Apr/11

4

Sportswriting 101

Alright boys and girls, ladies and gentleman, you have enrolled in Sportswriting 101, and the lesson of the day is how to ask questions in a press conference interview. A number of you impugned my question to Roger Federer after his take down by Rafael Nadal last Friday night. In specific, you didn’t like how I and other members of the media pushed him regarding his fallen status in the hierarchy of the top men players. But one of the first skills you must learn to effectively ask questions in a sports press conference is the stating of the obvious.

Federer is no longer the dominant player in the game as results over the last year have clearly indicated and as a reporter you have to state this clearly to Roger and see what his stance is on this change. The same would be taken with a sports player in a similar position, whether they be an online poker champion at a site like www.poker.dk; or a premiership football player. The questions are asked to see if Federer will admit to his new status or will he defiantly oppose it. The questions are asked to see if Federer will admit to his new status or will he defiantly oppose it.

So in the said press conference in Miami last Friday night, the first question asked by a reporter regarding Federer’s new status was this:

Q. Does this widen the gap, or you are more determined to get back?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, for me those are not big setbacks. I wish I could play better against those guys, but it is what it is. I’m the last guy who gets pulled all the way down and then can’t get up for the next tournament. (Then he talks about playing the clay court circuit coming up and how excited he is to do well). Yeah, I want to do well and want to do better. I got the opportunity in a couple of weeks already.”

So Federer will not admit here to dropping behind the top two guys. He basically is saying that getting blown off the court by Nadal is not significant. I respond with the following question:

Q. With the exception of Andre and maybe Connors back in the day, there haven’t been too many players winning slams after 29. What do you feel like you have up your sleeve that you’re going to be able to use to win some slams in the future?

ROGER FEDERER: Um, I don’t know. You tell me. I don’t know. I think I’ve done quite well over the last ten years. I feel like I’ve done more than some other players, so I feel like I’m–yeah, we’ll see how it all plays out.

We’ll see at 36, 39 how many more I was able to get or not. We’re not going to predict how many I’m going to get or not. I’m enjoying myself right now and I feel like if I’m playing well I can get those. That’s what I care about right now.

Now, I regret I came up with the phrase, “up your sleeve,” it connotes that Federer needs to use some type of trickery to win another slam or more. That was not my intent, but sometimes when you phrase a question off the cuff it goes a little awry as this one did.

But Federer’s response is interesting in two respects. First, Federer uses the phrase, “You tell me,” which he does again in response to another later question, and it indicates that Federer is getting angry or at least defensive. An athlete of Federer’s caliber and class usually doesn’t like to show these emotions to the press. It takes him off his throne and surely emboldens the press to ask even more probing questions. Secondly, Federer says he going to play to 39, possibly. Which is pretty amazing for any athlete who started his pro career at 17.

Reporters are not so much different than tennis players. When they see a player sweat in answering questions, scribes start smelling if not blood, a weakness in Federer and his logic, and they start to pounce. Federer is clearly refusing to budge an inch about his position in the game even after the evidence that just played out on the court that night suggested otherwise in a seemingly big and obvious way.
Next question.

Q. After Rafa’s play today, do you think it’s going to start a new era with Djokovic and Nadal on the top?

ROGER FEDERER: Possibly. I don’t know. You tell me. Let’s see in five years. Look back. It’s not like Novak hasn’t been around. Guys all talk about it like the guy can’t play tennis. It’s disappointing.

Another mind-bender by Federer. Who ever said Djokovic couldn’t play quality tennis? The Serb has been criticized for maybe not having the heart or conditioning to be a champ, but no one ever impugned his game. Federer is starting to sound more illogical. The press microscope closes in.

PETER BODO (Tennis Magazine columnist, also the co-writer of Pete Sampras’s autobiography, “A Champion’s Mind.”): It took Pete a long time to get his last title, and some of the other guys also, before they made that final statement, went through a lot of stuff. Are you prepared and thinking about maybe having to go through all that and ultimately prove your point? Is that a challenge, or more of a hassle and a drag?

ROGER FEDERER: No, bigger hassle is being asked all the time these questions. I don’t know how many times I need to answer until I just say I’m not going to answer anymore. Up to you how many times I will have to answer the question until I’m sick and tired of it.
But I know that I can do many more things in the game. Sure it’s disappointing losing a game like tonight, but those are the matches I work extremely hard for in the off-season and practice, and I’m very excited by what to come still.
I don’t feel like I’m 35 like you guys make me sound I am. I’m still only 29, and I have many more years left.

This is officially where the press and Federer, who have always shared a pretty affable relationship, laid their gloves down and started duking it out more seriously. Which really doesn’t happen in very many sports press conference interviews. Bodo may have pushed Federer’s button by using the phrase, “before they made that final statement,” and invoking Sampras’s name. Federer and Sampras are presumably friends, but you can bet Federer does not want to be associated with the fall-off that Sampras endured late in his career. Federer also doesn’t want this part of his career to be known as “the final statement” period.

When a star player uses the term, “I’m sick and tired of it,” you know that the press and he have entered a different stage of their relationship, one where there won’t likely be as much openness or trust as in the halcyon days. Now Federer is being doubted and pushed in the press room when he has never before received such tough treatment.

Will Federer really not entertain anymore questions about the state of his slam chances? Will Federer from now on keep chilly discourse with the press when before there was a convivial and celebrated tone? Will Federer become more candid with the press (and maybe himself) or will he continue to view the press as an opponent? This all remains to be seen over the next five years or so as well as how many slams he will win.

What is certain is that the press had to push Roger Federer the way Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are now doing on the court. We had to take him out of his “comfort zone,” to use another sports term, so as to create a more realistic playing field. One that more closely resembles his drop from the Big Two in the game. We’re not out to defeat him in a competitive way. Rather we are there to make him feel the heat a bit and to respond to the changing landscape of the new pecking order at top.

37 comments

  • Sakhi · April 4, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Dan–I agree that you have to pounce, get the player to account for his loss-and in Federer’s case, get him on the ropes etc. etc… But here’s a question for you–Isn’t it also in your interests to get Federer to open up to you, to talk about his insecurities, strengths, etc. without having him retreat into defensive non-comittal mode? I would imagine it is. So, instead of him hitting him with the “you’re toast, dude” argument, why not use the occasion to talk with him about the kinds of changes he needs to make? Instead of you are a loser today and so no longer a contender for slams, why not say, “how do you think you can use this loss to develop your game?” That is a completely different tone and would make Federer see the question as respectful of his accomplishments and yet probing enough to get him to talk.
    I’m a historian and when my students work in archives, I usually tell them to not begin with a set of pre-fixed questions that will lead them to a right or wrong answer but rather to use their presence in the archives as an entry into a set of conversations they had not imagined before. Now, I know zilch about reporting so I am probably completely off, but perhaps a bit of unpredictability on your part would also help, no?

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · April 4, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Nice approach Sakhi, you have some journalistic instincts. Maybe you can cover the UCLA ATP event for us this summer? Federer of all champion athletes deserves a softer approach to this difficult subject of his imminent inevitable demise. It’s just the nature of the media to sometimes take this hound dog type stance as the fading star tries to hang on. Seles, Sampras were frustrated by it, though Agassi, to my memory, was not constantly saddled by When will you retire? questions. It’s a very sensitive subject for the great tennis champion who has basically devoted his life to this sport. For the media to be almost be pushing him out the door has got to be very disappointing for Federer. Excellent piece Dan, very enjoyable read. And like you say it’s going to be very interesting to see how Federer’s once warm and loving relations with the tennis media go from here.

  • Michael · April 5, 2011 at 4:43 am

    Federer has the most aesthetically pleasing game I’ve ever seen.

    Anyone contributing in any manner to his earlier than otherwise retirement should be locked in a room with a loop of Nadal’s pre-serve ass-picking, Murray’s whining and Djokovic’s pre-serve ball routine.

  • Dan Markowitz · April 5, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Sakhi,

    You make a good point. And I don’t have the transcripts from the press conference in front of me right now, but the first few questions of the interview did ask Roger to break down what happened in the match. Essentially, the tact you favored taking and Federer really didn’t take the bait. He didn’t give the reporters what they wanted, which was an honest assessment of how Nadal beat him so badly. Because make no mistake about, what Nadal gave Federer that night, was a real whupping, a George Foreman to Joe Frazier beat-down in Kingston, Jamaica in the early-70′s.

    So then the press in the room had to take a different tact, a more blunt one, and one as I say, partially-used to knock Federer off his pedastal, and it started with the question, “Does this widen the gap, or are you more determined to come back?” Which in essence, can be translated as, “Ok, Roger, here’s the deal. You might not know it yet or admit to it yet, but we just saw it play out on the court in front of our eyes, you are not in Nadal’s or Djokovic’s league anymore until you show otherwise. So fess up!”

    Michael, I don’t want to sound haughty here, but the press can’t be concerned whether by putting pressure on Federer it’ll shorten his career. Federer has always been very good to the press since he’s been on top, when he was younger, he did not have the grace or analytical sense to be a very good interview.

    Federer will play as long as he likes and my feeling is that it will be a long time because very similarly to Jimmy Connors, this guy is obsessed with tennis and his place in the game. He’s also going to be able to compete at a high level, as he says, for much longer. If Federer for some reason retires before 36 or 39, it won’t be the press’s fault.

  • Sakhi · April 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Dan–I have read the whole transcript and Federer’s testiness is fairly apparent. I understand the tactics you folks had to apply but the challenge here is to figure out a tone that doesn’t make you disavow your journalistic instincts while at the same time making Federer feel like he is a statesman of tennis first, and an elder last!

    No easy responses here –but perhaps Federer might pose a unique challenge for you folks–he is no reticent Sampras or a showy Agassi–he’s a different breed and might require you to invent the wheel anew.

  • Michael · April 5, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Dan, I don’t think the press has any impact on when a player retires. It was tongue-in-cheek.

  • C.O.Z · April 5, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    You and the other journalists made a lot out of the Rafa match. He’s lost to him before, he beat him last time they played before that. Even when Roger was at his most dominant, he lost matches. He lost matches to low ranked players, he played ‘shockers’…
    It’s always going to happen.
    Of course the press should ask players about their losses and why they think they lost, how they can improve. That’s all good, everyone wants to know that.
    But comments that infer he’s coming to the end of the road are a little premature. As I said, he did beat Rafa at the WTF, and he didn’t lose to someone ranked #148! (I may go check who that is out of interest now. It’s as if people have amnesia and have forgotten this.

    I think Roger knows more than you given him credit for. The Novak thing… It’s not hard to understand his logic. When he beats a big gun like Roger or Rafa, people focus more on them losing then Novak winning. It’s changing now, but it definitely was the case in the past. I think Roger was trying to say it’s not like he only just became good now. He’s been playing well for quite some time now but nobody gave him the credit. That’s what I got from that answer.

    You’re not trying to push him into doing better, are you? You want the most shocking answers.
    Do you not just get a great feeling inside when he snaps? Maybe a ‘Ker-ching’ noise ringing inside your head?

    Apologies for the negativity, but that particular press conference was way out of line.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · April 5, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I think a lot of the journalists get excited at the new story angle with which they can work with: the grand finale of the aging fading champion as he tries to hold off the young lions determined to take over his domain. It’s going to be a very sensitive issue for Federer as we know how sensitive he can be, as evidenced by the emotional breakdowns after special wins and heartbreaking defeats. I’m sure he will find a way to properly deal with it as time goes on.

  • Sophie · April 5, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    No offense, but I find the questioning, and also your examination of it, to be quite rude. I thought the job of the press was to gather information and share news, and rather not to impose themselves and their perceptions on the players. The priority here from what I have read seems to involve solely getting some sort of angry and snappy retort, or as you callously put it, to get him to accept his place in the new world order.

    This, in my opinion, crosses the line. You are not going to push him to suddenly accept that he is behind Rafa and Nole at the moment just by increasing the degrading aspect of the questioning. You are only going to rightfully annoy him further, and also perhaps to affect his confidence (see Safina as one famous example).

  • naughty T....urbane gentleman · April 6, 2011 at 2:27 am

    Dan … you are pretty much an idiot.

  • Deborah Taylor · April 6, 2011 at 2:35 am

    I really don’t see the new story angle here: rather it’s the unimaginative easy story angle for a great champion once he is no longer dominant. I know as a Federer fan I’m interested in whether he thinks he can forge a different path since he seems to have enough left to continue playing at a high level for a while. But, really why isn’t the press interested in questioning the new top players as to their chances of challenging some of Federer’s records, not just the slam record. Is Djokovic on track to match Federer’s accomplishments? Will he win the calendar slam? How about Nadal? Can he repeat his 2010 season? will the new Nadal Djokovic rivalry excite tennis as much as the old Federer Nadal rivalry? How will the era of Nadal or Djokovic be different than the Federer era? Will it also last as long?The failure of the press to reach for anything except the obvious “declining champion” narrative makes it hard to see the current line of questioning as anything but a desire to see Federer in a defensive mode.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · April 6, 2011 at 3:48 am

    I see what you’re saying Deborah, though I wasn’t at this press conference but it does seem like the press does seem to enjoy to some extent having Federer in this position where some of the reporters (unintentionally) provoke him. It’s comical in a sense, because if you ever saw some of the media members playing tennis (or trying to play) – to see these ham and eggers come in and interrogate arguably the greatest player in the history of the game, about his future and about one particular tough loss, it’s somewhat absurd. And it makes you kind of understand why people like Hal McRae (phone throwing tirade in his office with reporters), Ryan Leaf, John Franco (squirting a water pistol at a reporter), Richard Todd (supposedly hung a diminutive NY Post reporter on his locker hook), Michael Strahan, Mike Tyson, just erupt and just totally go off sometimes when the media goes too far. Don’t think something like this will ever happen with the supremely classy Federer but it’s a similar tone of antagonizing and disrespect by the media which causes these blowups. Thanks for your comment and welcome to our site.

  • forehandshanker · April 6, 2011 at 3:57 am

    Also these comments in your blog post are self-serving.

    Compare the transcript to other blowouts suffered in other matches.

    First, the tone after Federer lost to Nadal at Roland Garros 2008, was pretty respectful and focused directly on the match itself not his status in the game.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvwaQqQgaUM

    Second, there’s a similar pattern right after the beatdown Federer gave Roddick at the Australian Open 2007.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGiSrj97txc

    If anything, I conclude that the presser in Miami 2011 was doomed from the start simply because the first question was not focused on the match itself: what was Federer doing out there against Nadal?

  • pissedoffatyou · April 6, 2011 at 4:35 am

    I honestly think Roger dealt with the bullshit pretty well.

  • herman · April 6, 2011 at 5:02 am

    this sort of questioning is ridiculous for a tennis player. does he have the affairs of the world at stake in the palm of his hand? is he lying, cheating, engaging in poor sportsmanship? this line of questioning should be used for things that really matter – politics, war, fraud, domestic violence etc. etc.

    asking the hard question is a tenet of journalism. but again asking a tennis player who has never done anything wrong and simply entertaining us these types of questions is absurd. same with the number 1 issue with safina. these gotcha questions are a waste of time. you guys come across as bored school recess bullies.

    if you really believe in your craft, you should go into investigative journalism where you actually do some good in the world – i don’t know any journalists in that milieu who will ask hard questions. you kind of disgraced your self here…

  • lit · April 6, 2011 at 9:43 am

    “Now, I regret I came up with the phrase, “up your sleeve,” it connotes that Federer needs to use some type of trickery to win another slam or more. That was not my intent, but sometimes when you phrase a question off the cuff it goes a little awry as this one did.”

    Now you are really funny guy :-) You consider yourself “professional” I assume, yet you come to the press conference, ask absolutely banal question, even this absolutely banal question “goes awry” as you say and then… you analyze every (and I mean “every” :-) word Federer says and conclude that these words support you theory. Without “any” though that maybe some of his answers are “awry” ???? as he did not come having his answers written down, is just tennis player etc, etc… So I doubt very much you will make him “feel heat” or something :-) )

  • JOHN · April 6, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Come on now Djokovic’s game has been critized the last two years. Starting with his serve problem and his lack of stemina. He was just under radar because Fedal . The same can be say of Murray out of UK.

  • Mia · April 6, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Uhrm, excuse me, methinks this article this is more aptly titled “Bullying 101″.

  • lit · April 6, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Sorry, but it’s really funny article :-)

    Mr. Markowitz states: “Federer is no longer the dominant player in the game as results over the last year have clearly indicated and as a reporter you have to state this clearly to Roger and see what his stance is on this change. The questions are asked to see if Federer will admit to his new status or will he defiantly oppose it.”

    So, to receive the honest answer you should have asked: “Do you know, Mr. Federer, that you are World #3?” I am sure he would have admitted his new status and answered honestly “Yes” :-)

    And it’s very simple question, nothing to go “awry” :-)

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · April 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    One of my old boxing magazine cronies from London, the respected ex-editor of Boxing News Claude Abrams, remarked many years ago, something to the effect that US writers have a tendency to build up their heroes, and then then tear them down at the end. It may be a somewhat accurate observation to this situation with Roger Federer.

  • srdjana · April 6, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    John,

    At this point, it’s insulting to put Murray into the same sentence as Djokovic. Unless to suggest Andy might learn a few things from Novak.

  • Author comment by Dan Markowitz · April 6, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    The first question of the presser was about the match, in fact, it was about the fans chanting Federer’s name as a show of support. Federer answered honestly that while it was “a nice feeling,” he wasn’t sure he wanted it or not “because it meant that I was down in the score.”

    The next question was: Q. Do you want to break it down for us? and Federer talked about how difficult playing Rafa is because of his being a lefty (and I imagine the spin of his shot, though Federer didn’t say this) and then he talked about the conditions of the court, how their slowness hurt his game and helped Nadal’s. He did say Nadal played well, “good,” never great. And he said he was disappointed.

    What I have found over the years as a writer covering Federer–and yes, this is not world peace we’re talking about but as a writer, you attack any subject seriously and try to break it down like any other subject–is that although he’s not on the level of Serena Williams for not giving praise to his opponent when he loses, he does have a penchant for rarely saying, “he beat me tonight fair and square.” No, what you hear from Federer mostly is, as he said Friday night, “Off night for me, unfortunately.” Yes, it was an off night for you, but Nadal was a big reason for this.

    And that’s what makes Federer exasperating at times to the press, as well as answers like this one to the 3rd question of Friday night’s presser: Q. It seemed like your backhand just wasn’t there tonight. Did you feel you had to run around it all night. Did you feel it was off from the beginning?
    FEDERER: Yeah, I guess so. What else do you want me to tell you?

    Reporters are looking for different angles to the Federer demise story, but with answers like these, there aren’t many other story lines. Does it matter how good a player the reporter is? That’s nonsense. A reporter doesn’t have to be able to hit a good forehand in order to write critically about a player.

    Yes, Federer is being asked to respond to some tough questions. I would hardly call it “bullying.” To a large degree these questions are asked because Federer came out at the beginning of the year saying he thinks he can win 20 slams. He also has downplayed his losses to Djokovic and now Nadal.

    He’s a great player and a great champ, but the reality of the sports world for athletes is that everyone sings your praises when you’re on top, but when you start to drop, everyone wants to know why. And if the great one refuses to come up with a plausible answer, the press tries to answer for him. Maybe we feel disappointed that we can’t see the great ones live out their glory for as long as they like. I saw it happen with Walt Frazier and John Starks, two players I co-wrote books with (and who were shuttled off to Cleveland and San Francisco, two decidedly non-basketball cities) and I saw it occur with John McEnroe, the player I most loved watching play.

    It becomes a character study just like the one Obama is facing in the White House now. And that’s what makes sports, politics and history all fascinating.

  • Andrew · April 6, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Wow. Hard to know where to begin, Markowitz. Quite the spin job. With the exception of Bodo clearly getting a rise out of Federer, I find most of your above analysis of the interview to be exactly contrary to the quoted passages. Federer was quite candid.

  • Harold · April 6, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Just like most “Broadway Theater Critics” are considered “Hackers” at playwriting, so are most Tennis reporters wannabe Tennis players who only reach a certain level and can’t wait to tear down an all-time great the minute he shows the slightest decline.
    Dan has always had issues with Fed from the old days at the TW site, maybe he wouldn’t do an interview for Break Point about Spadea

  • Author comment by Dan Markowitz · April 6, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Yes, that’s got to be it. Roger snuffed me for an interview when I was writing Break Point. Or maybe it was the beating Roger gave Vince at the 2006, I believe, U.S. Open. That’s why I’m trying to “tear him down.”

    Look at the question I asked him. To paraphrase it was that at 29 and going on, only Agassi and Connors won multiple slams in the last 30 years. How do you rate your chances of doing the same?

    I don’t think that’s a particularly damning question. It’s factual and open-ended. Federer chose to take it as a negative and respond as such. Federer hasn’t won a slam in the last four slam events. That hasn’t happened since he won his first slam at Wimbledon in 2003. Coupled with the decisive beatings Djokovic and Nadal, his two biggest rivals, gave him in Indian Wells and Miami, I think that may be a point of concern for Federer.

    Is asking him an attempt to tear him down?

  • Reality Check · April 6, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    The press has been dogging Federer with the age decline line since he was 27 at least. It’s not surprising that he’s a bit sick of those type questions. By my count the press are 0-2 for this narrative:

    Post Wimb’08 (followed by loss to Simon, Karlovic, and in Olympics)- Whoops, he wins USO beating Djoker and Murray en route.

    Post AO’09 (Crygate, early out at IW, racket smash v. Djoker Miami, slow start on clay)- oops again, he wins Madrid, RG and W, Final USO, and wins AO’10.

    So far this year he has 1 title, and has made the final or semi of everything he’s entered. No doubt, Novak is the man right now, but just like Fed, he can be up and down. They have always had close matches.

    Dan, could it maybe be that Federer thinks the version of reality you’re selling maybe is incorrect or premature? There is a possibility that he actually understands the situation better than you. Maybe this is THE decline, maybe not. It’s too early to know. Of course it’s inevitable, but that doesn’t mean that it’s linear or at a precipice. I was impressed that he took a set off Novak at IW.

    Maybe your best years as a writer are behind you, but I suspect you probably feel you’re still relevant and have some worthy writing in you. How open are you to the narrative of your early decline?

    Take a step back and realize that the long term cycles can’t be seen until well after the fact. Based on Nole’s recent run I would assume that he’ll win everything for the next year, but history shows that this is damn unlikely. Rafa’s a lock for RG’11 right?

    Look back at your writing re:Federer in the past 3 years. What’s your H2H? Be honest; it’s your duty.

  • Deborah Taylor · April 6, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    I have only been a Federer fan since 2006, but I have hard him say lots of times that an opponent who beat him played well and was too tough for him on that day. I usually read the transcript after each match rather than the press coverage and watch a video if is available. Roger’s comments are often given the slant that fits with the story the journalist is preparing to write. I counted how many times Roger said “Novak was better than me” at this year’s AO and it was multiple. I have heard him say he has no problem on clay, he has a problem playing Rafa on clay. Most of the ime when he says he didn’t play his best, he will say he really needed to because his opponent was playing so well. I realize the sports, especially tennis moves fast but I doubt if Roger got this kind of scrutiny when he beat all the top players at WTF, including a third straight victory of Djokovic.

  • Cindy Brady · April 6, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Thank you harold. now we can understand all this federer hatred from this author.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · April 6, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    It’s part of the natural process for the media to probe and question Federer like what happened after the Nadal match. But Federer is different, he’s almost like a saint, he’s been called “the God of tennis” (exact quotes from Richard Berankis and Akiko Morigami to me in a feature I did about Federer two years ago). So a great champion like Federer, in much of the public’s eyes, deserves some compassion in this situation. Federer fans and most people who love the sport just do not want to see Federer have to deal with these kinds of questions after a beatdown type of a loss, in the latter stages of his career. The media should try to be a little more gentle about it with someone like Federer. IMO.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · April 6, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Excellent post Reality Check. Welcome to the site.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · April 6, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I can 100% assure you Dan does not dislike or hate Federer. Absolutely nobody could possibly hate or even dislike the man. Federer is Federer, the ultimate class champion. If you read the transcripts of a lot of these post match press conferences, you will find that a lot of times that experienced veteran writers sometimes slip up and misfire a question that just does not come out right and gets swatted away by the player. It happens all the time. Roddick and Hewitt and Agassi are especially adept at handling poor questions. So let’s see what happens in the future and how the media questions Federer after his next tough loss to Nadal or Djokovic, it will be very interesting. Thanks for your comment and welcome to the site Susan Olson pardon, Cindy Brady.

  • Deborah Taylor · April 7, 2011 at 12:39 am

    I think you have figured out by many of the responses that most Federer fans have not trusted the tennis press since 2007 when some doubted his bout with mono while they have taken reports of every twinge of other players as as gospel. One “respected” reporter referred to Roger’s lung infection last year as “mysterious” although no one designated any other player’s illness as such. No one expects Roger to be coddled by the press: if he plays a poor match, he should be questioned about it, just not more harshly than any other player and certainly not with a predetermined agenda.

  • Raymond · April 7, 2011 at 9:46 am

    There are fair points made here, but I think the most important thing about Federer’s deportment is on court, not off it. He is a bit testy and sometimes ungenerous in interviews, although you have to remember that it was the press that called him the GOAT, and it’s not very easy for the GOAT to say, “OK, I’m not the GOAT, never was, etc.” while he’s still playing, even if he were to believe it.
    Nadal always comes off very well in press conferences. Maybe Djokovic too. But the thing about Federer is this: On court he does one thing only, which is to play tennis. He never looks at his coach (when he has one), let alone talk to him or exchange signals. He doesn’t play mind-games with his opponents by making them wait, bending the rules, taking to long to serve, staring them down, etc. Over his career he has played truly wonderful tennis and played it fairly. The worst one can say about him, on court, is that he doesn’t always go in for the hugs and so forth, when he loses. Often he looks annoyed. But he doesn’t cheat, doesn’t call for trainers, deliberately annoy opponents — anything. OK, he doesn’t like losing. That’s clear. But overall he is a very good sportsman in every sense.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · April 7, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Well said Raymond. I can’t think of anything Federer has ever done on or off the court that was dislikeable or ugly, even before he became a top player. How anyone could dislike Federer is hard to understand.

  • zaazoo · April 8, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Dan, I admire your bravery, not only for asking Federer a slightly (extremely slight) contentious question at his presser but for writing about it here. You must have known the Fed worshipers were going to come out to pounce on you. I mean, even your cohorts are chastising you for not treating him with kid gloves because Roger, didn’t you know, is the the greatest evah!

    Scoop, if you’d take your head out of your ass, maybe you’d see and understand that there actually are some things to dislike about Federer. You really shouldn’t be participating in the sports writing world when you have no objectivity whatsoever about him.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · April 10, 2011 at 1:59 am

    Nobody is perfect Zaazoo, I mean yeah you can criticize some of Fed’s post match comments after losses, question the mono excuse, and some other little things, but by and large, Federer is a very likeable chap. All the other players like and respect him, all of the media, I’ve never heard a fan heckle him anywhere, some champions are just first class all the way and really above any minute criticisms. I would include Phil Mickelson, Eli Manning, The Klitschko Brothers, Manny Pacquiao, Shane Mosley, Joe Frazier, Monice Seles, Carlos Moya, etc. in this elite league of class champions. Thanks for your comment and welcome to the site Zaazoo.

  • vetmama · April 14, 2011 at 2:48 am

    “…the media pushed him regarding his fallen status in the hierarchy of the top men players…The questions are asked to see if Federer will admit to his new status or will he defiantly oppose it.”

    Dan, I must say that journalists are a breed that mystify me.
    It’s one thing to write an article about a change in the balance of power, but to say, “Roger, you really suck right now”, and expect him to sign off on your assessment is ridiculous.

    “Can you sum up why you couldn’t play your way out of a paper bag tonight?”
    “After that performance, do you think you’re relevant any more (even though you beat Nole and Rafa back to back just 4 months ago)?”
    “Do you think you’ll now retire in shame after losing so badly?”
    It’s a milder version of the old question, “Your entire family was just killed in a car crash…how does that make you feel?”

    For these players, talking to you guys after having a bad night must be like volunteering to have a tooth extracted sans novocaine, or dipping a toe into a piranha-infested pool. And you wonder why you don’t get a congenial reply?

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