Federer focused on French Open
With wedding distractions possibly affecting him in Monte-Carlo, Roger Federer has arrived in Rome confident about the remainder of the clay-court season.
Roger Federer arrived in Rome of the second Masters Series event of the clay-court season and appeared to have his confidence restored. Federer, who has not yet won a title in 2009, is ready to put previous disappointments–including an early loss in Monte-Carlo to fellow Swiss Stanisla Wawrinka–behind him.
“I wasn’t prepared for Monte Carlo due to the wedding,” said the world No. 2, who married long-time girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec the weekend prior to Monte-Carlo. “So I went there more to see what I was missing than expecting to do well. What I was missing was my serves and my forehands, so I’ve been working hard on that and hopefully it’ll show this week.”
Success in Rome, however, is not the only thing on Federer’s mind right now. He is already focused on winning an elusive French Open title, which would complete a career Grand Slam for the 13-time Grand Slam champion.
“Whether I am number two in the world or three, five, eight or 10, it’s not number one,” Federer explained. “Being the second best player in the world on clay is nice, but it doesn’t satisfy me. It’s not necessary to be number one; what is important is winning the French Open.”
Federer even hinted at a “need” to win in Roland Garros. “I’m expecting big things from myself,” he added. “I still have to work hard to get that No. 1 place back and that means winning titles and needing to win that French Open.”
Great to see Roger still thinking big and not letting all the setbacks of late dampen his ambition one bit. It’s, of course, one thing to talk this way and another thing what happens out on the court, but it is sure nice to hear him talk this way anyway. We will give him the slip up at Monte Carlo as he clearly couldn’t focus much on tennis with his wedding and everything. My sources tell me Roger has been working extremely hard this past week or so with practice partner Stefan Koubek. Here is another excerpt from an article that someone at Men’s Tennis Forum translated:
LAOLA1: Last week you were allowed to spend a trainingsweek with Roger Federer and his team on Sardinia. How did the training with such a superstar went?
Stefan Koubek: It was really great. The traning was extremely strong and good. I was lucky to be able to work with Roger’s physiotherapist as well, otherwise I don’t know if I would have bore the week. I had lots of fun and was impressed how good and how much he is training. Before I thought he wouldn’t do that much.
LAOLA1: How exactly did the training run?
Koubek: It’s a combination of a lot of things, not just on the court. Before the tennistraining he always did a fitness training. Afterwards he took a massage and so on. It’s a long procedure. To get up early in the morning, training, to loosen. During the lunchbreak we had something to eat and then went back to practicing. One day in the week we had the half day off, but were on court from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Of course there was the fitness training before again.
LAOLA1: Did you practice anything special?
Koubek: We started with drills and played a few points afterwards. At bottom this is nothing diffent which I would usually do in practice. The level is of course totally different and this time I was the sparringspartner. I did all the practices like Roger. It was a common practice of. We both benefit from it.
LAOLA1: How did this whole trainingsweek arise?
Koubek: His coach asked me at the start of the season what I would be doing at this time of the yearand respectively in the summer. He wanted to know whether I would like to practice with Roger. No question I was interested in it. I told him he should say me a date. When I don’t play a tournament at that time I would be available.
LAOLA1: You are a friend of Federer for several years. How is your relationship to him these days?
Koubek: We are still good friends, but of course we didn’t have that much contact in the last years as before because he has a lot of things to do. We still get along really well and had a blast on Sardinia. We always joked in the training.
LAOLA1: You weren’t present at the wedding, right?
Koubek: No, I was already in Southafrica at that time. Roger’s wedding took place in a really small group. Allegro and Chiudinelli were the only tennisplayers who were there. They know each other since their boyhood. .
LAOLA1: Do you think that Federer has changed because of the wedding? Is he more loose or relaxed or do you think it could even have a negative impact?
Koubek: I don’t think his wedding has any impact on his tennis. It will be something different when his child is born. This can go in both directions. I think he is still really motivated and is going to play tennis for a couple of years. He can afford it to take his child with him on the tour. I’m not worried that it will stress him.
LAOLA1: You are on the tour for many years and an experienced player. What can you take with you from such a practice with Roger Federer?
Koubek: You can adopt several things, although there are a couple which would be helpful, but I can’t realise them. For example no “normal” player can afford to have a masseur, a tennis coach, a fitnesscoach and someone to restring the rackets. But you can really adopt many things from Roger, who is the best player in the world for me. His physical state is really impressive. He is moving very well and is extremely fit.
LAOLA1: How do you rate his chances at the French Open this year?
Koubek: Nadal is in a class of it’s own on clay for sure, but Roger can tame him on a good day. The opportunities are there. I wish for Roger that he is going to get the title in Paris. For me he is the best tennisplayer of all time and a victory in Roland Garros would only prove it.
I found it interesting to hear about Roger’s training regimen after all these years. Still very professional and doesn’t look like he has lost any desire to do well. Even though Roger is carrying some mental scars, it doesn’t seem to influence the intensity of his practice sessions and certainly hard work is something that will help him get his confidence back. So I am quite excited to see how his hard work will pay off in Rome and for the rest of the clay court season. Whether he can win the French Open is another thing. Then there is one more article where Johnny Mac offers his advice to Roger would you believe it. Here it is:
John McEnroe coaching Roger Federer? You CANNOT be serious!
While McEnroe would like to give the 13-time Grand Slam champion some pointers on how to snap out of his winless season, the mild-mannered Federer isn’t quite taking him up on the offer. McEnroe told a French weekly that he’d like to help the Swiss star get on track after Federer lost in the semifinals of the Miami Masters.
“I guess anybody would like to give me advice,” Federer said at the Rome Masters. “So I don’t think that’s a crazy comment we should look into much.”
With the French Open looming, Federer is gearing up for another possible match against top-ranked Rafael Nadal, who has defeated Federer in their last five meetings. Federer is still seeking a win at Roland Garros, the one major title that has eluded him.
McEnroe has some ideas on how the second-ranked Federer can beat Nadal on clay.
“Take the ball earlier and not get pulled off the court,” McEnroe said in a phone interview from Los Angeles on Tuesday. “Nadal has a lefty slice out wide. Roger is content to get into a rally, and not attack the net, which is difficult on clay because of the slipping and sliding.”
After getting married April 11, Federer lost in the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters, and his record fell to 18-5 this year.
“There’s an argument that he doesn’t need a coach and an argument that he could use some help with someone, which he’s done in the past,” said McEnroe, a seven-time singles Grand Slam winner. “He won 11 majors in four years. And back in my prime, I’d laugh at them (who offered advice).
“If he wants my input, we have people that represent us. It’s a phone call away.”
On Wednesday, Federer is scheduled to play six-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic of Croatia in Rome. It’s a clay-court tuneup for the French Open, which begins May 25.
“At this stage, he’d have to have a lot of things fall his way to win it,” McEnroe said. “If Nadal is healthy, he seems virtually unbeatable on clay. In a best of five, he’s one of the fittest guys on tour.”
Federer said he spoke with McEnroe during the “Showdown of Champions” in November. He played James Blake and McEnroe faced his old nemesis Bjorn Borg in a series of exhibitions in Macau and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
“I spent time with him in the Asian exhibitions,” Federer said. “We were there together and talked tennis like I did with James and Bjorn. So we had a good time over there.”
Federer is one shy of Pete Sampras’ all-time Grand Slam record of 14 titles. McEnroe believes Federer will break the record with titles at Wimbledon or the U.S. Open.
McEnroe, in Los Angles to promote an ad campaign about prostate health for men over 50, said he won’t be too upset if Federer doesn’t call.
“The few times people asked me to help in past, no one listened to a word I said,” McEnroe said of Boris Becker, Sergi Bruguera and Mark Philippoussis.
Johnny Mac knows his tennis of course and what he says about the way Roger should play Rafa on clay is something I’ve said before. Rallying from the back with Rafa on clay is a futile exercise. Shortening the points and going to the net doesn’t guarantee Roger of a win because of how dominant Rafa is on clay, but at least can give him a fighting chance. I don’t think Roger has given himself the best possible chance of winning against Rafa at the French Open yet. Koubek thinks Roger can do it but I have to agree with Johnny Mac, Even if Roger follows the right game plan he will need a lot of luck to win. Roger is playing in Rome today against Ivo Karlovic who beat Jan Hernych 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Like I said before I expect Roger to win this one in straight sets.