Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Have you heard the news? Roger Federer's fitness coach Pierre Paganini says he's not injured in the regular sense, but rather taking the time to train after bailing on Dubai and Davis Cup citing a back injury. (You can get the scoop at Down the Line! and GoToTennis.)
First, I'm a little surprised at Federer letting someone in his camp contradict what he said. But maybe Paganini just didn't know any better.
More importantly, though, I think this makes it official: Davis Cup doesn't mean much to Roger Federer at all, at least from this Federer and Davis Cup fan's perspective. I don't think he's as apathetic toward it as Jimmy Connors was, but still. Was one weekend going to hurt his chances in Indian Wells? It's not like travel was going to be an issue; he was going to be in the States anyway.
Now, I know there's a lot of complaints about Davis Cup: the format's weird, it's too many matches in three days, you might have to travel far away, blah, blah, blah. But what about the thrill of trying to get it done for national pride? Is that too corny a concept?
Granted, Federer has a lot of pressure on him as he has some pretty unreliable backup and more than likely has to play three matches. But despite the flakiness of Stanislas Wawrinka and the pure journeyman status of Yves Allegro, I think the team could've still been a contender. And I think they could've been, even without Federer playing doubles.
What I would do if I were the Swiss captain would be to have Federer and Wawrinka play singles, then Allegro and Stan or one of the countless scrub Swiss players go at in dubs. You know Federer's going to win both of his rubbers. If you can't get one out three from the other ones, then hey, it's not his fault.
I think Davis Cup is on a good run right now. Every team in the World Group appears to be putting their top players out there. And I know there was some controversy in last year's finals with Argentina fighting each other, but my understanding is that it was due to commitment issues. And look at Rafael Nadal: skipping tournaments to play Davis Cup.
Sure, Federer's got an Olympic Gold, but he's too great a player not to have a Davis Cup trophy on the mantelpiece. All the legends have at least made it to the final round. Four weekends a year: That's all it would take for him to get his. Those things still count for something, you know.