The Roger Federer File

February 17, 2004

Tennis-X looks into the game and life of tennis star Roger Federer:
Birthdate: August 8, 1981
Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland
Residence: Oberwil, Switzerland
Turned Pro: 1998
Height: 6'1" (1.85m)
Weight: 177 (80kg)
Career Titles/Finals: 12/8
Current 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).

Ditching 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 much better."
Choosing 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 to blame."

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."

Going 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."
Racquet 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."
Playing Pistol Pete:
"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."
The Federer Gameface:
"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."
Those 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."
Hey 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 Kovac.
"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."
Winning 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."
The Grand Slam:
"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."
The 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."
Most wanted shot:
"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."
The look:
"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."
The 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 what happens."
Mr. Popularity:
"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."
No cash 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."
I'm 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."
Gal 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 to fight."
Bad sleeping habits:
"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!"
Beer man:
"Not really. I'm not a beer fan. I drink other stuff."
Language skills:
"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 at all."
Off 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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