Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday, Monday

by Savannah

Per Antoni Nadal his nephew's fifth consecutive win at Monte Carlo was nice but he can do better.
"He played a good third set, but it's obvious he must play better than this week," said Nadal senior.
"He was missing a little confidence in his game and you could see that his serve was incredibly weak. But it's the first tournament on clay this season for him and I hope that with some more matches, it'll get better.
"We know that there's a lot of work to do before Roland-Garros. But he still won. It's a very important tournament for us and to win for a fifth time is incredible."

Meanwhile Jose Higueras has said that his former charge needs to change.
“When you stop improving, you deteriorate; in tennis it’s always like this” says the coach, who was prohibited by contract to speak about the Swiss last year. “But Federer continues just as before. His backhand, which today seems weak, is good, but the players have grown accustomed to it and that’s why it’s less effective, now it seems to play worse.”
Roger’s immobility contrasts with Nadal’s aptitude for reinvention. “In two years, (Nadal) is a completely new player, he has improved and changed his style. Federer keeps on being the same: now others can attack him. He has stagnated.”

It’s not only a problem of competition, but also of philosophy. “Tactics always work better if they win - it’s a question of confidence. Federer can improve his style of play, he doesn’t always use the most appropriate style. When I was with him, he played two brilliant matches, the semifinals and final of the US Open.”
“He was aggressive, he approached the net well, he was very fast, that’s why he won, this is the way he always has to be.” Higueras says on Federer’s current game, which has problems of strategy when he doesn’t cover the backhand, his worst shot, to optimize his resources. “The backhand has always served him well, it is a big shot, but the players know it. His forehand is more devastating and more difficult to defend,” says Higueras.

Thanks to the good people at the GoToTennis blog for the translation of the original article in Spanish. They provide a link to the original article.

There was also a flurry of anticipation about pictures of Roger Federer's wedding being available to the public. A Swiss publication made a donation to the Roger Federer Foundation for the rights. The Swiss newspaper Blick reports that Roger wore a Tom Ford suit, and that Mirka wore an Oscar de la Renta dress. Once again thanks to the gototennis blog for the scans.

Dinara Safina officially becomes the WTA number one today. Some feel that Dinara's statement regarding her ascension to number one was too self effacing. I think it was honest. She knows she has not been the best player this year and that she is for now Slamless. There's no pleasing everyone. She is number one based on her point total alone. If anyone has any doubt who the players feel are the top of the heap check out Sabine Lisicki's reaction to beating Venus Williams in Charleston last week. At any rate here is the WTA top ten.
1 (2)
2 (1)
3 (3)
4 (4)
5 (5)
6 (6)
7 (7)
8 (8)
9 (9)
10 (10)

The woman I thought was going to challenge for the top position, Vera Zvonareva severely twisted her ankle last week and is back in Russia for a complete evaluation.

End Notes
American gossip site has published unofficial pictures of Andy Roddick's wedding to Brooklyn Decker. Here are a few.


Karen said...

You know from reading Higueras comments, you can see now why he was prohibited by contract from speaking out. How can you as a coach, in a position in which you are supposed to be confidential, come out and say things like this against someone who is clearly struggling with his game, who has lost confidence in his abilities, and who is still playing on the Tour. I do not care whether you are a fan of Roger or not, but this is just blatant disregard for the terms of contract and if I was in Roger's shoes I would sue Higueras' ass.

Savannah said...

But Karen is he saying anything that isn't in some way true? He's saying that right now Roger is uncoachable.

Still, if his contract stated no blabbing then indeed he's in violation of it.

Karen said...

Savannah, it is not a matter of whether it is true or not. This is like disclosing proprietary information about a product. When a scientist or any highly paid professional leaves one company they are usually prohibited from being employed with another competitor for a number of years, they cannot work in the same field etc. etc and they are also prohibited from revealing trade secrets. Jose was invited into Roger's inner sanctum i.e. to be his coach. During that time he was privy to information that whether it was true or not he was prohibited by contract from disclosing. Right now Roger is in a difficult time of his life trying to find his confidence and his game, and you have someone who is privy to that information using it in a media environment where other players can now see and say, oh really, so that is what I need to do. What if Uncle Toni had fallen out with Rafa and decided that he was going to give an interview where he said, well with Rafa his weakness is his backhand - if you play lots of top spin to his backhand, it takes him out of rhythm and that is the way to beat him. When you are placed in a position of trust, whether by way of contract or otherwise, you have to be able to abide by the terms of that contract and even though the contract may have expired, the onus is still on you to do the right thing and not discuss this sort of thing. There is a reason why it is taking Roger so long to find a coach - who can you trust and with this Jose situation - now he is going to be even more afraid of hiring on someone because he knows eventually all his business is going to be out in the streets. Not nice at all.

Helen W said...

The words "...who was prohibited by contract to speak about the Swiss last year" seem to imply that he is now allowed to discuss these issues.

IAC, what is he revealing that is proprietary? I have not read the entire article, but the quote contains only observations that anybody could make. And to my mind they are very sensible observations.

In your hypothetical case of Uncle Toni revealing that Rafa's backhand was his weakness -- if that were true it could hardly escape general notice, could it?

Karen said...

HelenW - Roger's tennis game and how he uses it can be classified as proprietary. If you have a way of doing things that is not known or people only suspect, then until someone reveals your secret then it is a proprietary issue. If it was something that was known to all and sundry, then there would be no need to have a confidentiality clause included in the contract in the first place. Clearly, Roger is of the view that if you work for me then any knowledge that you acquire during the course of your employment you are forbidden from discussing the same. Celebrities have used that confidentiality clause when hiring nannies etc. When you are placed in a position of trust, it behoves you not to betray that trust, and to my mind speaking out of turn, when you were expressly forbidden to do so in a contract is morally, if not legally wrong.

Helen W said...

Karen I understand the need for contracts that prevent people from airing private information. But I do not see any such info in the quotes. I don't see any private conversations or strategies revealed -- do you? If so, what are they? As far as I can see, he is saying no more that a complete outsider could say.

Savannah said...

Karen I've read and reread Higueras comments and I have to say I don't see anything proprietary there.

If he were to say something along the lines of Roger is a lazy son of a bitch, treats his team like serfs, and thinks his poop don't stink - and cited examples - then yes he'd be in violation of a confidentiality clause in his contract.

What he's done is make observations about problems in Roger's game that anyone can see and comment on. He may not have used 20,000 words to do so and maybe that is why the comments would sting some, including Roger, but he hasn't said anything about Roger's training regimen or physical condition.

Karen said...

Savannah, you hit the nail right on the head - problems in Roger's game. It is all well and good for arm chair analysts like you and me to sit back and speculate. To have said speculations confirmed by someone who is in the know is to me a violation of the confidentiality clause. This goes back to the need in the first place for said cnfidentiality clause in the contract. As a matter of fact someone posted over at that while Higueras may not have said anything detrimental, the fact is that he made comments about a current professional, someone who is clearly struggling with his game and has basically provided additional ammunition to his opponents. Notice that Tony Roche has never lowered himself to say a word about his relationship with Roger, whether positive or negative. It is like it never happened (which is perhaps how Tony views it), but here again we go into the land of speculation. It is clear that Roger is as stubborn as a mule. I have a son who is also born in August, rules under the symbol of the lion, and when Antony gets his mind set, nothing can sway him. With these people you have to let them come to your decision by themselves. That means finessing the situation. It could be that because I am a fan I am seeing ghosts where there are no bodies, or maybe it is because of the line of work that I am in, where contracts, especially those that contain confidentiality clauses should be respected, whether there is a time frame on it or not. If anyone has ever witnessed a situation where a coach or former coach has spoken out about a former charge and their weaknesses, then please post here. The only one that comes to mind is Anna Lena Gronefeld. A coach is the closest thing to a lover for many players. They rely on that person and the relationship is symbiotic. You have players who have had the same coaches since childhood. It is a matter of trust. You tell your coach things you would not ordinarily tell your lover. I know, because I too have a coach that I confide in. I play league tennis and my weakness is my backhand. What if my coach broadcast to everyone in my league that the way to exploit my weakness is to hit every shot to my backhand. All well and good when my competitors find out, but what if I have put contingency measures in place as a result of that and this is also told to my competitors, what next. Roger has trade secrets especially with regard to his return game against big hitters. There must be a way that he can identify the tells that players use. What if Jose had disclosed that. Some things should be left unsaid.

Craig Hickman said...

If Higueras violated his contract, I'm pretty sure Raja will sue him.

From the interview I read, though, I just don't see a problem.

Karen said...

Clearly I am seeing ghosts everywhere. Jose should have kept his mouth shut. When a coach comes out and talks about a player's weaknesses, that to me is a violation. I am not sure that anyone in the blogosphere is seeing what I am seeing. In Anna Lena's case her coach told her competitors how to play her - to me that is the same thing that Jose has done. He has now confirmed what people were speculating about. Again, he should have kept his mouth shut.