In case you’re not an ardent fan of … err … Austrian tennis, Federer’s practice buddy and former pro tennis player Stefan Koubek has retired from tennis. In an interview with the Austrian Der Standard, Koubek talked briefly about his relationship with Mister Wodge.
Mentioning Koubek, the Austrian bid farewell to his career through an exho in Austria last weekend, which Federer was rumoured to have committed to attend, only to cancel last minute for “private reasons”.
Here’s to hoping those “private reasons” involve HARDCORE TENNISTICAL TRAINING and not a crash course in Wiggles karaoke.
Standard: You are good friend with Roger Federer. How would you characterize this man?
Koubek: He is, as he presents himself, there is no facade. He is extremely friendly, has respect for everyone. He is playing unbelievable tennis. Roger is the proof that a top athlete need not to be a ‘pig’. He is a world star, then he goes home home, he sits around on the floor and plays with his twins. I can tackle(?) him. He is just more successful and has a bit more money.
Standard: Has Federer opened your eyes?
Koubek: At each of our training session, Roger taught me the reality. I never belonged to the same league as the Top 10. I was talented, but so are many players. Perhaps I could have won five instead of three tournaments.
Source: Der Standard
From Stefan Koubek’s blog (fanks, Google Translate):
So from Monday til today (Thursday), I’ve been in Zurich training with Roger, who now knows everyone. And since Roger is now trying a collaboration with Paul Annacone, I thought I must not be outdone: I’ve taken Znene along to the training camp – the Peter Znenahlik. 😉
It looks good in training: Roger and Paul Annacone over there, me and Znene over here. We chat amongst ourselves when Annacone and Roger talks. Znene teaches me about hockey for hours, but I still know more about tennis. Although I have to admit of course: Znene is a help and a great companion – after all, he’s been traveling with me long enough on the tour.
I had a stomach ache before this week because I haven’t trained at all recently due to this thing with my finger. Fortunately, it’s now almost 100 percent recovered, but the training has been very hard for me. It’s not so much the length – we train for two or three hours – it’s the intensity. Roger just plays extremely fast and at a crazy high level, making very, very few mistakes.
Roger’s physio was there on the first day and taped up my finger, which has helped me. What have we been practicing on? We played a lot of cross court and down the line drills (not sure about the translation for “Wir haben viel cross und longline gespielt”?), a lot of points where you have an incentive, because otherwise the drills are a bit bland. We played a lot of different things, like serving on targets, a lot of variety. Roger and I are similar because we cannot do the same thing all the time.
Training with Roger in Zurich is always a bit different to our training in Dubai or Sardinia: since he lives here, his friends and family are here, so he has a lot to do. That is, we almost only see each other during training. At the other places we train, we spend more time together. It’s too bad, but I understand.
Last night, we went to dinner with Paul Annacone. That was really very nice. The guy is very nice and has no airs … I mean, this is one of the best coaches in the world, he has worked with Pete Sampras and Henman, and then me, Znene and him chat over dinner and talk about the tennis. And he told how he won once in Vienna. It was a really nice evening.
Yes, Roger’s twins have grown. I was here in Zurich exactly a year ago with Roger, when they just were born. The last time I saw them was in Australia. They have become really sweet.
Tonight I’m going to Vienna, and Kitzbühel tomorrow where I play an exhibition on Saturday, and on Saturday night, I’m going to Turkey, where I lead a children’s camp. Also something new for me, but I’m looking forward to it.
- Always comforting to see Koubek there. For some reason, Roger has always done well after he’s used Stefan to sharpen his knives.
- Quite a few people have wondered when the Federcone collaboration will start. Judging from Koubek’s blog, it’s already started.
- Koubek sounds like he has a man-crush on Roger.
- Kohlschreiber, if you didn’t know already, has also been invited to Zurich to train with Federer. Despite making no public appearance since Wimbledon, the Fed has created an air of “beware the wounded lion”, doing everything from hiring a new coach to manically practicing away in the Zurich.
Roger’s Cup can’t come soon enough.
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?
FACT: Homelessness is a huge problem on the ATP tour.
The Davis Cup semifinals and World Group play-offs are underway this weekend across 3 continents. What we love about the DC is that it’s filled with manhugs, bromances, and Swiss campfires. It all comes down to having “the spirit”.
What we hate about DC is that no one cares enough to televise much of the action.
The hobo in the picture, also known as Stefan Koubek or more widely as “Federer’s Practice Buddy”, came back from two sets to love down, only to lose to Capdeville 6-4 in the fifth.
Earlier Massu defeated Melzer to give Chile a 2-0 lead over Austria.
In other ties, Gael Monfils appears to be still missing his marbles as he was stunned by birthday boy Thiemo de Bakker in 4 sets. WHO?
Only marginally more dependable, Jo-Willy did his bit for la Republique and leveled proceedings with a comfortable win over Jesee Huta Galung.
Also tied at one all are Sweden and Romania with Soderling and Hanescu both scoring wins on each side. This means, as le Sod tweeted, “no party til Sunday“.
You gotta feel for Ahndee Mooray. It sucks to be this good on a team that’s this bad. But Toothface felt compelled to save Britain’s Davis Cup hopes from full scale extinction by playing with a bum wrist.
Martyr. That boy.
It’s all very well, until you realise that this is only a zonal play-off, and even with his martyrdom, GB is tied at 1-1 against Poland.
Hey Muzz, there are some things worth sacrificing yourself for.
For others, call a sicky.
Onto more riveting stuff, the two Davis Cup semifinal ties were contrasting affairs.
The deep-pockets of Spain delivered time and time again, as Ferrer and Ferrero both score straight set wins over surprise semifinalist Israel. Color me surprised if Spain doesn’t successfully defend its Davis Cup title this year.
On the other hand, the efforts of the Czech Republic in putting themselves into a 2-0 lead over Croatia have been nothing short of epic, eliciting man-hugs all round.
It took Radek Stepanek five hours 59 minutes to beat Dr Ivo 67 76 76 67 16-14 in a match that featured Ivo raining down a staggering 78 aces, besting the world record (his own) by 23. Yeah Ivo, spank that ace.
Random thought: if it took Karlovic and the Worm almost 6 hours to finish the match, how long would it have taken if played between Rafa and Djoko?
And just in case you weren’t exhausted by the Ivo v Worm mindfuckery,
Berdych then took almost another 4 hours to ‘shock’ Marin Cilic, 63 63 36 46 63. Tough luck for the Red Hot Cilic Peppers, the picnic blanket brought him no mojo this time.
As for the Swiss… errr, WHAAAAA-
As I was saying before we were so rudely interrupted by Kanye, the Swiss sailed to a 2-0 lead over the Italians, with Stan and Roger both winning comfortably in 3 sets.
Roger Federer, THE WANKER, made 66% first serves, 10 aces, 0 DFs.
The “if-onlys” killed me.
He converted a respectable 6/15 break points. Umm … if you need me, I’ll be in my backyard, digging a hole and throwing my Federbear into it.
No Roger, not even a smiley Monkey Face will save you from my rage.
Although, I did discover the Swiss voodoos behind Roger’s rare break point conversion success:
Roger aside, the rest of the Swiss team was the epitome of cool.
Even Luthi had “the spirit thing” going.
I may be prepared to forgive Roger if he brings back that Fedrinka campfire.
Not to be denied,
Koubek and Roger’s idea of practice.
Stefan Koubek’s spilled that he had planned to train with Federer from last Tuesday to Saturday. (Clickey).
Since I haven’t touched German for about 6 years, I enlisted Google translate and did a bit of editing. To any German speakers, correct me if anything was lost in translation.
Tomorrow, it’s back to a training week with Roger. And I can’t wait the hard court season.
And I have the best training partner in the world to prepare for the coming big weeks: tomorrow, Tuesday, I’m going to a training week with Roger Federer in Switzerland. The week in Sardinia before Paris apparently suited him as much as it suited me. Even though I must admit, he got more out of it than I did … 😉
We’ve been discussing our second joint training week for almost 3 weeks, only with Mirka’s delivery date, everything was uncertain until recently. But since the twins have arrived, it was certain. I’m going tomorrow, will train until Saturday …
Posted on the 27th July.
So I’m thinking the tournament organisers in Montreal are feel just a little more happy these days than two weeks ago.
While we’re on the topic of Fed, it’s obvious beyond my comprehension why anyone would want to comfort Fed-haters, or any haters really, but this makes me want to jump up from my couch and yell “suckers!” in the most smug and evil way.
But I’m pretty sure there’ll be Karmic retribution for that. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Karmic retribution against my perfect tennis world order is just around the corner. All the more reasons to gloat while I still can.