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Should Roger Federer Play in the Davis Cup Again?

Should Roger Federer Play in the Davis Cup Again?

The 2013 Davis Cup is underway with a range of ties taking place across the world; notably Switzerland are playing without Federer in their tie against defending Champions the Czech Republic.

Federer has been getting some stick from the fans & Swiss press about not playing, which I think is completely unjustified. To be honest, if you criticise Roger for not playing Davis Cup, you’re not a Fed fan, nor are you a tennis fan. Period.

For me personally and the majority of the top players, the Davis Cup is low on the tennis agenda. It’s boring, bears little meaning in a players overall career and is just something that they play in if there’s nothing better to be doing.

I get the fact it’s good for fans that have tickets to watch tennis in their own country, they see players close up in a more relaxed environment which is fun, but other than that it doesn’t offer much. It’s almost like an Exhibition tournament, just a nice run out for the players and something for the fans to enjoy. So how can you berate a player for choosing not to play in it?

I would personally much rather see players prioritise Grand Slams and Masters 1000 tournaments because those are the ones that feature the highest level of competition and are far more entertaining for the fans.

Should Federer play in the Davis Cup again?

Federer Davis Cup Interview

No, he shouldn’t. Not unless it makes perfect sense to do so. This in my opinion is unlikely. Roger has pointed out his goal for the remainder of his career is longevity and still to compete at the highest level.

The Davis Cup doesn’t lend itself to those goals, it’s a low quality tournament and nobody ever extended their career or became a better player because of it.

It often means travelling to far out places to play in pointless ties against other nations who don’t take it seriously either. We all saw how playing in the Netherlands last year was a bad idea for Roger and impacted on the remainder of 2012. The good news is that it seems he has learnt his lesson this time around and decided to make the right choices by skipping it.

This time around Roger would have had to rush back from Australia to play against the Czech Republic and then have little preparation time for Rotterdam. At 31 years of age that doesn’t make sense and could easily negatively impact on other tournaments throughout the season.

The Swiss nation is pretty much a one man team anyway so Roger has to carry the burden & expectation on his shoulders, you should be able to play in the Davis Cup pressure free because it’s not that competitive but of course when you’re Roger and the Swiss depend on you, you can’t.

For some reason, the fans seem to think that having Federer in your team means you can win the Davis Cup easily but that’s clearly not the case.

Consequently, whenever he doesn’t make himself available the Swiss Press hound him as though he is disrespecting his nation and ruining their chances of Davis Cup glory.

It’s probably just to sell more copies of their Swiss Newspapers but it’s a weak argument. The Swiss Team has zero chance of winning the Davis Cup with or without him as there’s not enough strength in depth; so even if he played it’s doubtful it would make much difference to the end result.

The only real argument is that the fans don’t get to see him play in their own country that often, but he has always played Basel and he has played many tournaments across Europe throughout his career so it’s not like he’s made it impossible for fans to watch him play live.

If anything he’s the most accessible tennis player of all time who has always prioritised the fans and given the press plenty of time so they can deliver the information the fans want.

So rather than have short memories, I think the fans ought to remember what Federer has done for tennis as a whole. And if anyone had the choice I’m sure they would prefer to see the GOAT keep playing, competing at a top level and winning trophies that people actually remember? I know I would.

What do you guys think? Is the Davis Cup pointless and should Roger ever play in it again?

About Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer - I'll pretty much try and watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or tweeting about tennis I play regularly myself and use this blog to share my thoughts on Fed and tennis in general.

50 comments

  1. The problem with Federer playing Davis Cup is that it’s never enough – if they win this round, then he’s obligated to play the next round, otherwise what was the point of the first round? And so on and so on.

    I enjoy watching Davis Cup but it is kind of silly. As a Canadian I’m watching Canada vs. Spain this weekend and it looks good for Canada right now, but if they win they’ll have done it again a Spanish team with Nadal, Ferrer, Almagro, Verdasco or F. Lopez, so isn’t this a bit of a hollow victory?

    • Hey man,

      Yeah very true, I forgot to mention that. Never ending cycling. Then if they lose, people will say “there’s always next year” and expect him to play yet again.

      Yeah I guess it would be a pretty hollow victory, can’t read into it or suddenly say Candian tennis is in a better shape right now than Spain. I think the format needs to change or something for DC, too long and not really meaningful.

      Jonathan

    • It’s still a great victory for Canada and the accomplishment isn’t hollow at all. When all is said and done the difference between a win and a loss was the awesome match Dancevic played against Granollers, who is #34 in the world.

  2. Hi.. I think Federer has done the right thing in not playing the davis cup. He told the swiss captain that he has not entirely ruled out in not playing in the future. But at this moment he needs more time to recover and concentrate on GS. The swiss press and some fans r being too demanding on him. Federer has to do whats right for him. No matter how many people u satify there will always be a minority who r never happy

  3. Hey Jonathan,

    Great post as usual, and I agree with all those points. However, while it doesn’t apply to Feds, the act of achieving in the Davis Cup has been a springboard for various players to have a great year, the recent notable examples being Verdasco, Troicki, and Tipsarevic, who all improved vastly on their ranking the year after they were in the team to win it. It’s certainly not common, but I think that it does help the players who lack that confidence to gain it as part of a team. Of course, I find it boring and rather pointless overall, but I certainly think it does help some.

    • It’s not pointless at all. It’s very fun to watch especially when you see lower-ranked guys like (in my case for Canada) Frank Dancevic or Vasek Pospisil (WG playoffs 2011) have huge victories for their country and you can see how much it means to them. Overall, Davis Cup is extremely useful in a player’s career as they are competing for more than themselves. Roger learned a ton I’m sure from losing in the semis in 2003 and then he had his dominant 2004 season.

    • Hey John,

      Cheers. Yeah it has actually helped some players I guess. Even Djokovic to an extent as he won the DC then swept through 2011 season.

      I think they gotta change the format, get Barry Hearn involved or something and do what he’s done with Darts and Snooker!

      Jonathan

  4. Personally, I think there’s nothing wrong with the DC. Although I have wondered about the format every now and then. But that it can be pretty amazing, showed yesterday’s historical match for instance.

    As far as Fed playing or not playing is concerned: I think he made the right decision not to play at the moment. He was very outspoken about his scheduling, has good reasons for it and I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t say ‘no’ to it. It’s not that he said he wouldn’t do it ever again. But that’s what the media and quite a few people have made of it… As usual. After all the fuss about it, Luthi came with a statement saying that Fed’s said he couldn’t commit to it until after the USO at least. No definite answers about after USO, but no ruling out either. Seems perfectly fine to me.

    It’s a strange principle, that whenever a top player says he is not going to do DC at this very moment, half the world is having a go at that particular player… At least, it seems like that’s the case… Fed’s been under the microscope for it and being accused of not being loyal and not doing enough for his coutnry. DelPotro has been mocked, so it seems, by his team for saying no to this round and got a lot of bad press about it… And there have been examples in the past, where similar things have happened. It makes you wonder, what’s more important…. Apparently in some peoples’ eyes, it is the Davis Cup. And as said, I think there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not the only thing (by far) players have to consider. Although from the bad press and criticism, you’d think it is…

    • Hey,

      Yeah I don’t get why fans get on a players back. Del Potro has had some right stick for it, but I think he played the final against Spain when he was injured in 2011 so what more can he do? Hero to zero over nothing.

      I don’t think players give a damn about Davis Cup, just something they can play in with their friends and have a good time. Nobody is going to break their back to perform in it. If you win, you win, and if you lose, you lose. No really consequences.

      Jonathan

      • Agree, not sure why any of them do it. Completely antiquated! Rules are ridiculous, considering they hv to cram it in between tourneys. If it continues, must move with the the times. Best of 3 set format, tiebreak in final set. What on earth both sets of players from CR and Switzerland got out of that overly long (!) dubs, except for extreme tiredness and muscle soreness, I cannot think! The ITF need booting into the 21st century. And, no, Fed shld not play. Interestingly, Murray in same “one man nation” boat. Currently getting sympathy and understanding for not playing because the nodding sages are acknowledging the importance of winning more Slams. But, as RF as found out, that will change, as time moves on.

  5. Sid TheCookieThief

    No.

  6. Wondering what happend the idea having a tennis World Cup between Olympics instead of the annual Davis Cup? Thought it wasn’t a bad concept.

    I think the problem is timing and scheduling for the Davis Cup, especially for the top players usually go deep in every other tournaments so not enough time to rest or preparation. So it is totally up to Roger to decide what he plays and he made a right plan for this year.

    Personally I feel it would be great for Roger if he win it for his country one day but he cannot win it on his own. Beside he’s already won a gold and a silver medal for you, Swiss people, so why more? Should respect his decision instead of criticising.

    • Hi Wanda… Now that u mentioned it, the Gold & Silver he has won was for his country aswel for him. People hav to be constantly reminded what Federer has done for Tennis. Having not won the Davis Cup does not deminish his legacy one bit. The swiss people need to stop putting pressure on him.

    • Hi,

      Yeah I like that World Cup idea. It’d be way more fun to watch, more build up, more hype. One location!

      Jonathan

      • Agreed. It would be fantastic for both players and fans. When the proposal came out (was it 2010?) the leading country’s tennis bodies and the top guys including Roger were up for it, weren’t they? I guess Davis Cup Org is too stubborn and proud of its 110 years history to give it up. Shame…

        Remember? Roger kissed the swiss flag on his chest after Olympic Semi against Delpo? It was so much meant to him. Love to see that again.

      • I don’t think I have ever seen the proposal, will have a look for it. All these organisations are stubborn and resistant to change!

  7. I think this is also an opportunity for Switzerland to discover some of their young talents. Roger can’t afford to have an hectic schedule at 31.

  8. Sid TheCookieThief

    Nein, nein, nein, nein, nein, nein, nein :)

  9. Davis cup is completly behind the times. The format should be updated so that it falls in 1 2-week period, like one of the slams. Playing for one’s country is important, but shouldn’t be so hard on the players schedule. Imagine playing as much hard tennis as the top players did for the Aussie Open, and then turn around and play more tough 5 – set matches for davis cup. It’s asking too much of the players. It also takes away from the players performance at the davis cup. While I’m at it, let’s just get real here and have all the major tournaments have tie-breakers in the 5th set like rational people. It serves no good purpose to tire out the players for no good reason. How many of us regular people could play possibly 7 5-set matches, let alonee no tie break in the 5th set. They are the worlds best players, but maybe it would be better for them, and us to see shorter better quality matches. Tennis has come a long way since the corrupt “shamateure” days before 1968, but we still have a ways to go. Fed has done more than his fair share for charities around the world, and davis cup as well. I’m proud of him.

    • Agreed, it should be revamped. Like Wanda said below, a World Cup like format would be exciting!

      Hmm tie breakers in the fifth, I’m not really for or against them to be honest. I mean, it’s not often we see a match go deep in the fifth set anyway, and when it does, it’s the talk of the tournament. Would almost be a shame not to have that? Djoker vs Wawrinka just now in Aus, Roddick vs Fed Wimbledon 09 – those matches decided on a tie break doesn’t quite seem right? I think just keep it at US Open, bit of difference between the slams is a good thing. Especially when all the surfaces are getting closer in terms of speed!

      Jonathan

  10. Davis Cup schedule is horrible, the only reasonable round is the QFs, which is in April. Roger isn’t playing any tournaments during that whole month skipping Miami and Monte Carlo, so in the future if Switzerland can make it that far, I think its ok for him to play in the QFs. The SF and Final dates are horrible, right after the US Open and World Tour Finals.
    For fans, Davis Cup is great for them, ticket prices are cheaper and they can see the pros play. I remember back in 2011 when the playoffs between Australia and Switzerland were held where I lived.

    Its Roger’s choice whether he wants to play in DC or not, so we can’t really do anything about it even with all these opinions! :)

    • Agreed, good for the fans to watch their hometown hero’s. But for neutrals and most tennis fans – boring. I didn’t watch any of it last weekend because it’s just not that interesting. I watched Fed vs Isner in Freiburg last year, nearly fell asleep watching it on TV.

  11. I think Federer is making the right choice to skip it. He is clearly prioritising himself and his longevity as you mentioned. Swiss Press are never happy. It’s unbelievable how much Roger has does for Switzerland and they still aren’t grateful. I mean the guy pretty much sacrificed his indoor season when he played in Rotterdam following Berdych loss, that was a very tough loss for Fed and he still went half way across the world for DC.

    Look tbh, I think Roger knows Switzerland aren’t winning DC anytime soon with or without him so it’s only logical that he skips it and contributes his energy and focus to tournaments and goals that are more realistic. As Andrew said, it’s a never ending cycle and the scheduling is horrific considering that it is best of five. I do think however in saying so, that Roger will most likely compete in the playoff after the US Open just to fulfill his obligation to his country/fans. I don’t know how it will impact his indoor season.

    In 2011, he went all the way down to Australia, won the tie and then ended up winning the rest of the tournaments he played that year. Last year I think Olympics and mental fatigue from winning Wimbledon again and the Berdych loss affected him so it could have been combination of those two.

    I don’t see Roger being committed to DC anymore, he will only play when he is needed to get back into the world group (depending on what happens at US Open this year that is). It’s not a big fuss, he knows what is best for his career and people shouldn’t criticise him for that, he has already given the tennis world so much and fans in particular need to respect that. DC is a team event and alot of people say it’s the one thing missing from his CV but it really isn’t for a guy like Fed. He doesn’t need DC to cement his legacy, any thing he does now is just icing on the cake.

    Now that DC is over, it will be great to see Roger back in action! Do you think he can defend this, Dubai and IW? It certainly is all possible. If not, Murray has a good chance of taking that number two ranking. We shall see.
    Also poor Stan! The guy has now twice been denied a deserving victory. I believe it was a 7 hour match he played in doubles. Truly incredible! Wawrinka has really gained my respect this year, looking forward to what he brings to the court this season.

    Alysha

    • Sorry I meant Amsterdam last year, not Rotterdam. Getting ahead of myself, can’t wait till Roger plays again!

    • Hey Alysha,

      I think we all know Switzerland ain’t winning the Davis Cup any time soon ;)

      Davis Cup means nothing on a players CV. Just gets included in the “additional info” section. No TV broadcasters want the Davis Cup, just not a draw. That is pretty much conclusive that it’s a tired format.

      I think Fed will play well in these up and coming tournaments. He is rested, probably been practising quite a lot so should be sharp! I think he can defend Dubai, IW will be tough as it’s not the quickest. Murray and Djoker probably slug that one out.

      Jonathan

  12. Fed should win Rotterdam, and the only guys that can stop him in Dubai are Djokovic and Murray. He can win Indian Wells, but it will be tough. He will need a performance just like last year’s.

  13. I feel the same as you Jonathan. I won’t watch unless there’s really nothing else on and I’m in a particular mood for tennis. Just doesn’t hold my interest. Also most of the time it’s hard to find broadcasts of it and I’m certainly not motivated to scout them out. I do like the idea of World Cup or something to that effect. But definitely don’t have a problem with anybody choosing not to play DC and personally prefer Roger concentrate on the tour and slams.

  14. Absolutely disagree on the way ITF run Davis Cup to the point it becomes like a circus show. Time to create value to this event one will feel privilege to represent their country at DC. Can’t they learn from golf, whereby Ryder cup is every 2 years, give players to plan their schedule to make it a point to compete proudly for their country rather than being felt burdened to do so, like Roger. He is being made guilty for not playing at DC at the expense of his health or to save them from sticky situation. My take, he has completed his service to Swiss, time to cut him some slack. He is no longer young and has a family to consider.

    • Hey Dippy,

      Good points, Ryder Cup format is quite a good idea.

      I think it’s just the non fans who are having a go at him for not playing. Always quick to jump on a player when they feel like they can get away with it.

      Jonathan

  15. Davis Cup is now like a circus where nobody wants to go but forced to due to pressure from ITF and in country Tennis Federation. Learn from other sports such as golf ie Ryder Cup is held every alternate year instead of annual event. This creates more weightage to the event itself. Roger has already make a lot of sacrifices playing at DC event, time to cut him some slack. He alone cannot win DC, it take more than 2 players to win this.

  16. I also watched the Canada – Spain tie. Being Canadian, it was a big deal for us. I agree Kyle, Dancevic was the star of the show. He played incredible tennis in the 1st match from start to finish. His return of serve was something else.
    As far as Fed goes, I find he is the most criticized player ever. Other players do not have the media on their case like him. I guess he has gotten used to it by now.
    Should he play Davis Cup…only if he really wants to. He owes nothing to Switzerland.

  17. Sid TheCookieThief

    The Davis Cup is a meaningless exercise. It’s the marketing machine that instills patriotic fervor into fans. I think it’s a joke.

    Roger must keep his Davis Cup commitments at the lowest priority.

    As much as I love Stan, I hate it when he tries to paint Roger as the antagonist. Roger has done way more than anyone has done for Switzerland, or likely will ever do. In a way, the Swiss should be indebted to him. And he loves his country. Does anyone remember Roger kissing the Swiss flag on his polo, right after he scored match point against Del Potro? Then he did it again a little later and was on the verge of crying.

    As for Stan, I’ll even go as far as saying that if there were no Roger, Stan would never even have hit top 20 in the world.

    • Agreed.

      Stan is a good player, but he keeps losing matches from winning positions. Never gonna break top 10.

      • You think? I wonder. I think even though he was massively disappointed Fed wasn’t going to play DC any time soon (and expressed that in a way that doesn’t deserve awards imo), I think he might actually have benefited from coming out of Fed’s shadow… Which has affected his play in a good way. Thát and the fact that he was able to take Nole to a 5-setter that he cóuld have won, may have given him a boost to up his level… It’s only a matter of time, until that translates into a win… I think. But I might be wrong ;) Just an idea that came into my mind when I saw all that happening…

      • I think the Nole match will have done more damage to him if anything. Was a tough tough loss especially because the match was on his racket. Depends if he can turn a negative into a positive. Maybe he can but remains to be seen.

        He is a huge talent too is Stan, just mentally weak.

  18. Hi Jonathan

    My feeling is that for all that Fed has done for tennis and Switzerland, being the wonderful ambassador that he is for the game that he should be allowed to play when and where he wants without the press or anyone else getting on his back. (I personally would prefer to see him playing in Masters and Slams for many years to come rather than Davis Cup). I would like to make one more point that is not connected with the original topic I also wish that the tennis pundits and other tennis blogs would stop writing him off at every opportunity – and where does Lukas Rosol get off saying he is arrogant – he can be as self assured as he wants he has 17 grand slams – come back Rosol when you can match his records – Sorry Jonathan I’ve had my rant – I’ll go now and lie down in a darkened room

    • Hey Trudi,

      Agreed!

      I haven’t heard the Rosol comments, a lot of these lower ranked guys seem to fall into the trap of having a pop at him in the press. Maybe they are lured into it or perhaps jealous. Who knows! Doubt it effects Roger one bit.

      Jonathan

  19. Did you guys check out Federer’s draw in Rotterdam?Projected path-Zemlja,Youzhny,Janowicz,Tsonga,Del Potro.Seems like a tough draw.First up is Zemlja then Youzhny who is Federer’s punching bag so he should make it to the QF easily.This is where it gets tough Janowicz’s game is tailor made for indoors(as we saw in Paris)as the wind wont be a factor allowing his monster groundstrokes in.Next up is Tsonga who just took Federer to 5 sets and add in Del Potro who’s won their last 2 indoor matches and you reach the conclusion that he has his work cut out if he wants to win the trophy.I really hope the draw opens up and that he dosent get to face Delpo but the only two guys who can challenge him in his half are Davydenko and Gasquet.Davydenko’s beaten him indoors so let’s hope for the best.

  20. Hi Johnatan. I am the person who asked you to do the article for doping in tennis. You did an amazing job giving this publicity to the issues. Thaxa lot for that!:)
    Now i would like to share something i found today :
    http://www.itfcoachesconference.com/2009/node/55
    This is a the ITF official website presenting a short CV of ANGEL RUIZ COTORRO (ESP) – this is the doctor of Rafael Nadal who turned out to be ……..”a licensed physician for completion of doping control” AMAZING!!!!
    check the whole info :
    “ANGEL RUIZ COTORRO (ESP)

    Dr. Ruiz Cotorro graduated in Medicine and Surgery from University of Santander and specialised in sports medicine at the University of Barcelona in 1990. He has also obtained his C.E.S. in Biology and Sports medicine at the University Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris. Moreover, he is a licensed physician for completion of doping control.

    Dr. Cotorro runs a masters course in orthopedic surgery and has been an attending physician in orthopedic surgery and trauma services for various hospitals in Paris, Barcelona and Santander. During his work as a specialist in sports medicine has developed his skills and experience in sports such as football, sailing, cycling and tennis.

    Since 1993 is has been the head of medical services for the Royal Spanish Tennis Federation and, as such, is responsible for overseeing all players in professional competitions including Davis Cup, Olympic and Grand Slam tournaments. He has been the physician for players such as Rafael Nadal and David Nalbandian, among others.”

  21. maybe the fact is taht roger is not the King anymore, but it’s normal…noone is ethernal.

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