Hey all, Madrid is underway and I think we'll be seeing Roger on either Tuesday (tomorrow) or Wednesday. It's been a long wait so let's hope he delivers.
He'll be in action first against Radek Stepanek who disposed of Tomic in straight sets, I thought that would be the case as Tomic is slumping yet again when he's outside of Australia. It's very strange but it looks like his focus is off tennis and he'd rather hang with his biker gang buddies back home.
Couple that with the fact his father, John Tomic, is currently being questioned for assaulting his hitting partner in Madrid and you can see why.
According to reports he head butted Thomas Drouet and knocked the Frenchman out cold. You just can't make stuff like that up really, Tomic is already close to being off the rails so how does he get his own house in order if his Dad isn't leading by example? Maybe if his Dad gets a lengthy ban he can focus on his game and relax. We'll find out anyway.
Anyway back to the more interesting topic – Federer vs. Stepanek. Roger leads the H2H 11-2 but both Stepanek's win have come on clay in Gstaad in 2002 and then in Rome in 2008 so it's not a routine match by any means.
Stepanek is the sort of guy that can catch you off guard so if anyone can benefit from Roger not being match sharp then it's him as he plays an aggressive game with a view to finishing points at the net.
I'm actually excited about the match as it should be a test for Fed, he's been doing the hard yards on the dirt in Switzerland so I'm sure he'll be coming here looking to play well and make the latter rounds. I think the first set will be tight but Roger will prevail 7-5 6-2.
Federer Says He's Raring To Go & Will be Difficult to Beat
In his pre tournament press conference Roger sounded pretty bullish about his chances which is usually a very good sign, he's back to full health and the back is no longer a problem according to him which is very good to hear.
He also put Brennwald back in his place when asked about Basel which I imagined he would do with a single killer blow:
I don't discuss those things in the press like he does. For me, it's really important to keep these things outside of everything. I did the utmost, and that's all I need to know. And nobody, the fans in particular and myself, we don't get hurt in the process.
Owned. Thankyou, goodnight, much love!
A full transcript of the interview is available below just click to open it:
Federer Press Conference
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Just like to ask you, you look fitter than ever. Have you changed your physicalpreparation at all?
ROGER FEDERER: No, not necessarily. Just been home and practicing hard as I was hoping to. I feel good now, you know.Took me a little time to get over my back issue from Indian Wells. But at the same time, that collided I with my vacation anyway, which was okay.So I didn't lose much time there. Now I feel good. Obviously extremely excited being back on tour. Sort of entering all the tournaments from here through to the US Open really, so it's going to be a long stretch. You want to be ready for it.I'm very excited, which is a good thing.
Q. Last year you did awesome at this tournament, but a lot of players complained about the surface being blue clay. What do you think about the decision of the organization of changing back to regular clay?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, it's understandable after what happened last year. Like you said, there was a lot of criticism about the color, about the quality of the court as well,being extremely slippery. I don't know if that was due to the color, but this tournament has, in the past, had issues with the quality of the court. I think through what happened last year, you know, the controversy around the blue clay, I think it was a big eyeopener to have a proper court here now. I think this year, from what I'm hearing from the players, it's a good quality court and the players are happy. In the process, hopefully we'll see better tennis this year.
Q. Talking about this problem about the seeds in Roland Garros. I mean, in Wimbledon years ago they had the same debate. What is your opinion? You must win whatever? Nadal deserves to be No. 1? You could be in No.1 in Wimbledon because of that, or rankings is rankings?
ROGER FEDERER: I didn't follow it a whole lot because I was not on the tour. I didn't follow it a whole lot. There was an announcement that he was not going to get the seeding right to the top 2. We all know he would deserve it. I mean, he's been so successful there in the last eight, nine years there that everybody knows that he deserves it. It's not like he's ranked 80 in the world, I don't think. He needs a bump into the seeds or a bump in the top four or something like that. He's already ranked No. 5.I think, Is it really going to make a huge difference if he's 5 or 1? Not a whole lot, I don't think, at the end of the tournament. If I were to play him in the quarters or in the semis or any other player, it's not the finals yet. So the best is going to win. Rafa obviously has a great chance because of the great player he is on clay. So clearly it's going to stir it up and be a subject to talk about, but I'm happy that they took a decision regardless of which one was the right one, just to go with something. Now there is peace and quiet around it again.
Q. Just going to Basel for one second, clarify what's the situation with your entry or not. And does Roger Brennwald really apologize to you like they said?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I announced that I'm playing the tournament some weeks ago, months ago maybe. Because I always said I was going to play the tournament. That was, for me, the most important thing, is that I had an opportunity to play in front of my home city where I grew up, my home fans. For me personally, it's a place I look back on with a lot great emotions as a ball boy, winning the title there eventually, and making my second finals there on tour. So I've had a great time there always,and I don't want that to change just because of some business situation that couldn't get solved, you know. So I wanted to diffuse the situation and announce that I'm going to play without getting paid and just enjoy myself over there. So that, for me, is the most important thing above everything.
Q. Did he really apologize?
ROGER FEDERER: It doesn't matter. I don't discuss those things in the press like he does. For me, it's really important to keep these things outside of everything. I did the utmost, and that's all I need to know. And nobody, the fans in particular and myself, we don't get hurt in the process.
Q. We're kind of on the around-the-world tour here, but while you were having a little break, Wimbledon announced 39 million pounds in prize money this year, champion getting 1.5. It's an extraordinary achievement for the players. What do you put it down to, the slams one by one improving the prize money so dramatically?
ROGER FEDERER: For us, me in particular as well because I've been part of process the whole way, is that we got in good dialog with the slams and we understood each other and they understood our angle. This is not a threat in any way. This is just really good open dialog, and then being happy and then understanding the product that they're dealing with. I think by talking to them and them sort of understanding how good the game is doing right now and the need to expand and being more sort of partners I think was a key element in the whole situation. For them to change by themselves and wanting to invest and put in more money for the players was a very nice thing to do, I think. We're talking about a lot of money in the first place, so it's always a very difficult situation to explain to everybody. It's about revenue sharing. If you look at that, this is where the gap had widened too much in previous years. I think they're really trying to close the gap a bit and make sure that it's distributed in a more fair way, which obviously players are very excited about.
Q. Each time you take a break in your career like you have done now, you comeback stronger. Do you feel it will be the case now, again?
ROGER FEDERER: I hope so. I mean,yeah, the thing is I'm confident that I can take a break and come back strong, because usually players are scared to do that. I mean, I know what they feel.Being away from the game for six, seven weeks, it's not a whole lot, but you have what, another ten, twelve, I don't know, maybe more tournament winners. You always feel you could have maybe been one of them, so it's hard to sit out and see other players win tournaments the entire time you're sitting at home.Obviously you're working hard, but there is no glory really in working on a practice court with nobody watching you play. What we play for at the end of the day is playing in front of fans and being part of the show and achieving things in your career you always dreamed about. For that, I need to work hard as well. I need to get away from it all, so that when I do come back I'm excited and motivated. That's what I feel right now, and that then can carry you a long way. Last few years have been extremely busy with Olympics, Davis Cup. All the tournaments I played I was very successful. Getting back to world No. 1 last year and the whole thing. For me, it was important to take a bit of a rest – not too loaning – just enough so I'm really sort of tough to beat in the next few months.
Q. You've obviously said already a couple things about Brad. This is a very sad time for tennis. You worked extremely closely with him. What would you like to say as a kind of few words for him and perhaps his legacy? What can the sport do now to take his name forward?
ROGER FEDERER: Obviously Brad wasn't just the president of the ATP but was a player himself, board member. I don't know if he was a council member as well like what I am today. But he obviously was a tournament director and a very important person for the tennis Masters Cup, bringing it to Shanghai I think the first time and then bringing it back again later to Shanghai. So he's given so much time and effort to the ATP, and I think this is really what we will try to honor in a small way today. Then obviously I think many more players got to know him through his position in the last one and a half years. He was always very nice to work with.Very honest. Very nice. Gentle. I've really enjoyed every step of the way working with him. For me, it was hard seeing him not be the same anymore towards the end physically, but we very much can only appreciate what he's done for us and what he did it until the last moment he really possibly could. That will never go away. I'm sure that the ATP and the players will come up with something for the legacy of Brad Drewett. It's very important.
Key Takeaway from the Press Conference
- The back isn't an issue (hopefully won't change after some competitive matches)
- He's feeling in good form and ready to play on clay after hard practice
- He's playing Basel without an appearance fee as I correctly posted last week
- He's ready for a long stretch of tournaments and planned his schedule peRFectly.
Brennwald Apologises After his Media Antics
I posted about Brennwald trying to tarnish Federer's reputation again in the media last week with more trash talk about the Basel negotiations but in an interesting turn of events he's come out and apologised. I guess my post worked 😀
You can read the full article here on Blick, a Swiss news site so you'll need Google Translate.
Here are a few interesting snippets:
I was sat in front a large number of journalists. I felt an enormous amount of expectation. A journalist asked:
My answer was; I have tried a few times and I will try again now. This reaction was stupid of me. But believe me, never, there was no evil intent behind it. I'm not someone who is dishonest or disloyal.
Q. A man with your experience should not have done this?
You're right. I also apologize for that. First and foremost, of course to Roger (Federer). I also (apologize) to all others who felt that was inappropriate.
Well glad we cleared that we one up, don't mess with the GOAT is the key takeaway here.
It's a smart move from Brennwald too as the Swiss Media weren't happy with the way he handled himself last week so clearly he's taken heed of the advice from his team of advisors, publicists and PR guru's and apologised. He was probably jeopardising ticket sales with what he said so making an apology was in everyone's interests.
Whether there's anything behind it or he means it is another matter but guess we just have to take it at face value. Either way it looks like the Basel matter has been put to bed and we can just look forward to the tennis on court rather than the drama off it.
I'll be back later in the week with a full write up of the Stepanek match. Allez!