Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Fed Treatment

Some people choose to retire, and they retreat to their home on the hills, read a lot of books, take up bingo and studio dancing. And some people scorch some earth on the way out.
Julien Benneteau chose the latter and his target? Roger Federer. Yeah. He did this interview on French radio that kinda lit up tennis Twitter this week. You should read it.
What Benneteau is talking about isn't necessarily breaking news. Federer is a top-ranked player and top players get all types of perks -- above and below board. And some of this, to be honest, amounts to not much more than spilled tea. Complaining about Fed not wanting to get involved in Davis Cup changes until a decision had been made about the scheduling? Quibbling over Federer's Laver Cup exhibition tournament disrupting the calendar year? Meh.
But Federer apparently paying Nick Kyrgios three-quarters of a million dollars to play the Laver Cup? That is a chunk of change. Still, though. Tea. And the exorbitant fees that Federer nabs? That doesn't bother me so much, either.
Where Benneteau's commentary gets interesting is when he talks about Craig Tiley's involvement in Laver Cup -- and how that can benefit Federer. Tiley is the head of Tennis Australia and the chief organizer of the Australian Open.

The Australian Open, in terms of outdoor conditions, is easily the most brutal among Slams. If Federer is using his relationship with Tiley to get night matches while others are subject to the luck of the draw, that's not cool. And it almost has to be that he's using their relationship, because there isn't another player in any other tournament that I can think of who enjoys such consistently comfortable match conditions and placement. Not Serena or Venus Williams at Wimbledon. Not even Rafa in France. Either Tiley shouldn't be involved in Laver Cup or Federer should quit his involvement in Laver Cup until he retires.
The Frenchman also alleges that Federer's agent, Tony Godsick (and also Mary Jo Fernandez' husband, I believe) put his foot down on Fed playing on Louis Armstrong court at the U.S. Open -- and they listened. I'm pretty sure agents aren't supposed to go around ensuring his player's complete comfort at the expense of everything else. I thought it was to make sure he got paid. 
It's also alleged that the main reason the ATP doesn't do on-court coaching is because of Federer. That one sounds a bit fishy -- I'm pretty sure I've heard Rafael Nadal and others reject the idea, too. Was it because of Federer's influence? Good question. 
So, yes, some of these revelations are troublesome. But here's the thing about tennis. Even if you get the best court and the best time slot and more money under the table than everyone else, the individual player still has to deliver results. Federer hasn't done much of that this year, apart from Australia. Still, the preference-for-treatment issue with Tiley is, to say the least, a problem they might want to fix. 
Of course, Federer is pretty nonchalant about all of this. He was asked about it during the ATP Finals, and basically was like, meh: "I don't really feel in the mood during a World Tour Finals to discuss that topic, to be honest."
Guessing that mood won't change anytime soon.

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