Apr/11

2

Federer gets testy about age and ability to stay with Nadal and Djokovic

I don’t have the transcripts yet, but Federer said he was tired of having to answer questions about his age and winning slams later in his career. The outburst, if you want to call it that, was in response to a Peter Bodo of Tennis Magazine question about Pete Sampras having a difficult time winning his last slam. Federer said the media is acting like he’s 35 instead of 29 and that we’re writing him off too soon. The Swiss who speaks impeccable English, said it’s difficult losing a match like he lost tonight, but he said we’re going to have to look back in five years and see if this was the point in time where Djokovic and Nadal proved their supremacy to him. I asked him what he had up his sleeve to win a slam or multiple slams like Andre and Jimmy Connors after the age of 29, and he looked at me and said something to the effect of, “I’ve won 16 slams and played better than a lot of players so my past record speaks for itself. I don’t need anything up my sleeve.” I nodded and thought to myself, “good point.” But Federer was clearly unhappy with the media and the questions of whether he is in decline. Now let’s see what Nadal has to say.

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18 comments

  • Sakhi · April 2, 2011 at 1:44 am

    C’mon, Dan–the dude just lost an awful match–it was a comprehensive beat-down. He’s entitled to be testy, ornery whatever. Give him some time to breathe before hurling fireballs. I’m not saying he doesn’t have not figure out what to do here but perhaps the questions could address change rather than decline! It’s more than semantics.
    Nadal will beat Djokovic on Sunday. He is playing brilliant tennis.

  • Mike · April 2, 2011 at 3:12 am

    The guy still signed some autographs on the way out of the stadium. Very few players would stop like that after that kind of loss. Very cool.

    Whatcha going to do. He’s past his prime and Nadal is in his. So it’s not like Fed can’t beat him but the cards must align : the right court, the right conditions and playing in the “zone” as Ashe would say. Funny thing is the score was almost identical to the last time they met on that court.

  • Minhaj · April 2, 2011 at 4:06 am

    I agree with Sakhi.
    I think Nadal can win but only if he can prevent a repeat of the second set against Berdych. It was a comprehensive meltdown, and a lesser meltdown was against Djokovic in California. If Nadal can prevent such occurances he can win, he also beat Djokovic in Colombia albeit in an exhibition.
    I am certainly hoping for a Nadal win.

  • Dan markowitz · April 2, 2011 at 4:23 am

    Sakhi,

    We’re reporters not coaches or agents or concerned fans. If you don’t ask Fed in that situation if he thinks the tide has not significantly turned than you’re missing the big story. Especially since he has been either delusional or dead wrong in saying recently that there is a Big Four and he intends to win 20 slams.

    Reporters are not supposed to give him breathing room or compassion. Were supposed to write what’s going on. And Fed doesn’t want to smell the coffee. What surprised me tonight is that he said we’re asking all the time about his decline and he’s had it now and maybe he said he won’t answer any questions anymore related to the subject. That’s fine, but don’t draw the line only after you lose a match. He was perfectly open to discussing his position at the top after the Simon default. And if you’re Fed, give Djoko his due. Don’t keep on saying he’s only hot for the moment. He’s a super player whoooks like he’ll be a dominant force for many years to come

  • Mike · April 2, 2011 at 6:03 am

    What’s more delusional. Fed thinking he can win 20 or you thinking Roddick will win two ?

  • Sakhi · April 2, 2011 at 6:41 am

    Fair enough, Dan. I’ll accept the job requirement argument around Federer. But I suppose I’m just asking if there is another way to tell the story beyond the diatribe of decline and denial? For example, was Sampras harassed the same way (I imagine he was because his decline was more brtual) and if so, how did he respond? And how do we make the Federer story newsworthy beyond calling for the death of the king? I think it’s a foregone conclusion that Federer is no longer the dominant here–Peter Bodo has an interesting piece up on this issue which I found moving and less diabolically about beating Federer down. So, yes, please do your job, but surely, there has to be multiple ways to tell that big story.

    p.s. and I bet if Federer went around saying he was no longer capable of being number 1 and such, the press would be just as quick to call him a has been and without ambition etc…so, it’s spin either way, no?

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 2, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    That was a class move by Federer, to sign after such a disappointing defeat. Of course it looks bleak at the moment and the buzzards are all flying over head now. But Federer is only the greatest champion this sport has ever seen. He knows how to overcome adversity and doubt and the agony of failure, and will surely find a way to galvanize all his powers to achieve the ecstasy of triumph once again.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 2, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Good point Sakhi. I remember Sampras hounded by the media at the end and they even began to blame his wife for his decline. Sampras later said that was a low blow and it really motivated him to prove all the doubters and cynics wrong, which of course he did by winning his final US Open. I also remember Seles getting hounded by the When will you quit questions, she was clearly uncomfortable/annoyed by it too.

  • Dan markowitz · April 2, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Nobody’s calling Fed a “has-been.” I think you want Fed or any player to acknowledge the fall-off and speak candidly about it. But it’s true what you say that if Fed started saying, “I’m through. I can’t compete with the top guys anymore,” there would be a disappointment. We want our champions to display a fighting spirit.

    As far as Fed winning 20 slams. He still might have a chance to do it if Nadal and Djoko weren’t on the scene. I think over the next 20 slams, say from 2011-2015, they willwin
    15 slams like Fed and Nadal monopolized slam wins over the last 6-7 years. That doesn’t leave a lot for the rest.

  • Mitch · April 2, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    You guys think Fed might relent and switch frames to something larger and with more power, as Brad Gilbert suggested last night during the ESPN broadcast? If he still wants to try and hang with Nadal and Djokovic, he’s going to have to do something.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 2, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Don’t think he will but maybe he should. Liked that idea by BG lat night. It would be very interesting to hear what Sampras and Courier have to say about this idea.

  • Mike · April 2, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    “I think you want Fed or any player to acknowledge the fall-off and speak candidly about it.”

    You don’t really think a player is going to publicly muse about a fall-off? It’s a game of inches. It’s a game where the mental edge is critical.

    I can’t imagine a top player possibly conceding at 30-ish that he’s declining unless you ask him to look back — when he or she is off the tour.

    I remember the year Pete won his final USO. He beat Rusedski (on Armstrong Court for those that care) and Rusedski was quoted as saying (somewhat bitterly) that Sampras lost a couple of steps and he didn’t see him going much further in the tournament. Well Sampras was none too pleased when the remark was relayed to him. Even if Sampras had — he’s not going to concede it to his competition.

    And neither is Fed.

    “Yes Dan, excellent question — I think I lost a step or two since crushing Nadal in London. Obviously I’ve declined and you’ve keenly picked up on it. In fact, specifically my movement to the forehand side. That tiny loss of speed is resulting in a lot of shanked forehands. So I want Novak to know that going in so he doesn’t have to waste anytime figured it out on the court. In fact all the players should be aware that I’m really not feeling it most days so come and get me. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to clear that up.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 2, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Patrick McEnroe commented during the broadcast last night that Federer looked “a half step slow.” But who knows, Fed didn’t go into the Nadal match with optimum preparation – the easy late night win vs. Rochus and the weird default by Simon at 0-3. Tough to build confidence off non-matches like that. On the other hand Nadal was thoroughly tested by Berdych, pulling it out in three sets after being pushed to the limits. I think these factors could have contributed to the one sided nature of Nadal’s 63 63 win.

  • Mike · April 2, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    Also the court. They said it’s relatively slow for a hard court and Nadal can hurt Fed whenever he can kick the ball up, right ?

    Have you been to the Miami tourney before ? How did you like it (this year) ?

    I posted some photos from the event.

    I shot a lot around the outer courts, practices and the like. I didn’t find too many matches all that compelling this year. I missed Raonic he went out so early. And I’m beginning to consider joining the Gulbis is a giant waste of talent club.

    Funny that Scoop commented that he thought it felt like a Major. I never got that sense. It’s very low key — in a good way. I was the about the only person watching Azarenka work out one morning and she won the thing. That doesn’t happen at a major where the media (and security) follows the top players everywhere and the fans can get so hyped up it can be unpleasant.

  • Sakhi · April 3, 2011 at 1:02 am

    I do think Fed has to regroup but my sense is that (like Scoop) the lack of matches really hurt him. If Simon had been well, he would given Federer a run for his money and that would certainly have boosted his game. Federer did not look slow the rest of the matches. He almost looked Murray-esque in his loss to Nadal–a sort of mental unpreparedness that translated into his play. Again, unlike Murray who has no room for excuses, Federer might use this opportunity to amp up, as it were.

    And f.y.i—INDIA JUST WON THE WORLD CUP IN CRICKET (beating Sri Lanka in a hard-fought battle). I LOVE TENNIS BUT THE CRICKET WORLD CUP IS THE BIGGEST THING THERE IS ! So, more props to the Indian Express (Paes-Bhupathi) for carrying on the wins on the tennis courts with their doubles victory today.

  • Minhaj · April 3, 2011 at 2:54 am

    Actually I would like to disagree with you guys, Federer is not the kind of player who needs a lot of match practice to play great.
    He has always been happy and has showed his preference for quick wins. On the other hand, Nadal’s match against Berdych can be a serious confidence sapper. You can watch his interviews if you doubt me.
    No can rule Federer out until he is like 60, but he definitely not the same player who was cocky enough to make a comment when told that people were thinking he could be beaten. His rather sarcastic reply, I remember so well on TV during the 2008 Australian open was “I have heard those rumors”.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 3, 2011 at 3:45 am

    The knee jerk reaction is that Fed is done. But after contemplating it, I think it’s just a bad day at the office. Keep in mind, Fed’s confidence is not very high now, with the three straight losses to Djokovic and don’t forget that doubles final loss to Dolgopolov/Malisse was another setback. Fed and Wawrinka came up short in a tight one. He just did not enter the match with Nadal last night with sky high confidence. He is still mired in a slump of sorts. And don’t forget, Fed is more human these days, as he matures, he has definitely lost some of his Superman qualities. But I still think, he will right the ship and get his game in order and still cause havoc for Djokovic and Nadal and others down the line. The media and fan’s doubts and criticism will surely light the Federer fire.

  • Scoop Malinowski · April 3, 2011 at 3:48 am

    In his heyday Minhaj, I agree, Fed could roll out of bed and win big matches. But now it’s different. Nadal and Djokovic have passed him. He can’t just rely on his magical talent, it’s not enough. THose two are better than he is now. Fed needs perfect preparation now. He needs tough matches to sharpen his game and maximize his confidence. Nadal and Djokovic are just too tough, Fed has to be perfect, he has to play his very best tennis to beat them now. Anything less will result in a loss like last night. Well, that’s my opinion.

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