Hey all, it's been a while since we heard anything from Roger directly other than the odd Facebook status update and him wishing fans a Happy New Year but today we got to see the first interview he's done in a while, since the Gillette Federer tour in fact, and it was a really interesting one where he made a lot of great points.
If you didn't know then he's currently in Singapore, which serves as the peRFect stop off before Australia but also allows him to fulfill some of his sponsorship and endorsement responsibilities with Credit Suisse (which I mentioned heavily in my Roger Federer net worth post).
I've embedded the interview below for you to check out, I found all of it great to listen to but was particularly intrigued by the bit at the end which I'll discuss below.
Roger thinks the courts are faster in Australia this year!
This little snippet came right at the end of the video (at 24 minutes 15 seconds to be precise) where he was asked about whether or not the courts in Australia are too slow.
He's stated many times he thinks they have slowed down over the years, but this time around he talked more specifically about the Quarters, Semi's and Final all being played at night which significantly slows the ball down. He said he'd like to see the courts a lot quicker so they play like fast courts during the day and medium fast courts in the evening as opposed to medium in the day and extremely slow at night.
The most interesting thing he said came right at the end of the interview though:
I've heard the Australian Open have made it a little bit faster for this year. But I can only imagine it's marginal.
Great news if you're a Federer than thats for sure. Even if they've only increased the speed a little bit that can make all the difference.
Obviously we have to wait and see until the courts are played on but I'd imagine when you carry as much clout as Roger does on tour he's not going to be taking information in from unreliable sources.
If he's heard the courts are faster, I'd say they will be definitely playing faster. And I like the sound of that. Like he said, maybe it's only a touch different, but if that touch makes the difference between a player like Djokovic framing a ball into the stands rather than finding the middle of the racket; I'll take it any day of the week.
What else did Federer have to say?
Even though this was more an official engagement rather than a tennis related press conference I thought it was a great watch.
Firstly, it's great to see the questions subtitled so we know what has been asked, usually I'm ramping up the volume from press conference videos to figure out what the journalists just mumbled out.
And secondly, I liked the questions he was asked and it was far more insightful than the ones asked in most press conferences. Other than the Credit Suisse inspired “how important is financial management to sports players?” but I'll let them off that one!
Roger believes Djokovic is favourite for the Australian Open title
Both a smart and true comment from Roger here in that he thinks Djokovic is the favourite for the Australian Open. On current form and based on his past performances in Australia I think he's definitely the man to beat as I alluded to when I asked you guys whether or not he's unbeatable on Plexicushion.
I'd imagine Roger genuinely regards Novak as the favourite to an extent but he also alleviates pressure from himself by putting Djokovic and Murray as the front runners for the title. If Murray wins in Brisbane he will be talked about even more whilst Roger can just go out and play his tennis.
Roger thinks string technology has changed the game most
Aside from the court speed thing I found this very interesting to see Roger's perception on what's caused the biggest changes in the game other than court speed. As I expected he attributed the change to technology and specifically the strings that modern players use.
I believe Federer is one of the few players who still uses natural gut in his strings in the modern game, which is kinda cool really when you think about it in the sense he still uses string from a bygone era that was used by some of the all time greats.
Although he still uses gut on the mains he's not a complete purist as he's adopted technology on his crosses with Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power Rough string. The gut gives him control and the luxilon allows him to impart spin on the ball which is now a big requirement of the modern game.
He also yet again stressed the need for variable court speeds on tour to both help juniors coming through rise up the rankings and allow players to become more complete.
Listening to him talk about these things is always fun as not only is he the GOAT he's one of the students of the game, he knows the ins and outs of the sport better than anyone I think and he'd probably be the best pundit ever if he graces TV coverage once he retires. Step aside JMac!