Bollettieri: don’t blast straight-talking Feds
Originally published on: 15/07/10 10:51
Coaching legend Nick Bollettieri has backed Roger Federer’s right to do some “straight talking” following his Wimbledon quarter-final defeat to Tomas Berdych, and believes the world No.3 still has Grand Slams left in him.
Federer, whose first-round five set scare at the hands of Alejandro Falla set the tone for a sub-par showing at SW19, was roundly criticised for his comments in the post-match press conference after coming up short of the Championships final for the first time since 2002.
The 16-time Grand Slam champion cited injuries to his back and leg as the main factors in the 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-4 defeat, leaving himself open to criticism as a bad loser. Even Berdych questioned whether the 28-year-old was “looking for some excuses.”
The media reacted to Federer’s excuse making with a mixture of ire and pity. Some deemed the comments ungracious, while others lamented the views of a man in denial of his own decline.
But Bollettieri, who has coached ten world No.1s during his illustrious coaching career, is siding with the Swiss.
“Federer is a great ambassador of tennis and he doesn’t make excuses – he talks straight,” said the 78-year-old, currently in India selecting youngsters for the IMG-Reliance scholarship programme.
“It was obvious that he was not moving well. It happens when your lower back starts troubling you. He began by spraying the balls all over. He was obviously not fit.”
While his locker room aura may never recover, Bollettieri says it is too soon to close the book on Federer’s career and believes he can still add to his unrivalled trophy haul.
“Federer can still win Grand Slams – he just needs to be fit,” added the Floridian. “It will be tough now though as players no longer fear playing him. When Pete Sampras had a slump, he did manage to come back but players in the locker room no longer were in his awe.
“Federer faces a strong challenge from Nadal who is in top form and his confidence is very high. Winning the US Open for Federer won’t be easy but if he wins it, he will start believing in himself.”
And Bollettieri, who coached Andre Agassi – the oldest ATP world No.1, who won his last Grand Slam title at the 2003 Australian Open at the age of 32 – expects the Swiss to be around for a few years yet.
“Nowadays, players have a longer shelf life and they play till 32 years at least. Federer is still young.”