The Federstalker: the 5 Year Plan.
Interview with Blick. Thanks to LaRubia from the Mothership for the beautiful translation. I made some minor edits.
Since his Wimbledon loss, various members of Team Federer and sources close to Fed have sent out a single consistent message: dude is practising his balls off and he ain’t going anywhere for another 4-5 years. They say beware the wounded lion, I say it’s the hungry ones you gotta watch.
Mr. Paganini, how fit is Roger Federer at the moment?
Pierre Paganini: At the moment he is super fit. We’ve been practicing for almost 2 weeks now. The holidays have been good for him.
At Wimbledon he complained about having some pains. Where did those pains come from?
PP: In principle these pains are normal. If you’re playing 60-70 matches a year, you are going to have matches where you’re carrying a little injury with you and where you’re feeling your back. Especially on grass. He didn’t feel that well and that meant that he played with less confidence, which disrupted the game plan. At this level, even little things have a big effect.
How important is fitness for Federer?
PP: Of course it’s best when everything works. As a person, as an athlete, as a player. But the reality is that Roger, just like many others, sometimes doesn’t feel 100% in matches. He knows that he can beat most of the players, even when some little details are missing, but he also knows that it can become dangerous for him.
Roger is going to be 29 years old next week. How do his performance levels compare these days with former times?
He is exactly as fit as he was 6 or 3 years ago – I don’t name the exact numbers. But the measurable indicators which you can get in relation to explosiveness, speed or specific stamina, all of them are where they’re supposed to be. In addition to this, Roger has more maturity because he has practiced all these years in a disciplined manner. The fact is: you can’t really show what you have in your suitcase everyday.
So age isn’t a problem?
You’re not old when you are 29 or 30. But at this age, you’ve already done a lot and this is the huge difference. This isn’t your first practice or your first match. He has nearly 900 matches in his legs and a few thousand practices. He’s going to feel it. What is changing now is not the quality of an athlete, but the planning. You have to give your body a little more time to make certain adjustments.
The statistics of many former top players show – especially at the age of 29 – a decrease in general performances.
It’s different with everyone. Agassi had a long period like this in between. What’s important is the willingness. What has delighted me in these last 2 weeks is that Roger comes to practice with the vigor of a junior player. I’m really fascinated. It sparkles in his eyes. When you tell him: you should have 1 ½ days off, he says: maybe it’ll be beautiful tomorrow and I can practice. That shows me that mentally, he has the right attitude.
So Federer ticks differently?
Maybe others are less in love with tennis. Roger loves ball sports. That’s why he plays. Everything he’s done so far has taken a lot of energy out of him. You have to respect that. Roger practices as much as before, but it also has to be divided differently. The same quantum, only arranged differently.
What do you think when people say that his time is running out slowly?
When some cracker-barrel person with a beer in his hand says something like that, he can say it – you can’t be mad at him because he doesn’t know any better. What irritates me are those so-called specialists who talk about “the end” after every loss. If you know tennis you should come to a different conclusion.
Q: Kids take up energy. Do they influence his game?
Sure, but I think only positively. Federer takes strength from his family, but they also distract him. Other players had much more problems with their adjustment. But Mirka has done an incredible good job. She empathizes with Roger.
Q: So stress with the kids hasn’t been harmful for his performance?
A: Not at all. There are many positives. How many people are unhappy with 29, because they don’t feel a sense in life? Roger is happy. His private life guarantees that he’ll play for a long time.
Q: Does the new coach Paul Annacone have a clear idea as to what he wants to add to Federer’s game ? He was a serve-and-volley specialist.
A: Annacone has been here for two days and is thrilled with Roger’s commitment. Basically it’s Roger who creates the game. You can’t impose anything on him. It is a dialogue. Roger is much more open now than he was five years ago. As for the serve-and-volley specialist, I don’t see it as that limiting. Annacone played like that, but that doesn’t mean that he wants to impose this on someone else. It’s much more complex than that.
Q: How demanding is the training program with Federer in Zürich?
A: We’ve been training now for just under two weeks. From now til August 5, we’ll have done between 15 to 17 conditioning units of 1 or 2 hours, and 18 to 24 hours on the court. The training partners Stefan Koubek and Philippe Kohlschreiber.
Q: How long can Roger win Grand-Slams for?
A: Right now, I’d say four to five years. Keeping in mind that there’ll be certain physiological wear-and-tear. But in terms of his abilities, enthusiasm and athleticism, he can keep up with the others a few more years without any problems. We’re planning long-term right now for the next five years.