Roger Federer Disappoints Tennis Fans with Davis Cup Withdrawal
by Jonathan Morgan | December 30th, 2009, 6:41 pm
  • 33 Comments

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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33 Comments for Roger Federer Disappoints Tennis Fans with Davis Cup Withdrawal

kudz Says:

but this year stan might not be playing also if his wife gives birth around then..which means it’d be roger and some anonymous folks vs nadal (world no. 2) verdasco (GS semi finalist) lopez (GS quarter finalist) ferrer (GS quarter finalist) robredo ferrero et al…
so roger cant go in this expecting much more than good clay court practise..before indian wells..
i’d probably skip it too


Catherine Says:

Why waste energy on what’s most probably a lost case anyhow? With Wawrinka’s wife expecting their kid around that time, he might not play this tie either, and in that case the Swiss team is a sitting duck.
Federer has righly decided to go for his OWN career (DC is overrated anyways – tennis is first and foremost an individual sport!) and that means doing as best as he can at the regular tournaments. With Indian Wells immediately following the dates of this tie, I can well see where Fed’s priorities lie.


Mary Says:

It wouldn’t hurt Federer to play Davis Cup against Spain. He never seems to have issue prancing back to Switzerland for another round of waving out windows to the throng of bulbous late-middle-aged women or for some other money making mission.


Glen Evan Says:

Sorry, but true Federer fanatics (including me) care about him winning more Australian Opens, French Opens, Wimbledons, and US Opens.
Next on the list is finishing number 1 at year’s end again.
Farther down the list would be winning the season ending championships in London or wherever.
Playing Davis Cup, or winning it for Switzerland, barely registers.
Catherine is correct: Davis Cup is overrated. Ask any one-Slam wonder (Costa, Ferrero,Noah, for example) if he would trade his lone GS title for a DC trophy, and the answer would be along the lines of, “Uh…hell no”.


Glen Evan Says:

Mary, get a life. You’re clearly unbalanced, and most likely another bitter Rafa fan scouring on-line venues to rage against the Greatest Player of All Time at any opportunity.


patzin Says:

I think it just shows that Fed is more self-centered and doesn’t have a great interest in playing for his country, other than Olympics. Rafa and the Spanish team are dedicated to Davis Cup and love playing on a team and for their country.


JMc Says:

I’m a devoted tennis fan and one of the many, I suspect, who simply doesn’t care about Davis Cup at all. Its always felt like a contrived effort to insert nationalism into an individual sport that doesn’t need it. Roger has new children, enormous demands on his time and a bunch of players who are younger than he is trying to topple him. A little time off is a good idea.


ELIZABETH Says:

If Stan is not playing what is Federer going to do? He is wonderful, but he can’t play singles and doubles just by himself. There is nobody else in the Swiss team. Of course, Nadal and Rodick always play DC, but they have a great team, they won’t go by themselves.
I completely agree with Roger’s decission


Kimo Says:

I think that the way countries pick and choose which surface to play on no matter what month of the year it is should be changed. Davis cup ties in the first three months of the year should be on hard court, from April to July on clay, From August to the year-end chamionships on hard again.


Jojo Says:

Fed’s fans are sooo funny! LOL…


Lenny Says:

As both, a tennis fan AND a Rafa-Raja-rivalry fan, I’m terribly bummed out about this. But given the surface, the time of year, and Wawa’s situation, I have to agree it makes sense for Fed.

And I’m sorry, I do NOT agree with those who slam the top players as ‘unpatriotic’ if they don’t make themselves available for DC play. Sure, the national rivalry makes for a fun atmosphere, but – to repeat what a couple of others on here have already said – let’s not forget tennis is primarily an INDIVIDUAL sport. And by racking up the individual titles, a player is STILL contributing to his country’s sporting history anyway.


mary Says:

“If Stan is not playing what is Federer going to do? He is wonderful, but he can’t play singles and doubles just by himself. ”

I know there are other Swiss men who play tennis. I’ve seen them on tv.


steve Says:

Federer’s done plenty for Switzerland, including the Olympic gold medal in doubles with Wawrinka. That’s probably worth a lot more than a Davis Cup.

This year he flew to Italy and played two matches on clay for Davis Cup, less than forty-eight hours after he lost at the USO, and after he won, he said his body was hurting and needed a break.

The Davis Cup business is one of the rapidly dwindling number of things that detractors can use as an argument against Federer’s greatness. “He can’t be the best of all time if he didn’t win a Davis Cup.” Or if he doesn’t win a Olympic gold in singles. Or if he never wins the Calendar Slam by beating Nadal in every Slam final by coming back from two sets to love down, 5-0, 40-0 down on Nadal’s serve in the third set, while using a frying pan instead of a racket. Etc., etc. ad absurdum.

But Arthur Ashe helped win the first Davis Cup ever, and served as captain for years, yet he is far more remembered as a humanitarian than a player.

As for Sampras, the main arguments for his stature are the 14 Slams and 7 Wimbledons, and 6 consecutive years ending at #1, but I don’t think too many people bother mentioning the Davis Cup.

He helped the US win in ’92 and ’95, but McEnroe was on the team in ’92 and Agassi was on the team in ’95. Federer currently doesn’t have the luxury of partnering with players of that caliber. If he did, he might make a different decision, but as of now it’s probably not worth it.

Yes, it’s a selfish decision, but it’s a selfish sport.


evie Says:

I’m a huge Fed fan, but I hate the way he drops DC every year. Hate it. But I also think it reflects poorly on the setup of DC. It is idiotic to have these huge five set clay matches in the middle of the HC season. It is unhelpful to have them so close to other big tournaments.

Roger is looking to play well into his 30s, which means DC will be in the cutting block again and again. Something has to give to stay fit. But I hate it; it makes me sad that he bails on his country so often.


Dan Martin Says:

A friend posted the novel idea that the Bradenton products have a team, the Barcelona products have a team, etc. The world is more interconnected than it once was. Tennis players typically gravitate to a few hotbeds of junior activity. Tennis has been an Olympic Sport since 1988. The EU has downplayed borders in Europe. The format has become outmoded as the tennis calendar keeps getting longer and longer. The Australian Open made January a relevant part of the calendar after switching its dates in 1987 and opening the new facility in 1988 changing the demands placed on players during a given year.

I can give a million reasons why Davis Cup today means less to the average player and fan than it did 30 years ago. Many players prior to Federer have had limited commitments to Davis Cup (especially as they got older)- Connors, Sampras and Agassi come to mind. I am glad for the team and country that wins, but other than that I don’t care much about Davis Cup.


Nina Says:

JMc Says:

“I’m a devoted tennis fan and one of the many, I suspect, who simply doesn’t care about Davis Cup at all. Its always felt like a contrived effort to insert nationalism into an individual sport that doesn’t need it.”

Exactly, i think the same. I think it’s more important his career as an individual tennis player, why he needs to make any sacrifice that can hurt his results by saving his country from doom at the Davis Cup? Really, Switzerland is a very small country and it hasn’t got the fanatism of other countries like the USA where they brainwash the kids into becoming these patriotic fanatics from the very beginning. One of the reasons I enjoy tennis is because it is an individual sport and has nothing to do with all that nonsense. So kudos to Roger and I’m not even a fan of his.


Joe W Says:

The term “off season” is a joke within the tennis lexicon, particularly for the top players. There isn’t another sport with as long a season as Tennis. Players moving from continent-to-continent and having about a 3 week “rest” period to squeeze in celebrating the holidays/family and training for the upcoming season. Let’s face it, in terms of North American TV ratings, tennis falls off the map after the US Open, with arguably the Masters holding any interest for the casual-to-enthusiasiastic fan. Most Americans could give a crap about Davis Cup. The sport would benefit from a shorter season.


alter Says:

go on boy i love want you do


madmax Says:

Roger has absolutely made the right decision.

It would be seriously detrimental to his training schedule to add another tournament. This comes as no surprise to me at all.

Whilst a couple of you have expressed how much you “hate it that Roger bails on Davis cup”, try and look at it another way.

Would you rather he played DC, got overtired before going into the next tournament and then have to recuperate adequately, possibly missing a masters event because he was not “quite ready?”. If you are sane, the answer would be “of course not”. Roger is the kingpin in the swiss davis cup team. Everyone knows that. Roger and Stan together make it the best tennis unison in switzerland. He mentioned last year that it would be “unlikely” he would play davis cup as it just does not sit well with the tennis calender. He would have to be an A team “fool” to add DC to his schedule – it’s too risky.

He has already signed up for 18 tournaments this year, with a possible late entry for Estoril, (making it 19), and if you look at his schedule, they are all pretty close together – too close –

Having the olympics last year could have had serious consequences to all players, there simply was little time to recuperate. You have to think clever! Roger has done this!

If Roger committed to playing DC, he would seriously scupper his chances of more wins in 2010, because DC, whilst great for the partisan crowd in Barcelona, (and the spanish team), it will not serve any benefit to roger whatsoever.

Plus,

didnt rafa say he was going to take more care in 2010 in terms of not overloading his tennis schedule? What exactly has he changed? Nothing – from what I can see –

Mary, choose your words carefully, “prancing” is not a word I would use when describing federer. How about “gliding” back to switzerland – remember who you are talking about and dont be so sour – I take it you didnt have a good christmas?

Good luck and fecilitations to all tennis fans and their favourite players – will be great to see everyone back in full force very soon.

I am it – still thinking about ya buddy!
Contador – hope to see you very soon.


Sean Randall Says:

Disappointing? Yes! Surprising? No!

I wonder if Roddick will post for the Serbia tie. I don’t think he will.


MMT Says:

steve said: “But Arthur Ashe helped win the first Davis Cup ever, and served as captain for years,…”

Not sure what you meant by his, but the US won the first Davis Cup in 1900, and many more long before Arthur Ashe came around for the first time to help them win it in 1968. Maybe you meant it was Ashe’s first Davis Cup?

I agree with those who are disappointed that Federer has (yet again) pulled out of Davis Cup. I also disagree with the idea that the Davis Cup is a waste of time. I think the format would be better if it happened over 2 weeks at one venue. That would be better for the players and the competition and hence the fans. The question is where would it go in the schedule – my preference would be for it to be moved to the start of the spring hard court “season” or even better replace the two events in Indian Wells and Miami, but that will never happen.

Perhaps if it were more like the Ryder Cup, played every 2 years at rotating venues. If they can stuff the Olympics in the summer season right before the US Open every 4 years, they can certainly find time on the schedule for the Davis Cup if the committment is contained to a 2 week period.


mary Says:

If the players can show up to play matches for moneygrabbing exhos all over the planet, they can show up to play Davis Cup.

It’s not that I don’t understand various arguments against DC. It’s that the players had no problem using their respective countries training sessions, trainers, funding, representation while coming up in the ranks.

If a player does not want to play Davis Cup period because it’s stupid whatever, he should prance on up to a microphone and say it.


madmax Says:

mary,

go take a lie down, you need to relax lady.


mary Says:

madmax: who are you? It’s odd that someone would feel my use of the word “prancing” reflected something sexual. I hit some homophobic nerve of yours.
You do not know Federer, he is not your friend, he will never be your friend. There is no need to troll someone on the internet who you perceived as slighting your obsession.

MMT: I’m not sure what changing the DC schedule would accomplish since most of the players will continue to complain about the schedule. To get players to appear, TPTB should get the sponsors to kick in appearance fees for the participating players.


madmax Says:

Mary? Who are you?

When you use the word ‘prancing’, I had no idea this was a sexual reference? Are you feeling okay? Obviously you and me dont speak the same language – What I was referring to was federer is not someone who you should describe as prancing – because he is so much more than this – dont you think? so dont accuse me of saying things I didnt mean – plus, if you havent got anything nice to say about the guy, then dont say anything at all -

Oh and by the way Mary, here are some stats for you on davis cup as you seem so concerned about federer “ducking out”. reported in the weblink below:

He does care (at least a little bit), but it seems that Davis Cup glory just isn’t a big priority for him at this point in his career. Which is a little surprising, since the Davis Cup is one of the few titles still missing from Roger’s resume.

And Switzerland has never won the Cup before. But it’s not accurate to call Roger a Davis Cup slacker –

Federer has a 37-11 career win-loss DC record. Andy Roddick – considered a DC stalwart and Roger’s contemporary – has a 31-11 record.
So Roger’s done a lot for Team Suisse over the years. He could still do a lot more.

2. Roger Federer is ducking Rafael Nadal!

Nonsense. I might consider this argument if Roger pulled out after, say, losing to Nadal in the Australian Open final, and with Switzerland hosting Spain a few weeks later in Basel’s Roger Federer Hall. But he’s pulling out months before the tie and there’s no shame in losing to Nadal on clay, anyway. Plus, Roger beat Rafa the last time they played on Spanish soil. It’s not like he doesn’t think he could do it.

3. Roger Federer is disappointing the fans!

I agree 100%. Some hard core Roger fans will be thankful that he’s saving his body for Indian Wells, but his withdrawal is a tough blow for both the Davis Cup organization and fans of the historic event. How can it be considered a truly relevant, world-class competition if the top player in the world pulls out months before a highly anticipated tie? When fans see Spain vs. Switzerland in the draw, it’s reasonable for them to expect to see both Federer and Nadal participate. It’s also reasonable to be annoyed when this doesn’t happen. Perhaps what isn’t reasonable is expecting the players to compete for the Cup every year. I’m a big proponent for the every-two-years scenario. Let the defending champs take the Cup home and eat their oatmeal in it for a while.

So. . . I’m annoyed. But I’m also tired of the whole Roger Federer hates Davis Cup thing.
Read more: http://www.gototennisblog.com/2009/12/30/roger-federer-will-not-play-davis-cup-vs-spain/#ixzz0bIukhKVx

Happy New Year Mary – enjoy your day.


fae coleman Says:

Nadal is probaby the most patriotic tennis player I know! he relishes playing for his country just look at his amazing olympic gold, infact this is what seperates Spain from the rest, they love to do it for their country.
Federer, serves for Federer, he knows how to take care of himself and prioriterizes his own career over his country, he always has, he isn’t getting any younger though so he probably doesn’t want to push himself to hard nowadays but he never has really given it much attention, disappointing from a Swiss fans point of view!


Ben Pronin Says:

I agree with Sean, disappointing but not surprising. I just don’t get why this becomes an argument every year.

I don’t agree that Federer serves only himself. Considering he’s getting older, it would be foolish for him to screw with his body by alternating surfaces like that. I think it’s foolish for the Spaniards to even pick clay smack dab in the middle of hard court season.

The Swiss need to step it up. I doubt Federer thinks about this but the way I see it, if the Swiss can’t get themselves through round one without Federer, they are not deserving of Davis Cup. Imo, the 2008 final was where Spain truly proved themselves. Playing without an obvious number 1 and still winning, that’s a real team. Spain can win a final without Nadal, the Swiss can’t win round one without Federer. It’s not Fed fans who should be disappointed, it’s Swiss fans.


Fot Says:

I must say that I am not surprised at all. The Davis Cup officials are the ones who need to ‘take a look’ at what they have and fix the problem. It’s not the players…. it’s the way Davis Cup is played. Spain won the Cup less than a month ago and already have to ‘defend’ it? When can they ‘enjoy’ their 2009 victory? It should be like Ryder Cup and have it maybe every 2 years. (It won’t happen, but justs for the sake of an idea…) If Spain would lose in the first round, that means they would have had only a little over a ‘month’ to ‘enjoy’ the championship of winning it in 2009.

On Roger again…People who compare Roger to Roddick saying that Roddick plays all the time and gives DC a priority. I wonder how much of a priority would Roddick give DC IF he had to play singles AND doubles for every single round? Roddick has an ‘out’ in that he knows he doesn’t have to even worry about playing the double match. Roger has to play both single matches and doubles if for every Davis Cup. That’s best of 5 single match one day; best of 5 double’s match the next day; and to come back to play best of 5 for the following day in singles again. Do that for every round you win; add that to all the tournaments you have to enter and add Roger’s age to that… I don’t blame him one bit for not playing.

When Roger was younger he devoted a lot of time to Davis Cup and yet the Swiss still couldn’t get it done. Now many of the other countries are much deeper and stronger than they are and people still want Roger to play superman for the Swiss? It isn’t going to happen.

I’m glad Roger is concentrating on his schedule and his tennis. If some say he’s selfish because of that – so be it. It just may pave the way for us fans to see him play for a lot more years and for that – heck – I’m glad!


Ben Pronin Says:

That Roddick thing applies to Nadal, too, come to think of it. Nadal never plays doubles for DC.


Catherine Says:

“It’s not Fed fans who should be disappointed, it’s Swiss fans.”

And guess what? They aren’t.
The Swiss fully realize that Federer has done quite a lot – if not everything they could have ever dreamt of – already for their country. They’d rather see him rack up a few more GS titles!


Brooksie Says:

Federer keeps getting those sportsmanship prizes every year. One of the main points in the definition of sportsmanship is trying your best in every match in every tournament (especiallly if it’s your country). Federer doesn’t care about anything other than the slams since 2007, so how is he a good sportsman?

Look at Olympics 2008. Nadal, Djokovic, Gonzo and Blake were willing to die on court in the semis. Meanwhile, Federer went out early even though he was probably better on HC than all those other semifinalists.


reg Says:

Roger puts his personal success above wasing any energy to support for his country. Full Stop. In this category, Andy Roddick is the real sportsman – he fights his heart out in all slams and he fights equally hard for davis cup, even on clay court, in Spain, against Nadal. Andy is heroic, a great role model to be a real great tennis player with true colours and spirits. Bravos! all tennis players who do not think just for winning for himself but also spare his efforts and time to fight for his/her countries. There is never a convenient time to play for your own country. The highest ranking player chooses not to spare any time and effort, how can a country expects the lower ranking players to contribute?


Roddick, Blake Just Say No to Davis Cup in 2010 Says:

[...] am not surprised that Roddick passed up a free plane ride to Serbia to play Novak Djokovic on clay in early March, [...]

Top story: Federer Surprised By Shot At No. 1; Murray, Nadal In Action Wednesday
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