Daily Bagel: Murray at SPOTY awards; Wawrinka disappointed in Federer

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The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.

• Video: Andy Murray may not have won the BBC’s annual Sports Personality of the Year award (Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins took home the prize), but he contributed to one of the unintentionally hilarious moments of the night. Lennox Lewis didn’t hear the announcement, which left Murray in the awkward position of presenting the third-place trophy to … himself.

• Speaking of Murray, in an eerie piece of timing this story was posted on Friday morning before the events in Newtown, Conn., with recent quotes from Murray on changing the perception of his hometown of Dunblane, Scotland — site of the gun massacre at his primary school that killed 16 children — from a place of tragedy to one of hope. As a result of the Dunblane shootings, the UK banned private ownership of handguns.

• ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi did a short documentary on that tragic day and Murray’s role in bringing pride back to the town. You can watch it here.

• The Newtown tragedy touches the tennis community: Former ATP CEO Adam Helfant’s niece, Grace McDonnell, was one of the victims. She was 6 years old.

• Congratulations to Madison Keys and Rhyne Williams, who secured main-draw wild cards into the Australian Open by winning the USTA’s wild-card playoff last week. Keys, 17, ranked No. 135, defeated Stanford star Mallory Burdette 7-5, 6-3 in the final, while Williams, No. 190, beat Tim Smyczek 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.

• Stanislas Wawrinka tells Swiss site that he is disappointed in Roger Federer’s refusal to treat Davis Cup as a priority. Per’s translation:

“Roger has been saying for years that he wants to play the Davis Cup and it is important, but that’s apparently not the case,” Wawrinka said. “It’s a shame how he interprets things to suit his own opinion. Davis Cup is not a priority for him at the moment.”

• Sam Stosur’s coach, David Taylor, has stepped down as Australia’s Fed Cup captain.

• A $125,000 WTA tournament will be held in Cali, Colombia, in February.

• Tournament entry news: Caroline Wozniacki is confirmed for Kuala Lumpur in February. … Venus Williams will play the Paris Indoors. … Ana Ivanovic and Maria Kirilenko will play the Pattaya Open in Pattaya City, Thailand. … Mike and Bob Bryan have committed to the BB&T Atlanta Open.

• Casey Dellacqua has withdrawn from Hopman Cup due to a foot injury. She was set to pair with Bernard Tomic for the event. No replacement has been announced.

• A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Wilson Sporting Goods. “The plaintiffs charge that Wilson makes air-injected (hollow) tennis rackets which contributed to hundreds of millions of wrist, elbow and shoulder injuries since the inception of air-injected rackets in 1978.”

• Federer won Sportsperson of the Year in Switzerland. In other news, snow is cold.

• Angelique Kerber came in second place in the voting for Germany’s Sportswoman of the Year.

• The Slice lists 12 of the most memorable off-court moments in 2012.

• Former ATP No. 7 Peter McNamara is now coaching Australia’s Matt Ebden.

• McWozilroy took in a Heat game over the weekend.

• Non-tennis: Slate lists 20 overlooked books in 2012.

• Bonus Video: Some of my favorite Maria Sharapova moments involve her attempts to get through awkward sycophantic interviews without losing her patience. Here’s an example from Brazil.

See or read something that you enjoyed and want to share? Feel free to email or tweet us links to pieces from around the Internet that may have slipped past our radar.

  • Published On Dec 17, 2012

    The thruth is that Federer has never been all that invested in Davis Cup. To claim he lost the number one ranking because of it is ridiculous. If anything, he held it longer over the years because Nadal, Djokovic, even Roddick and Hewitt earlier on DID play it every time. Federer has NOT accomplished everything there is in tennis... Davis Cup counts and Wawrinka isn't chump change as a teammate.


    I find it funny that the author says 'in other news, snow is cold' insinutating that Federer wins the "Sportsperson of the Year in Switzerland' every year.  He does not.  He hadn't won it in like 5 years before winning it again the other night.  As for Wawrinka... what else is new?  Playing DC is a much tougher prospect for Fed than it is for Wawrinka.  Fed has to carry the team and has all the pressure... plus Fed is the one making it far in all the other tournaments as opposed to Stan. 


    In BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award, Murray came in third with only 14% of the vote against Bradley Wiggins 30% and Jessica Ennis 23%. The British public had the good sense to decide that Murray's year was not worthy of the sportsman of the year award, yet certain tennis writers on this side of the Atlantic were senselessly cheerleading for Murray to be awarded tennis player of the year and even sportsman of the year ahead of the more deserving Djokovic and Federer.


    Federer won Swiss Athlete of the Year 2012 for the first time since 2007: Federer won 44% of votes, beating  second placed cross-country skier Dario Cologna (20%) by a wide margin. Federer's total of five awards ties him with record holder Vreni Schneider (alpine ski racer in the late 1980s).


    Video clip: scroll to 2:14:00 onwards for the final segment on the Swiss Athlete of the Year featuring Federer and Federer's acceptance speech (Swiss German) during the standing ovation... (it's immediately after the Queen musical "We Will Rock You"). Federer went directly to the awards show after arriving in Zurich, Switzerland at 6PM from Colombia on a 12 hour, 9,000 km flight.


    Swiss sports elite respect and admire Federer. According to major Swiss newspaper Blick: the news that Federer was a surprise guest at the Sports Awards "spread like wildfire among the invited guests, the excitement was huge". ... Immediately after the show Federer flew off at 11 PM in a private jet to Dubai, UAE to join Mirka and his twin daughters. Apparently, this caused disappointment among Swiss sports stars still at the awards. Roger is also immensely popular among the athletes, all want to be photographed with him. "I looked for Roger after the show, because I really wanted for my husband Reto take a joint picture of us. Sorry, but Federer was already gone, " said Nicola Spirig, herself just newly-crowned Sportswoman of the Year. Figure skater Sarah Meier is a big fan of Roger: "I wanted to get an autograph for my sister really, unfortunately, Roger was already on the way to the airport. What a pity.” Olympic snowboard champion Tanja Frieden: "With Federer we are all groupies. I have a joint picture with him at the Olympics." The trophy was home safely stored on the laptop. The second-placed Dario Cologna regrets not getting a souvenir photo: "But honestly, I regret it now that I did not take ​​a photo with him." U23 mountainbike world champion Jolanda Neff got the help of awards presenter to get Roger's autograph during the live broadcast (Neff replied in euphoria: "What a lovely evening. Roger is my hero.").


    Not a single major Swiss newspaper bothered to report Wawrinka's comments to (which has been out for four days). The last time the Swiss media made a big deal of Wawrinka's comments was during the Basel tournament. At the time, Swiss media polls showed that majority of Swiss people agree with Federer's decision on Davis Cup.


    Wawrinka claims that Davis Cup is a labor of love for him: "I always gives the maximum for the team".


    - Compare their first 13 Davis Cup ties: From 2004 to 2009, Wawrinka played 11 of 13 Davis Cup ties for Switzerland (he did not play 2007 Spain and 2004 France). From 1999 to 2004, Federer played 13 of 13 Davis Cup ties.


    - Compare their first 17 Davis Cup ties: Wawrinka played 37 matches in 17 Davis Cup ties from 2004 to 2012. Federer played 46 matches in his first 17 Davis Cup ties from 1999 to 2008.


    If Davis Cup was not important to Federer, he would not have played 58 matches in 22 Davis Cup ties from 1999 to 2012. Only two players in Swiss history have played more Davis Cup matches: Heinz Gunthardt (64) and Jakob Hlasek (79). Federer will surely pass Gunthardt's 64 matches.


    In tennis history, Federer has played more Davis Cup matches than most great players – more than Rod Laver, Pete Sampras, Bjorn Borg, Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Ken Rosewall, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Don Budge, Bill Tilden, Jack Kramer, Pancho Gonzales, John Newcombe, Lew Hoad, Frank Sedgman, Tony Trabert, Rene Lacoste, etc. The only great players with more Davis Cup matches than Federer are Stefan Edberg (70), John McEnroe (69), Boris Becker (66), Mats Wilander (61) and Guillermo Vilas (81). By the time Federer retires, probably only the fringe great player Vilas will have more Davis Cup matches than Federer.


    Federer has put more effort in Davis Cup than Djokovic, Nadal and Murray in the last two years. In 2012 Djokovic, Nadal and Murray all deserted their Davis Cup teams to focus on the ATP Tour. Indeed, Djokovic failed to win even a set of Davis Cup singles/doubles in over two years since December 5, 2010! When Djokovic last played a full season of Davis Cup in 2010, he suffered his worst season on the ATP Tour since becoming a top 10 player in 2007. Nadal deserted his Davis Cup team the entire 2007, 2010 and 2012 seasons – as well as the 2008 Davis Cup finals in Argentina (Nadal has failed to play any Davis Cup tie outside Europe in his career). Would Djokovic have been No. 1 in 2011-2012 or Nadal in 2010 if they played Davis Cup? Unlikely.


    Wawrinka fails to mention that Federer has played the maximum number of Davis Cup ties in 2011 and in 2012: four consecutive ties involving 10 best-of-five-set matches. 31-year old Federer deserves a rest instead of playing a fifth consecutive tie. Federer has to play both singles and doubles to carry the team. Federer has said that each Davis Cup tie costs him to sacrifice a Masters tournament for rest and recovery. Part of the reason Federer lost the No. 1 ranking in 2012 was because he played the away Davis Cup tie in Netherlands (three best-of-five matches) after the 2012 US Open -- as a consequence he could not play Beijing/Tokyo to warm up for Shanghai. At this stage of Federer's career, he should stop wasting his time and body on Davis Cup.


    What's worse is that Davis Cup is a futile and wasteful activity for Federer because Wawrinka is inconsistent as a singles and doubles player -- even when Switzerland chooses clay courts to help Wawrinka win his matches. Federer often ends up playing on three consecutive days because Wawrinka loses his singles matches and does not play well in doubles with Federer (Wawrinka has been Federer's worst doubles partner in terms of win-loss). The Swiss tennis federation has failed to recruit  good foreign players to beef up the Swiss team, the way Kazahkstan has done.


    Davis Cup has lost its prestige, and Fed's greatness does not depend on the Davis Cup titles he has or number of matches he has played. No one bothers to remember that Pete Sampras skipped the 1998 Davis Cup semifinals in order to focus on winning his sixth year-end No. 1 ranking.


    Wawrinka has a distorted sense of Federer’s priorities: the goals of a professional tennis player should be to win big titles and achieve the highest possible ranking on the ATP Tour, not waste time on Davis Cup.


    Could financial motives be motivating Wawrinka? Wawrinka made only $900,000 in prize money from the 2012 ATP Tour. The more Davis Cup Wawrinka plays, the more he gets paid for playing Davis Cup by the Swiss tennis federation (Wawrinka is under contract to play DC). Having Federer on the team increases the chances that Wawrinka will play more Davis Cup -- and make more money from Davis Cup. Is the Swiss tennis federation using Wawrinka to put public pressure on Federer to play the next tie?


     @badgernation74   No GOAT in any sport is expected to accomplish everything there is in their sport – they just have to be overall best on those few cardinal measures of greatness. A search of “Federer” in the link of records below shows that Federer’s name pops up much more than any other great player.


    Davis Cup does not count as an essential measure in tennis -- otherwise experts like Rod Laver, Jack Kramer, Tennis Channel Channel, etc would not have put Federer on top of their list of great players.


    It’s completely untrue to claim “the truth is that Federer has never been all that invested in Davis Cup.”


    Federer's DC record from age 17 to 26 (1999 to 2007) is superior to the records of the 25-to-26 year old Nadal, Djokovic and Murray who played their first DC tie in 2004, 2004 and 2005 respectively. Therefore, we can compare the first 9 DC seasons: of Roger, Rafa, Novak, Andy (it’s 8 seasons for Andy, as his first tie was in 2005):


    Federer (1999 to 2007, age 17 to 26):

    - 4.89 rubbers/matches per year (44 rubbers over 9 years);

    - played 16 ties (84%) out of Switzerland’s 19 ties;

    - played 9 DC seasons (did not miss his first 11 consecutive seasons, until 2010).

    - did not miss a tie in his first 6 seasons of Davis Cup (13 for 13 ties from 1999 to 2004)


    Nadal (2004 to 2012, age 17 to 26):

    - 3 rubbers/matches per year (27 rubbers over 9 years);

    - played 14 ties (50%) out of Spain’s 28 ties;

    - played 6 DC seasons (skipped Davis Cup entirely in 2007, 2010, 2012)


    Djokovic (2004 to 2012, age 16 to 25):

    - 3.33 rubbers/matches per year (30 rubbers over 9 years);

    - played 17 ties (74%) out of Serbia’s 23 ties;

    - played 8 DC seasons (skipped 2012)


    Murray (2005 to 2012, age 17 to 25):

    - 2.75 rubbers/matches per year (22 rubbers over 8 years);

    - played 11 ties (61%) of Britain’s 18 ties;

    - played 6 DC seasons (skipped 2010, 2012).


    Your argument that Federer “held (the No. 1 ranking) longer over the years because Nadal, Djokovic, even Roddick and Hewitt earlier on DID play it every time” fails the fact check:


    -  Nadal: After 2005, Federer and Nadal both played eight Davis Cup ties (Nadal played only 8 of Spain’s 15 ties, so he did not “play it every time”). However Federer played more Davis Cup matches: Federer 20 matches to Nadal’s 16 matches after 2005.


    - Djokovic: Novak skipped one of the two Davis Cup ties while Federer was No. 1 from July 2009 to May 2010, so Novak also did not “play it every time”. Though Djokovic became the  No. 3 player between July 2007 to August 2008 while Federer was No. 1, Djokovic was too inconsistent and too far back in ranking points to challenge Federer for the top ranking – though Novak did challenge Nadal for the No. 2 ranking in the first half of 2008.


    - Hewitt: Lleyton played 17 Davis Cup matches (including 4 matches outside the World Group against puffballs Thailand and Taipei), which was not much different from Federer’s 14 matches while Federer was No. 1 from February 2004 to August 2008. Hewitt skipped one tie during this period, so he did not “play it every time”. Hewitt's best year to challenge Federer during this period was in 2004 (No. 3) when Federer played full schedule of Davis Cup in 2004.


    - Roddick: Andy did not play any doubles in his Davis Cup career. Thus playing Davis Cup was less of a burden on Roddick than on Federer. Though Federer has played 58 Davis Cup matches, Roddick’s Davis Cup career is only 45 matches. Roddick did play 27 Davis Cup matches (compared to Fed's 14 matches) while Fed was No. 1 between February 2004 to August 2008 -- but Roddick's best years to challenge Federer during this period was in 2004 (No. 2) and 2005 (no. 3). Federer played full schedule of Davis Cup in 2004.




    Good points. Younger Wawrinka played only 55 singles matches (including Davis Cup) in each of the last three seasons.  Stan's maximum was 59 matches in 2008. This year 31-year old Federer played 83 singles matches (including Davis Cup) -- 50% more matches than Wawrinka. Indeed, this year Federer played more Davis Cup matches than Wawrinka. Davis Cup imposes a much greater physical, mental and scheduling burden on Federer than on Wawrinka.


    Wawrinka's Davis Cup win-loss is mediocre: he is only 2-9 in doubles (his only two wins came from partnering Federer) and 15-11 in singles for a combined win-loss of 17-20. Stepanek, Tipsarevic and Ferrer are all much better number two players on their teams than Wawrinka is on the Swiss team: Czech Rep's Radek Stepanek is 14-2 in doubles and 12-11 in singles; Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic is 7-3 in doubles and 32-13 in singles; and David Ferrer is 23-4 in singles. 


    Federer is 11-8 in doubles (with Wawrinka only 2-3) and 32-7 in singles -- Federer's 58 Davis Cup matches for Switzerland have been futile without an effective second player to support him. Federer cannot carry the team by himself unless Wawrinka steps up and/or the Swiss tennis federation recruits a better doubles partner for Federer.

    SI_BTBaseline moderator

     @Michael9 Appreciate the comment, Michael9. Props on the number crunching. 



      Thanks. If Federer had hired a publicist (like Nadal and Djokovic have), they could have done their own number crunching and clarified the misconceptions regarding Federer's Davis Cup efforts.