Quotable Quotes: Admit it, you want his job.
Admit also that you can’t do what he does.
An interview with the Swiss-French paper – le Temps and Paul Annacone on who else but Woger McFed. (Photo credit: Krist from the Mothership, Roger’s practice session today/yesterday)
Le Temps: You’ve just started working with Roger Federer …
Paul Annacone: I’m very lucky. It’s an interesting situation. The most important thing for me was my initial conversations with Roger after Wimbledon. It was clear what he still wanted to do and accomplish. His will, his desire to know where he is in his career, was impressive. He has the energy and passion of a young man. These conversations were enlightening. Then I had the opportunity to meet his team and talk with everyone and I felt even more honored to play this role. I’m just another ingredient to his team. I didn’t know Severin Lüthi very well and spent a week with him in Zurich where I found out a little about his background and his knowledge of Roger and tennis. He knows exactly what he should say on court. I think we’ll work very well together.
– What do you hope to bring to Federer?
– Experience, I hope. I experienced this kind of situation before. I worked for eight years with Pete Sampras and helped him in a transitional phase in his career. Great players change. They move with the times. And Roger, too. He’s an incredible athlete. He has done so many great things. He and his team were successful before I came along, but I can share with him my experience with Pete and Tim Henman as the end of his career.
Tim, one day, said that he thought he played his best tennis at the age of 30. It was a compliment since that was the time we worked together. It was encouraging. Great players don’t happen by chance. My role is to know how to use their full situation, which is already favorable, to sustain the success.
With Pierre Paganini (physical trainer), Severin Lüthi (coach) and Stéphane Vivier (the physio), there are three key people who already do a great job with Roger. Someone like me is effective if I’m is integrated in an intelligent way. So they will help me do a good job. All these people have been very useful for Roger in their understanding of his environment. Sometimes people don’t realize just how high the level is, and how complex the environment. But nobody has approached this with as much class and integrity as Roger.
– What characterizes this phase of his career?
– Roger is smart. He has good vision of the whole landscape of tennis. He feels and understands the changes. When Pete stopped winning, he didn’t understand why the players stayed behind on the baseline and why no one charged to the net at Wimbledon. I worked on this point when I was dealing with Tim. The game evolves and Roger, like other great players, finds ways to continue to win. I hope my experience will be useful in this level. That’s the idea behind the collaboration.
– Federer lost here last year in the final against Del Potro, Söderling at Roland Garros and Wimbledon against Berdych. Was it his intention to arm himself to deal with these players and their powerful groundstrokes?
– Roger’s approach is more measured at this point in his career. When you have talent, it is both a blessing and a curse. The expectations are so high that they sometimes become unrealistic. Having the right to win can become a burden. That was how it was for Pete. What Roger has done over the last ten years is phenomenal. Pete was the first to tell me that what Roger did was extraordinary.
He said: “The day Federer beat my record, I want to be there to congratulate him because I know how difficult it is to get there.” Roger got there with class and grace. However, he is aware that tennis is changing and that the contribution of someone like me can help him progress further.
– Are you specialized in coaching established players?
– (Laughs). No, I’m just lucky. It’s exciting for me to work with players who excel at the highest level. I am honored to be able to give them something because of my knowledge of their specific problems. What counts for me is that the player has a good character, whether professional, honesty, that his schedule is planned properly because he still wants to play and knows why he plays. Roger encompasses all these qualities.
– Are there areas of his game he wants to work specifically with you?
– Roger has what is called in English “a big tool kit” (a full range of shots). For a coach, it’s exciting. He knows everything.What I admire most about him is his ability to use all his weapons to win. And how he has fun trying to keep all the pieces together.
The goal is to help to continue on this path, to allow him to use his tools well, but not just one in particular. He chooses the most effective weapon according to the opponent. The goal is to work with Severin, to gather information and give a single message to Roger. And ultimately, he’s the one that drives the bus. With the qualities he has, he has many good years ahead of him. Again, I am impressed by his energy, his level of exuberance, the pleasure evident in his eyes and the passion he brings to coaching. He has the determination of a 22 year old player. He doesn’t feel like someone who has won everything. For me, this proves that he is ready to continue and that he wants more. It makes my job easier.
– Was it the same with Sampras?
– No, for Pete, staying at this level was both a physical effort but more importantly an emotional one as well. After his last title in New York in 2002, he still had the capacity to play at the highest level, but he no longer had the will.
– Have you set performance targets?
– We work on an overall vision of his desires for the rest of his career. Right now, there’s the US Open, but if we look beyond that. Whether it’s here, or in Australia, Paris or at Wimbledon, there are still plenty of good results to come for Roger Federer.
Shoddy translation by Dootsiez
So in summary:
- Annacone and Roger both consider his experience with Henman and Sampras very useful for this stage in Fed’s career.
- Interesting idea of Annacone to work with Luthi and bring a single message to Roger.
- I have never doubted the motivation and desire of Fed to continue to excel in this sport and this interview is consistent with everything I’ve read over the course of the year.