February 17, 2004
Tennis-X looks into the
game and life of tennis star Roger Federer:
August 8, 1981
ATP Rank: 1
Roger Federer's Parents: Mother, Lynette is
South African; Father, Robert is Swiss. The two
met on a pharmaceutical business trip.
Being Baby Fed:
"I started playing at the age of three. I
was playing soccer at the same time. At like 10
or 12 years old, I had to make a decision what
I'm going to do now more than the other one. I
had more success in tennis. Decided at 14 to go
down to the National Tennis Center, but it was
in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, I'm
coming from the German. For me, it was very tough
the first half of year. I wanted to go home. I
was not happy. I was crying when I will to leave
on Sunday. Then I went to the Orange Bowl, under
14. Came back, felt good, started to win matches.
At 16, the tennis center changed to the part of
Switzerland where they speak both languages. For
the future, they can go in French-speaking schools
and German. I decided to quit school at that time,
at 16, because I felt like school was bothering
me from my best tennis. I quit school and just
went very quickly. I won a junior tournament and
finished No. 1 in Juniors then. Also the change
from Juniors to pros was not as tough."
Junior achievements: Finished No. 1 in 1998
after winning Wimbledon (d. Labadze) and reaching
final at US Open (l. to Nalbandian).
the books at age 16:
"I told my parents I'm not in the mood to go
to school anymore and I want to focus on tennis
and they understood it but they said that if, in
the next few years, you don't have any results,
you go back to school. I actually stopped school
at 16 so that was a pretty big risk for me because
I didn't have any ATP ranking, maybe 800 or something,
and in the juniors I was like 60 or something. Then
I finished as No. 1 junior in the summer and everything
was going my way because somehow I felt school was
disturbing me of being 100% focused on tennis, that's
why I actually quit school and then tennis went
tennis over soccer as a kid:
"In tennis I had more success, and I was traveling
international already. In tennis I felt like everything
was in my control. In soccer I could blame it on
the goalkeeper, I could blame it on whatever. In
tennis I didn't have that problem. It was only myself
Tennis idols growing
up: Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and Pete Sampras.
"The way I see it, I've always admired players
with one-handed backhands just because I also
played one-handed. For me, Edberg was my first,
Becker after. They were more like idols. Sampras
was more like the favorite player later on. I
never tried to copy anyone. I think that's what
the kids also should know. You know, okay, some
techniques are good, but maybe there's something
else also than the technique that makes your favorite
player win the match. This sometimes kids don't
see. But still, it's nice to have an idol. I've
always enjoyed that."
to a psychologist in juniors:
"I had that once when I was playing juniors
because I was getting too upset, so I needed some
help how to think about different stuff and how
to get rid of that (feeling). Then I kind of worked
on it myself."
throwing days revisited:
"I was throwing around my racquet like you
probably don't imagine. Helicopters were flying
all over. I mean, I was getting kicked out of practice
sessions non-stop when I was 16. ... I don't know
if I grew up a little bit. I realized that the racquet
throwing didn't help my game because I was always
getting very negative. I used to talk also much
more. Now, I mean, I don't talk anymore. I'm just
positive, you know. Also, of course, to play Center
Court in front of a packed crowd, to play Pete Sampras,
I don't know, doesn't make you scream, you know,
throw racquets. I think that's pretty normal."
"I would like to say I'm lucky I played him
one time. You know, that was always something I've
always looked forward to, that I would get that
chance. Better for me, it was Center Court in Wimbledon,
plus I beat him in an unbelievable five-set match."
"I'm definitely a guy who is rather calm on
the outside on the tennis court, but very emotional
inside. I showed everything that was going on inside
of myself at the presentation of the trophy in Wimbledon.
... You know, I'm happy when I make a good shot.
But I always have my moments of disappointment when
I miss. But for me I'm at a point where I don't
need to show this. I need to keep my emotions under
control. I have the feeling if I show too much,
you know, it might hurt me for the next match. The
emotion's left. I want to keep everything till the
end. This is just the way I feel right now. It makes
me feel good. I like the way I behave, myself. I
think that is the most important."
insanely magical shots you hit:
"Yeah, more a few years ago, and just because
everybody was talking about, 'How talented you are,'
and, 'How easy it looks,' and you feel like you
kind of have to live up to this and play the miracle
shots, you know, the crowd-pleaser stuff. But I
kind of stopped with that. All I want in the end
is to win the match and not hit the best shot of
the tournament, of the match. I kind of feel now
that I know in what moment to play which shot. I
think this is very important for my game. This is
also why I can - I'm for over six months now in
the Top 5. I think this is a big step for me mentally."
coach: Federer has no coach at the moment after
ending things with Peter Lundgren in December 2003,
though he is working on the road with trainer Pavel
"I feel good the way it's right now, otherwise
I wouldn't perform like I'm doing. I'm definitely
- especially after this result (winning the Australian
Open) - not going to stress into something because
it gives me kind of air and time to really think
about what I want. At the same time I'm getting
to know myself better, also what my needs are before
a tournament. You know, I've always been taken care
of with coaches. Maybe to be on my own a little
bit does my game good. You know, in a way yes, and
in a way it doesn't do me good because maybe I'm
missing some advice. Maybe in the long run this
could help me. Who knows."
on the dirt:
"Even though I grew up playing on clay the
whole time, indoors I was playing on the balloon
on clay all winter long until I was 14. So, it's
weird because when I came on the ATP Tour, I had
0-11 on clay. So I was like, 'This cannot be possible.'
It was just I guess mentally on big points, on clay,
you can just see more the weakness of your game,
because you can massage the weakness I would say.
On grass, it's two shots and it can be a little
bit lucky or this and that. You guess and it works,
you know. On the clay, you can't really guess and
you have to work the point. So I was very disappointed
in my clay court game before."
"Impossible to answer. I have no idea. I've
never been close to win the French Open or I would
say the US Open. But now that I've played well at
the Australian Open, I know I've got definitely
a better chance also at the US Open. French Open
gives me confidence knowing that I played finals
in Rome, won Hamburg and won Munich. If that is
enough to win a Grand Slam... I don't think so.
I'll go step by step."
talented Mr. Federer:
"I mean, 'talent,' it's very tough to describe.
A lot of people love my game because I'm so relaxed
on the court, and I play with touch. I play spin,
slice, I come to the net. I play all over. But,
I mean, it can also be a disadvantage. Some people
don't understand. Yes, it can be a disadvantage,
because I believe like a Hewitt, who has unbelievable
fitness and mental toughness, for me this is also
a talent, you know, but just in a different area
of the game. So of course maybe I'm more relaxed
out there on the court, but it doesn't mean you're
going to win more matches."
"I would like to have, you know, dropshot,
this forehand dropshot all these Spaniards have.
When they have this time, they just wait and wait
and wait, in the end they play a dropshot. I could
do it but I just don't have the confidence or I
feel like, 'Oh, if I lose the point, I look so stupid.'
So I don't even try these shots, you know. But sometimes
it's good to do it just to mix it up."
"I think I'm kind of famous for wearing the
red shirt and the white headband. So I stuck to
it when I played from the fourth round on. It brought
me luck once again. I'm happy about it."
smell... of RF Fragrance:
"For the moment, we're just on the Swiss market.
We're trying to get bigger there. Then we'll see
if we go abroad. But we're trying to. You know,
it's something we've done all ourselves. It's the
Roger Federer fragrance. I helped a lot with it.
It's something that means a lot to me. We'll see
"I'm very famous in Switzerland. Everywhere
I go, people know me. That's obvious, you know.
We're not such a big country, but I'm very, very
famous over there. ... On holidays, you know. Like
once I was in the Maldives. In Thailand I was also
on some island and they knew me there. You know,
it's just strange to be recognized."
in tennis, no worries:
"The money for me is just a bonus you know
because I love the game so much. It was always a
dream for me to be a tennis pro and I always thought
this money thing was like a bonus because when I
came on the Tour and I lost first round and I got
a couple of thousand dollars - that was for me just
huge. I was not used to it. Now, sometimes when
I see my bank account - my parents show me the latest
and I am really surprised - you know, how much money
I have already made. Of course I would play the
game, it is not a question for me."
a dreaming man:
"I'm a funny guy, I'm outgoing, you can have
a lot of fun with me. I can hang out. On the bad
side, I don't always listen to people because I'm
dreaming too much and I have to ask them to repeat
what they say."
pal: Former WTA player Miroslava Vavrinec, who
retired from the game in 2002 after a foot injury.
The two met at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
"It's important in a girlfriend to understand
what I'm doing, that she likes me. I don't ask for
too much, I want to get along well. I don't like
"I've got this thing when I'm sleeping - you
know - I don't know if I should say it, but I've
this problem when I'm banging my head against the
pillow, you know, I don't know what this is but
I'm doing this since I'm a baby. If I'm lying on
my stomach and I'm banging my head against the pillow.
I really would like to know where and why and where
it comes from - it's so embarrassing, so bad!"
"Not really. I'm not a beer fan. I drink other
"In school we had English and French. Then
I went to the French-speaking part of Switzerland
so I learned the French because I couldn't speak
court hobbies: Sports, cards, sitting on the
beach, playing cricket and ping pong.
On cricket: "I just really watch it just because
it's relaxing, you know. I understand the rules.
That's already something for a European. The other
guys, all my friends, they don't understand the
sport, so I got to switch. But that's fine."
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