Friday, August 17, 2007

Did chess help Roger Federer?

Closing in on Sampras: Federer refuses to get worked up about record

MASON, Ohio (AP) - If you believe Roger Federer, his pursuit of Pete Sampras' record of 14 Grand Slam titles happened almost by accident. This was not a kid who grew up dreaming of tennis stardom: Fascinated by basketball, Federer says, he decorated his bedroom with posters of Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal.

If you believe Federer, he is not “too obsessed” with getting the better of Rafael Nadal, no matter what it takes. Federer did, after all, give his on-court nemesis a ride on a private jet from last week's tournament in Montreal to this week's tournament here after learning that Nadal was having trouble finding a suitable commercial flight.

Yep, there they were, thousands of miles above the earth, Roger and Rafa, chatting with their girlfriends over a sushi lunch, like any pair of wealthy pals. Would McEnroe have done that for Connors? Would Woods for Mickelson?

If you believe Federer, he was an overly competitive, emotional wreck as a teen - and that was just when he played chess with his father, knocking pieces off the board with a swipe of his hand after losing. He took tennis setbacks hard back then, too, he says, smashing rackets and crying inconsolably after defeats.

Eventually, in his early 20s, Federer says, he learned to control such feelings, part of a general maturation that led to his steady on-court demeanor; tears shed nowadays are of the joyous variety.

If you believe Federer, he lives with self-doubt, with the worry that he'll awake one morning and no longer have the skills that have put him at No. 1 in the rankings for a record 185 consecutive weeks, that have led to a .935 winning percentage since 2004, that have earned him 11 Grand Slam titles heading into the Aug. 27-Sept. 9 U.S. Open, that awe opponents and fans and, yes, even Federer himself.

“I surprise myself, almost every day,” he said during an interview with The Associated Press this week. “The shots I come up with. And if I win, you know, I'm surprised I won. And if I won, I'm surprised I won that easily, sometimes, you know. I win a tough match, and I can't believe the way I got out of it. So, yeah, I get surprised over and over again.”

Here is the full story.
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Anonymous said...

Of course it did. Chess makes everyone better in everything they do.

Anonymous said...

Of course it did. Chess makes everyone better in everything they do.

Anonymous said...

This is actually very interesting. I never knew that Federer plays chess. Nice find Susan.

Anonymous said...

That must be quite an amazing jet, if they were "thousands of miles" above the earth!

Anonymous said...

"...knocking pieces off the board with a swipe of his hand after losing"

YUCK! How disrespectful to out beloved game!!! :o
i would NEVER do that!!!!

Anonymous said...

Tennis is both a mental (focus, positive and construction of points) and physical (condition and skills). Just like playing chess, take care of one game at a time.

Jeffrey Dach MD said...

What is Roger's Secret Weapon?

Tennis is a lot like chess in that position and attack are everything. One small mistake, and game over. Psychologic warfare is prominent in both games.

Of course, Roger Federer is a gifted athlete, but could he have a secret weapon that gives him an edge on the tennis court? You might be surprised to know that Roger Federer makes use of gadget called a BEMER. This is a portable pulsed magnetic field device which speeds healing of muscle and tendons after tough tennis matches. According to the BEMER web site, Roger and many other athletes have been using portable pulsed magnetic therapy units regularly.

Read more at my Roger Federer Newsletter

Jeffrey Dach MD