Exclusive interview with Paul Annacone, Roger Federer’s coach.
Annacone has told The Tennis Space that it does not worry him that Federer has not played in a Wimbledon final for three years: “That’s not a concern for me. Roger’s won Wimbledon six times – it’s not like he doesn’t have the experience of being in the big moment.” Annacone also spoke of his excitement that Federer could leave Wimbledon as the world No 1: “But that’s not a primary motivating factor for Roger.”
Are you at all concerned that Roger has not played in a Wimbledon final for three years, and has lost in the quarter-finals the last two summers? “That’s not a concern for me. It’s great to have more experience of being there, and winning it six times, it’s not like he hasn’t done it before. He’s been in so many slam finals, semi-finals and quarter-finals. It’s not like he’s lacking the experience of being in the big moment. He’s been there so many times. It would worry me if he hadn’t had good performances in the slams recently. He hasn’t won one for a couple of years now, but he’s been in the semi-finals pretty regularly. He’s been right there knocking on the door, so it’s not exactly unfamiliar territory. I don’t think about that much.”
How are Roger’s preparations going? “They’re going well. It’s always nice to get some grass-court matches in before you get over here to Wimbledon. Obviously Halle was helpful, getting some matches in and reaching the final, and getting comfortable on the grass. It’s not nice to not win tournaments, especially for Roger, but to get to the final was a terrific way to lead into here. He’s feeling good in body and mind. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the tournament to start. These last four or five days before Wimbledon starts, there’s not a huge amount of work to be done. If there is, then you’re in trouble. There are just a few little things that we’re working on. It’s mostly just getting comfortable with the courts and the surroundings again.”
Do you notice an Immediate change in Roger’s mood when he walks into the All England Club? “I used to feel that more when I was working with Pete and Tim. With Tim especially, as he’s from here. But Roger seems to be so embracing of all the environments he’s in. He’s just a very comfortable human being in general. I think that helps. He just accepts the environments that he’s in. He accepts that there are some things he can’t control, and thinks, ‘let’s go play’. That makes life very manageable for me coaching him as just accepts situations and doesn’t waste a lot of emotional energy about things he has no control over.”
Roger could leave Wimbledon as the world No 1? “That’s exciting. It’s not a primary motivating factor for him. Roger thinks more about the bigger pictures. That’s why great players are great players. They don’t sit there thinking about these things. I’m sure last year Novak didn’t just sit there thinking, ‘okay, okay, I haven’t lost, I’m getting closer to No 1′. They look at the big picture. Roger wants to do well in every tournament he plays in, and there’s a continual process of evaluation. He wants to do well in all the majors. Wimbledon is Wimbledon. There are no two ways around that. This is the absolutely the pinnacle of tennis, and he wants to do really well here. He would love to win, and leave as the No 1, but it’s a long year, and there’s a lot of tennis, but he’s not going to be adding any unneeded pressure. Great players have perspective, and they know it what it is. They just do the best they can with what they have on the day.”