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Federer fires coach Tony Roche. Thank God!!!

Posted by tennisplanet on May 12, 2007

FINALLY. I have been harping about this for the last 200 years. Zombies, sleeping while I was at it, click here.

Hind sight is 20/20, but there was enough freaking evidence not to have gone in that direction in the first place. That’s a loss of 2 1/2 years. But what do they say ‘better late than never’.

Federer, please accept my standing ovation for taking the step. It is obvious you have been reading the posts on this site. I applaud your intelligence for taking my advice. Now I think you are smart.

For heaven’s sake, please make clinical research before hooking up with the next one. Basing it on the guy’s track record would be good start – something you clearly ignored with Roche.

My recommendation is Brad Gilbert. I know, I know – Murray and the stuff. But this is survival of the fittest. Everything is game. If Gilbert agrees, no one can fault him for moving on to a better job. That sounds fair to me.

What’s in it for Gilbert? A lot. He has an incredible track record with Agassi and Roddick and is extremely eager to pad his resume to bring another player to the top of the world – in your case, the world of clay.

I cannot think of anyone else worthy of the assignment. Plus, there is no question that he is not exactly thrilled with his association with Murray, despite the spike in rankings he has been able to generate for his pupil. Click here, for more on that.

Make this a fresh start for the second part of your career. This is the stretch where you will need to rely on many intangibles. It requires professional and meticulous tinkering of the tools in your arsenal to sustain your incredible run.

It needs a new regimen to improve your physical attributes to enable you to keep pace with the younger and more physical field of adversaries. Above all, it is imperative for your belief, confidence and psyche. With Brad in your corner, you will have that from day one, without ramping on to it.

Go for it and this could be a turning point. Good luck.

Here are Federer’s comments.

“I thank Tony very much for his efforts over these last years, during which I appreciated the 12-15 weeks per season we would work together,” Federer said on his site. “I am also grateful for the sacrifice he made, traveling so far from his home in Australia and leaving his family.”

He also added that he needed to “get back on the practice courts instead of the match courts.”


14 Responses to “Federer fires coach Tony Roche. Thank God!!!”

  1. Jenny said

    Point taken. I know you guys and a lot of Roger’s fans have been saying this for some time. I rather sat on the fence regarding this issue because I did feel he helped Roger in the early days, in particular with his net play and backhand. Clearly, Roger has identified a problem within himself and needs to move in a different direction – that’s good. I think Roger was keen to employ Darren Cahill at one time. Re: Brad Gilbert, great coach yes – I believe he’s in contract with the British LTA who pay for his services, rather than being employed by Murray? [correct me if I’m wrong].

  2. Fiona said

    Good news (whichever of them actually ended the relationship)!. I think, given his 2007 record thus far, that Federer should pull out of Hamburg and the French Open. He is too unfit and would not do well in either event in current form/condition. Instead, he should focus all his energies on his coaching situation, fitness, and defending his Wimbledon title on grass. Losing that title would be far worse than any defeat on clay. I think it’s time for a radical rethink and continuing his illprepared attempts on clay would only further undermine his already fragile mentality. Of course, if he comes out to win Hamburg and Paris then I for one would be delighted – shocked, disbelieving but delighted nonetheless.

  3. Jenny said

    I agree totally with Fiona. Roger should ‘forget’ about the clay this season. It is most important to defend his Wimbledon crown.

  4. Bob said

    Roche knows how to win on clay and how to coach clay court players. Federer has become intransigent and unwilling to take the steps necessary to face up Nadal and beat him on clay. Tony Roche is probably one of the top three tennis coaches in the world right now and the only advantage to Federer in splitting with him is that maybe when his next coach tells him he’ll never beat Nadal without slicing his backhand more he’ll take it to heart.

  5. Duncan Middleton said

    Not quite sure why anyone should thank God for Roger Federer splitting with Tony Roche – then to criticise his record is below the belt.

    Tony Roche through pure experience alone probably knows more than ANY other coach about preparation and match play, and like a Conservatoire Professor, has improved already very fine players such as Chris Lewis, Ivan Lendl, Pat Rafter, Dokic, Federer, beyond their natural abilities to such levels as to win grand slam tournaments everywhere.

    Let critics remember, it was Federer who pestered an initially reluctant Tony Roche, EXCLUSIVELY, to coach him and an agreement was reached that it should be on a PART TIME BASIS ONLY, not full time. All commentators and professional observers alike have noted how Federer’s came became even more refined than ever uncer the Australian’s guidance.

    Perhaps Federer’s inability to accept that he too is human, and can lose, especially when he doesn’t know when to stop, and is not at prime fitness. This happens to everybody. You can’t be no. one forever and all of the time. Let us hope that this was not a Federer tantrum (once a characteristic of his in his youth) after losing for a few weeks, and that he lives to regret it.

    Roche was never going to be a winner, taking an already world no. one player -things could only get worse, but Roche has done as well as anyone could possibly do. I would imagine every other player on the circuit must be bundling into a vast queue for the legendary Australian’s advice and coaching!!!!

  6. Michael said

    Begining of the end for Fed!

  7. Brad Thompson said

    Why are you guys taking shit bout Federer firing Roche. Roche was talented as he DID win a grandslam. None of you guys will accomplish that. Plus it was the French Open to, something even Federer could not earn. I think Federer’s best option right now is to call Roche back to his side or even better hit me up for some backhands lessons 😉

  8. Gerard said

    This is a timely thread to bring up again TP. Hindsight is a wondrous thing of course. You wrote this original article in 2007 ….. but when you read response 5 by Duncan, 6 by Michael and 7 by Brad they seem to be almost prophetic. I too have sensed the error in judgement Federer made since he ‘fired’ Rochey and suggested myself back then that that was a big mistake by him and it is a shame that Federer’s results started to misfire not long after he parted company with the great Roche.

    It is time that Federer realised this too and that is – if he genuinely wants to unshackle his bridesmaid role that he has gifted to Nadal – which he has now had virtually imprinted on his psyche for the last 2 years, which funnily enough coincides with his departure from Rochey. Roche and only Roche can get Federer to dig inside himself and reinvent his mercurial talents and bring his ‘A’ game back to get Nadal, and Federer knows it. Is he just too proud or stubborn to request it though? Gilbert is without question definitely not the man and maybe the next best is Darren Cahill. But Federer needs a coach without question and the longer he resists making that call to Tony Roche the sadder the final epithet on his career will become which prior to his rather mediocre 2008 season by his standards, was almost a certainty that he was a serious contender for GOAT status, but sadly this cannot ever be so now with such a dismal h2h (6 – 13) with his nemesis and no seeming way to correct it. Nadal owns Federer’s head on court and all credit to Nadal and his Uncle Tony for masterminding and maintaining this stranglehold over Federer. If Federer can secure Rochey on a full-time basis as his coach (not the ridiculous part-time role he had him engaged on previously) then he could reverse this domination Nadal has over him. Roche is a genius coach and together he and Federer can displace Sampras’s records which is so tantalisingly close but at the same time a gorilla not a monkey on his back and he should have passed this record well and truly by now, and he would have almost certainly done so I’m certain if he had kept Rochey in his corner. An all out assault to secure Roche on a full time role by Federer should be made post-haste and definitely before the clay court season begins.

    When you see the statistics in the thread posted in Tennis Planet of how many grand slams have been won by players past the age of 28, other than Spongebob’s six, Only Agassi has negotiated father time with aplomb with his amazing 4 grand slam titles after his 28th birthday. Only Lendl, Connors and Sampras each managed to win 2 Grand Slam titles after the age of 28 this sort of tells us that time is now also a huge enemy of Federer’s not to mention, the hungry lions; Djokovic, Murray, Gulbis, Tsonga, Simon, Verdasco and others chomping at his heels and Nadal’s. Federer’s next birthday in August this year he turns 28.

    So the equation is simple really, finish his career with some wins over Nadal which through seedings has to be in finals and to do this he needs Tony Roche as his full time coach asap or sooner. Father time and the ‘lions’ will very soon start changing the landscape for Federer in the Grand Slams and his tenure as a perennial finalist or winner in Grand Slams is going to start getting tougher and tougher and his exit earlier unless guided and managed through this under the guidance of a coach of the stature of Tony Roche from now on. Since writing this thread TP, this path you, I and others have sensed and suggested regarding his need of a coach is now a must for Federer and the results since this thread was written has seen the decline in Grand Slam titles he has won …. 3 titles ….. Wimbledon (only just) in 5 sets over Nadal in 2007, The US Open in 2007 and his last was the US open in 2008. His previous 3 years he had won at least 3 Grand Slams a year. He has now lost in his own backyard at Wimbledon (2008) and on hard court at this years (2009) Australian open against a clay courter and again Nadal. I hope we get to see Federer challenge his main rival and that his head when playing Nadal, Rochey is the key to this being possible.


  9. Jenny said

    Hi Gerard,

    If you remember, in 2005 Federer sought Roche as a full time coach to hone his net skills and guide him to a French Open victory. It was Roche who didn’t want a full time coaching role because of family commitments, travelling etc., therefore Roger employed him on a part-time basis, it was possibly Roger wanting his services more than Tony begging for employment. Obviously the situation didn’t gel, and they parted company in 2007 after the Volandri loss and let’s not forget the double Canas disaster earlier [or did they part company then?]. I totally respect Tony Roche, both as a former champion and coach, but he didn’t get him over the Nadal effect on clay from 2005-2007, and how often do we see Roger serve/volley, so why is he likely to get him over the Nadal effect now? Also, whenever I saw Tony in Roger’s box, he often looked disinterested and half asleep. I also think we have to drop the claycourt tag from Nadal. In fact the majority of the Spanish boys are all court players, Verdasco was raised on a hard court. Personally I don’t think Roger needs a formal coach as such, but he certainly needs a fresh pair of eyes on the tennis front, other than those in his team, and with all due respect that includes Mirka.

  10. Gerard said

    Well said Jenny …. your bottom line is what is needed a new fresh set of eyes and as you said diplomatically this is no slant on Mirca ….. I still believe though as most players on the circuit would, that Tony Roche is the most respected doyen of tennis coaches and whether or not his previous links with Federer were not suited to Rochey to go full-time, time has changed and Roche would see the finish line for Federer and knows any commitment he saddles up for will be for at most a 2 year period. The fact Roche didn’t produce for Federer a Roland Garros trophy in the short time he worked with him in his part-time role is more a testament to Nadal’s prowess and dominance on clay which no one can but marvel at and secondly he certainly got Federer much closer to matching it with Nadal then since he has when they departed company. Jose Higueras’s role resulted in the most lop-sided result in Nadal’s favour ever seen in a French Open final, with Federer winning only 4 games and a Bagel in the final set …. so had Rochey been kept on longer and in a larger role I dare say the opportunity to hoist the French Open trophy for sure would not have been an easy feat with Nadal’s supreme clay court pedigree that he has developed but he would have been extending Nadal to 5 sets and maybe if given some breaks going his way a victory over Nadal may have been possible….. I would say Federer would be the one to know (privately) that he needs a coach and having worked with Roche previously he would know he needs him in his corner again is my guess.

    As for Roche coming across as disinterested and half asleep as you describe, I would say that you may not know the calibre of the man is my take on that comment and not a very respectful or true summation of the man. He is not a celebrity or attention seeking coach. He is a very knowledgeable and humble man and his appearance that you describe in fact would be the exact opposite as to how he would have actually felt emotionally in watching Federer apply his game on the day that they had worked on in training and maybe what you saw was Federer not playing to a game plan they had devised, so he may have been non emotive, sure … but disinterested, no way, not in his make-up.

    I hope you agree for Federer to match Nadal in the rest of the year’s Grand Slam’s if they indeed meet in the finals, he is handicapped by his inability to beat him mentally. If Nadal had maintained his fitness till September and made it to the US Open final, he would be holding all four Slam titles concurrently. I agree Nadal is no longer just a clay-courter he is an all-courter, but he has no peer on clay is what I meant to say ……

    Thanks for your reply.


  11. Duncan Middleton said

    It has been 18 months since my last contribution to the Federer/Roche saga, and with this passage of time has emerged some interesting facts:

    1) Federer has been in decline since the split – An utter thrashing at Roland Garros, and a long Wimbledon final with Federer always having to fight back and never dominating – just some occasional flashes of brilliance with which to make a more respectable defeat – not the Federer of the Roche collaboration years.

    2) Nadal is so impressively strong and fit that his indestructable baseline game has blown everybody off court – especially those foolish enough to counterattack in the same way. Federer was so close under the last Roland Garros final with Rochey, that another year with him could well have brought the French championship to Federer.

    3) Andy Murray, seems to beat Federer quite regularaly now, even if he doesn’t necessarily win as many tournaments (for now) – this proves that the Federer game is getting more and more predictable, and therefore beatable – nobody doubts that Federer is a joy to watch, but his hunger has essentially gone. With tens of millions in the bank, how much longer could you care?

    4) Time has marched on, and there are lots of younger hyenas out there, and the Federer lion is getting old and worn, although you wouldn’t disrespect him just yet.

    As I said before, the reluctant Rochey was never going to be an out and out winner taking on the already world number one, let alone on a part time basis, but Federer insisted. Rochey could only refine the Federer game more, which he succeeded in doing, as many commentators and critics noted abundantly. If, as Federer may have implied, there was a lack of communication between him and Rochey towards the end, then, with Rochey having absolutely nothing to prove, maybe it was for Federer to either listen to Rochey’s strategies for winning the French, rather than sulking at a period of bad form and blaming anyone else (i.e. Rochey) but him.

    Rochey now has the much injured Hewitt in tow, and it remains to be seen if Hewitt can recover in the long term and get another grand slam – I fear this will be rather more difficult, for both of them. Hewitt will probably be Rochey’s last protege, and if he doesn’t recover, I can see both of them retiring simultaneously.

    Federer has got to convince himself and work back up to top gear again, but I doubt he has the self-discipline and self-motivation anymore. Watch out for more Nadal v Murray, with others not far behind. Like Borg at the end of his career, Federer looks disinterested, and year after year after year of just singles tournaments becomes unceasingly repetitive and mentally tiresome.

    So here’s a question – with John McEnroe being, for me at least, the last of the true artists of the game, champion of many singles AND doubles,

    am I seeing a pattern of over-pushed, over-specialising singles players who expire far too early, either because:

    1) they are paid so much nowadays, they don’t really care after a while,

    2) they are happy to become one hit wonders, and embrace too much celebrity status with their eye off the game thereafter,

    3) they have no love of the true artistry of the game by not selecting to play any doubles, confirming their wish for permanent retirement from the game in their 20s, especially among women

    Enjoy your retirement Roger. Only a miracle of rediscovery of form will save you now!9

  12. M said

    Duncan –

    Rafa plays doubles.

    Roger played doubles with Yves at IW.

    There was an article that appeared in Paris just this morning about JMac offering to help Roger, so interesting that you should bring that up.

  13. Duncan Middleton said


    Yes, Rafa and Federer do play doubles, probably as much as i do. They are not serious in that field, and I have noted for ages that good doubles players often make top singles players, but not so much the other way round. When it comes to any tournament, with the notable exception of the Davis Cup, you will only find those two in singles only, and I guess for them, that’s the way it is.

    As for John McEnroe, a gifted lefty and great doubles player also, like Rochey, he would indeed be an interesting coach for Federer. So long as Federer can come out of his “stubborn I know it all”, mode, and listen and carry out the advice of his coach, then all could return to him as before. Had he done that with Rochey, then he would surely have passed the Sampras record by now.

    But ultimately, would he treat JMac as well as he did Rochey in the longer term? Ask any player, commentator or critic: if you can’t get on with the likes of Rochey, you really have a problem – no coach on the planet has his experience of top level play at singles and doubles, playing against all manner of legends in monumental matches, and he is one of the nicest guys around. If you can’t get on with, and eat a little humble pie with a universally respected coach of that calibre, change your day job! Good luck JMac.

    Nevertheless, I still contend that Nadal and Murray are far more hungry, and younger, and Federer needs to seriously come out of his “seond best still pays me ok” slumber to overcome the younger rottweilers snapping at his heels. With £40,000,000, give or take a million, and a more broody girlfriend in tow, I say again, he should start to learn to enjoy his retirement.

    Hope Federer reads this – (fat chance!), a bit of reverse psychology just might get him to wake up! Here’s for dreaming…

  14. Nic said

    No comments since April? You’re all experts … but Fed just proved all of us wrong once more!

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