Roger Federer’s long time fitness and conditioning coach, Pierre Paganini, was recently interviewed by the Swiss paper BLICK about the state of his charge. Thanks to LaRubia over at rogerfederer.com for giving me the okay to use her translation – infinitely superior to anything I could do on my own with Google translate! Click here for the original article. Apparently there is an even lengthier interview in BLICK’S print edition, if you can find it at your news stand.
Interview by Christian Bürge
Mr. Paganini, how fit is Roger Federer at the moment?
Pierre Paganini: At the moment he is superfit. We are practicing nearly for 2 weeks. The holidays have been good for him.
In Wimbledon he complained about having pain. Where did those pains come from?
In principle these pains are normal. You are playing 60-70 matches in a year. Then you are going to have those matches where you care carrying a little injury with you and where you are feeling your back. Especially on grass. He didn’t feel that well and that means you play with lesser self-confidence, which already disturbs the puzzle. On this level little things have a big effect.
How important is fitness for Federer?
Of course it is the best when everything works. As a person, as an athlete, as a player. But the reality is that Roger just like many others sometimes doesn’t feel 100% well in matches. He knows that he can beat most of the players, even when a little detail is missing, but he also knows that it can become dangerous for him.
Roger is going to be 29-years-old next week. What do his performance parameters look like these days compared to former times?
He is exactly as fit as 6 or 3 years ago. I don’t name any exact numbers. But the measured values which you can have regarding explosiveness, speed or specific stamina, are where they must be. Adding to this Roger has more maturity because he has practiced all these years and is very disciplined. Fact is: You can’t really show each day what you are have in your suitcase.
So age isn’t a problem?
You are not old when you are 29 or 30 years. But at this age you already have done a lot and this is the huge difference. It isn’t your first practice or your first match. He has nearly 900 matches in his legs and x-thousand practices. You are going to feel this. What is changing now is not the quality of the athlete, but the planning is different. You have to give your body a little more time to make certain things.
The statistics of many former top players show that especially at 29 years, there’s mostly a decrease in general performance.
It’s different with everyone. Agassi had a long period like this in between. The willingness is important. What delighted me in the last 2 weeks: Roger comes to the practice with the same freshness (vigor) in his mind as if he was a junior. I’m really fascinated by this. It sparkles in his eyes. When you say to him: You are going to have 1 ½ days off he says: Maybe it’s beautiful tomorrow and we can practice. That shows me that he has the right mental attitude.
So Federer ticks differently?
Maybe others were less in love with tennis. Roger loves ball sports. That’s why he plays. Everything which he has done so far took a lot of energy out of him. You have to respect this. Roger practices as much as before. It also has to be divided differently. The same amount, different doses.
What do you think when people say that his time is running out slowly?
When someone at the crackerbarrel with a beer in his hand is saying something like this he should say it. You can’t be mad at him as he doesn’t know it better. What irritates me are the so-called specialists who talk about the end after every loss. When you know tennis you should come to another conclusion.