Tuesday, February 24, 2015

So Now We See the Real Man

by Savannah

by Eloy Alonso/Reuters photo The-Davis-Cup-trophy-008_zps896e67c3.jpg

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?
ROGER


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

9 comments:

Karen Williams said...

Good for him. Federer is 33 years old. At what point does he stop doing things to please people and start pleasing himself. I say well done Mr. Federer. He is not the only player who gives 2 shites about Davis Cup or Fed Cup. The only reason the Williams Sisters, Sharapova and many others are even suiting up for Fed Cup is because of eligibility rules. Enough already.

Randy Burgess said...

Yeah, I agree with Karen. No one should be giving Federer crap for Davis Cup unless they somehow thing that nationalism is required of us to be good citizens. Myself as a citizen living in a pretty ambiguous country - to say the least - I think nationalism ought to be optional. And it should say nothing of your character if you decline to be 100 percent obedient to the nationalistic demand de jour. I'm not talking about things like participating in civics. I'm talking about the dangers of jingoism and coercion when somehow nationalism becomes what you're judged by.

In addition, Federer has done a lot more Davis Cup than we habitually give him credit for. I saw where a pro-Federer fan commenting on Tennis.com had counted up how many Davis Cup ties the top 10 or so men had played, and Federer had by far the most ties played of any active top guy - way more than Nadal, for example. Just now I went to the Davis Cup site to verify this one part of it, and in fact yes, Federer is listed as playing 26 ties, Nadal 15 ties. So Fed is nearly double Nadal.

I think we tend to forget Federer's early years when he tried quite hard with Davis Cup for one simple reason: Switzerland didn't do very well. And we somehow believe Nadal participated a lot more not because he actually did, but because Spain has done very well indeed. I think if Switzerland had been more competitive you would have seen Federer keep up his participation. He is not real fond of losing. And now at his age he has to pick his spots. If he were 23 rather than 33 he might choose to defend.

As for arrogance - again I agree with Karen. I cut the guy slack by way of believing he is a human being & not required to be perfect any more than me or anybody else. Yes, he can sound patronizing or arrogant; that is one way to read him & many people do read him that way. But you could also say he's just being honest.

Sure, he has way too many millions just like other rich atheletes. But that's a societal distortion & not his fault. To me that he is apparently a decent guy to those he meets is enough. But maybe I'm too mellow. I mean even Azarenka I am feeling better about, and I used to detest her. Same for Woz, I like her more now that I realize she is a person with troubles like anyone. And Djokovic, once I read his book, I started liking him quite a bit because I thought the book was excellent. And I am even rooting for Djokovic to make a calendar year Grand Slam in 2015. It would be tremendous not just for him but for men's tennis. And it would throw the GOAT debate into total confusion.

That's not to say everyone should feel like me. We are free to dislike whomever we dislike. We don't really need reasons. I must say that sometimes Federer makes me wince. I will never forgive him for the gold jacket - I know his PR people probably pushed it on him, but he didn't have to wear the damn thing. Total disrespect for Roddick on a day when Roddick played his heart out & if not for tightening up on one high volley, would have probably taken the match.

Frankly, the player who I most often think of as similar in this respect to Federer is Serena. That may make you recoil in horror. But just as Federer has a lot of haters, so does Serena. Of course one difference is, a lot of people hate Serena not for her personality but because she's black. And a woman. And strong. And successful. Federer doesn't have that high level of bias to contend against. But otherwise in terms of how they speak to the press, I think they are similar. Serena is often criticized for being arrogant or egotistic in talking about other players, her plans, etc., when to me she is simply being honest.

I can't get too serious about this, though. What I really want to know is, why is a match in Davis Cup called a "tie"? Where does that come from? Seems so archaic, maybe just part of the charm. I do enjoy watching Davis Cup - it is so different than the rest of tennis.

Savannah said...

I guess because my background is in literature I see more that just a guy being honest in those words.

Why didn't he say that I'm not playing this year because it doesn't work with my schedule or that something along those lines.
Why the "I did it for the boys"? Why the attitude of an onerous duty being finally over?

Federer has been playing tennis longer than Rafa and he should have more DC appearances so I feel that point is moot.

And no one is saying he doesn't have the right to refuse to play. It's that he's refusing to play sure that he will get the WC and everyone will sing his praises and say how he deserves it.

The other players are willing to play by the rules and inconvenience themselves for a chance to play for their country at the Olympics. It appears that he doesn't feel he has to and won't be required to. That is what I object to. That and the fact that he rubbed in in the faces of his countrymen and the tennis establishment and that they're going to let him get away with it.

Randy Burgess said...

Well . . . maybe because to him he feels he did do it for these guys who don't get much recognition of their own, and who did put in all those years? I mean is it possible he could genuinely like them & want to do this for them?

And is it possible he could also feel it has been a burden? Imagine the s___ he gets in the Swiss sporting press for not being a good boy all the time and playing every tie. Being the golden child of your country can indeed be a burden.

As far as the wild card, when you say, " It's that he's refusing to play sure that he will get the WC and everyone will sing his praises and say how he deserves it." - well, I think you're just mind-reading his motivations here about "praises" and so forth. Beyond that I don't see this as any different than what Karen pointed to about players doing Fed Cup just for eligibility. Same mentality. Athletes have to calculate. If Federer wants to rest up his old bones and still make the Olympics, then that's what he wants & he will calculate if he can do it or not. I can't say he's being any more cunning than every other player on the tour or pretty much any athlete. If they have wild cards, they have wild cards. Is he supposed to pretend they don't?

Anyway you haven't answered that question about the tie. I know you know. I could Google it but I'd rather hear it from someone who really knows.

Karen Williams said...

Savannah, I think you have lost the plot on this one dearie. He was being honest. As far as Fed is concerned, it did not matter to him whether he won Davis Cup or not, just as it did not matter to him whether he won the FO or not. People keep thinking that Player A has to win this or that in order to be mentioned in the stupid ridiculous GOAT debates. What he is saying is that it does not matter. Frankly, if you want to really spin what Fed said about Davis Cup you would take it to mean that he played Davis Cup to benefit those players who really want it. How many other top players put their colleagues above themselves? Remember that Fed was not even scheduled to play the first Davis Cup tie against Serbia. He changed and played at the last minute. If that is not dedication I don't know what is. You state that he should have phrased his words better or he should have fudged. Clearly you are not a fan of Fed, but he can sometimes be brutally honest, which comes across as arrogance. He got his friends what they have always wanted. A Davis Cup. He did it for the coach who has struggled for years. He did it for his country. He did it for those young boys who are coming up to give them something to which to aspire. I think that is as selfless as you can get.

As Randy said, he has done a lot for his country where Davis Cup is concerned. If, at the age of 33 years he feels the need to cut his schedule to the bare minimum to maximize what is left in his legs, I say go for it. Many players as they start to decline are putting self before anything else. I wish Venus would do that as well, but there you go.

Savannah said...

Randy I'm so glad you have so much faith in my knowledge of tennis especially Davis Cup. If it wasn't for Wiki I wouldn't know the answer to your question. Here are the definitions:

As in other cup competitions tie is used in the Davis Cup to mean an elimination (or knockout) round, rather than meaning a draw or when competitors' scores are equal. In the Davis Cup, the word rubber means an individual match. Thus, "tie" means a round, and "rubber" means a match.

There is a nice description of DC at this link.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davis_Cup#Ties_and_rubbers

Savannah said...

Randy and Karen you're both loyal Federer fans. We'll never agree on this so let's agree to disagree. :)

I am sticking to my guns about the WC though. I'll owe you guys virtual drinks if he doesn't get it.

Karen Williams said...

And if he gets the WC, it will be well deserved.

Maybe some tennis fans who are not Fed fans will weigh in at some point on this topic.

Randy Burgess said...

Disagreement is the spice of tennis conversation,
& thank you for the info on "tie", Savannah.