that Federer hired to travel with him for the past couple of seasons. Blick reported that Vivier is Hamilton’s replacement.
(Sidenote: I have a new pet peeve – I’m tired of the media insisting that Roger has no coach. Severin Luthi is his full-time, permanent coach. It’s like saying Nadal has no full-time coach because Uncle Toni doesn’t travel to every tournament with him.)
While Federer is taking extra steps to stay fit and healthy, he’s facing some (indirect) criticism for helping to promote Davidoff, the tobacco and luxury goods company that sponsors Federer’s home tournament in Basel this week.
Pascal Diethelm, director of the anti-smoking group OxyRomandie, said last year “players drowned in an advertising soup for Davidoff“.
“At the end of the match the young ball boys and ball girls received a medal from Roger Federer in recognition of having served the cause of Davidoff so well. Each medal bore the Davidoff logo in order to make sure that these potential smokers would know which cigarette brand to choose,” he said
Anti-smoking advocates have even tried asking Federer to pull out of the tournament:
Two years ago OxyRomandie sent an open letter to the world number one – signed by more than 500 international health experts – calling on him to either pull out of the tournament or ask that the organisers to cut all ties with Davidoff and the tobacco industry. He declined to respond.
Unless he has a belated change of heart, Roger will be taking to the courts of the Davidoff Swiss Indoors on Monday evening, where he’ll play Olivier Rochus in his first round match. Click here for the Davidoff Swiss Indoors TV Schedule and live streaming info.