In an absolutely stunning display of arrogance Roger Federer left no doubt about his feelings towards his countrymen and Davis Cup's role in his tennis life. What surprised me is that the comments weren't edited or the entire interview filtered through PR speak to lessen the impact of this words.
I don't want to be accused of selective quoting or quoting out of context so I will post the entire interview with Sandra Harwitt of the Associated Press. All emphasis is mine.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Roger Federer is skipping the Davis Cup this year after leading Switzerland to its first title in 2014.
Federer played the entire Davis Cup season last year, with Switzerland beating France 3-1 in the final. The Davis Cup was the only major competition the 17-time Grand Slam champion had not won.
Federer won't be in the lineup when Switzerland opens defense of the title in Belgium on March 6-8. And Federer said he has no plans to play Davis Cup the rest of the year either.
"It wasn't a difficult decision," the 33-year-old Federer said Monday at the Dubai tournament. "I have played for so long, and I think by winning it I can finally do whatever I please, to be quite honest."
The Swiss team in Belgium will also be without 2013 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka.
Federer has played in 26 Davis Cup ties since 1999 for an overall 50-17 win-loss record.
"It's been a big burden for me throughout my career and one of the things that have caused more difficulties in my life than many other things, I must say," Federer said.
"I always feel there is so much guilt put on you from the federation or from the ITF more so than anybody else. So I'm happy I was able to finally tick that off and do it altogether."
Federer said his decision to dedicate himself to the 2014 Davis Cup campaign was more for his teammates than himself.
"I totally did it for the boys more than for me, to be quite honest," he said. "I just really wanted Michael (Lammer) and Marco (Chiudinelli) and Stan to get it because they deserve it. So for me, this year, it was very clear that I was not going to play."
While the Davis Cup is not in Federer's plans, Wawrinka has not decided on whether to play later in the year.
"I hope that Stan is going to play, next round or September or whatever it's going to be to keep us in the World Group," Federer said. "Who knows? You never know if they can win it without us, as well. It's an opportunity, but clearly we are not the favorites now playing against Belgium."
Federer, however, could have to show up for one more Davis Cup tie in the next two years in order to qualify directly for the Swiss Olympic team for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
ITF rules state that a player must compete in Davis Cup for his country once in the season leading up to or in the Olympic year to be eligible to compete at the games.
Federer could also be offered a wild card entry into the Olympic tournament.
Well shit. I'm sure glad the burden of representing his country is off his shoulders since it's clear that Davis Cup is just something he did to make the other Swiss players feel better. I think the word I'll using to describe the attitude is patronizing. I was going to choose paternalistic but there are so many other connotations associated with that word patronizing is the better choice. How do you defend the cavalier attitude that comes through even in the non emotional world of cyberspace?
What the publication of this interview has done is left his fans unable to defend against charges of arrogance. To read this over several times as I've done since I thought I read it wrong brings up another word to describe Mr. Federer - condescending. No doubt about it he thinks he's entitled to the Olympic Wild Card and until now I would've bet money that he would get it. The implication that he is above his Association and the ITF is apparent. And they have no one to blame but themselves. Both organizations are now in the position of looking like sneaker licking lackeys of one player above all others. I mean we have sick and injured players lining up to play for their countries and this guy thinks he just has to live and breathe to be given with no effort what so many others have worked so hard for.
Harwitt is not one of the people you hear about in terms of the tennis press but she is a power in her own right behind the scenes in tennis circles. That this was published with her byline is telling. She could've left it as an AP article leaving her out of it. She didn't.
As I type this I haven't heard of any statement being released to explain that Mr. Federer didn't mean what he said and that non fans stop doing the "I told you so" dance. This is a PR disaster of Federer's own making. Let's see how his minions get him out of this one.
A Slight Correction
ASAP Sports released the transcript of Federer's post match interview in Dubai and the quotes Harwitt has in her article are directly from that presser. Here they are in their original format along with a follow up question. The previous question was about the number of fans who came out to watch him play.
Q. I imagine there will be a big crowd for that.
ROGER FEDERER: I hope so. I don't know. When I do play doubles, I'm excited about it. Michael Lammer is one of the guys, some of my best friends, was one of best friends on tour and in my life, and he's a guy I have never played doubles with.
So I really want to do that before he retires because he's not far off. And we won the Davis Cup last year. I have played doubles with Marco, with Yves, with Stan, with most of those guys but never with Michael other than back in the Junior Swiss Championships when we were 14, 16, 18. So we go way back. That's why we are both excited about it, and I'm very thankful for the wildcard from the tournament organizers.
Q. When you have had a little bit more of an extended break than maybe you had planned on or hoped, when you get back there, do you feel like it's great to be here again? Have you missed the actual matches?
ROGER FEDERER: A bit of both, you know. I like being on the beach. I like being in the gym and on the practice courts and I like being on the match courts. I like everything of it. I think it's important to get the right mix of things.
I was going to take a big break regardless of how actually Australia was going to go because the body needed some healing and the mind needed some refreshing.
I needed to think about the game plan and the tournament plan I was going to do in the next few months and next year or so. I mean, pretty much I know everything till, Jesus, summer of '16. So from that standpoint, it was good to have that break.
It wasn't a buildup as such where the focus was only on fitness. It was important to play enough tennis, and it's nice getting back out there and having thousands root for you and for your opponent, because you can only practice that much after a while without anybody watching you. It just gets a bit boring after a while. So I prefer to play matches after all.
Q. Davis Cup, you mentioned just now, was it a difficult decision not to defend the title by playing the first round? What do you think the chances are of staying in the World Group? Will you play in September?
FEDERER: No, it wasn't a difficult decision. I have played for so long, and I think by winning it I can finally do whatever I please, to be quite honest.
It's been a big burden for me throughout my career and one of the things that have caused more difficulties in my life than many other things, I must say, because I always feel there is so much guilt put on you from the Federation or from the ITF more so than anybody else. So I'm happy I was able to finally tick that off and do it altogether.
I mean, I didn't do it just for that. I totally did it for the boys more than for me, to be quite honest. I just really wanted Michael and Marco and Stan to get it because they deserve it. So for me this year it was very clear that I was not going to play anymore after this win, but I have to see how things go.
I hope that Stan is going to play, you know, next round or September or whatever it's going to be to keep us in the World Group. Who knows? You never know if they can win it without us, as well. It's an opportunity, but clearly we are not the favorites now playing against Belgium.
But I'm sorry for the team because the team is pretty much intact from the staff and from captain and everybody. They are all some of my best friends, so that was the tougher part of it, less the tennis itself.
The entire transcript is HERE