Paul Annacone - in depth interview about Federer, Sampras, etc.

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by 15_ounce, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. 15_ounce

    15_ounce Guest

  2. adil1972

    adil1972 Hall of Fame

    Oct 4, 2012
  3. 15_ounce

    15_ounce Guest

    {Thanks to Inez of for translating the interview from Spanish}

    22 October 2012

    In the interview given to ESPN Paul Annacone talked about coaching Roger Federer, Pete Sampras & Tim Henman. Also, Annacone talked about how Federer's life is different to Sampras..

    Read on what Annacone had to say on Federer's retirement plans & how exactly has Federer's game changed in this last two years or so after he has taken over the job of coaching Roger Federer.

    Q: How would you describe your usual work with Roger?
    PA: 'It's a combination of factors. Mainly on the technical side, how you are hitting the ball, the strategy, how you wanna play, what style, the mental preparation to maintain the highest level. With a guy like Roger, the latter can be very complicated, because he is one of the biggest sports stars. I need to be aware of everything, and give him the best opportunity to play his best tennis.

    Q:In an interview you said that you had to pinch yourself for the quality of people with whom you worked?
    PA : and still do sometimes (laughs). Though, the most important thing is that I have been so lucky ... They all are great players, but most importantly great persons. When you train people with good character, it becomes so much easier.Everything about them is honest, there is a clear path, some times, in spite of having different ideas, we try to what is best . So yes, I really pinch myself a lot :).

    Q: How will you compare Federer to other players you worked with?
    PA: One of the most important aspects for Tennis players is to understand that there are many matches and tournaments to be played that is very logical to have ups and downs.Roger, Pete, Tim also, were able to react evenly. They enjoyed the wins, they got very happy, disappointed to lose, but that has long-term effects. There is always an "is" & the "was" is always over & can't be changed.Use the information from the past to make decisions and move forward and keep trying to progress. Roger is one of the best not to dwell on what happened, negatively or positively. He is always looking for new opportunities.

    Q: What do you feel when the comparison of "the greatest of all time" comes up in Tennis? Is it possible to compare players from different eras?
    PA: I was asked the same question Pete Sampras was compared with McEnroe, Lendl, and now with Roger.I do not think you can compare, the game changes too much too quickly. You can compare the ways of playing, styles, philosophy of each, but my thought is that a great player of any era, if you put him in another era, would always find a way to be great too in that era.The style change a bit, but for who they were great in their era, they could be great in their era. In face to face discussions at different times, Roger against Pete for example, the style of play changed so much that it is very difficult to compare. And that we are talking about only ten years apart.

    Q: The most important thing in Tennis is the confidence to face top rivals, and keep focussing on tennis, what changes have you seen in Roger Federer from 2010 to now?
    PA: One of its best features of Roger is that he always tries to be better than before.He is always trying to think ahead of his time. It comes very naturally to him, and in the last 24 months Roger did a great job in understanding his style of play and how it fits into the other.He became more thoughtful in the process & is much more comfortable with his style of play. Roger works really hard & that is some thinf people do not see. We make training blocks in thinking strategically as to how it will impact balls. We work to ensure that these patterns are increasingly effective and that is achieved with a good observation and analysis of games. We always want to improve, when you have that attitude, you're probably always improving.

    Q: Any specific game plan?
    PA: Generally, the plan is to keep hitting better, and Roger has done a great job in critical games, knows how to control his hitting, something that he has done quite well during his career but even better this year. Also understanding how to play back more effectively. In terms of impact of ball, the technique, the foundations were always there. You have to know how to connect them to maximize their style well. For me it has to do with understanding the style.

    Q: When talking about Federer besides his hitting & the ball impact, people do not pay much attention to his footwork, which enables the impact. Particularly in the final of Cincinnati was remarkable how it moved. Your take?
    PA: Yes, I do not talk much about it, but he works a lot with Pierre Paganini, his trainer since long , which makes it possible to amalgamate an enjoyable workout. That allows Roger to do many things at the highest level. He's a great athlete, does a great job to get the right balance and be in position to hit the ball as we see.

    Q: Also, and this is not a secret, the way Roger has managed his career without any major injury, that is surely one of the great lessons that he will leave when he retires ...
    PA: Absolutely, and is one of the great challenges of the top guys : how to manage the calendar. He has made ​​perfect decisions, he knows how to keep up. Younger people, including Andy (Murray) and Novak (Djokovic), are still trying to figure out how. It is a common issue may be, even with Rafa.I still can not find the best way. His position is different: he loves to play a lot and its a major challenge to take more breaks because it is surely comfortable in bigger tournaments the more you have played. It's a challenge balancing the calendar.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 23, 2012
  4. 15_ounce

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    Q: I keep listing: recently, coach Juan Carlos Rodriguez told me how good Roger is, completed the process and steps of each age. So Roger may not have been the best at the age of 15, but he kept it for later.
    PA: I fully agree. There's a difference between knowing on how to hit the ball and know how to play a game. From an early age, you must get help to have that perspective, the big picture. Maybe, at 13, 14 or 15 there are issues that do not seem important at the time but to build the foundation at 17, at 18, 20 or later, you can play your best tennis. Roger knew Juan Carlos Rodriguez, & was well guided and that has surely helped.

    Q: Why you once said that Sampras and Federer are like "apples and oranges"?
    PA: They are totally different. Pete lived in a closed atmosphere was very protected, not socializing too. Roger's life is in the circuit: traveling with your family, going to dinner, taking the twins girls on the tour ,to museums, tries to socialize more. Outside interests are with him while traveling around the tour circuit.Pete also had them, but when Sampras went to tournaments, it was just his job.Right or wrong, but both Pete Sampras & Roger Federer are different, and both methods have worked for sure.

    Q: Do you remember a story to describe how Federer's nature is?
    PA: The first thing that comes to mind is what I said before,Roger Federer's sense of perspective. I've seen him lose important games and an hour later, he's playing with his daughters on the floor of the hotel room, laughing and having fun. I have seen him win matches and some have been very momentous. He accepts the consequences, feels the pain and enjoys the joy, but not too hard.It takes years to accept a defeat or think you cured cancer if you win, it was just a good game.He balances emotions even during his wins & defeats. It's what I think allowed him to play at a high level during this long time.

    Q: Did you ever think about the end of this dream playing story (asking about Roger Federer's retirement)?
    PA: What's interesting to me, I also was with Pete Sampras at the end of his career. He has done so well that he has earned the right to finish the playing story as he wishes. It's amazing that Roger is 31 and he loves tennis, plays every where, Cincinnati, Basel, Rotterdam, the U.S. Open ... As long as that love for the sport is there, the desire to compete is there, Roger Federer for sure will continue playing. But who knows, maybe one day the gas tank might just runs out or may be, the wish to be home with his family ... Anyway, as I said, he has earned the right to realize it himself. As a coach, I have to be on board to help him. It is not my responsibility to tell him that he should do this or that. I use my experience to offer options, problems and positive issues of each.

    Q: What do you remember of your experience with Gaston Gaudio?

    PA: A great person, who keeps in touch via emails. I was his manager for a short time, I pictured him as a champion and helped him with some of his court, because that's what I get better. For me he was one of the most technically gifted players and I knew when I represented: I told my boss that if things went well, he is a player who could win Roland Garros. It was in 2000 or 2001, and saw that kid was incredibly talented.

    Q: Did you tell Gaston Gaudio of Roland Garros ?
    PA: Yes, yes, I told. He is one of the most humble and good people out there, and I always felt that he is a good player. Many of my conversations with him were about to accept that he was good, not in an arrogant way, but as a fact. He could play against all and it felt good. Roland Garros 2004 was a great example. Gaston was an artist, so enjoyable to watch, a pleasure as he hit the ball. Also enjoyed many conversations with him at the time we shared.

    Q: Ok, now lets move to Del Potro: you see him as aspiring No. 1?
    PA: Absolutely. Del Potro has had physical problems and, again, I think is one of the players who, in my opinion should look at his calendar and see how to maximize it, because the longer the calendar is, the more challenging it gets . He plays many tournaments and for me, the calendar is assembled backwards: see the major championships and define the previous way you do in the great peak. That if you want to be top 5, if you're 50, so you can just play and try to improve. Maybe he does, but I get the feeling of playing a lot of tennis and be careful, for his height and long year. You can be injured and worse if you already have been. Juan Martin Del potro is an incredibly good guy, I think Franco (Davin) does a great job with him and I'm sure that Delpo is putting pressure on the top. Delpo is a great player and your goal should be: how I can win more Grand Slams.

    This original interview was given to Jorge Viale for ESPN Tennis.
  5. Candide

    Candide Professional

    Aug 21, 2012
    Mt Buggery, VIC
    Interesting interview. Thanks.
  6. corners

    corners Legend

    Jul 31, 2008
    Interesting that Annacone says the goal is for Roger to continue to improve his "hitting." What is he talking about, exactly? What are meanings of "hitting" in Spanish?
  7. hersito

    hersito Rookie

    Jan 21, 2012
    That part is miss translated, he said "Generalmente, está golpeando mejor el revés, y ha hecho un gran trabajo en sus games de saque, sabe cómo controlarlos, algo que hizo bien durante su carrera pero todavía mejor este año. " which means "In general, he is hitting the Backhand better, he did a great job in the games he serves, he knows how to control them now, something he did during his career but he improved this year."
  8. 90's Clay

    90's Clay Banned

    Apr 26, 2012
    Never could stand Annacone.. Always a Tim Gullikson guy. Much better coach.
  9. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

    Jul 15, 2009
    Wow, that's brutal.

    Annacone helps Sampras win many slams since 1995. Without Paul, Sampras might not be sitting on 14.

    Maybe you think Paul sucks as a coach because Sampras didn't win 20 slams.:)

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