It’s mailbag day from the friendly confines of Roland Garros … Last week, most of the questions weren’t about tennis, but about Naomi Osaka. This week: Roger Federer and his self-imposed exile …
I’m sure you’ll have all the angles covered, but there are There is a big difference between retiring due to injury and retiring because you want to preserve your body to play on a more favorable surface. Before Roland Garros, Federer even said: “The season starts for me on the grass.” If that were the case, why enter Roland Garros? Play some games to get in shape? One wonders if he knew that he would withdraw all the time. No one, not even Federer, has earned the right to do this no matter how much income it generates for the sport.
• Last week, some of you asked about Naomi Osaka’s retirement and one answer was, “She is an independent contractor, free to do whatever she sees fit.” The same applies here. (You could see this as one of the benefits of not having a union.) Federer can come and go as he sees fit. He said before the tournament that he was not here to win and came to play the match. He got what he came for. And keep in mind, too, that there are only two weeks between France and Wimbledon this year.
Is this the pinnacle of your sportsmanship? No. Does it undermine the integrity of this event and reduce the French Open to a Wimbledon set-up? Yes. Would it be nice if Federer had shot before match point, so that his third-round opponent (spitting out Dom Koepfer, the Yellow Wave) would have advanced and the fans would have had a proper fourth-round match? Maybe. Should I have cited a specific injury so he didn’t seem grumpy? Maybe. Was part of this motivated by your dislike of programming, playing a late night game in the middle of the weekend, while Nadal and Djokovic were in bed for curfew? Probable.
We also need to recognize the context. We want to play well for as long as possible. Federer is 39 years old and coming from knee surgery. Serena is 39. Nadal is 35. Something has to give here. Serena played a match at last year’s French Open, won, resigned, and didn’t appear until Australia. Nadal had retired from here in the middle of the tournament in 2017. If this is the tax we pay for the Titans to extend their careers, so be it.
Novak would have been beaten up by you if he had done this. Just say’….
• I can’t argue with that. But exercise in thought: if Djokovic had 39…. and coming off multiple knee surgeries… and a loser to begin with…. and announced before the tournament that this was his plan … and less involved in tennis politics?
I just wanted to highlight that one of the most fascinating things that I have noticed in the last 24 hours has been the reluctance of the PTPA. The Grand Slams obviously went overboard in their response to Osaka’s statement. Anyone could see that! This would have been a great opportunity for the group to make their case and reach out to women during the tour. I think the lack of a statement / response on your part is quite revealing …
• For the record, Djokovic has spoken out on the PTPA.
How can Tennis Channel promote its coverage of “first ball to last” and then not show Gauff and Federer’s match live? I realize that your employer cannot be criticized, but Tennis Channel needs to better explain which matches they are not going to show and where they are available. It seems to me that by not really having “first ball to last” coverage, Tennis Channel is weakening its brand for the short-term financial gain of selling some matches to other channels.
• I can criticize my employer within reason. But honestly, this is on NBC / Comcast. Tennis Channel would happily have broadcast Gauff and Federer. But, for years, those rights have gone to NBC. And NBC made its scheduling decisions and put Federer on a subscription streaming network.
I have seen many articles, including the quote from Venus Williams’ tagline that the press “… will never light a candle for me.” I’m pretty sure, after reading / watching the interview where she said she meant that the press couldn’t / would never approach her. A fairly simple slip, but completely different meanings. clarify this?
–Roger Jones, Downtown Waterbury, Vermont
• He was clearly referring to the candle. We all laughed at Venus Williams’ response on how she copes with press conferences. For me, the key to her response was “coping,” that is, what she uses as a mechanism. Fair enough. And good for her for that supreme confidence level. Also, everyone likes to get into the media. And, for centuries, artists, from Prince to Beethoven, have had a similar response from critics.
But I feel that this cannot go completely unanswered. The idea that people lose the right to have valid opinions unless they can match the talent and experience of the figure in question? That brings us to an ugly place. Is it not permissible for you not to like a meal unless you are a professional chef? You can’t honk at taxi drivers, who drive for a living. Have an opinion in an art museum or when leaving a theater. (“I don’t see your butt on IMDB!”)
For that matter, imagine a woman with diverse interests, say Venus Williams, attending an interior design conference. A veteran and accomplished designer is on stage. Venus raises her hand to ask a question, maybe even a pointed one. The designer responds: “You cannot bring a candle close to my work; their observations and analyzes are not relevant. “Of all people, wouldn’t Venus Williams understand the value of people taking an interest in an industry, even if they aren’t top-notch professionals themselves?
Again, I get it. Venus is great. You should deal with the situation in the way that suits you best. The athlete-media relationship has been the source of particular scrutiny this week, making it a charged question and in a charged environment. It is easy to hate the media, and that hatred is sometimes deserved. But after the initial laugh, the content is a) pretty scary and b) straight from the autocrat’s manual.
By the way, when will we have transparent live televised tournament giveaways? Why are they still made in the tournament director’s dark room?
• Yes, I don’t understand this. Tournament draws are not tampered with. (The thumbs on the scale come from other sources, like programming, and wildcards.) But why wouldn’t tournaments be held openly and transparently?
Truth Bomb: The majors may well be fervently protective of the First Amendment. But there is another reason why they leaned so heavily toward the press conference side. Note the BNP Paribas logo (Dunkin Donuts if they are the New England Patriots) on the back. Note the water bottles next to the players. Please note the social media clips from these sessions. They are of great value for events: for content, sponsorship, social networks that can be shared. There is no reason why the raffle ceremony should not be similarly presented. If it adds up to a feeling of greater transparency, so much the better.
Federer cowardly leaves the French Open and TC announcers praise him to the skies. Why do you get a pass? Anyone whose name is not Roger would be ridiculed. He is not injured, it is true that he cares more for a different tournament than for Roland Garros, and they treat him as if he had just cured cancer. Osaka, meanwhile, leaves a press conference and the Major Leagues try to burn her at the stake. How can they possibly agree with the RF? How can anyone?
• I reject it. First, tell us about the “burning at the stake.” Most people, myself included, did not do such a thing. Again, until there is a collective bargaining agreement, players can act this way. They make decisions based on what is best for them. I’m not sure I buy the Osaka / Federer analogy, but I think there is consistency in it: they both made a decision based on their health and comfort (one mental, one physical) and not the health / comfort of the event.
Have the four Slams sent a harshly worded letter to Roger Federer, threatening him with suspension / expulsion? Naomi Osaka left a press conference to preserve her health. Federer is quitting the entire tournament to preserve his health. Osaka also paid a $ 15,000 fine. How much was Roger fined?
–Helena from DC
• Worth mentioning: I can’t remember Federer getting more criticism from the public. The people I recognize as moderate voices are becoming difficult for Federer. 1) What a shame it would be if this was his last moment at Roland Garros. A late-night game that was not broadcast on American television followed by a criticized withdrawal. 2) Again, this is where a collective bargaining policy would fit in. 3) Federer’s agent is not in Paris, which could have emboldened the organizers. 4) What if Federer had lied? Instead of a general explanation, he chose a body part and said, “my [knee] it feels sore and I need to listen to my body. “
I am stunned. Fed entered a tournament that he had no intention of ending. Give Koepfer a thought. How cynical … he avoids some defeat at the hands of the best player the game has ever seen and makes sure Nole has to face a very fresh Berrettini. Simply amazing…. I am very disappointed in the Fed in this case. It’s just not a cool move in a Slam without any overt injury like the Finals with the World Tour Finals a few years ago, when your back was locked just before the Davis Cup Final. Not cool.
• I don’t have much sympathy for Koepfer. If he wanted to advance, he should have won the match. In fact, I feel more sympathy for Berrettini, who now loses his rhythm and plays Djokovic cold.
What is happening with Garbiñe Muguruza? His defeat in the first round was even more shocking to me than Dominic Thiem’s. She has had a good year and has reached multiple finals, including in Dubai, where she beat Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka to win the title. I thought I was on my way to having a great summer. She is also a former champion at Roland Garros, where she beat Serena in the final. She seemed unusually shy and unfocused in her first round match in Paris. What do you need to do differently and do you think you can get back on track?
• She is far from being 100% physically. Unlike Sabalenka, Rublev and Felix and the other old-fashioned deceased, I wouldn’t read much in this one.
Enjoy the bottom line, everyone!
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• Coco Gauff falls in the quarterfinals of the French Open
• Serena Williams loses to Elena Rybakina at the French Open
• Intermediate grades of the French Open
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.