Photo by Henk Koster via ATP
Anyone else still feeling a hangover from Davis Cup weekend? The USA vs. Switzerland tie turned out to be surprising and tension-filled, but maybe not quite for the competitive reasons we were hoping. After Roger and Wawrinka lost the doubles rubber to Mike Bryan and Mardy Fish in four sets – on home clay – giving the inspired Team USA a ticket into the next round, the tension fizzled. But not the controversy. Apparently Roger, was misquoted (story via AFP):
While Federer said: “I played a good doubles, and Stan not a bad one,” the remark was reported in English as Federer saying his partner played poorly.
Roger tried to clarify in Rotterdam, where he’s playing the Rotterdam Open for the first time since 2005 (via Tennis.com):
“I did have a day to sort of recover on Sunday and just sort of weather the press,” Federer told reporters at the tournament in Rotterdam on Monday. “It was taken completely the wrong way, me blaming Stan. I would never do that. It was just an unfortunate weekend. With many different circumstances leading to our defeat, first and foremost I think the Americans played really well. I’ve had good conversations with the captain [Severin Luthi], with Stan himself on numerous occasions today and yesterday. Just making sure that there’s no misunderstandings between the two of us. It’s just the press that started to create something from nothing really.”
Perhaps the press was just riffing off of a comment Roger made after both he and Stan lost their singles matches on Friday (via DavisCup.com):
“I think I did play a pretty good match (vs. Isner.) Things just didn’t go my way. They didn’t go for Stan either. He didn’t have a good match, I agree with that.”
Roger may have been saying in his own, subtle way, that he thought Stan blew it, but I leave that to the mysteries of linguistics and internal team dynamics.
Photo by Siggi Bucher via DavisCup.com
It was this quote, in response to a question about what the weekend’s disappointment means to Federer’s future Davis Cup play, that bothered me more:
“I just enjoy being with the boys. I hope we do it again maybe, down the road. It’s not a step back or step forward. It’s just nothing, you know.”
Let’s just say it doesn’t sound like leading the Swiss team to their first ever Davis Cup victory is one of Roger’s late-career goals. This weekend’s rubber revealed Davis Cup’s double edged dilemma for Roger: he expends energy playing at home, loses, spends more energy explaining the loss, is criticized for not saving his team, not caring enough about Davis Cup, etc. etc. It is hard to pull anything positive from this tie for Roger, and like he suggested in Rotterdam it’s best if we Fed fans “move on quickly.”
But as a fan of Team USA, all I can say is “Wow!” Despite the fizzle on the Swiss side, the Americans – Mardy Fish and John Isner in particular, with able support from Captain Courier – really created some fireworks. It will be fun to watch this team move on to France for the quarterfinals in April. Other quarterfinal matchups: Spain vs. Austria in Spain, Czech Republic vs. Serbia in Czech Republic, Argentina vs. Croatia in Argentina.
Back to Roger for a minute – is anyone else really surprised that he’s playing Rotterdam? The fact that he hasn’t played it for seven years was pretty indicative, in my mind, that he was never going to play it again. He’s got the family and the back to take care of, after all (he says the back is fine, we can assume the family’s chugging along as well). This quote from Roger’s Rotterdam press conference really makes me wonder at what’s burning deep inside Federer (via ATP):
“I think I do [still] have the pressures of a World No. 1,” said Federer. “That never really changes with all the success I’ve had. I have the same attention; there’s just different stories written. I’ve had a wonderful career so far. The fire is the same, basically. It’s just in terms of having a family now and not being World No. 1.
“But I take so much joy out of playing this sport and travelling the world still. I do care mostly about trying to win tournaments. That’s what’s important. That’s how I could get back to World No. 1 potentially. I have to get back to winning ways again after losing the last two, and I hope I can start doing that on Wednesday.”
Rotterdam is an ATP 500 event, with Berdych and Del Potro also taking part. There are also two ATP 250s taking place this week: the Brasil Open (Almagro, Verdasco) and the SAP Open in San Jose (taking part are Monfils, Roddick and reigning champ Milos Ranoic, who is now questionable after a knee injury suffered in Davis Cup.) We’re partnering up with the SAPOpen this week, which will hopefully lead to some fun video and news from the tournament in sunny San Jose. In the meantime, you can get updates at @SAPSponsors
Finally, since it’s Valentines Day. ROOOOAR! (That’s the cat sound I imagine Rafa making during this Sports Illustrated photo shoot with Bar Refaeli. Be a tiger, Rafa!):
Photo by Walter Iooss, Jr. Via Sports Illustrated. Click here for video.