Roger Federer Practices at Indian Wells Friday
by Tom Gainey | March 5th, 2010, 11:42 pm

federer-indianwellsPeter Bodo is looking more the “dodo” or “bozo” with each passing day. Earlier in the week the writer for Tennis Magazine made public that he heard that Roger Federer was going to withdraw from Indian Wells.

Whoops! Federer has since not only not withdrawn Masters 1000 Tennis tournament, but the Swiss has already arrived in California and he’s even had a practice session on center court!!

Federer wrote on his Facebook page: “Back on the court in Indian Wells today. Felt great to hit as it was the first hit I had in 2 and a half weeks.”

First hit in two plus? He does have another week before he has to take the court.

And if you go to his Facebook page and click the picture to full size you can clearly make out the “” signage logo off to the far left of the image. In light of the events that have transpired this week I find that somewhat odd if not coincidental that the photographer or Federer’s Facebook manager didn’t crop that out before posting!

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91 Comments for Roger Federer Practices at Indian Wells Friday

tennisfan#1 Says:

I had no idea he would arrive for training this early. I thought he would leave on Saturday and start training on Sunday. Roger trained for one week in Dubai and than got sick which means he missed 4 days of training in total plus the week long tournament in Dubai. So really he has missed nearly as much as you might think. He will play his first match on Sunday March 14. My guess is he will train Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday before the Hit for Haiti, and than have a light hit on Saturday March 13 before playing the 2nd round on Sunday March 14. Guys, it is clearly possible that he will be better prepared for this tournament than any of the other top players. Arriving over a week early to climatize and train means one thing. Roger wants to win this tournament. He will be better rested than anyone, and we must remember one important factor here. Roger is not injured he was sick, and that is a major difference. Nadal, Delpotro, and Davydenko are all injured. I think Nadal’s injury is probably the only one that is chronic, but Delpotro and Davydenko could be headed down that path as well. I will wait to make a prediction until the draw comes out, but given the intentions from Federer here I think he and Murray are the favorites. Cheers.

Ben Pronin Says:

Federer may not have been injured but if his lung infection affected his breathing. Should it recur at some point in a match, he might be forced to retire.

tennisfan#1 Says:

A lung infection is like bronchitis, pnuemonia, a cold, a stomache virus, or any other infection. The fact that Roger was on antibiotics means that he probably had a bacterial infection. It will not come back because it is now gone. He may get it again at some point in his life, but not for some time. Also, the dry desert air is great for asthmatics and people suffering from copd or another lung problem. The bottom line is Roger is healthy again, and will be 100% fit by the time he plays his 2nd round match on March 14. He will lack matches, but will get them in before the quarters onward. Nadal, Delpotro, Davydenko, and other injured players are who everyone needs to worry about. Cheers.

Kimmi Says:

Nadal has also sent a message on his facebook: So, he is ready for IW too.

“Last week was great, with great practice and a lot of work well done. Marc Lopez came to practice with me. I am feeling better and better and playing well so looking forward to Indian Wells.”

TennisMasta Says:

Hope Roger is fully well and is not forcing himself to support the tournament and the Haiti relief match. He is better off making the final decision (and withdraw if not 100%) at the latest point in time (as Nadal did after the Wimbledon draw in 2009).

As to Peter Bodo, he has no credibility unless you are a rabid jingoist only routing for the Americans. If it’s an American GOAT (Sampras) Bodo overhypes and becomes the #1 cheerleader. If a foreign GOAT (Federer) he is always finding something to complain and spends his life asterisking Federer’s accomplishments. It is very unfortunate. I wish he realizes that Americans appreciate greatness in foreign players also.

Gannu Says:

Come on Roger.. u gotto win this and many more!!! Made my day already ;-)

Ben Pronin Says:

My friend has chronic bronchitis…

Anyway, why are you so sure he’s going it to the quarters? He lost in the opening round of the Paris Masters just recently. He’s also lost in opening round of IW as the 3-time defending champ.

madmax Says:

nice to see you being so positive ben! :)

I think Roger is the best judge of his own body, and if he feels he is ready to play, then he feels he is ready to play.

and put me right on this one Ben, I dont think federe has ever done that well at Paris Bercy Masters, has he? whereas he has at IW?

I would see both IW and Miami as “practise” for fed and I, for one, will just be pleased to see him play. He really has been missed.

“Back on the court in Indian Wells today. Felt great to hit as it was the first hit I had in 2 and a half weeks.”

Great news fed!

Kimmi Says:

Ben, i agree. Its not guarantee that fed will get to the quarters. If he gets somebody like Gulbis in the first round for will be a very tough first round match…if not sharp enough he loses it.

Good to see, he is looking more and more like he will play though. i now hope davydenko and delpo are healthy too.

Skorocel Says:

Fed has diarrhea! Make no mistake about it! He was spotted in the outskirts sitting on one of the local toilets for the whole day, various reliable sources reported. It wasn’t until the tournament director gave him some painkillers that he was able to stand up and resume the training. Even though he appeared very happy and relieved after the practice session ended (going as far as to say “Felt great to sh.t as it was the first sh.t I had in 2 and a half weeks”), I’m really worried about him… What about you?

madmax Says:

skorocel, you’re funny dude.

Kimmi, yes, I see what you are saying, gulbis seems to have really turned a corner after having won his first ATP del ray title.

That said, we are talking about federer here – and a healthy one will beat anyone. comes down to two things. How much importance does he place on this tournament? how many points has he got to lose? 340? and is he really going to be THAT fit? we will have to wait and see.

Marty Says:

Peter Bodo makes things up to make people think he is an insider so they read his columns. Don’t!

Glen Evan Says:

Ben, if only wishing made it so. Instead of convincing yourself that Roger has a permanent disability and predicting his early exit, try sending positive energy to your hero Nadal and his chronic knee problems. That won’t make a bit of difference either, of course, other than erasing the scowl from your face.

tennisfan#1 Says:


He does not have chronic bronchitis. I have said in the past, and will say it again. Roger will play as good, and make it as far as he wants to. These tournaments in all reality mean nothing to the GOAT, but the number one ranking does. His goal will be to make the semis and defend his points, but I have a feeling he may win this thing because he knows it would give him a big boost in the lead for number one. Roger’s main priority in the next three months will be to defend the French Open title, and maintain a healthy lead at number one. He will achieve both of these goals. Roger will pace himself, and I know Fed-haters hate that term because they know when he loses he is not worried about it because he has the Slams and number one ranking in his mind. Cheers.

dc Says:

a bunch of looser who have achieved nothing except mediocrity in every aspect of their life, sitting and commenting on one of the most successful & gifted people of our times..come on guys..get a life.


Fed does not have his normal preparation for this tournament. You train at your home base then travel a little early to the tournament to acclamate to the climate and see how the courts are playing. Hopefully, he can work his way into the tournament.

Usually people over emphasize the importance of the draw, but I think it could be an issue for this tournament with so many top players coming off injuries. There might be a few more early exits for seeded players.

Ben Pronin Says:

Glen Evan, I don’t like Nadal.

Madmax and other Fed fans, my comments are pretty much entirely directed to tennisfan#1. You know, because he KNOWS everything that goes on with Federer’s life, including what’s going on with Fed’s body and what’s in his head.

I’m being realistic, and maybe a little cynical. I don’t think Federer will lose early but he can. I would never want him to, either. Unless it was to a returning Safin (ha). However, Federer could feel the ramifications of poor breathing for the past few weeks if a match gets really physical. Nowadays, every match is really physical.

To say Federer will get “as far as he wants” is the most ludicrous statement I’ve ever seen. Really? So last year he WANTED to lose to Murray in the semis. and in 08 he WANTED to lose to Fish. Federer wants to win everything he plays. Whether he expects to is another issue, but he always always wants to. If he win, great. He’s only 2 MS from breaking Agassi’s record. And considering Federer is one of the most successful players in MS alone, he completely deserves that record. I have no doubt he’ll end his career with roughly 20 MS. But this whole “Fed will win because he wants to and he’s feeling great because I said so” is ridiculous. What if he does lose in the first round? Then what? Excuses! The lung infection was bother him, he didn’t practice enough, he didn’t WANT to win, etc. Why can’t you just accept that in tennis, anything can happen on any given day and there are no guarantees. Even from TMF.

tennisfan#1 Says:


The truth hurts doesn’t it. You are no more a Federer fan than any other Nadal-Sampras fanatic. Roger will as I said get what he wants out of the tournament. No, Roger does not care if he loses in Masters series because he is focused on the slams. If he wins the Masters 1000 events than great and he is thrilled, but if he doesn’t he could careless. I get a kick out of you trying to sound logical and informative about this sport and it’s players when you have no clue about either my little friend. Cheers.

Ben Pronin Says:

Tennisfan#1, the truth hurts doesn’t it. You are no smarter than Sarah Palin and her gang of wily kids.

cha cha Says:

It doesn’t matter the favorite is Andy Murray again as usual LOL

RFFaN Says:

How about you’re both right?

Of course there’s a possibility Fed could lose early in any tourney, esp Masters Series w/ the deap field, and especially coming in as he is after a long break and an illness.

However, I’d be shocked if he experienced any breathing problems severe enough to cause retirement given that he’d already recovered from his breathing problems by the time he held a press conference two weeks ago.

tennisfan#1 Says:


We all know this, but you are talking about one of the most jealous individuals that ever walked the earth. I personally believe he is a bitter Sampras fan who has not recovered from last year. Well Ben if that is the case than I would not watch any tennis this year for sure. Catch my drift. Cheers.

Colin Says:

I’m going to say the same boring thing I always say on sports message boards: nobody can predict the future. NOBODY! Got that?
As I’ve also said, ad nauseam, if any one of us really could predict, he or she would not be wasting time posting stuff here. They’d be relaxing on their private yacht and counting their winnings.

Ben Pronin Says:

Sampras doesn’t play anymore, what does last year have to do with him?

I’d say I recovered just fine from last year. The only losses that really killed me were the AO final and that Paris loss. But with his success last year and this year in smashing previous records makes it easy to overlook those.

RFFaN, we can’t both be right. Tennisfan#1 thinks he can read minds. He’s delusional. And all I’m saying is exactly what Colin just said, no one can predict the future. IW is a hard event to predict this year, imo. If not for Fed’s illness, I’d say he’s the top favorite. But now it really depends on how well he’s going to feel. Fed’s no Nadal, he’s not going to play through pain. But if he feels no pain, that doesn’t mean he’ll play his best, either. Especially since Fed’s still vulnerable in best of 3 matches. I can’t see anyone beating him, at the moment, though. So it’s a tough call. As of right now, Murray and Fed are the co-favorites. Djokovic could be right above or right below them depending on form but I think he’ll be feeling some fatigue. Nadal is also another HUGE x-factor. He’s a two-time champ in IW and he’s the defending champ. IW could be an event where his knees don’t bother him at all. But his confidence might be down. Who knows? And that’s just 4 players. It’s a 96 player draw. Until Fed proves otherwise, this event is unpredictable.

RFFaN Says:

Just for the record, Fed has played through pain plenty of times.
So has probably every professional tennis player.

Actually, I think Nadal has a good shot; he’s historically done well in IW.

sar Says:

I hope Nadal Delp and Djokovic are in the same half.

Ben Pronin Says:

Del Potro already pulled out.

RFFaN, that’s a good point. I mean like career-threatening pain.

Andrew Miller Says:

Mr. Gainey: Not a fan of the comment on Bodo. You too will one day write something that is wrong/inaccurate, and furthermore all tennis blogs are important for the fans. Tennis-X has got it wrong before but admits when its wrong. Kind of how it should be. There are some tennis writers and bloggers who need some humbling (such as some who said Roddick would NOT see a Slam final again, which was said in 2005-2006 – not true). But Bodo said that people like JC Ferrero did not have the heart or fighting spirit of Roddick. So far Bodo looks pretty good on that one.

Andrew Miller Says:

Mr. Pronin is right – Federer can definitely lose any match. That’s what the facts show since 2007 (See Canas, Guillermo). He could have lost those French Open matches last year also (to his credit, he won them and earned the bragging rights as either “best” of the past three decades or “best ever” in tennis history).

Andrew Miller Says:

My opinion of Nadal: he’s lost the aura he had in 2008/early 2009. The injuries and the losses since Madrid 2009 to the present don’t spell out an IW win.

Who knows.

Andrew Miller Says:

I’d actually think Nadal would want to win Miami for its Latin connection. It’s one title he doesnt have yet and fans would go crazy (if Del Potro won they’d also go nuts – likely way more nuts)

sar Says:

Just read that Nadal Djok Fed and Gonzo will do an exo for Chile in Miami.

Eliza Says:

I don’t think breathing problems for Fed are the issue, but tiredness is. He’s said a couple of times that since the acute stages were over (and it sounds like he had pleurisy since he had sharp pain in the ribs), tiredness has been the problem. Tiredness is the normal result of such infections. He might well feel it is much better now, but a long draining match might be one step too far at IW. I think Nadal has the better chance.

madmax Says:

i cant remember who it was, but someone said being in IW for fed is the BEST thing he could do because the desert air is dry and great for the lungs. This being the case, go fed go.

Tennismasta, be a bit nicer to Ben please. You both have your points and just think you need to calm it down a little.

Ben, I understand what you are saying. Completely. Of course fed could lose in the first round, but why should he? I mean, if he says he is feeling fit and well and his breathing is okay, then he will be fit enough for a match. C’moon guys, give federer a bit of credit. The guy knows what he is doing. I’ve never seen him retire from a match, so I dont think that will happen, but of course, this is all crystal ball gazing. Who really knows?

Same goes for rafa, he was feeling “his best” at the AO and looked what happened when he was flogged from side to side by Murray, it was a flogging too far.

I think that federer will want to win, or certainly get as far as he can, to give him the points and break even further away. I just wish him all the best, and if things dont go his way, then move on to the next one, it’s all preparation for May, which has got to be his next “big” aim.

jane Says:

Bodo is typically a very strong Roger Federer supporter as far as I can tell; was it not him who coined the “TMF” to describe Roger? Bodo loves Fed, and while he may’ve called him out when floundering, he’s always been very quick to sing Fed’s praises. So why are so many dishing on him? Just because he inaccurately said that Fed was planning to withdraw from IW? So he made a mistake. Now it’s retracted. Fed’s practicing; he’s better. He may win; he may lose. What’s the big story? I don’t get it.


sar – glad to hear those players will do an exo in Miami to aid Chile. I still can’t get over it – an 8.8 earthquake!! This after a huge chunk of Antarctic ice broke off and is heading towards Oz, a huge earthquake hits and devastates Haiti, and now this quake coupled with Tsuami warnings. It’s just too sad.

RFFaN Says:

Here’s the problem w/ Bodo:

1) After Fed withdrew from Dubai and gave a press conference, no less, to inform people about his illness, did a podcast which was a festival of misinformation and snarkiness.
Fed had given plenty of info, pinpointing the day he became ill, explaining that he’d been ordered to rest for at least 2 weeks after which doctors would reevaluate his condition, and that the worst case scenario would be six weeks to recover. Listeners of the podcast wouldn’t know any of this, as they were only told of rumors that other players had contracted the same thing and that recovery was 8-10 weeks, and Bodo went off about how Fed didn’t really need to win IW and Miami again, implying he was conveniently excusing himself, complaining that Fed’s camp is too secretive and whining how they mishandled the mono situation in the past.

2)Fed’s two week rest period was up this past tuesday, and Roger told a Swiss journo that he was scheduled for medical tests on tues. So everyone paying attention knew that plans for IW were hinging on this doctor’s appt and that some news would probably come out late tues or early wed regarding the results.

3)Late tues, the first thing reported in the press was Bodo’s supposed “scoop” that fed wasn’t playing IW. If he reported it without knowing the results of Roger’s medical tests, that’s terrible journalism. Given that Roger states he was given the “green light” by his doctor that day, I can only conclude that either:

a) Roger is less recovered than he would have us believe

b) Someone in Roger’s camp deliberately misled Bodo in order to punish him for being an ass in his podcast in which case I say Hah and well deserved :)

OR . . . most likely:

c) Bodo was too careless in his investigation to even realize that Rog was having tests on tuesday, and undermined his own and his publication’s credibility to irresponsibly publish some baseless rumor –

jane Says:

It was a minor mistake that’s been blown way out of proportion, imo.

BodoBozo Says:

Yeah. Bodo was in fact very neutral untill Fed won the French and went past Sampras as all time slam leader. We all know Bodo loves Sampras. Infact he has written a book with him. When Fed’s form droppped in 2008, many thought he would not surpass Sampras. Now that he did Pete (Bodo) and to lesser extent Pete (Sampras) has now issues with how Fed did that feat. I used to be a great Sampras fan and I can understand why its difficult for Sampras to accept Fed’s achievements. Sampras ( a class guy he is) has given Fed the due credit although he says that Fed has to get a better record against Nadal. Sampras has all the right to air his opinions. But mr Bozo calls out (asteriks) for the French Open win shows his true intent of deriding Fed’s achievements which has come at the expense of two great american tennis legends (Fed beat Agassi with all 4 major opens and Sampras on the all time list). Most american tennis commentators and some past legends like Mats W (san a few) have the same opinion. They will get over it when Fed makes it 20 slams, because there is no question then. (But wait he is still not the GOAT beacuse Steffi Graf has 22). there are always reasons folks to deride/diasparage people’s achievements. You just have to try hard and you will find one.

Twocents Says:


After extensive investigation for the reason of Fed’s sudden stomach trouble, it was found that Fed dined at one of the high end restaurants in Palm Spring the evening before — right after Bodo left it. And one kitchen staff, allegedly, claimed seeing Bodo talk to the lead chef… Stay tuned.

madmax Says:

Jane, hi. I’ve just read your post properly.

Bodo was not very respectful of Fed on his podcast.

He was very disparaging about his illness, saying that roger was making it up and has also labeled himself a Nadal fan, that doesnt bother me in the slightest, but i think he shouldnt be so nasty to roger when even the advice from roger’s doctor was to take time out – so why should bodo question that?

Is he a doctor as well?

I guess people reserve the right to change their players of choice, but really, I think he went a step too far with the podcast which makes his analysis of the situation slightly more biased and unreliable. what do you think?

Big Stick Says:

Bodo has his share of tabloid columns. Anyone remember that crap he wrote about putting an asterisk next to Fed’s French because he didn’t beat Rafa? I’m sorry, but that’s just beyond being fat and stupid…

madmax Says:

Pressure to protect ranking points will be mounting in the upcoming months.

There will be a lot at stake for Rafael Nadal at the BNP Paribas Open from the Indian Wells Tennis Center at Indian Wells, California. Nadal is the defending champion from 2009 and as a result he has 1000 points to defend, points that are scheduled to drop from his total on March 22nd, 2010.

Currently Nadal is ranked 3rd on the ATP tour with 7520 points and he could quite easily drop below 7000 points after Indian Wells. Depending on how Andy Murray does at Indian Wells (he was a finalist last year) we might see Nadal slip back down to 4th on tour.

While nothing major will happen to Nadal’s ranking in March, April and May of 2010 could be a different story.

Those two months will see a lot of tour ranking points at risk for Nadal. On April 19th 1000 points are scheduled to drop from Nadal’s total from his win at Monte Carlo in 2009. On April 26th 500 points from his Barcelona title are scheduled to drop off as well. On May 3rd his 1000 points from winning Rome last year are scheduled to drop and finally on May 17th 600 more points from his finals appearance at Madrid last year will be at risk.

There’s also 180 points from his quarterfinals appearance in Miami last year that will be at risk soon but Nadal could defend those.

However a large chunk of the other 4100 points for the five other tournaments (Indian Wells, Monte Carlo, Rome, Madrid, and Barcelona) are in serious jeopardy of going undefended as Nadal’s form is not the same now as it was at this time last year due to his nagging injuries.

Let’s say Nadal protects 1000 of those 4100 points with a mix of quarterfinal and semifinal appearances. That would likely drop him down to about 6th on tour heading into the French Open where he is currently priced at -110 (10/11) with Paddy Power.

There’s a lot of pressure on Nadal to reproduce his efforts from last season starting with Indian Wells. He could do it, especially when he plays on clay, but it will not be easy for him as he is not the same player as he was a year ago.

But old habits die hard and a lot of people are used to betting on Nadal. However, smart bettors should be looking for opportunities to get good odds by betting AGAINST Nadal in the next couple of months.

from crunch sports

Andrew Miller Says:

Federer deserves the nod as best ever with the French win, and there were also asterisks at FO 2009, and Wimbledon 2009 because Nadal wasnt there.

Nadal hadnt lost a match at the French Open, and he was the three-time finalist and defending champion at Wimbledon. A win is a win – you can only beat who is in front of you.

But history also says it was a little easier for Federer with Nadal out. All credit to Federer – but one cant really deny that life got better for him during Roland Garros knowing Nadal was out of the tournament. It did.

Much like Sampras being beat in 2001 allowed Ivanisevic to win. Ivanisevic simply needed Sampras out of the tournament.

I think Federer would have played even better if the following scenario took place: if both had made the semifinal, Federer winning the first and Nadal losing the 2nd semifinal of the day. Then Federer would have faced the pressure only in the final, rather than all throughout the tournament knowing he was the new favorite.

Arguably, being the favorite adds pressure and maybe there’s yet more credit to give to Federer for pulling out his toughest test as the greatest of all time.

Ben Pronin Says:

Madmax, once back on clay, what makes you think Nadal won’t defend all those events? He wasn’t playing his best last year and he still won a lot until Madrid. Until something changes, Nadal is the best on clay.

Skorocel Says:

“Madmax, once back on clay, what makes you think Nadal won’t defend all those events?”

Good question, Ben. But then again, if all what you know is to copy and paste 3000 stupid & senseless articles (like that one from “crunch sports”), one can’t hardly wonder…

Kimmi Says:

Both Federer and Nadal have a lot of points to defend. Nadal from IW to Rome, federer – Madrid,RG/wimbles stretch. Its remaninig to be seen who will do better..I actally think federer points are more at stake than nadal’s. So let the games begin.

jane Says:

Kimmi, with 2 slams, a Masters, and a number of semis to defend, yes, Fed has more points to defend, I think. And Nadal played nothing at Wimbledon, so anything he gets there is gravy, even if he loses some points now on hard court. Anyhow, you’re right “let the games begin” – who knows what’ll happen!

Andrew Miller Says:

JC Ferrero might be a factor on clay this year…maybe a surprise SF or Final at RG

KillerC Says:

HELLYEAHHH ROGERS DA MAN!! cant wait to see him skoolin on this north american swing!!

dc Says:

i think Rogers will end this year at # too. He’s already won a GS, even if he reaches the semi of one and finals of two more, he shall safely end 2010 as #1. The titles this year will be shared by many of the top players and with no other single dominant force , Fed has a good chance

Fot Says:

I’ll just be happy to see Roger back on court!

Michael Says:

It is just great to see Roger again on the Court. I was really disturbed by some reports that he would be pulling of Indiana Wells too. But now that he has arrived there, all speculations should be put to rest. I am sure he is fully fit and raring to go again. He can take heart from the fact that he has everything to gain and nothing to lose in this tournament. Nevertheless, he needs to perform well in this tournament and gain premium points as in the months of May and June, he has more points to defend and any set back might spell danger for his number one ranking.

Michael Says:

Andrew, I contest your view point with ferocity that Nadal’s early departure in the French made life easy for Federer. In fact it is the other way around and put so much pressure on him as many press columnists opined that it was “Now or Never” for Federer with Nadal who was the constant pricking point for him at the French, out of the tournanment. That he did came through it speak volumes about his resolve, determination, strong will and courage.

Ben Pronin Says:

It’s a two way street. Federer was under immense pressure he never would’ve been under had Nadal and even Djokovic stayed through the second week of the French. But in terms of actually beating his opponents, it was definitely easier. It’s never easy, don’t get me wrong, but Nadal is Federer’s toughest foe no matter which way you spin it.

Kimmi Says:

Ben, very true. Nadal and Andreev are toughest federer opponents :)

Looking forward to see fed play nadal again. It should be good for the H2H (for federer ofcourse) if they land on the same half in IW..just saying!

Ben Pronin Says:

Should be, could be, would be. I’m just curious as to how they’d play each other at this point. Federer has limitless options so I’m curious as to what he’d do since a lot of his strategies have failed before. However, what Nadal has done better than anyone is get everything back to Fed with interest. With his knee issues, maybe Federer won’t be forced to hit that 5th winner to win the point. Maybe 3 will be enough. Maybe he won’t make it to 3. It’s a coin toss. Either way, I’m sure it’d be a great match and I’d prefer it was a final.

jane Says:

Yep, it would be interesting to see a Fed-Nadal match right now. Nadal looked pretty darn good in the first set and a half versus Murray. But surely his confidence has taken a blow with the injuries and losses, whereas Fed’s coming off an awesome past 8 months or so, since Madrid last year, and he looked sharp in the final versus Murray. So I think I’d give the edge to Fed if they meet at IW, though there is the match up thing, which always makes their meetings intriguing. And with Nadal ranked number 3, I guess they could meet in the semis.

When does the IW draw come out?

madmax Says:

if you dont want to read what others say about the ranking points in crunchsports, then scroll through. you dont have any pressure on reading it, so no need to be so negative. You hardly come up with the best posts of all time buddy.


it was for discussion. I think that it is very interesting that rafa should have so many points to defend, and if he wins, then does that mean he would take novak’s no. 2 position again? I havent had time to work out the points system –

‘Madmax, once back on clay, what makes you think Nadal won’t defend all those events?’

it’s all crystal ball gazing once again isnt it Ben? obviously, this time around it is rafa who has a lot of points to defend this early on – federer’s time will come later.

As for Rafa, I wish him well and of course would love to see both roger and rafa tough it out again.

I dont particularly think that federer was ever given enough credit for his achievements on clay -pretty much until madrid last year.

I say that because everyone talks about rafa being so brilliant on clay (which he is, and more), but roger at roland garros, reached 4 of the last 4 finals in Paris, and won it last year, fair and square. i just wish people would stop bringing up rafa’s injuries. rafa makes his choices about playing and who is to say that roger’s game hasn’t pushed rafa into the position that he is now in, in terms of his knees? I think rafa has done wonders for roger’s game, it has kept roger on his toes, he wants to improve, he wants to continue to be the best, and I think that is great to have that determination and motivation – i really do.

talking about RG last year, rafa was knocked out fair and square in paris – and as clay is not a surface which is as natural to roger as it is to rafa, roger could easily have been knocked out by Haas and also delpotro, but he showed his mettle, dug deep, i mean, really deep and made it to the final – the pressure that must have been on roger in the final, must have been enormous. You know what it is like Ben, you want something so bad, you try and try and try (as federer did, 3 years on the go), and then finally, you are in the homestraight –

I thought that after he was approached by that crazy guy, he was going to go AWOL, and that his chance was gonna slip away – but it momentarily came and went.

Federer really does not get enough credit for those moments where he has to put his mental resolve into fifth gear, playing on clay. He is an incredible player on clay – not his natural surface.

Rafa was brought up on clay, it’s in his blood, so roger has done extremely well all these years to play the way that he has.

I know that I have talked mostly about RG, and there are other clay events involved here, but i still believe federer is one of the best on clay, even though it is not his favourite surface.

Ben Pronin Says:

Madmax, here’s the thing. Federer and Nadal have become absolute constants in the slams. Federer a lot more so than Nadal. Since 2004 Wimbledon (6 years ago) anyone who’s won a slam besides Federer has ALWAYS had to go through Federer to do it. And in retrospect, 4 guys winning slams outside of Federer’s 14 is a very small number. Even if you include Gaudio, that means from 04-09, there have only been 5 different slam champions. That’s thanks to Federer more than anyone else.

Which brings me to my main point, if Nadal had won Wimbledon without beating Federer, if Del Potro had won the US Open without beating Federer, even if Djokovic had won the AO without beating Federer, they’d all have asteriks on their results. Djokovic has an unfair won because Federer was “sick”. And I know I’m probably going to get hounded for this, but I somewhat agree with what Bodo said. I listened to the entire podcast and what I got from it is this: Federer gets an asterik not for the result itself but just because when you think about Federer and the FO win, Nadal is never far from your mind. Madmax, as a Federer fan, you’re always having to point out that Nadal lost fair and square before he could face Federer. That’s a plain and simple fact. And for Nadal fans or anti-Fed people, they’re going to say Federer’s triumph isn’t as impressive since he didn’t have to beat Nadal. As far as I’m concerned, winning a slam is impressive even if you beating monkeys (maybe that’s a little extreme). It’s just that Nadal has etched his name along side what is the French Open so for Federer to win it without Nadal there seems like a half empty result. I don’t believe it is. I think Federer would agree that it would’ve been even MORE satisfying if he had beaten Nadal in the final, but you can’t pick your opponents. Federer did what he had to do. And honestly, Federer was dropping sets to Acascuso and Mathieu while Nadal was busy thrashing Hewitt, so Federer never played all that well until the final with or without Nadal. Then besides not playing his best he had to deal with the pressure. He made it through and that’s all that counts. But you can’t overlook how much of a presence Nadal has at the French and I’m sure you would never let someone slide without an asterik if they won Wimbledon without beating Federer. It’s just one of those things that Nadal and Federer have created amongst themselves.

“I dont particularly think that federer was ever given enough credit for his achievements on clay -pretty much until madrid last year.”

I don’t know if I agree with that. I thought it was pretty much agreed upon by the majority of tennis followers that Federer was the greatest clay courter to never win the French.

jane Says:

madmax “Rafa was brought up on clay” – I don’t know the answer to this, but wasn’t Federer also brought up playing on clay? Or playing a lot on clay anyhow? Just curious.

Ben Pronin Says:

Oh yeah I forgot to say that. That’s true, Jane, Federer was also brought up on clay so one can’t really say he’s uncomfortable on the surface. His style is more suited for quick, low bouncing surfaces but the guy clearly knows how to play on clay. You don’t suddenly reach 4 FO finals just by willing yourself to do it.

madmax Says:


thanks for your post above (and Jane too, but I can say to you honestly and fairly, I would NEVER have put an asterick by rafa’s name if he won a slam WITHOUT roger being there. I just wouldnt. whether or not you believe me is up to you. you dont know me (no tone here by the way), so i hope you would accept what i am saying. and i have to disagree with you on this point: I didnt say that federer was “uncomfortable” on clay ben, they were not my words. I said that Rafa was more used to playing on clay as he was growing up practising a lot in barcelona (so I read).

“And honestly, Federer was dropping sets to Acascuso and Mathieu while Nadal was busy thrashing Hewitt, so Federer never played all that well until the final with or without Nadal”.

that’s federer for you! he drops sets in the early rounds. i may not be as old as you ben or as experienced as you, but i have watched federer regularly in the early rounds, and this is what he does to his fans!

You simply cannot say that he didnt play very well at the FO because he “won” those matches against Haas – trust me, i was watching it and conversing with friends, when commentators were writing federer off at the very point he turned it around against Haas at 4:3, everything changed in that game, THAT shot was the turning point for fed and for every thing that followed. It was the first time in that tourny as well that delpo won a set from federer – the FIRST time, so yes, whilst i know that federer can be sloppy sometimes with his shots, i kind of forgive him a little (especially at the FO), as I cannot imagine the “unimaginable pressure” he was under at that time.

Haas – commentators kept saying “we are in for an upset”

delpo – “federer is going to have to dig deep. this could go either way”. I have the written notes on what some presenters said during the match (yes, I am sad!). It’s just ridiculous, because i just feel that federer cannot exert his full energy or full range of shots until he is deep into the slams and then he “ups” into fifth, almost and switches to cruise control.

“You don’t suddenly reach 4 FO finals just by willing yourself to do it”. Of course he’s got to have the shots, ben, but this guy’s mental toughness is insane! and not much is ever said about this. So I disagree with you. I think he played brilliantly well against both Haas and Delpo BEFORE the final.

Also the final itself, i mentioned the guy who ran on like a clown – at that point, i thought he was going to pull a knife or something, and when he put the flag over roger’s head, can you imagine what must have been going through federer’s mind? he COULD have completely lost it. the tremendous focus and concentration to put that “little incident” behind him, must have left him shaken for a while. He carried on. And whilst that may have been the greatest win of soderling’s life, in terms of knocking out rafa in fourth round, roger deserved to be in that final, played really well in the final and i am so pleased that he did win.

of course, it would have been equally satisfying if rafa made it to the final – but not to be – who knows this year Ben?

Jane, I had read that rafa had been brought up on clay in terms of doing a lot of training in barcelona when he was younger, 6 years old plus, and federer, (though a great clay court player), was not in the same league growing up. He was more used to hard court – that was what I read. I stand corrected by the both of you if you disagree and prove me wrong. Havent got a problem with that.

And Ben. I have no argument at all about rafa being just monumental on clay. He is super dupa.

I dont particularly like what bodo said about federer recently. I listened to the podcast and I think he was a jerk actually. not only that, to put an asterisk by anyone’s name when they have won a tournament with, or without roger or rafa for that matter, is totally mad.

Anything can happen on any given day, in any given tournament, if you are in the slam final, then you have won your previous 6 matches and you deserve to be there, you take your opportunities and you run with it to see where it takes you.

Cheers ben.

Ben Pronin Says:

Maybe it’s just me but I don’t see Bodo in such a bad light like everyone else seems to. Everything is up for interpretation.

Federer doesn’t do what he did at the FO. He dropped 6 sets in his run, the most he’s ever dropped in a slam victory. All those sets he dropped, pressure, inspired opponent, sub-par form, doesn’t matter. Federer won it. Madmax, maybe it’s hard to say. You can’t take credit away from anyone, but if Nadal won Wimbledon without beating Federer, I would give him an asterik. But it’s not an asterik that says “he got lucky” or “he wouldn’t have won if this player didn’t lose” type of thing. Like, with Fed, it’s an asterik for me that says he won it, he completely deserves it, it’s just weird that he didn’t beat Nadal to do is. Simply an odd occurence. Not negative, not necessarily positive, just odd.

I didn’t see the Haas match but I do know that he didn’t drop a point on serve until the tiebreaker in the first set. He claims that forehand he hit at 3-4 was the first good shot he hit the entire match. A little hard to believe when it comes to Federer. But here’s the way I see it. Both played well but Haas was finding ways to win the big points. But Federer never went away. He just kept trying and fighting and Haas’s mental collapse had as much to do with Federer as it did with Haas himself. They played in the semis of Wimbledon where Federer won 7-6 7-5 6-3. If Haas had broken, he probably would’ve won their FO encounter 7-6 7-5 6-3. Instead, he didn’t break and Federer won the last 3 sets 6-4 6-0 6-2. That’s the difference between a champion and a talented player.

As for the Del Potro match, I watched this incredible encounter from start to finish. It’s always been my belief that Federer, at his best, can’t be outplayed. Del Potro was steam-rolling him. If he had more belief, he would’ve won the second set and the whole match. But Federer got through, again, because of his toughness. He didn’t play the best match, it wasn’t the most brilliant, but he played smart. He drop shotted the hell out of Del Potro and took his chances when he needed to. The match could’ve gone either way, but experience won out. And you don’t stumble upon experience, you create it.

The guy running out to Federer during the final was an absolute shocker. I was incredibly scared. That was true perserverance though. Even if Federer had cruised through his draw without dropping a set, that moment would still be enough to prove his worth. He was clearly shaken by it, too, in the next few games, but he didn’t let it affect his tennis.

No matter what asteriks are put on where, Federer has all 4 slam trophies. And he didn’t have to buy them at some auction.

Duro Says:

Hi, Maxi.

madmax Says:

ben, i’m loving your responses even if i disagree with some of your thoughts. so thanks for replying.

If only an asterisk meant what you said :

“it’s an asterik for me that says he won it, he completely deserves it, it’s just weird that he didn’t beat Nadal to do is”.

Problem is, some people still think that because fed didnt face rafa in the final of the FO, “it doesnt count”. I mean ben. that’s just rubbish. And I do completely agree with you that any player who wins a slam has played well enough to get to the final. Fed approaches the slams with a steely mind coupled with an array of shots, when he has to show the range, he does, he ups the game and goes on all out attack – it’s exactly what he did in the haas match – you should watch it and then post your thoughts here – it was a great match – so my point was that federer played very well ben, BEFORE the final of the FO and deserved to be there.

Ben, I suppose it is because these two players are just so amazing for tennis,and for each other, that they are compared all the time.

madmax Says:

hello duro! where have you been!? good to see you here!

Ben Pronin Says:

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s not that Federer didn’t play well, but he didn’t play his best. He wasn’t crushing his opponents the way we’re used to, he had to win the hard way.

But yeah, I completely agree in that you can’t say it doesn’t count just because he didn’t beat Nadal. That’s not how tennis works. A win counts as a win. It’s added to his total. It’s put into the records. He gets the points. It counts.

For me, it’s sentimental. As a Federer fan and as someone who’s seen all the work he’s done and how many times he’s tried and unfortunately failed, I would’ve loved and would still love to see Federer beat Nadal at the French. Just once. Even if it’s not a final and Federer loses later. Just beat Nadal once at the French would be an awesome thing.

Reaniel Says:

The problem lies with the fact that, putting an asterisk beside Roger’s win at FO or an asterisk beside Rafa’s win at Wimby (if he didn’t have to face Roger) is just double standard. Did we do that to the past tourney champs? Did we put an asterisk beside every single final not played by the top two seeds or the two best specialists in the world?

Should we put an asterisk beside Mats Wilander’s 1988 FO win because Lendl lost in the QF? Borg’s various wins when he didn’t have to go through Jimmy or Johnny Mac?

It’s not the player’s fault when their biggest rival couldn’t make it to the final. As matter of fact, it’s pretty normal in the pre-Federer age. The only thing Roger and Rafa is to blame is the fact that they spoiled us. They made us expect to see them meet in the finals all the time, always. Our expectation has been set so high that we forget that it’s actually pretty normal NOT to have the top two players meet in the final (or en-route to victory).

Let’s face it, are you prepared to go back and redo all the past Slams and put asterisk on the ones you think should be noted as such?

skeezerweezer Says:


To add on your 12:18 post,

Ok. So Fed gets to a final. Then, according the the newly instituted “Ben” rule, he then contemplates and says, wait, I don’t want to play Murray in the final, I want to play Rafa, yes Rafa. He’s my man. That way I won’t get an * on my GS title. Please?

Well, until they change the rules so Rafa doesn’t have to play through the draw like every other pro tennis player in the world to get to a final, it ain’t gonna happen.

As you so eloquently said Madmax, “Rubbbbish!”

skeezerweezer Says:


I posted after your addendum statement about the * stuff, sorry dude, you still da man :)

madmax Says:


it’s all fine. dont worry.

jane Says:

madmax, I have no idea about Federer and how much clay he played on growing up that’s why I asked. I think many European players train on or play a lot on clay, compared to North American ones, for example, so I was just curious.

I have read, like you, that Nadal was raised on clay, so it’s no wonder he takes to it so well. On the other hand, it’s quite interesting that Murray too trained in Spain on clay.

Anyhow, cheers.

margot Says:

jane: Andy started playing tennis at 3! He would’ve been playing on hard mostly till he moved to Spain, aged 17? Won US juniors so obviously was more naturally good on hard courts. Whereas in Spain and most other European countries, I believe, they all play on clay from the start. Debate in UK at the moment because of awful Davis Cup result. People are suggesting we tear up hard courts and replace them with clay as this makes tougher competitors! Results can’t get any worse so might be worth a try!

margot Says:

jane: PS Greg Rusedski is said to be in line to replace Lloyd. Do u know why he turned British in the first place?

sam Says:

Hi Madmax,

This videos is for you its mini documentry on federer.

Link Iam posting is part 1 of 6. They are really good enjoy.

jane Says:

margot – hi! No I can’t remember why Rusedski left us Canucks; was it maybe for his wife? I think his mom may’ve been British so he had half/dual citizenship anyhow. I think there’s something to be said for clay as a training ground, as it makes for players who have to learn how to be patient to end rallies at the right time. It can also create grinding too, rather than crisp winners. But that’s where hard court comes in. Where does grass sit? In the middle somewhere? Or is it more like hard. I guess it’s like clay in that it’s a natural and thus someone fickle surface. Probably the best bet is a combination of the two courts. Didn’t Rafa’s family build a grass court near their home so Rafa could master it and one day win Wimbledon? I thought I read that. So cute to imagine little Andy out there with his racquet at aged 3!!! Toddling around the court, lol.

jane Says:

*someone s/b somewhat above @4:51, and by a combination of the two courts, I mean players should be trained, or brought up, playing on BOTH surfaces; why not? The players at the top now tend to be mainly all-court, all-surface players.

Kimmi Says:

jane, I read you were asking when the IW draw coming out. The website says the draw will be posted March 11..thats thursday. But this date is kind of late, I thought they start 1st round matches on thursday, if I am not mistaken the second rounds (big boys) have always played on the weekend…oh well Lets wait and see.

margot, thanks for Murray story re: move to spain at 17. That is only 5 years wonder he is been a late bloomer on clay. I am looking forward to see if there is more improvement this year. last year was the best clay year of his career, he is going the right direction.

Fot Says:

It has been interesting reading all these comments! I love reading about Roger.

On some questions:

1. Roger played clay a lot growing up and at the Swiss academy they did have clay as their main surface. However Roger actually said (when he was a young pro) that indoor hard court was his best surface! Go figure. Since then, it has changed to grass and then outdoor hard court based on the way Roger’s game has developed.

2. I agree with the poster above (forgot the name) who disagreed with Bodo and the others about the * by the name. As another poster said earlier, there is no where in history where winner’s had * by their names in the past so why even bring that up this day and time? And the ONLY way you could have guaranteed that Nadal was in the French final was to do like they did way back when at Wimbledon where the champion had to sit back and watch all the other players fight it out and eliminate each other – then that person plays the champion in the final round. Since we don’t do that these days – there is no way to “blame” a player for not playing another player. He can only play who is on the other side of the draw. The way I see it – both finalist will be on winning streaks during the championship so the best 2 at that tournament always makes the final. Soderling was on fire that tournament and survived on his side of the draw to the final. He definitely deserved that spot in the final.

3. As far as people saying “Well Roger didn’t play his best at the French” – to me, that makes the victory all the better! He fought hard for that crown. Harder than he’s had to at just about any other grand slam. Like they said – true champions find a way to win when they are not playing their best. He could have gone down like Nadal did to Soderling, but he fought hard and found ways to win. Remember – not only was he under pressure by not having won the French before, but he was gunning for #14 to tie Pete Sampras. When Nadal went out – everyone was practically giving the title to Roger. Talk about pressure!!! But he fought hard and got it. I was so proud of him for that victory more than almost any of the other grand slams!

Anyway – I’m looking forward to Indian Wells. I don’t know how Roger will play after this illness, but to just see him back on the court is good for me. I can’t wait for the tournament to start!

Ben Pronin Says:

Fot, I completely agree. Besides being that much more impressive, it was also a lot of fun to see Federer come through so many tests. I’ve been saying lately that I want to see Federer pushed because otherwise it’s boring.

After the 08 USO, Federer’s toughest slam to date until the FO, I think it was Bodo that said that Federer’s slam victories from that point will only become tougher and tougher and more and more impressive. He proved that at the FO. He proved it again at the Wimbledon final. He even lost the USO. And then suddenly he crushes everyone at the AO… That’s Roger Federer for you. Just when you think you know the guy.

margot Says:

jane: nobody in UK, whether ordinary or aspiring, ever gets to play on grass. If you should find a public, or even private, grass court anywhere, it would be horribly uneven and difficult to play! In many ways, although we all love the green, green grass of Wimbledon it is an anachronism. Also it used to be a very different surface, much faster and therefore more interesting IMHO, but now so slowed it’s more like other courts. Queens is a most exclusive club, too expensive for most. However, it is a more interesting surface because it’s not quite such hallowed turf and therefore more subject to the vagaries of a natural surface. These exclusive surfaces and clubs are part of a class system that denies most youngsters the chance to progress in the sport. Andy was lucky in that his mother is a coach, and therefore he avoided massive coaching fees that most kids can’t, and Scotland is so far from the snobby South East that he had to look elsewhere. Though I have heard stories that Jamie was actually a far better junior than Andy the LTA got it’s paws on him and mangled his game by interfering.

chloe Says:

If Federer loses in any tournament in the next 12 months and doesn’t mention lung infection I’ll eat my hat.

I can just hear it now -you know, I was sick you know with lung infection and it’s taking time to get my energy back.

madmax Says:

Leave it chloe. That is such an unfair thing to say. I think if federer is happy with his doctor’s medical, then really it is going to take a while for him to trust his body, he’s bound to be a bit tentative but once over that, i expect federer to be THE federer, the one federer fans love to watch.

We are all concerned about federer’s infection as i am sure that rafa’s fans are worried about his knees, soderling’s fans worried about his elbow, delpo fans worried about his wrist, davy fans worried about his thigh, the list goes on.

Margot and jane, andy murray was taken out of the coaching system in the UK by his mother to train on clay when he was 14 years old (so i read), he gave an interview about 18 months ago, as to how difficult it was leaving his friends and family on a full time basis to train,having a private tutor, but that this was the price to pay, to train abroad and at a better academy and use better training facilities – barcelona and also madrid, i think he said.

Roger federer was more used to hard courts, indoors, and I dont know whether Margot, you listened to five live yesterday, but they were suggesting that we have more hard courts, indoor tournaments here in the UK and train our tennis players on those, as we just simply dont have the facilities to manufacture great players – where is the british bull dog spirit?!!!

Greg rudzeksi, I read has a british grandmother.

C’moon IW!

Jane, it’s all fine. thanks for your post, always enjoy reading yours and margot’s.

madmax Says:


i’ve read two different sources – greg’s link to britain are having a british mother (unreliable source) and then greg has a british grandmother –

so he is on twitter and i have sent him a tweet!

Also, Margot with the grass courts – isnt it because the upkeep is so expensive that we only have the grass court tournaments each year, give the ground time to recover and the grass to grow? (this is what happens at queens and wimby), so, though it is great to see wimby (I think that has to be my favourite), look at before and after pictures – beautiful green, lush grass, at the end of two weeks, looks like dry, desert land (in patches).

madmax Says:

sam, just wanted to say thanks for the link above and i’ll watch it in my break.

Ben Pronin Says:

I have to agree with Chloe. Federer has a tendency to injuries no matter how far in the past they are.

Reaniel Says:

I’m a bit confused… Where did Roger ever mentioned injuries when people asked him why he lost a particular match? I mean even the mono “fiasco”, as some choose to see it that way, wasn’t something Roger himself used when being inquired about various losses (at least not to my knowledge).

madmax Says:

ben i think you need to distinguish between “injuries” and “illnesses”. In terms of “injuries” – federer hardly ever has had to pull out of a tournament. His main “injury”, if you can call it that, is his back problem – which needed realignment and soreness, due to action of serve.

If you are talking about illness – then we know of two. Mono which was substantiated by fed’s doctor and his lung infection (likely caught in Africa) and also substantiated by his doctor at his press conference in dubai.

Chloe referred to “injuries”, which in terms of an 11 year career for fed, you can count on 2 fingers. I would hardly call that “federer has a tendency for injuries”. This just isnt true.

Every single player talks about injuries/illnesses – that goes for murray,(pain in back, leg, soreness) davy, (thigh, leg) novak (breathing, soreness in arm), roddick (knee), I could go on. But they are questions asked by moderators in press rooms and so the players are naturally going to mention them when asked.

madmax Says:

meant to say chloe referred to lung infection which is an illness and NOT an injury and you ben, refer to federer having a “tendency to injuries”, which just isnt the case. He is one of the few players on tour that has been remarkably “injury free”, so I dont know why you are saying this?

Andrew Miller Says:

Let me see. Bodo writes something to provoke some thought. Tennis-X writes something to provoke some thought. Is that wrong?

Nope. It’s just an opinion. Bodo takes different views all the time and so does Tennis-X. That’s the way it is. If you look at it that someone can either be “with Federer or against him” well that’s pretty narrow minded isn’t it?

Further, someone can be a Federer AND Nadal fan…at the same time. I am. Much as I was an Agassi-Sampras fan at the same time.

There was only one player’s game that I couldn’t appreciate: Sjeng Schalken. The player had possibly the worst serve in ATP history, up there with Jay Berger, who used to play on the tour with k-mart “Prince Pro” racquets. Not to put K-mart down (I like the new K-Mart) but the Prince Pro was quite a pos.

madmax Says:

just a sweet comment by Moses.

Roger Federer has been considered the best athlete of the past decade by both Edwin Moses, chairman of the Laureus Sports Academy, and Boris Becker, the vice-chairman.

“It is very difficult, it is very difficult … but if I had to choose, I would say Roger because what he did was not only winning but his passion on the court really attracted fans all around the world. Every time he won a big match, he cried and you know it is real,” Moses said on Tuesday.

His opinion was shared by tennis legend Becker.

“In my eyes, Roger is the real champion. He won 16 Grand Slams. I come from the world of tennis; I know how difficult it is to win one Grand Slam, but this man managed to win every year one Grand Slam or more over the past seven years,” Becker said.

“Of course, Michael Schumacher, Lance Armstrong, Serena Williams and Tiger Woods are good, but for me, Federer would be the one.”

Federer has won the Sportsman of the Year four times in a row starting in 2004, surpassing the other four who all have won twice since 2000.

Having missed the nomination last year, the Swiss athlete is competing for this year’s crown against last year’s winner and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, FC Barcelona’s precocious young footballer Lionel Messi, long distance runner Kenenisa Bekele, Tour de France winner Alberto Contador and Italy’s seven-time senior MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi.

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