Federer Sickness/Sampras Sham

by TennisOne | March 17th, 2008, 4:40 pm

Indian Wells, CA — Here at the Pacific Life Open on this wonderfully cluttered middle weekend, thousands of fans are milling into the side courts, the air is thin, the wind is blowing strong and top seeds like Rafael Nadal and Ana Ivanovic are grubbing their way through early round matches. Dozens more are practicing on the outer courts. It’s precisely the kind of tennis festival that makes this one of the sport’s great tournaments — a sublime showcase of so much that makes this sport authentic and compelling.
And so I strongly hope that Roger Federer is up for the task. As you may have read, he and his handler recently announced that for several weeks he has suffered mononucleosis. And I’m sure you heard word of his exhibition last Monday versus Pete Sampras.

Both of which make me scratch my head.

The genius of Federer has been explicated so much — his elegant game, exemplary behavior on and off the court, the way in which he conducts himself more like a UN diplomat than a rough-and-tumble athlete. I’m on-board on all counts. Federer has emerged as tennis’ Sun King, a benevolent ruler loved by all — and usually for good reason.

So why would he dare insult the sport’s code of sportsmanship by going public with news of his illness? It was nauseating to me to see Federer stand alongside the great Roy Emerson Monday night at Madison Square Garden prior to his match versus Sampras. Emerson, of all the Australians Federer reveres, is at heart the keeper of that nation’s flame in the sportsmanship department.

More than 40 years ago, Emerson seemed headed towards the first Wimbledon men’s singles three-peat in three decades. An injury incurred mid-match derailed his chances — and it’s something Emerson to this day will not discuss. As he has put it so succinctly, “If you’re hurt, don’t play. If you play, you’re not hurt. There are no excuses.” Surely Federer believes in this code. Surely he heard it as a teen when he was coached by an Aussie, Peter Carter.

Yet now Federer has given himself a public, sanctified excuse — a reason for past losses this year to Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, as well as a cloud of concern that will cover him for several weeks. Why he would do this is something I find mystifying, disturbing and, yes, downright unfair.

Federer vs Sampras IV

Topic two: Did you ever think you’d see someone play customer tennis versus Pete Sampras? That’s what happened Monday night. The sight of Federer smiling, holding back on shots, failing to press Sampras much until matters almost got out of control — to put it simply, what the hell was that? A friend told me it was similar to wrestling match: a staged, engaging event that satisfied the public. Never mind the lack of credibility.

Did you ever hear Oscar Wilde’s definition of a cynic: someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. This is how I felt as I watched Federer-Sampras. Definitely proficient, but scarcely authentic. I’d prefer watching two juniors trying to fight their way out of the qualifying. You want to see an inter-generational challenge match? Head to Youtube and key in the terms “Jimmy Connors and Rod Laver.” You will find off the charts intensity between the punkish 22-year-old Connors and the iconic 36-year-old Laver.

And yet, for all these beefs, my belief has always been that what the player does on the court is at least 51 percent of the dialogue. Joining thousands here and millions watching on TV, I’m eager this week to see Federer fight for his first title of 2008, eager to see him unveil all the tools that have made him such a majestic and pleasing player to watch. It’s time for Federer to toss the illness aside, quit smiling and sink his teeth into hardcore competition.

Joel Drucker is a writer for TennisOne, see more of his work at TennisOne.com.

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65 Comments for Federer Sickness/Sampras Sham

tami Says:

You’re an idiot!!!!!!! Most of the media attacked Roger for not winning his last two events, said he is losing his winning ways so what do you expect. Of course he is going to tell the truth about his illness. Imagine how frustrating it must have been for him listening to you guys attack him so YOU left him no choice. Writers like you should retire!!!!!

penise Says:

I watched Fed-Sampras and I agree Fed was totally holding back, throwing points, etc. What a joke. I saw Courier play McEnroe in person recently – – same thing. Courier held back because if he went all out it would not be close.

andrea Says:

hasn’t this already been discussed ad naseum? in fact, refer to the home page of this website: the “who’s got the funk/in the trunk” disses the federer haters of this world.

based on all the media i’ve read, roger’s been more than upfront about not feeling well before the AO (and downplayed the food poisoning thruout) and that numerous doctors and tests were finally able to pinpoint the ultimate cause, which was mono, shortly before dubai.

why disclose the fact that you haven’t been training at your maximum before a big tournament? we all know it’s head game city out there as each player tries to out psyche each other. (hello novak).

having an undiagnosed virus such as mono, is vastly different to having a torn abdomen muscle (such as haas, wimby 07) or cramping (williams, wimby 07) which are overt physical conditions that can be easily diagnosed. therefore, quoting Emerson seems to be a bit off base here.

lots of players – most notably a certain williams – seem to forever have an excuse after a loss. in the interviews given after the AO and dubai, roger didn’t say ‘i didn’t win cos i was sick’. the press have spun their stories as they see fit.

and while he may have critiqued andy murray’s game after dubai, i don’t think that’s poor sportsmanlike behaviour; it was an observation, again skewed by the press to make him sound bitter. it’s not a totally off base observation either: andy has long been touted as the ‘next big thing’ but has failed to live up to those expectations.

Dr. Death Says:

Thank you Andrea – Tennis One does not read the posts on this site obviously.

And again, let us point out that the Fed-Sampras match is an exhibition. If the WWE is still in business, watch that and it will explain what sports entertainment is all about.

Shital Dahal Says:

This is non-information. If your intention is to excite sheer provocation, let me help you out. Let me correct you so that I/you could be swarmed by the remainder (handful) of Fed’s suicidal fans: Once “benevolent ruler loved by all” but a whiny loser dispised by many today. For kind information, the guy won anything at all was in December 2007. And it appears that we will have to wait for several months to see his next good tennis/win.
Good luck for generating more “tamis,” TennisOne.

Shital Dahal Says:

Forget about what I said above. I was just trying ke fun of TennisOne, if you already did not get it.
Let me play the “Mr. Right” here for a second: We got Nadal vs. Tsonga, a replay of AO, but this time Nadal will crush him. Two more predictions: Gasquet will beat Blake, but Nadal will dispatch Gasquet easily, so, looking at how he was playing today against Young, Nadal secures his Quarter final before anyone else.

Shital Dahal Says:

Typo: ke= to make

Naydal Says:

This post (TennisOne) was pretty bad.

jane Says:

So Shital – do you see a Nadal vs. Federer final or too soon to call?

Shital Dahal Says:

Well, not too fast. Federer has more yards to stride than Nadal. The only obstacle Nadal will have on his way to the final is Djoko, but I think Nadal will again get past him. As for Fed, I cannot anything : it all depends on who he will face beginning with quarter final.

jane Says:

Forgive me but have you, Shital Dahal, also blogged under Shital Green? I am assuming so but maybe not.

I see Djoko’s up a set against Kohl, so that’s good for him.

Looks like Lee will have another upset today, taking out Ferrer, unless he can come back from a set and a break down. And Canas is winning against Monaco as I write.

I think the only players who could really prevent Federer from reaching the final are possibly Murray and maybe Nalbandian. Maybe also Hewitt if he is on his absolute best form. Otherwise, Tsonga, Gasquet, Canas, Rafa and Djoker are all on the bottom half of the draw so Fed can’t meet any of them unless it’s in the final.

Shital Dahal Says:

As expected, that was an easy one for Djoko against Kohl,(6-3, 6-2).

jane Says:


I agree with pretty much all your points.

But I wonder: if Novak is saying in the press that he thinks the players are starting to believe they can win against Federer, is that a head game, or is that maybe just the truth?

Obviously Federer is still numero uno, and deservedly so, since he’s breaking records left-right-and-center. But he has lost a few (I repeat, a few) more matches than usual so maybe players are beginning to believe just that tiny bit more. Is it wrong for Novak to say so? Maybe not. Maybe it’s just like Fed’s critique of Murray; one could read it as constructive criticism, or one could read it as a “head game” or “sour grapes”.

It all depends on the “spin” that’s put on it by the press.

Maybe you’re referring to other things Novak has said (he does tend to say what’s on his mind, no-holds-barred) but I think when he says players are starting to believe they can win, that could be true. And hey – what’s wrong with it if they are?

Shital Green Says:

That was me. Shital Dahal and Shital Green are the same. I could be googled up with either.
Unfortunately, David Ferrer just lost to Lee, another upset.

Zola Says:

***We got Nadal vs. Tsonga, a replay of AO, but this time Nadal will crush him. ***

I will buy you a virtual coffee if that happens!


About Federer exo…I am not surprised if he is holding back. It was an exhibition. It means they would play three sets and it would not be a lop-sided match.


about Joko’s remarks, I think it is sort of a head game, but perhaps more to pump himself up. Similar to the praise the players give themselves when they win a match. ( I played great today!). It is important not to feel inferior. I think that’s why Novak keeps talking about Fed. Besides, he knows if he repeats this sort of talk, he will go under Fed’d skin. I think judging from fed’s remarks on Djoko, he has succeeded to an extent.

Susan Says:

Fed/Samprass match. I couldn’t bear to watch it.

I sappose it’s what “people” wanted. That’s what I hear. Just like I hear that the new doubles is such a brain storm!! Who are these “people” who like pretend tennis????

Instead of the Fed/Samprass match I would prefer if Fed used the time to practice for the real matches. Let those “people” go to the movies for entertainment.

As for the 2 set doubles with no add. Are you kidding? Is this all our professional tennis athletes get? Why stay in shape?? There are not that many singles players coming in and when they do they’re out early anyway. The real tennis fans got robbed again!

Venkat Tag Says:

The major source of stress for most sportsmen today is the section of the media which calls itself critics. We need to realize that sportsmen are also human beings and get affected by too much of negative criticism. In the competetion to get more people reading their columns, the media at times becomes vitriolic, which when done constantly can affect sportsmen. An icon like Federer should best be left alone to get to his peak, instead of being repeatedly curcified for some losses. Tennis after all is a game!!

MMT Says:

I think Fed’s comments about mono and Murray are a combination of (1) frustration with media (apparently he reads everything) and (2) a head game with the other players and (3) sour grapes. Djokervic is welcome to engage in minds games as well. Most of the places they play are free countries.

As for the exo with Sampras, I’m not so sure. McEnroe in his book stated that the rule with exhibitions is that whoever wins the first set (all out) tanks the second and they play for real for the 3rd. But Fed was up 2-0 and went down a couple of breaks before taking it to a tie-break in the 3rd – seems real enoug to me.

For those handicapping Sampras, don’t forget he just blew away Tommy Haas in San Jose in straight sets. Would Haas tank 2 sets? I doubt it. So that was was for real, which leads me to believe that Sampras played all out against Fed. Maybe Fed eased off the throttle in the 3rd, but it nearly cost him the match.

I don’t think Sampras would bother making a show. Maybe Fed underestimated him in the 2nd and 3rd, but that can happen in “real” matches too, so why not just take the results as is and leave it at that.

In our obsession to not be “duped” we can ignore signs of a genuine competition.

Shital Green Says:

I’m impatiently waiting for my “virtual coffee” in William Gibson’s cyberspace, as opposed to Meatspace, if that is what your Freudian slippage was.

rogers twin sister Says:

Tennis One: I sincerely hope that you do not consider yourself a journalist.

Zola Says:

**I’m impatiently waiting for my “virtual coffee” in William Gibson’s cyberspace, as opposed to Meatspace, if that is what your Freudian slippage was. ***

thanks to urban dictionary I was able to understand what you mean. No , it was no Freudian slippage. I was sincerely happy at your predictions, because I am skeptical my self at Rafa’s chances against Tsonga, unless he plays at his best ( which I hope he does).

SG Says:

Federer is pretty cogniscent of his place in history. He’s aware that Pete and him are part of the GOAT talk.

Having watched the Sampras Fed match at MSG, I would agree that there were points in the 1st & 2nd sets where Fed went for the pretty play instead of the % one. It’s not that he wasn’t trying to win the point. He was just trying for more flair that he would against say, Rafa. But, I don’t think he planned on falling behind 5-2 in the third. What if Sampras hit 4 spectacular 1st serves to hold and win the match? Too risky IMO. Sampras is not being given his due in relation the the 3rd set. Fed could have finished him in 2 but didn’t whether it be for show or money or some other reason. He almost let the proverbial genie out of the bottle. But he didn’t. And you have to remember that the surface strongly favored Sampras.

As for the comments by Federer about his mono, well that’s just Fed. It’s why I’m not really a fan of they guy. He’s no Nicklaus. Not particularly graceful in defeat. I know, some people will say, “Oh he was gracious in the press conference and said this nice thing or that nice thing about his opponent” or something like that. You almost never hear the guy say, “I had my butt kicked today”…which happened at the AO. Here is a place in history where Sampras beats Fed hands down. He was always more gracious in defeat. Maybe Roger could stand to lose a few more. It might humble him a bit.

jane Says:

I think Rafa can beat Tsonga if he stays aggressive; Tsonga knows how to beat him so Rafa will have to be careful and be prepared for net attacks and drop shots.

Rafa should try to do what Djok did against Tsonga; he has to keep him back, behind the baseline. Rafa can’t hit balls into the middle of the court either, nor can he play too far back, as he is sometimes wont to do on hardcourts, or he may lose again.

But Rafa should be able to beat him. I hope he does; I’d like to see Rafa defend his title or at least not lose too many points. For Tsonga, this year is all gravy; for Rafa it could mean getting to number 1 or even slipping to number 3.

I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

Tennisone is 100% right. It’s about time somebody called Federer out on his phony nice guy act and his total gamesmanship head games with regards to Nadal and Djokovic (the two who can beat him, not ironically). It is obvious that he did not really suffer from mononucleosis, it was just his bruised ego that got injured and now he’s looking for excuses.
Joel Drucker is a bully- my hero. thank you tennisone for calling a spade a spade.

Ulysses Says:

The original post displays an astonishing lack of knowledge about why Fed went public on his mono. I read the German and Swiss newspapers and Drucker obviously does not. The Swiss newspapers had been hinting for weeks that there was a ‘serious illness’ that had befallen Fed in January and February. Then the German tabloid “Bunte” got wind of it and printed ridiculous rumors, speculating that Fed may have bone cancer or “other undeterminded illnesses of a serious nature.”

To quell the rumors, Fed came clean with the news on the mono. He was not going to go public with it but had his hand forced. Thus your analogy to Emerson’s supposed stiff upper lip is specious.

jane Says:

Well, Nalby squeezes through, winning 47% of the total match points to Stepanek’s 53%. Go figure. Radek must be cringing right now.

I don’t know where David went in the 2nd set – Back home? The Poconos? Timbuktu? Lord only knows. I hope he’s a little more focused *throughout* his next match.

Shital Green Says:

Nalby rolls into the 4th Rd. Sean, I would say Stepanek had a respectful exit. Ancic looks sharper than Nalby at this point, though. I see some new configuration in the offing as we head to the quarters/semis.

SG Says:

Ulysses, your post misses the point. If Fed had bone cancer, would he risk his life playing matches on tour or would he go home and take care of himself? I think not. Sampras’ 14 slams aren’t more important than Fed’s life are they? Saku Koivu & Mario Lemieux hung up the skates when they were diagnosed with cancer. You think Fed cares about what a tabloid says? He is supposed to do what most secure famous people do. You ignore them. If the guy showed up in Australia or wherever to play, then he must have felt OK. Maybe that tired, winded feeling he has is from Djokovic stepping on his throat. Just a thought.

Sampras had Thalassemia. A real chronic condition. He didn’t trump it out when he lost. Nicklaus didn’t say, “Yeah, my back was a little sore at the beginning of the tournament or I might have played better.” This mono crap is exactly that. Crap. You show up, play! If you can’t play, don’t show up.

Shital Green Says:

Fed’s emphatic and swift victory over Mahut in less than an hour (6-1, 6-1) sends a clear signal that he is on his way to win the title here, like it or not. It was one of his signature performances today that was amiss for sometime. It looks like he is determined to assert he is back, but I can be assured of his return only if he wins the next two rounds in a similar manner, eventually re-instilling the old phobia of his aura in other title contenders.

Y Says:

SG, hadn’t Federer played at AO, he wouldn’t be no.1 right now. So maybe he was enticed to play even if he didn’t feel OK, no?

SG Says:


His No. 1 ranking is at risk because of his recent losses. The guy has won like 12 of the last 16 majors, I don’t believe that not going to the AO in and of itself would have cost him the No.1 ranking. It’s his performances after the AO that has made him vulnerable.

Zola Says:


I am buying you a cyber-coffee too, if Nadal wins Tsonga! I am just so anxious!

Dr. Death Says:

How much does cyber-coffee cost? Always need a jolt.

andrea Says:

about Joko’s remarks, I think it is sort of a head game, but perhaps more to pump himself up. Similar to the praise the players give themselves when they win a match. ( I played great today!). It is important not to feel inferior. I think that’s why Novak keeps talking about Fed. Besides, he knows if he repeats this sort of talk, he will go under Fed’d skin. I think judging from fed’s remarks on Djoko, he has succeeded to an extent.

this is a good observation. all players need to find ways to stay motivated and pumped up. i quote novak as he has been the most vocal of all of the up and comers (‘federer is going down’ AO ’06 etc). every player is susceptible to doubts and having someone saying they can beat you repeatedly has to start to get to you.

everything is much more amplified these days due to the internet. an article can be read around the world within 24 hours. the scrutiny athletes and other celebrities are under these days is immense. even if you try and stay away from it some reporter will throw it in your face and ask you to comment on it.

i do think that there are players out there that can put the pressure on federer, particularly if he’s not playing at a high level. combine that with head games in the press and it makes it very challenging to be in the position that roger is in.

the fact that he handles it so well never ceases to amaze me. that being said, he is not nearly as gracious in post match interviews when he has lost, but then, who really wants to hang around and talk about being a loser?

and what about the mahut drubbing? ouch!

Y Says:

SG, Federer has won 450 points at AO. Since he’s got 350 more than Nadal right now, the conclusion is easy to draw.

Zola Says:

Dr. Death,
**How much does cyber-coffee cost? Always need a jolt. ***

It will be free ( on me!) tomorrow if Rafa wins Tsonga!

Zola Says:

where are you? If Rafa wins, you should come over too!

Von Says:


“Von, where are you? If Rafa wins, you should come over too!”

I’m right here reading all of the good stuff. You’ll have to buy me some Earl Grey tea — I’m not a coffee drinker.

Re: Your statement about being nervous watching Rafa play, now you know why I don’t really like to watch Andy play; I get too nervous. Anyway, I hope that Rafa wins and I’ll look for that virtual cup of tea. :)

Voicemale Says:

Nadal’s comment after the Australian Semi was that Tsonga was playing almost error-free, which is basically true. JWT was on a roll from the first round and never looked back. But then, he gets dismissed in his first post-AO match in Marseille, and he hasn’t been seen until here at IW. If anyone remembers, Baghdatis made huge headlines for making the AO Final a few years ago, beating huge names along the way. To say Baghdatis hasn’t fulfilled the promise of that run would be an understatement. It’s a fate that could still yet befall Jo Willy.

Tsonga’s match to Mathieu was hardly a demolition by Tsonga. On the contrary, Mathieu’s First Serve Percentage was less than 50%, and he gifted JWT with 40 Unforced Errors. Even with Mathieu’s game collapsing, the match was incredibly tight – 76 64. But sometimes you don’t have to win a match if your opponent is in the process of losing it to you.

This Nadal-Tsonga match is likely to be much tighter, mostly because Nadal has a much better idea of what to expect. This court is much kinder to Nadal’s topspin – so the key will be if Nadal can keep his forehand shots deep in the court to the Tsonga backhand. In Australia, Tsonga was coming in on everything short and punishing it into oblivion. If Tsonga can force Nadal to consitently cough up short, sitter mid-court balls, the he’ll smash through Nadal’s forehand into the Quarters. If Nadal’s depth can be consistent, the uber-topspin is gonna back Tsonga up behind the baseline for long stretches, which means there will be almost no hitting through Rafa’s forehand from way back there. Depth gets Nadal to the Quarters.

jane Says:

Shital Green,

“Fed’s emphatic and swift victory over Mahut in less than an hour (6-1, 6-1) sends a clear signal that he is on his way to win the title here, like it or not. It was one of his signature performances today that was amiss for sometime.”

It was a commanding performance, and I really don’t think Federer went anywhere, he’s just slowing at micro-levels.

At the Australian Open Fed flew through the 1st two rounds like his sometimes-superhuman-self, but then BOOM – he ran into Tipsy and others, and POW he was human again.

We’ll have to see just what metamorphoses are in store in the next few rounds.

jane Says:


“I am buying you a cyber-coffee too”

I’ll be waiting in the matrix; in the meantime, I’ll keep my cyber- fingers and toes crossed for Rafa.

jane Says:


“Depth gets Nadal to the Quarters.”

I agree; he’s gotta follow Djok’s AO example and keep JWT back, while he adds the magic Rafa spin to the balls. Hope for heat and then the balls will be flying, shoulder level, and Rafa should have the advantage.

Tomorrow will tell.

Zola Says:

OK, Earl Grey for Von, Coffee for the rest!

Jane, it is a day match. I can’t believe it. I hope it is super hot tomorrow!

61, 61 over Mahut was scary good. A great statement by Federer, but I agree with Jane. Fed has not been tested yet. maybe a match with Murray or Nalby will show us where his level really is.

Zola Says:

forgot to say that I completely understand how nervous one can be watching tennis. believe it or not I have not watched more than helf of the French Open and I went shopping in the middle of Rafa-Djoko match!

grendel Says:

“You think Fed cares about what a tabloid says? He is supposed to do what most secure famous people do. You ignore them.” (SG). But if what Ulysses says is correct, then it wasn’t just a tabloid, but a veritable newspaper industry in a tiny country where Federer, just because the country is tiny, has almost mythical status. He would have had no alternative but to go public.

Maybe Ulysses exaggerates. Or maybe he doesn’t, but Fed thankfully exploited an impossible situation to give him exactly the excuse he craved. Or maybe all that’s just the purest horseshit. Who knows? What is reasonably clear, however, is that people’s opinions on this matter tend to be based on their own prejudices rather than any respect for evidence.

Was Sampras a “gracious” loser? The question is real, not rhetorical. I only saw him play live at Wimbledon (in the days when televised tennis in England was confined to the BBC), where he tended to win. I vividly recall him being interviewed after his loss to Kraijeck. He looked totally numbed, as if the earth had fallen in, and most of it on him. At one point, the interviewer asked him if he thought Kraijeck could go on to win the title. Sampras gazed at the fellow as if wondering what on earth he was drivelling about, and then visibly pulled himself together, and offered some affirming banality. (But better than saying “I don’t care”, eh?) If this wasn’t a case of a “sore loser”, I don’t know what was. But that seemed to me, and still does, eminently reasonable. Just because Sampras was unlucky enough to have met probably the one player in the world who had the armoury to defeat him on grass -in the unlikely event that everything was firing , for the Dutchman was notoriously inconsistent – and way before the final, too, (where the occasion might have overwhelmed Kraijeck) his dream of beating Borg’s record was almost certainly over. Who wouldn’t feel sore? It’s just natural. I daresay there are those who could have put on a show ,and let it all out when nobody was looking, except the cat, perhaps. To me, Sampras never looked more human, and I didn’t think he compromised his dignity in the slightest.

As for Federer, he has never struck me as particularly secure. Iron willed, yes, but that’s a very different matter – and iron is brittle, remember, and suspect in extreme conditions. As everyone knows, he came close to cracking at Wimbledon in the fourth set. He could see it all slipping away – everything. A big blank chasm yawned up at him and he seemed to find it frightening. On the other hand, real strength of character to come back – twice – from the dead in the fifth, and then to impose his will. So many silly caricatures of this man – from both pros and antis – where the reality is not easy to capture. Meanwhile, he claims to want to play till he’s 35. He’s going to get loads and loads of chances to get to grips with this business of losing. My suspicion is that if he gets those 15 grand slams, and passes Sampras’ length of tenure as #1, 280 odd weeks or whatever it is, he will continue to play, and not particularly mind being beaten. He’ll be the legend, after all, playing in the autumn of his days, who every now and again will remind people of what he was once like. You’ll see “graciousness” as never before. But it won’t mean a thing. On the other hand, if he can’t get those records in the next three or four years, it wouldn’t surprise me if he just packs the whole thing in. Sour grapes? Sure, up to a point. It’s only human nature. To sneer at it seems to me to miss the point. To get so close to the glittering prize when everyone has repeatedly said it’s yours for the taking, and then after all to fail. Not a disgrace, I shouldn’t have thought, to find that overmuch to handle.

Shital Green Says:

This is another rich piece that has analytical depth. What stands out in your writing is you create a balance between appreciation and criticism.
Let me follow your example and beg to mildly differ about one point, only in general sense, though: “people’s opinions on this matter tend to be based on their own prejudices rather than any respect for evidence.” I sometimes think that “we” (over-generalization, maybe) tend to look for those pieces of evidence that roughly calibrate with our prejudices. The burden then is to define and segregate what prejudices are and what evidence is. In any case, narcissism always rears its ugly/beautiful face, and then there is always blind spot: 360 degree is a just another myth of empiricism and rationalism because we see because we see from some position and everything is said by somebody, i.e. some subject position. Then, scrutinized, evidence turns out to be almost always hegemonic.

Matt Says:

Federer played like a mediocre in the match.

I love the historical clashes b/w Jimmy Connors and Bjorn Borg, Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker.

Came across some incredible tennis rivalries at

Wanted to share it with all

jane Says:

Fed’s sure he’s not sick anymore…

What follows is from the New York Times:

“This is what you want to do,” Federer said. “You want to try to run over your opponent, not give him a chance anymore. “

Federer was much more dynamic than he was in a 6-3, 6-2 win against Spain’s Guillermo García-López. He said it was because of the play of Mahut, whose style is more like his rather than that of the patient García-López he faced Sunday.

“Look, I’ve always enjoyed playing against the Frenchmen,” Federer said. “They have good techniques, playing style, unbelievable shot making.”

They also do not beat him. Federer is now 33-1 against French players.

With Mahut dispatched, the men’s draw now begins to get serious — that is, there is not a Frenchman in sight. Up next for Federer is 23rd-ranked Ivan Ljubicic, who pushed Federer to a pair of tie breakers in a Round of 16 meeting here in 2005.

After that, in the quarterfinals, could be Andy Murray, who beat Federer this month in Dubai. David Nalbandian — who has a .500 career record against Federer, though mostly on clay — could await in the semifinals.

Sitting on the other side of the bracket are Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

But Tuesday, Federer was not sweating it.

“I’m there where I want to be,” he said. “Just feeling like I’m playing good tennis again. I feel like I did at the Australian Open after one of my first couple matches. But this time I’m more sure I’m over the sickness. This time it’s very different. I’m looking forward to the rest.”

break point Says:

Federer said it best. Why hide the illness? For those who find things like this to criticize, they are idiots.

SG Says:

break point Says:
Federer said it best. Why hide the illness? For those who find things like this to criticize, they are idiots.


if you choose to play in a tournament, than play in it. had he won the AO, is suspect this case of mono would have disappeared. I consider this mono crap more gamesmanship than anything else. It’s a way to tell the guys who beat Fed, “You didn’t beat the real Fed”. A kind of mind game. I suspect that the next time Djokovic (…or Nadal) sticks it to Sir Fed in a big match, all this nonsense will be brushed away. Ya’ lose, ya’ lose, deal with it…or hang them up. If you can’t deal with losing than you’re not an athlete, you’re a sissy. Tiger went through quite a bit of losing before he started winning again. Nicklaus finished 2nd in 19 majors. There wasn’t any sore this or sore that or my finger nail on my finger is sore.

Daniel Says:

What I found amusing is that Nadal can play a entire season with bandages in his knee and none complains about it. Every time he looses in hard courts to me it send a message: I am not 100%, just look at my knees! After he lost to Ferrer he didn’t say: I lost because my knee is injury, but it was really necessary to say it?! To me it was obvious. The same thing with Fed last two months, something was wrong.

Every time a player has an injury or some other health problem we eventually know it. Why with Fed it is suppose to be different? Just because the guy doesn’t had nothing really serious in the last 6,7.. years it doesn’t mean that when he got something he should hide to demonstrate sportsmanship. This argument is pathetic.

These guys are champions and if Nadal choose to play the US Open 2007, when he was clearly risking his body, the same goes with Fed. They only will stop when they can’t leave the bed. It’s the hunger for winning, what separate them to rest of the field!

By the way, sorry to Nadal fans, but I don’t see Nadal ever passing the 6000 ATP ranking points (in any other era he already would be n° 1, but life is unfair). It’s just too much for him, even with the increasing in his points this season; I can’t see him dominating again in clay as he did in the past 3 years. The same way the players are closing to Fed, they will get to Nadal too, if he gets a Nalbandian in RG, so long for the 4th title. As Fed says: “none deserve the N° 1 more than Nadal”, but as I predicted last year, he will loose the number 2 spot before getting number 1. Maybe I am being pessimistic, will see. After today’s match, what I mentioned can start making sense.

Shital Green Says:

The emergent pattern at the IW so far has been relatively teleological, meaning the past has been some kind of indicator of the results so far we have and could continue to be so.

Except in the case of Wawrinka vs. Berdych, Fish vs. Davy, Nalbandian vs. JC Ferrero, and Wawrinka vs. Baghdatis, all winners at this year’s IW have better H2H count. Roddick’s case is a bit complicated(H2H: 3-6, but on hard court: 3-2; H2H prevails here regardless of the surface). David Ferrer’s loss to Lee could be said to have been following the same pattern (H2H: 1-1, but on hard court 0-1). Look at the other losses: Dr. Ivo’s loss to Murray (H2H: 0-1); G-Lo and Mahut’s losses to Fed (H2H: 0-1 each); Seppi’s loss to Djoko (H2H: 2-0); Ancic’s loss to JC Ferrero (H2H: 0-3); Robredo’s loss to Ljubicic (H2H: 4-1).

And whenever the match is between two players who have never played before, the result seems to tilt toward the higher ranking / establishment player. If the same pattern follows between the players who have a tie in their H2H count, then the establishment player should have a slight edge today. Then, today’s victors should be Nadal, Djokovic, Gasquet, and Wawrinka (who is somebody to keep eye on for future as he has caused 2 upsets already).

In general, I would like to see players defying this teleology to prove me wrong and let me have the fun of surprises. I believe I have built myself to activate my masochistic channel and will derive pleasure out of pain the principle that I have decided to stick to may inflict if the surprise were to come at the cost of my favorite player’s loss.

I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

Great commentary by a legit journalist who doesnt bend over backwards to protect His Royal Highness’s classy guy image from the more realistic sore loser one.


Shital Green Says:

Correction: “Nalbandian vs. JC Ferrero” should not be there in the 2nd para.

jane Says:

Interesting analysis Shital Green.

But in this case I think the opposite results wouldn’t be “huge” upsets – if Blake were to beat Gasquet, for instance, it wouldn’t be too surprising, nor would it be if Tsonga were to beat Rafa, as we recently saw happen. Even Canas winning against Novak wouldn’t be a complete stunner since the Argentine plays well both here and in Miami, and took out Fed at both tourneys in 07. So if he were to take out the the Djoker this year, it wouldn’t be *that much* of a surprise (it’d be a disappointment, but that’s another issue). I’d have a tough time betting on any of these matches, in fact.

Wawrinka is a steady player, but I sure don’t find him very exciting or explosive to watch; he reminds me of Davydenko (now there’s a surprise; Fish winning through in that one). I’d rather see Lee win frankly.

What about Murray v. Haas, Fed v. Ljub, & Ferrero v. Nalby? Any teleological calls in these matches? They all play today too, I believe. Murray, Fed, Nalby to come through would be the established call I suppose. Yet I think Haas and Ferrero could win depending on the mental focus of their opponents: Nalby (wandering soul that is) and Murray (occasionally cantankerous soul that he is), but I see Fed winning against Ljubicic unless the gods shine down on the Croats old soul.

Chance or teleology – guess we’ll soon find out.

Skorocel Says:

I can’t help myself, but to me it’s just ridiculous how much hallo has been made about that Fed’s mono illness… He’s looking for excuses, is a sore loser, sour grapes, and blah blah… I mean, did he call a press conference to announce: “I had mono for the past 2 months, so both the Djoker and Murray loss simply don’t count” or what? The truth is the guy just mentioned it in one interview, but (as expected) the anti-Fed fans automatically understood it as “sour grapes”… You guys are laughable! If you want to look for sore losers, then please look for a certain Spanish player who, almost everytime he loses, says “I wasn’t 100 percent, no?”… I guess we all remember that hilarious title which the tennis-x.com website came up with the day after Nadal suffered that beating from Gonzalez at the last year’s AO… “GONZO PAIN IN NADAL’S ASS” :), wasn’t it?

And to SG: I’m sorry to disappoint you, but please, stop making those STUPID comparisons between tennis players and golfers, OK? Is golfer an athlete? I don’t think so… Frankly, who do you think would be more affected by mono – a golfer or a tennis player?

Von Says:


“And to SG: I’m sorry to disappoint you, but please, stop making those STUPID comparisons between tennis players and golfers, OK? Is golfer an athlete? I don’t think so… Frankly, who do you think would be more affected by mono – a golfer or a tennis player?”

Even though I hate to butt heads with you, Skorocel, I have to disagree with your statement that SG should stop making ‘STUPID’ comparisons. From what I have read of SG’s comments he was just pointing out a fact that Woods had a lull in his career similarly to that of Fed’s. In fact, most athletes go through a dry, fruitless spell, whereby their careers become stagnant. At this stage, they usually have a period of questioning and deep soul searching and many come to terms with the FACT that their game is declining, and try to experiment with different strategies to reclaim that lost luster and work with their deficiencies. And, this is true in everyone’s career/profession wherein you shoot up to your zenith, the highesat point, and then down to nadir, the lowest point. It’s these times that we are able to find the mettle of which we are made and it’s up to us to make the necessary changes to bring about a reawakening of our talents, to keep on fighting for that ultimate goal in history on which we have st our sights.

On the subject of mono affecting an athlete more or a golfer less, there’s very little difference as to the symptoms and side effects of this disease. Mono places a drain on our immune systems which causes us to be in a state of chronic fatigue and self-imposed bed rest — it drains the body of every smidgen of energy. This disease is NOT discriminating. Mono does not produce pain, hence, there isn’t the question of endurance to be factored into the side effects aspect of this disease. It just renders one completely devoid of energy and clouds our thought processes. We don’t have a choice but just to rest and let it run its course.

The FACTS as presented by Fed are as folows: (1) According to his doctors in mid-February, when he was diagnosed with mono, he allegedly contracted the disease in December and has not been well since December, but was deemed FIT about 5-7 days prior to Dubai, and, (2) he began practising for Dubai at that time but eventually lost to Murray in the tournament.

His loss to Murray was in no way connected to the mono, since he was given a clean bill of health by his doctors to play. He just lost, period, to an opponent who was playing better than he was on that day. Additionally, whatever losses Fed incurs from the time of his doctors’ giving him the green light to play then, and in the future. will just have to attributed to being a step slower, losing his edge, or his opponent being better than him at that specific time and place.

The mono is now HISTORY, and Fed’s now on even keel with his other opponents. From his match play against the two opponents that he has faced shows he is back, fit and healthy.

Von Says:

It was indeed a sight for sore eyes to see an article written by Joel Drucker, dubbed “The Professor” of the tennis world, who is responsible for all those great stats and analyses. I must say that it seems that Tennis.X is stepping out, and up, by adding Joel Drucker’s quality of journalism. It is commendable and a pleasure to read different points of view. Keep up the good work, Joel! I’m one of your fans.

SG Says:

Skorocel Says:

And to SG: I’m sorry to disappoint you, but please, stop making those STUPID comparisons between tennis players and golfers, OK? Is golfer an athlete? I don’t think so… Frankly, who do you think would be more affected by mono – a golfer or a tennis player?


The comparison is hardly stupid. It’s all about comparing how elite athletes handle losing. Some seem to handle it more graciously than others. Mickelson and Nicklaus are two of the best. In that regard. And unless you can pound a golf ball 320 yards into a fairay 20 yards wide with 30 or 40 million people watching you in the middle of a major championship, I’d stay away from the “Golfers are not athletes” argument. Golfers are merely athletes with a different skill set. And looking at Tiger Woods, he seems to look a whole lot more fit than say, David Nalbandian who beat Fed twice last year when, apparently, he didn’t have mono.

Skorocel Says:

To SG:

I’m sorry, but I just got carried away a bit in that post, you know… I really shouldn’t have tell anyone what to do and what not… That’s the last thing I should do on a forum where everyone is entitled to express their opinions, so once again, I’m deeply apologizing! I was just merely reacting to your post dated March 19th 2008, 11:11 am (didn’t read your previous posts at all), but anyway, I just WON’T consider golfer as an athlete. That’s just my view… You can, of course, think otherwise, but I just won’t consider them athletes, period! That’s why I never liked when someone compared Woods to Fed or other tennis players – I just don’t consider him as an athlete.

You think Fed’s used this mono illness as an excuse for his losses to Djok and Murray? Fine. That’s your opinion. As for my view on the whole thing, well, from what I know, he just mentioned it in one interview with the New York Times – and this even BEFORE the public in his homecountry of Switzerland had any chance to know about this. If he wanted so badly to use this illness as an excuse, then why do you think he didn’t call for some press conference or something in his home country to tell the truth?

Speaking about that NYT article, do you even know what exactly did that NYT writer asked Fed? You know, from that article it may look like he’s “badly wanted” to inform the world about his illness (understand, to “make an excuse for his 2 losses to Djok and Murray”), but you know, sometimes those guys will give you a direct question (i.e. a question on which you can either answer yes or no). One perfect example is that interview after the Murray match. The writer asked Fed directly whether he thinks Murray’s game has changed or not, so he just honestly replied no. BUT of course, all the anti-Fed fans automatically viewed him as a sore loser – just because he HONESTLY answered a DIRECT question…

To Von:

As for the question whether mono affects tennis players more than the golfers (I mean PHYSICALLY, not mentally!), I’m really sorry, but I guess you must be kidding! Seriously, who do you think will be affected more? Or better said, whose GAME will be more affected by mono? That of a tennis player, who on average runs left-right for at least 2 hours per each match (if it’s a grandslam match, of course) or that of a golfer, who just does one swing with his club and then walks away (or even drives away in that buggy or whatever it is) to see where that ball landed??? Huh, he doesn’t even need to carry his clubs, as there’s always that guy named caddie at his disposal!

The point is, if Fed wanted to complain about this mono illness (or indeed use it as an excuse for his poor performances), he would still have had ZILLION more rights to do so than a golfer would have had (even though in reality Fed didn’t say even once “I lost those two matches to Djok and Murray BECAUSE of the mono” or something similar)… That’s why I think it’s an absolute nonsense to compare him to a golfer, you know… The guy just stated the truth, so what? Yes, some fans may wonder why he mentioned it only after the Murray loss when he already knew about it for some 2 or so weeks, but to be honest, I don’t care about them… Those poeple will always find something in Fed’s actions which they’ll turn towards him, you know… I just find it almost childish. Did he ever say he lost these 2 matches because of that mono thing? NO is the answer! They may think he should’ve remained quiet about it, but to be honest, do you think something like this would’ve remained secret? I doubt it… I mean, to me it’s just laughable how one can meditate literally 1000 hours upon a certain article where one tennis player just stated the TRUTH… Or do you think that mono illness was a fake? To be honest, it’s not just laughable to see so many people scrutinizing that NYT article… It’s indeed sad, since there were much more important news to talk about these past 2 weeks than that stupid mono illness of Fed (you know what that news was).

Anyway, as for that timeline which you’ve mentioned, you’re absolutely correct. The guy’s learned about the illness in mid-February (probably contracted it in December last year) and got the green light to train cca 5-7 days before Dubai – that’s at least from what we know from the news… You may think it’s too soon for him to play (i.e. he should’ve at least skipped the IW and Miami tourneys to be 100 % assured of being 100 % fit), but unfortunately, neither you or I can make those doctors feel different, you know… They gave him the green light, so it remains to be seen whether they were indeed right with their decision or not…

rogers twin sister Says:

All this brouhaha about Fed’s mono is revolting. In all the years that I’ve been watching Fed, I’ve never heard him whine about injury or illness, and there had to be times when he was under the weather. Those who continue to cast aspersions on his character are showing the green-eyed monster at its worst.

grendel Says:

Skyrocel: I know what you mean about the golf. Another thing that mystifies me is why anyone should want to watch it. I’m not doubting the skill – as a lifelong P.G.Wodehouse fan, I’d be silly if I did that – but I just don’t understand how a spectator can actually gauge that something has been done well (apart from on the green). Also, although (as Wodehouse lovers will know) golf is intensely competitive, it’s hard for a spectator to sense that. Maybe you’ve just got to be very knowledgeable about the game.

One curious fact, though. I heard the other day that Tiger Woods could run 400 metres in under 50 seconds when he was 18 or something. Anyone who can do that is entitled to be called an athlete. It may be incidental to his golf, of course. Stamina?

About Fed and mono: people will believe exactly what they want to believe, because, as with most issues surrounding health, it is an incredibly nebulous area, and therefor is susceptible to all sorts of speculation. I’ve had my toes burnt on this one, and I’ve come to the conclusion, a little tardily: at the end of the day, what the hell does it matter what other people think? As often as not, far more is revealed about the critic than about the object of criticism. And I am not one of those, either, who believes the sun shines out of Federer’s elegant posterior.

Von Says:


“As for the question whether mono affects tennis players more than the golfers (I mean PHYSICALLY, not mentally!), I’m really sorry, but I guess you must be kidding! Seriously, who do you think will be affected more? Or better said, whose GAME will be more affected by mono?”

You have missed my point on mono affecting players, athletes, golfers, and people in general. Without further belaboring the point, I will just simply state, as I’ve stated before in my previous post, that mono is not DISCRIMINATING, it affects people’s energy, meaning that it totally wipes one out, and I mean everyone who is its victim. Be it a person with a sedentary lifestyle or an athletic lifestyle. It leaves us energy ‘less’. Whether you want to accept this fact or not, just read up on the disease and you’ll find that one of the most universal complaints emanting from its victims is a feeling of general malaise, coupled with brain fog and an inability to perform even the most menial of tasks, and personal hygiene, e.g., taking a bath. Any type of movement beciomes a superhuman task. And, no I am not kidding!

If you would re-read my post, you’ll notice that I did not mention that Fed used mono as an excuse for losing. I merely agreed with SG that Woods at a point in his career suffered losses and had a dry spell wherein he lost several tournaments. However, he did regroup and got back on track. Additionally, the same can be said for many great athletes. They go through a period of highs and lows, but find their way back to success. Similarly, Fed will do the same.

I am sorry I got into this discussion because it seems that those who like to criticize have only got to get a sniff of something that’s just remotely related to what is being discussed, and then turns it into a heated debate, or an excuse to grandstand and vent their anger. Having been burnt many, many times in this manner, I have become very cautious and am now at a point whereby I just read and allow those critics the privilege of analyzing various subject matters and at the same time affording them the opportunity to vent on whatever it is that’s uppermost in their minds. Like them, I could care less about their opinions and the aspersions that are cast directly or indirectly, bearing in mind that those who abhor criticism are the ones who are the chief offenders when the pendulum swings in a different direction.

Richard Vach Says:

Joel Drucker responds:

Joel Drucker Answers the Mail

Joel Drucker’s recent article on Roger Federer, “Getting A Bit Fed Up,” has generated a record number of comments from TennisOne readers. Here are more thoughts from Joel.

“To speak the plain truth is getting pretty darn dull around here.” – from the film, Blazing Saddles

First of all, I commend and thank the TennisOne community for its passionate engagement with our sport. Rare – and yes, greatly appreciated.

So to get to the heart of the matter.

First, as I noted previously, what players do outside the lines will never be more than 49 percent of how I evaluate them. Most of all, I try – and comments and insights from readers are part of the mosaic – to understand what goes on inside the lines. And on that count, I’m like just about everyone on the planet and quite dazzled by Roger Federer.

But it’s the other forces – what I’ll call the forces of the market – that seek to protect and advance any player’s cause as if he was more of a corporation than an athlete.

Click photo to go to website: Federer vs Sampras . . .

I’m well aware how significant and debilitating mono can be. I never disputed Federer’s right to have an illness. But even after reading so many comments, I don’t see what’s accomplished by him talking about it. Many readers told me that he made the announcement because he had been hounded so much by our contemporary, fast-paced, information-hungry media. Of course there are many things media – and, by extension, readers, viewers and listeners – want to know about notable people. But that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to tell them. So if I’m Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray – the two guys who’ve beaten Federer this year – I’d be a bit retroactively insulted to have a significant win tainted by the opponent issuing an excuse.

This ties to a question I was asked by several TennisOne readers: Have I ever played competitive sports? Yes. Like many of you, I’m an active recreational tennis player, having competed in juniors, high school and USTA league and tournament tennis. That experience is one major reason I’m vexed that Federer would go public with an illness. Tell me: Following a big win in a tournament or league match, would any of you like hearing a week later from your opponent that he was sick during that match? I am a crusader against this kind of public belly-aching.

Click photo to go to website: . . . entertaining? Maybe, but is the stuff that tennis needs?

Yes, of course I know that athletes play hurt all the time. But that doesn’t mean they have to talk about it.

Federer vs Sampras

On another topic, Federer holding back versus Sampras, I appreciate the comments that reminded me that this was an exhibition and therefore should be viewed more as entertainment than full-throttle competition. Several readers even told me it was tennis’ equivalent of a staged wrestling match.

Great. This is exactly the kind of credibility-reducing event tennis needs. Concoction and artifice are supposed to be good things?

Finally, I was struck by the comments that told me to relax, get over it or not get so worked up. Alas, it’s my business to bring passion to a subject I love. There come moments when a writer gets to call attention to something others may feel but for a number of reasons can not or will not express. So be it – and thanks for all your feedback.

Joel Drucker

Lily Says:

“So why would he dare insult the sport’s code of sportsmanship by going public with news of his illness?”

I’m done reading.

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