BREAKING: How fast do you think I can cut and paste?
Ctrl C + Ctrl V =
I’ve been looking to add someone to my team and I’ve decided to spend some days with Paul Annacone. As Paul winds down his responsibilities working for the Lawn Tennis Association, we will explore our relationship through this test period. Paul will work alongside my existing team and I am excited to learn from his experiences.
See you soon,
Paul Annacone: long time coach of Sampras (and I mean LONG TIME). Also coached Tim Henman casually for a while back in 2004 before becoming the Head Coach of the LTA in 2006.
Annacone recently announced his departure from the LTA from November 2010. That ought to have been a sign. With only 3 British men inside the world’s top 300, clearly the position does nothing to enhance Annacone’s illustrious resume.
Prophetically, in an interview with the NYT last year, Paul Annacone discussed the “decline” of Federer from a coach perspective.
“There are definitely some parallels [between Sampras and Federer],” said Paul Annacone. “Just as it was for Pete, it’s a particularly interesting, challenging time in Roger’s career. But I would look at it with Roger in the same way as for Pete. For guys like that, it is daunting but not that daunting. They are so skilled, they can adjust, but a lot of the adjustment is mental.”
Annacone thinks Roger grew accustomed to overwhelming opponents from the back court: to being the better athlete and hitting a more, consistent and heavier ball.
“We are all creatures of habits,” Annacone said. “Roger has won a lot a certain way, and when you’ve done that for four or five years and then in year six or seven, that shot that used to be a winner isn’t a winner anymore, the tendency in human nature is to overplay a little bit. And that’s what’s happening. His couple of patterns that used to be very dominant are still successful against 95 percent of the guys — just not against that last five percent.”
Annacone understandably leans toward Federer’s hiring a full-time coach. “I always feel in an individual sport, it’s up to the guy on court, but as you watch the evolution of careers, it’s good to have someone you trust and who understands you and what you’re trying to do and also your game and the history of what’s gone on,” he said.
“He may choose to keep doing what he’s been doing and not tweaking, and that’s his choice as a champion,” Annacone said. “But for me it would be a shame. If you have a lot of weapons in your arsenal and choose not to use them, what’s the point in having them? It’s a matter of managing them a bit differently than he did a few years ago.”
It happens every time Federer loses more often than usual – people wonder (unreasonably? naturally? without cause or justification?): will this man, 16 slams and counting, 28 years young and going on 29, be on the verge of retirement?
There you have the best evidence that he’s in this for the long haul. More than anything, the announcement comes with symbolic significance.
It’s back to business for the Fed.
And it’s back to business for me as well, having recently returned (several shades darker) from Switzerlandia. As much as I loved the wanderlust and my exile from tennis over the past month, as much as I want to stay by the shores of Swiss lakes and stuff my face with cheese, Lindt and Movenpick every day, it’s good to be back. I’ve missed the players, I’ve missed the creative outlet of this blog, and I’ve missed all of you too.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank fellow Federer and tennis fans PJ and Whynotme. The former for doing such a fabulous job populating this site while I was away with her beautiful Haikus and images, the latter for being a charming host to me while I was in Paris and feeding me goat cheese.
I met several Federer fans on this journey, and it’s amazing how close I immediately felt to all of them. Partly because they were all easy-going and kind. Partly, I dare say, because of our mutual admiration for one fine tennis player. Are some of you coming down for the Aussie Open next year? Do let me know, because there shall be Fedophiliac Drinks. Non-Fedophiles invited!