Daily Bagel: Catching up with Jimmy Connors

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• Check out this video of ATP Uncovered catching up with Jimmy Connors.

• Peter Bodo wonders whether Roger Federer’s decision to play a limited schedule will backfire.

The pressure to perform at a high standard will only increase in direct proportion to the number of events Federer plays. He’s between a rock and a hard place: He may be happy to play just 14 tournaments (his schedule this year), which means that he’ll be playing four fewer events than the minimum requirement for mere mortals on the tour, those who haven’t earned similar exemptions. Every tournament will count toward his ranking, so one or two unexpectedly poor results will have an outsized impact on his position. And that means Federer could, at some point, end up meeting a Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal as early as the quarterfinals. (The latter came to pass at Indian Wells, when Nadal was ranked No. 5.)

Federer is, knowingly, taking a lot for granted—starting with his own superiority. Last year at this time, he’d already played seven events (including Davis Cup) and had accumulated 2,855 ranking points. This year, though, he’s eliminated three events (including Davis Cup) and has earned just 1,170 points.

Heather Watson has been diagnosed with mono. Given the illness’ varied effects (Federer recovered, Robin Soderling has not), let’s cross our fingers Watson comes out on the good side.

Coco Vandeweghe scored a big win over Marion Bartoli in the first round of the Monterrey Open. The two combined for 30 double faults.

• Nice interview from Lindsay Gibbs with Vania King, who beat good friend Yaroslava Shvedova in three sets in the first round of the Family Circle Cup.

“When you’re young, you go out there and you don’t have a lot of pressure,” she said with a laugh. “Nobody knows who you are or how to play you. I broke through and did well for about a year, but then I struggled with motivation. It’s always been a thing for me, motivation.”

“I never went into tennis as my choice. My dad coached me since I was little and I always felt like I had to play, it was never that I wanted to play.”

After 2006, King struggled with the balance of being a regular teenager and a professional tennis player. Sensing a need for change, she made the brave decision to part ways with her Taiwanese father. “We didn’t have a good relationship at the end,” she said, suggesting that cultural differences were a big part of the problem. “He was a coach and not the father anymore, and I basically had to break off the relationship and move on. It was hard for both of us, but it was really hard for me. I was a teenager, just 17. I was miserable and he was really upset with me.” Though she was the one who made the decision to part ways, there were still many moments of doubt. “It was really difficult, but I think it was ultimately a good decision. You’ve got to do what you think is right.”

• Andreas Seppi has a new trainer.

• Non-tennis: Baseball’s popularity after the Civil War resulted in part from how the game was played regularly in prison camps during the war.

  • Published On Apr 03, 2013

    Peter Bodo’s myopic analysis is based on the assumption that a consistent top ranking and winning grand slams are Federer’s biggest priorities. However, Federer’s subpar performances and results since 2012 Cincinnati indicate that these ATP-related goals were not critical to him, for the short-term at least.


    Federer’s 2013 year-to-date ranking points (1,170 from 4 events)  will be his lowest points in the first four months of a season in 13 years since the 2001 season (1,145 from 10 events using today’s rankings points system). Federer seems to have taken his foot off the gas in preparing for events during the past seven months, regardless of his short-term back injuries. If defending his ranking points was really important to him, Federer would not have taken a trip to visit his charity foundation project in South Africa in between the Rotterdam and Dubai ATP events – rather than rest his body and prepare more for Dubai (it's interesting that he did not schedule the charity trip while he was off the tour these six weeks). As well, if the rankings and winning majors were his primary goal he would not have wasted time over the past five years since 2008 performing the time-consuming role of president of the ATP Player Council.


    Once Federer won 2012 Cincinnati, it effectively allowed him to cruise past the 300 week milestone in No. 1 rankings. With the grand slam record and rankings record, Federer has probably secured his legacy for this generation at least. [Federer holds the record of winning the most grand slam titles (five) after reaching age 27 and co-holds with Ivan Lendl the record of winning the most slam titles (six) after reaching age 26 – e.g., for Nadal to even tie Federer ‘s 17 slams, he would have to break Federer’s record by winning six slams after his 27th birthday].


    In the past eight months since Wimbledon, the highlight for Federer was probably his South America exhibition tour. After all, it grows a new business model and revenue stream for him for the next several years.


    Federer’s limited schedule cannot backfire, even if he takes a hit in the rankings. After all, as Bodo admits: Federer has “earned the right, officially and sentimentally, to play as often or as little as he likes.”Most tennis fans will understand if 'aging Federer' drops in the rankings (even though he is probably still physically capable of making another run if he was motivated to put in the effort). Andre Agassi remained on tour as an iconic player and elder statesman for almost four more years after his final slam title, winning only five more smaller titles.  Like Agassi, Federer simply remaining on tour will continue to have positive impact on his massive sponsorship, endorsement and exhibition earnings (which is surely one of his main goals now). Unlike Agassi, Federer also needs to stick around to remain the ATP Player Council president and implement his vision for the men’s game.  If and when Federer chooses to put in the effort and goes on a spurt on the ATP tour for a few months, his ranking won’t matter. It will generate excitement as most of the tennis world will sit up, take notice and cheer him.