Federstalker Update: As if I needed an excuse to repost this picture.

The Austrian press Kleine Zeitung is reporting that Roger Federer invited Stefan Koubek and the hockey player Peter Znenahlik to Zurich for a week at his expense, where he trained twice a day in 2 hour sessions with Koubek. (Clickey)

Why Koubek? Kleine asked Znenahlik, “they’ve known each other for years and Stefan does exactly what Federer and his coach wants in training.” (Thanks, Google)

Znenahlik, the former hockey player who sometimes acts as Koubek’s fitness trainer,  spilled the beans on what a Federer/Koubek training session is like.

“Even though they work very hard together, those two have only nonsense in their heads. There is laughter nonstop. Even if Federer is often a little reserved in interviews, away from the cameras, he is really like that. And a very fine person, who never acts like a star,” says Znenahlik.

By the way, dug up this old interview after logging on RF.com for the first time in a month. Thanks to LaRubia for the translation, hope she doesn’t mind my slight editing. Roger discusses his “injury”, form, as well as players such Nadal, Del Potro, and Soderling with the German Tennis Magazine.

Mr. Federer, this year, you failed to reach the Wimbledon final for the first time since 2003. You lost in the quarterfinal against Tomas Berdych. How much did this loss hurt?

Of course it was painful. It was frustrating. My game didn’t work. I had problems with my back and my legs. I didn’t played well in the deciding moments of that match. I was dissatisfied as I couldn’t play freely. But it’s not the end of the world. On the contrary: I’m looking forward to returning to Paris and Wimbledon next year.

A lot of people said this is the end of the Federer era.

I don’t think so at all. I can to dominate again. That’s what I play for. When Federer loses in the quarterfinal people say that this is shocking. People aren’t used to this, myself included. But I know that I can beat the other guys when I’m fit. They didn’t reinvent the game new in one year.

How do you explain the physically problems you had in Wimbledon?

On grass the balls are going deep and you have to bow a lot. It’s normal that this stresses the back. The back felt stiff, which happens to a lot of players. It wasn’t something really serious.

Are you satisfied with the calendar?

It surely isn’t perfect and it won’t ever be perfect unless you would start at 0. But that’s not possible. There are too many contracts which have to be coordinated. Even with a perfect calendar a claycourt specialist would say: I would like to have one more week. And the grasscourt player says: Me too. And the hard court players in the States would demand: We need to have two more weeks.

You are the president of the Players’ Council. What’s your visions for it?

There is a lot of feedback to shorten the tour. I’m in favour of having one month without any tournaments in the summer. Everyone could heal their injuries. The problem is that players could play exhibition matches then. There is always someone who would like to play. Maybe we can agree on having a 2 or 3 months break at the end of the year. You would have the time then to work on your game. That’s something we professionals are extremely lacking. We always play tournaments. In the short breaks we only practice a little bit. But on the other hand you can’t really work that much on your game anymore when you are 20 years old. That leads to stagnation. Therefore I like it to have 2 or 3 times a year practice sessions for 3 or 4 weeks. That’s how I can develop as a player.

On Rafa and the calendar

Nadal critized the tour calendar a lot lately. Rightly so?

I was surprised about it. He is part of the decisions-making, as he is the Vice President of the Players Council.

I think his criticism is against the calendar, when he – for example – has to cancel playing Barcelona. It’s more of an apology to the tournament organizer. I would like to play 15 tournaments more, but the body and the calendar don’t allow.

The great thing of tennis is that everyone can chose where to play. I can understand it that Rafa wants to play more on clay. I would also like to play 3 months more on grass, but I don’t complain.

Did you expect that Rafael Nadal would be able to play so consistent this year again?

Yes, but I thought he would be in better form even earlier. I was surprised that he wasn’t able to win a tournament for 11 months. He wasn’t able to beat top 10 players. Therefore it was an advantage for him that he barely had to play against any of the top players on the way to his titles in Monte Carlo and Rome. On clay Rafa is incredible strong. I was sure that he would win 2 or 3 of the Masters tournaments on clay and then go to the French Open as the main favourite.

He has displaced you as the #1 in the rankings. Meanwhile you slipped down to #3. How difficult is this drop?

Rafa held #2 or #3 steadily even during his crisis. I knew that he would have a chance to get back to #1 when he played well again. He used his chance. At the latest, in Wimbledon, where he didn’t played last year, he would have overtaken me anyway. I was relaxed about this.

What makes you confident that you can reach the top again?

That I was able to go through difficult situations quite often already. I only won one title this year so far, but the victory in Melbourne was extremely important. It was groundbreaking. I lost the supremacy on hardcourt after I got mono. There were players who came up strong like Djokovic, Murray and Del Potro. In Australia I didn’t just win, I dominated.

On Soderling, del Potro and co.

I was surprised how constant us four (Fed, Rafa, Djoko and Muzz) played last year. At nearly every tournament we reached the semifinals, always the same players. Then came Del Potro. He made a huge step. I should have never lost the US Open final against him, but he was incredible strong in the end. It’s pity that he is forced out of the game for such a long time. I think he would have had the chance to compete for the #1. Söderling has played very well, just like Verdasco, but Del Potro won tournaments. Just like Davydenko. Roddick also played well. 2009 was a very interesting year.

[Soderling] has played to the limit a lot. He has learned how to handle different situations. When you are as strong as he is, you are going to win. He has lost against me 12 times. I beat him in Paris, Wimbledon and the US Open last year. But he hasn’t won any of the big tournaments. That’s one step that is missing for him. The final in Paris (which he lost against Nadal) would have been the day of truth for him.

On retirement: school age for Myla and Charlene, which puts us at another 4-5 years.

Thoughts? What say you to the idea of a month without tournaments in the middle of the year – a mini off-season of sorts? How groundbreaking was Australia really? Has Soderling used up his “day of truth”? Is Roger Federer the most zen person you’ve ever had the frustration of following?


xx doots


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18 responses to “Federstalker Update: As if I needed an excuse to repost this picture.”

  1. Matt Zemek says :

    It’s breakfast time on a Thursday, and this was much more of a heaping buffet platter than I was ready to eat.

    But boy, am I enjoying the feeling of being stuffed. Loads of goodness here! Thanks!

    I do think a shutdown July (post-Wimby and Newport) for 3 weeks would be great, but it’s not going to happen with the nascent and wildly successful Atlanta tournament. 2 months off between the World Tour Finals (maybe play them the first weekend of November instead of the fourth) and the Aussie Open warm-ups would be really good.

    Great post!

    • dootsiez says :

      the only way a July mini-offseason could happen is if the smaller US Open tournaments are crammed into 2 weeks. The other possible shut-down could be 2 weeks off after the US season. But it means cramming the Asian tournaments into non-existence.

      But Roger’s right. Players will just go and play exhibitions in their off-time anyway. Some of the lower ranked players on the ATP and more so on the WTA tour actually *want* to play small tournaments week in, week out to make money.

  2. pban says :

    well he is more zen than I am for sure, 2 slam sundays without him was enough to last a lifetime 😦 ..i don’t know if i miss the frazzles anymore .

  3. FortuneCookie says :

    The idea of just yanking most of the US Open Series from the calendar (as he’s basically implying) hadn’t occurred to me,but it’s an interesting point.Can’t see it happening at all mainly because of the power of the US TV networks/USTA etc
    I think the WTF definitely needs to be earlier though,the ATP needs to follow the WTA example and move it back to October so there’s
    more of a real offseason…
    The Del Potro love Roger’s been showing this year is so…him,I think once you beat him in a major you have his ultimate respect
    One of the issues I have with this year is how much of a big deal the AO became,yeah he won in dominating fashion,but that was in the final mostly,and I just felt uneasy that journos were saying ‘oh he’s back to 07 form’ when he’d been losing to Benneteau,Davydenko,Del Potro twice in a row etc weeks before…I think it disguised the fact that there *were* still some problems
    Oh and (last point I promise! 😛 ) it makes complete sense that he wants to retire by the time the twins start school,he’ll be 33/34 by then and some people forget that he’s already been on tour for 12 years!

    • dootsiez says :

      “The Del Potro love Roger’s been showing this year is so…him,I think once you beat him in a major you have his ultimate respect”

      Oh I dunno about that … *cought*novakdjokovic*cough*

      Interesting point about the AO, because I wondered about that myself, but actually concluded that I did agree with the media. Except for a set and a half of craphouse tennis against Davydenko, Fed actually played pretty sensationally throughout the AO, even in the first round – when Andreev almost took 2 sets off him, Federer was playing well and handling the pace from Andreev. Let’s not forget Tsonga could barely make a mark on him in the semis, and against Hewitt, Federer was just playing from another planet. All of them were potentially tricky opponents in good form.

      And I did think his footwork was back to his 06-07 standards back then, which looked promising for the rest of the year … But of course, none of that carried over the early US hardcourts. -_-“

      • FortuneCookie says :

        Ha,shall I say ‘beat him in slam finals’ then? 😛

      • Dari says :

        Glad to hear the specific mention of footwork at AO. Fed certainly impressed me with that at AO and he was SMACKING the ball in the final. I guess my point is, that was *only* 6 months ago! The world can indeed change in 6 months, but I just don’t feel that roger is that far removed from superb, major-winning tennis! sigh, anyway we shall see! Sure would be nice to get bookend majors! 🙂 thanks for the post!

    • Shaurya says :

      you’ve made good points overall, but abt del potro- i m not sure soderling, berdych and last but by no means least novak command the same(or anywhere close to) respect that del potro does. Its simply because hes the best of the pack chasing the big two , and on hard courts its him fed will be concerned abt the most (not this fall though)…

  4. Jack says :

    To be honest though, he does kinda have a mini-off season already! I mean, after Wimbledon he doesn’t play until Rogers cup so he has 5 weeks off there 🙂 But I get what he means though. I still find it wierd how there are random clay tournaments scattered around the calender.

    Nice to hear he’s started training again. Shows that (hopefully) the injury problems are gone!

    And I’m not sure whether I agree with him about the Australian Open. He dominated in the semi-finals and finals but the whole tournament in general wasn’t a walk in the park.

    • dootsiez says :

      Hmm gotta disagree Jack (refer to above comment). Wasn’t it a walk in the park? He lost 2 sets in total for the tournament. If that isn’t dominate, I don’t know what is. When I say dominate, I don’t mean straight sets, easy wins. I meant the matches he *still* won even when his opponents put up a good fight. Against Andreev, Davydenko, in form players attacking him from left right and centre, he moved well, his defence was the best I’ve seen in years, he had the ability to weather the storm. Any other player on those days might’ve lost. That’s the definition of a good tournament.

      It reminded me of the US Open 2007 actually, he lost sets every round very early on, but not because he was playing badly – his opponents were just taking it too him. And then it was straight sets from the quarterifinals onwards. That was dominance.

      • marcoiac says :

        i was in davos during the second week of AO and only watched the final (which he surely dominated), but, didn’t fed have a five setter with berdich?
        at any rate, while it’s true that they did not invent a new game in a year, i think the game is getting tougher every year. i find myself hitting balls on the ucla courts while the guys playing the qualies for the atp tourney practice. every year they seem to hit stronger and more consistently. also the field of the qualies of a minor tourney like LA gets filled up with good names more and more every year. this year we had some first rounds in the qualies that could have been second round in a major. i think fed does not like to admit it explicitly, but when he says he needs time off to improve his game, he sort of admits that the field is getting tougher and tougher. and he needs to do something about it. he definitely needs to return better. got three words for him: chip and charge. hope annacone agrees. 🙂

        • dootsiez says :

          5 setter v Birdy was last yr! You’re getting your years mixed up, tsk tsk 😛

        • marcoiac says :

          that’s a bad sign…if i mix up fed’s results over the years is a sure sign of cognitive decline!!!!

  5. jfK says :

    Thanks for posting the interview. I hope training with Koubek again will lead to the same success it did last year. 😀
    I read he will be training with Kohlschreiber next week.

  6. fedfreak says :

    Isn’t it Friday in OZ already? Withigo FPF?

  7. BS says :

    Reading this interview has reassured me that, yes he will be back. (Not that I doubted it, but reading what the tennis journos have to say sometimes makes me think twice) About the AO, he did dominate, it was probably his most straightforward slam win since 2007, given the quality of opponent and how he won his matches. I love how he always throws in bitchy quotes, just to show the other guys that he still believes:

    “I should never have lost the US Open final”

    Oh Roger. Don’t ever change 🙂 And yes doots, he is by far the most frustrating person to follow. Sometimes when he’s really positive after his losses I feel like throwing something at him 😛

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