This happens every single year, but every year it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of tennis fans. Roger Federer has again decided to pull out of a first round Davis Cup clash.
In his younger years, as a hungry up-and-coming talent, Roger played as much Davis Cup as he could. From 1999 to 2004, his first year at #1, he played 36 Davis Cup matches and every single tie that the Swiss were engaged in. From 2005 to 2009, however, he has skipped the first round every year only to come back and be the hero every September as he saves the Swiss team from relegation. He’s only played 12 Davis Cup matches since 2005.
Is it because he doesn’t care about Davis Cup due to the fact that he is more focused on other records and priorities? Is it because the Swiss team is, to put it nicely, not very deep? Is it because he feels he has to be Superman every tie? Is it because Davis Cup timing is never really that good for him? Is it because he is trying to emulate his idol Pete Sampras, who skipped Davis Cup entirely in 93, 96, 98, and 01? Or is it because he would have to play Nadal on clay in Spain this year?
I would surmise that it would have to do with some combination of the above. I am not lambasting the guy for his decision, it is his decision to make. But as a pure tennis fan, the #1 player in the world pulling out of the biggest team competition in the sport every single year just doesn’t feel right.
You see someone like Andy Roddick who places Davis Cup above basically all other tournaments save for possibly the slams and makes himself always available to play. You see Rafael Nadal playing every tie that Spain is in unless he is injured (which, admittedly, is pretty often), but the point is that other players seem to put a higher priority on Davis Cup than Roger does.
In defense of Roger, the Swiss team isn’t as deep as Spain or the USA, or really any other team in the World Group, and Roger has to be godly every tie to win. In his press release this time, he stated that playing on clay in Spain right before Indian Wells and Miami isn’t really the best preparation for the two Masters events. I guess his priorities at the moment are to keep his #1 ranking for the record number of weeks by doing well at these events and to continue to try to increase his slam record.
Fair enough. Legacies are forged with records such as those.
I only hope that before Roger’s career is out, he gives a real shot at Davis Cup. It would really be a shame if the greatest player of all time has every record in the book but never even tried to win a Davis Cup.
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