Marco Chiudinelli

Mondays With Bob Greene: Venus is one of the greatest champions ever


Marion Bartoli beat Venus Williams 6-2 5-7 6-4 to win the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California, USA

Sam Querrey beat Carsten Ball 6-4 3-6 6-1 to win the Countrywide Classic LA Tennis Open in Los Angeles, California, USA

Nikolay Davydenko beat Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3 6-0 to win the Studena Croatia Open in Umag, Croatia

Thomaz Bellucci won his first ATP title, the Allianz Suisse Open, beating Andreas Beck 6-4 7-6 (2) in Gstaad, Switzerland

Vera Dushevina beat Lucie Hradecka 6-0 6-1 to win her first WTA Tour title, the Istanbul Cup in Istanbul, Turkey.

Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr. beat Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-2 to win the Trofeo Stefano Bellaveglia in Orbetello, Italy


“Venus is one of the greatest champions ever. That’s what I practice for, to play her. To beat her is even better.” – Marion Bartoli, after beating Venus Williams to win the Bank of the West Classic.

“She didn’t give me much of a chance. I might have been able to win a few more points, but not the match.” – Elena Dementieva, after losing to Venus Williams in the semifinals.

“It’s one of the biggest, if not the biggest win of my career. We don’t always play our best tennis every single day. Maybe she didn’t play her best and I played very well.” – Samantha Stosur, after beating Serena Williams in the Bank of the West Classic.

“I’m going to go home, relax, and do some fitness. Ultimately it would good for me and I need to work with my mom on some things. I want to figure out what to do with my singles career.” – A joking Serena Williams, following her loss to Samantha Stosur.

“When I was done (with my career), I felt I’d put up some numbers no one would touch. Little did I know Roger would surpass me in seven years.” – Pete Sampras, who saw his men’s record 14 Grand Slam tournament titles eclipsed by Roger Federer.

“To be number one, you should be complete, and if you are number one you have to be beating the Williams sisters. I’m one of the rare players who has a positive record against the Williams sisters.” – Jelena Jankovic, who is 5-4 against Venus and 3-4 against Serena.

“It’s another one I can’t believe. Sandra Day O’Connor, hello. Tutu. Ted. I was overwhelmed when I heard it. What about Milk man? I was so excited for the community. I think it’s the first time the LGBT community has been acknowledged. It’s another breakthrough.” – Billie Jean King, who will be one of 16 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“When I was 7, I said, ‘Mom, I know I’m going to do something great with my life.’ She said, ‘That’s all right, just get the dishes done.’” – Billie Jean King, whose 87-year-old mother, Betty Jean Moffitt, will accompany her to the White House when she receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“I really don’t know why I play so well here. Three wins and one final, and each time with a different Czech partner, which is also strange. I don’t know why but I hope it continues.” – Michal Mertinak, after teaming with Frantisek Cermak to win the doubles at Umag, Croatia.

“Before the tournament if someone came and told me I’d play the final of singles and win the doubles, I’d have said they were joking. I’m very happy with my week.” – Lucie Hradecka, who reached the Istanbul Cup final in both singles and doubles.


Billie Jean King is the recipient of yet another honor. She is one of 16 people who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama later this month. The medals are the first to be awarded by Obama and represent the country’s highest honor for a civilian. Besides King, other honorees include Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, former US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, gay rights activist Harvey Milk, Race for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker, physicist Stephen Hawking and civil rights activist Reverend Joseph Lowery. . Former US Representative and football quarterback Jack Kemp, who died in May, will receive a posthumous award. Among her many other accomplishments, King is a global mentor of a joint WTA and UNESCO program to promote women’s equality in sport.


When Thomaz Bellucci captured the Swiss Open in Gstaad, he became the first Brazilian to win an ATP tournament in nearly five years. The last Brazilian champion was Ricardo Mello at Delray Beach, Florida, USA, in September 2004. Bellucci, a qualifier, beat Andreas Beck in the final. But he proved he belonged there by eliminating top-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka and third-seeded Igor Andreev on his way to the title match. Bellucci is the fifth player to claim his first ATP World Tour title this season. The Bellucci-Beck matchup was the first ATP final between two left-handers since January 2008 when Michael Llodra and Jarkko Nieminen contested the title in Adelaide, Australia.


Britain’s Anne Keothavong is out for the rest of the season after injuring her left knee. She damaged her anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus during a doubles match in the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California, USA. The injury occurred when Keothavong ran into a fence chasing a shot during her match. “Of course I’m disappointed to be out for the rest of the season but I’ll continue to work with my team and look forward to coming back next season,” Keothavong said.


For Marion Bartoli, the Bank of the West Classic victory was redemption for Wimbledon. Bartoli won her first WTA Premier Tour title by upsetting Venus Williams 6-2 5-7 6-4 in the championship match at Stanford, California, USA. In their only previous meeting, Bartoli lost to Williams in the 2007 Wimbledon final. It was the second straight year Bartoli has been in the Stanford final, and her first title on American soil. Williams, making her first appearance at the event since 2005, reached her seventh final in eight appearances at Stanford, where’s she won twice, her last coming in 2002. Venus lost for just the third time in her last 15 matches, but she has not won an outdoor hard court tournament in the United States in seven years.


For the first time in his career, Nikolay Davydenko has won consecutive tournaments. This time the ninth-ranked Russian crushed Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3 6-0 in the final of the Studena Croatia Open in Umag, Croatia. The week before, Davydenko won in Hamburg, Germany. It was his 16th ATP World Tour title in his 21st final, the sixth best record among active players. And the win increases Davydenko’s chances of qualifying for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held in London, England. Last year, when the season finale was held in Shanghai, China, Davydenko reached the title match where he lost to Novak Djokovic.


A foot injury will keep Svetlana Kuznetsova on the sidelines this week. The French Open champion pulled out of the LA Women’s Tennis Championships because of the injury. That still leaves the Los Angeles event with 10 of the world’s top 15 women in the field, including the defending champion, top-ranked Dinara Safina.


Swiss pair Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer needed a wild card to enter the Allianz Suisse Open in Gstaad, Switzerland. They came away with the doubles title, defeating defending champions Jaroslav Levinsky and Filip Polasek 7-5 6-3 in the final. The two had a rough road to the title match, also knocking out second-seeded Michael Kohlmann and Sebastien Prieto in the quarterfinals and third-seeded Yves Allegro and Horia Tecau in the semifinals. The 27-year-old Chiudinelli won his first ATP World Tour doubles title on his second final in Gstaad. He and Jean-Claude Scherrer were runners-up in 2006.


It didn’t take long for Kim Clijsters to have to go to the bank. The former top-ranked player has signed a sponsorship agreement with Adecco SA, the world’s largest supplier of temporary workers. The Zurich, Switzerland-based company is becoming the “official sponsor” of the 26-year-old Belgian. Clijsters, who had a baby last year, will play her first WTA Tour match in two years when she takes to the court in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, on August 10. She will play the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Canada, the week after that before heading to New York and the US Open, which starts August 31. It will be Clijsters’ first US Open since she won the Grand Slam tournament in 2005.


Sam Querrey finally has a title to call his own. The hard-serving American ended a string of final-round frustrations by winning the LA Tennis Open title with a 6-4 3-6 6-1 victory over qualifier Carsten Bell. It was Querrey’s third straight final and fourth of the season – but his first title. “I didn’t want to lose three finals in a row,” said the 21-year-old, who lives in Santa Monica, California, not far from where the LA Tennis Open was contested. Seeded sixth in Los Angeles, Querrey had lost in the final in New Zealand in January and the last two weeks at Newport, Rhode Island, and Indianapolis, Indiana. Querrey became the fifth player to reach the finals in four events this season, joining Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. It was his second career ATP title. Ball had never won a match on tour before the LA Tennis Open.


Australian Alicia Molik is planning on ending her retirement and returning to the WTA Tour. “I’m loving being back … and enjoying training,” Molik said. “I’m injury-free and back doing what I love.” Ranked as high as number eight in the world, Molik retired last year after being felled by illness and injuries. She had an inner ear virus that affected her balance. Then she was plagued by leg and arm injuries. “I think I’m still young enough to focus my energies on something that I feel is again challenging,” said the 28-year-old Molik.


The Bank of the West Classic is staying right where it is. The tournament and Stanford University have agreed to a three-year contract that will keep the longest-running women-only pro tournament in the world at the Taube Family Tennis Center in Stanford, California, through the year 2012. IMG Senior Vice President Adam Barrett said the WTA adjusted its rules to allow the tournament to continue because of having a long-term sponsor as well as rich tradition. The Taube Family Tennis Center seats just fewer than 4,000, while the new WTA Roadmap rules state Premier tournaments such as the Bank of the West must seat at least 6,000 fans.


Roger Federer reportedly wants to play for Switzerland in its Davis Cup playoff against Italy in September. “Nothing is definite yet, but there’s a good chance that our best players will be there,” said Severin Luethi, part of Federer’s coaching team. Federer missed Switzerland’s 4-1 loss to the United States in the World Group first round because of a back injury. The winner of the Switzerland-Italy playoff tie in Genoa, Italy, on September 18-20 will remain in the World Group next year, while the loser will drop to zonal play. The tie, which will be played on outdoor clay courts, will begin five days after the men’s singles final of the US Open, where Federer is the five-time defending champion. Against Italy, Federer would likely team up with the Stanislas Wawrinka to play singles and doubles. Federer and Wawrinka won the doubles gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.


Austrian Tamira Paszek faces a provisional suspension while officials investigate whether a medial treatment she received for a back injury violated doping regulations. The Austrian anti-doping agency has asked its disciplinary committee to temporarily ban the WTA player. Last month, blood was taken from the 18-year-old for enrichment, then later re-injected in the lower part of her back. Re-injecting one’s own blood is banned under international anti-doping rules. Paszek, who is ranked 59th in the world, alerted the doping agency herself when she learned her treatment might possibly be illegal.


Boris Becker and his wife, model Sharlely “Lilly” Kerssenberg, are expecting a child. The two were married June 12 in St. Moritz, Switzerland. “Yes, we’re going to be parents,” Becker told the German newspaper Bild. “We are really looking forward to our baby.” It will be the fourth child for Becker, who has two sons, 15-year-old Noah and 9-year-old Elias, with his ex-wife Barbara Feltus, and a 9-year-old daughter, Anna, from an extramarital affair.


Tim Mayotte has been hired as a United States Tennis Association (USTA) national coach. He will facilitate coaching and training programs while working with players in the USTA Player Development program. A native of Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, who was ranked as high as number seven in the world, Mayotte will be based at the USTA Training Center Headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida, USA. He was a semifinalist at Wimbledon in 1982 and at the Australian Open in 1981.


Graydon Nichols is being inducted into the United States Tennis Association Northern California Hall of Fame. The induction of the 84-year-old farmer highlights a career that has catapulted him to the top of the world in senior tennis. “I never imagined that something like this would be possible for me,” Nichols said. “I was shocked to get a phone call saying that I had been selected.” Nichols has won two world singles titles, the latest at the 2007 World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand. That’s when he ended the year ranked number one in the world in his category. Not only did he go undefeated in 2007, Nichols captained the United States team to the Gardnar Mulloy Cup title, senior tennis’ version of the Davis Cup. He is currently ranked number one in the United States and number four in the world after posting a 13-1 record in 2008.


Nancy Reed, a three-time International Tennis Federation Seniors Singles World Champion and pioneer of Seniors Tennis, is dead. Reed won the women’s 40 doubles with fellow American Mary Ann Plante at the very first ITF Seniors World Championships in Brazil in 1981. She went on to win 12 World Championship doubles crowns. She captured her first singles title in Sicily in 1992 in the 55 age category. The next year, she won the 60 age category. Her third and final singles world title came in 1999, but she won the doubles world title in the 75 age category in Turkey last year. She also was a member of the United States team that won the Queens’ Cup in Turkey last October.


HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports has been fined USD $24,780 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for allegedly failing to report the amount of toxic chemicals released by its plant in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. According to the EPA, the sports company failed to report emissions of N-hexane and zinc compounds from its facility to EPA’s annual Toxics Release Inventory for 2007. HEAD/Penn, which is based in Connecticut, manufactures tennis, badminton, and ski equipment, and owns and operates the Phoenix facility. US federal law requires that facilities using toxic chemicals over specified amounts must file annual reports of their chemical releases with EPA and the state. Information from these reports is then compiled into a national database and made available to the public.


Los Angeles: Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan beat Benjamin Becker and Frank Moser 6-4 7-6 (2)

Stanford: Venus Williams and Serena Williams beat Yung-Jan Chan and Monica Niculescu 6-4 6-1

Istanbul: Lucie Hradecka and Renata Voracova beat Julia Goerges and Patty Schnyder 2-6 6-3 12-10 (match tiebreak)

Gstaad: Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer beat Jaroslav Levinsky and Filip Polasek 7-5 6-3

Umag: Frantisek Cermak and Michal Mertinak beat Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-4 6-4

Orbetello: Paolo Lorenzi and Giancarlo Petrazzuolo beat Alessio Di Mauro and Manuel Jorquera 7-6 (5) 3-6 10-6 (match tiebreak)




San Marino:


Los Angeles:




(All money in USD)


$1,402,000 Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Washington, DC, USA, hard

$150,000 ATP Open Castilla y Leon, Segovia, Spain, hard

$120,000 San Marino CEPU Open, San Marino, clay

$100,000 Odlum Brown Vancouver Open, Vancouver, Canada, hard


$700,000 LA Women’s Tennis Championships presented by Herbalife, Los Angeles, California, USA, hard



$3,000,000 Rogers Cup, Montreal, Canada, hard

$120,000 Internazionali del Friuli Venezia Guilia Tennis Cup Cordenons, Italy, clay


$2,000,000 Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, hard


Vale Do Lobo Grand Champions CGD, Algarve, Portugal, hard

Federer and Chiudinelli – Mates Since Eight, But Apart For Davis Cup In Alabama

Roger Federer is, of course, not on the Swiss Davis Cup team that will face the United States this week in Birmingham, Alabama. One player who is on the Swiss squad is Marco Chiudinelli, who is one of Federer’s closest childhood friends and rivals since the two were eight years old. Marco and Roger played with each other with Marco – and many other players – frequently beating the future five-time Wimbledon. In this exclusive excerpt from the book THE ROGER FEDERER STORY, QUEST FOR PERFECTION by Rene Stauffer ($24.95, New Chapter Press,, Chiudinelli talks about how Roger and he would frequently cry during and after competitive matches and goof around on the tennis and squash courts. Chiudinelli was in fact the final-round victim in Roger’s first ever Swiss national junior title in the 12-and-under category. The following is the second chapter of THE ROGER FEDERER STORY, QUEST FOR PERFECTION entitled “A Boy Discovers Tennis.”

Roger Federer’s first idol was Boris Becker. He was four years old when Becker won his first Wimbledon title in 1985 and Germany, subsequently, came down with collective tennis fever following the epic win by their native son. Roger cried bitterly in 1988 and in 1990 when Becker lost Wimbledon finals to Stefan Edberg. Federer the boy watched tennis matches on television for hours on end. His mother was amazed at the details he retained.

“I liked tennis the best of all sports,” Roger said looking back. “It was always exciting and winning or losing was always in my hands.” He quickly became the best in his age group just after entering school and was allowed to participate in special training sessions three times a week at a loose union of tennis clubs in Basel and its environs. It was at these special training sessions where he met Marco Chiudinelli, another talented youth a month younger than him also from Münchenstein. The two became friends and spent considerable time together off the tennis court.

After training, the two boys sometimes played squash with their tennis racquets and played table tennis and soccer against each other. Their parents both jogged and bicycled together. When a region-wide top tennis group was formed, Roger and Marco, both eight-years-old, became members of the group, despite playing at different clubs-Federer at the Old Boys Tennis Club, where training conditions were better for him than at the Ciba Tennis Club in Allschwil, and Chiudinelli at the Basel Lawn Tennis Club.

“It was pretty loud when we were in training,” Chiudinelli recollected. “We talked more than we trained. Training didn’t seem too important to us. We just wanted to have a good time and we goofed around a lot. One of us was frequently kicked off the court.”

Federer and Chiudinelli soon became the black sheep of the group and their parents were angry to discover that one or the other was forced to sit on the sidelines and watch half of the practice sessions for disciplinary reasons.

“Roger lost to practically everybody in training,” said Chiudinelli. “He was the only one that I beat, but the difference was enormous. When it came down to business, he could flip a switch and become a completely different person. I admired that about him. I could give him a thrashing in training but when we played at a tournament a day later, he gave me a thrashing. Even back then he was a real competitor.”

The two eight-year-olds played against each other for the first time at an official event at a tournament called “The Bambino Cup” in Arlesheim. “Back then we only played one long set of up to nine games,” Chiudinelli explained. “Things weren’t going well for me at the beginning. I was behind 2-5 and I started to cry. We cried a lot back then even during the matches. Roger came up to me and tried to comfort me when we switched sides. He told me everything would be all right, and in fact, things did get better. I took the lead 7-6 and noticed that the tide had turned. Then he began to cry and I ran up to him to give him encouragement and things went better for him. It was the only time that I could beat him.”

Roger trained with Adolf Kacovsky, a tennis coach at The Old Boys Tennis Club who everybody called “Seppli.” Like many of his fellow Czechs during the “Prague Spring” in 1968, Kacovsky fled Czechoslovakia and the Russian tanks that rolled into the Czech capital to quell the rebellion. He arrived in Basel one year later, via Tunisia, where he was the club’s head professional until 1996.

“I noticed right away that this guy was a natural talent,” said Kacovsky of Federer. “He was born with a racquet in his hand.” Federer was only given group lessons at first but soon received special one-on-one attention. “The club and I quickly noticed that he was enormously talented,” Kacovsky said. “We began giving him private lessons that were partly funded by the club. Roger was a quick learner. When you wanted to teach him something new, he was able to pick it up after three or four tries, while others in the group needed weeks.”

The star pupil was not only talented and in love with hitting the ball but also ambitious. Kacovsky recounted that Roger always said that he wanted to become the best in the world. “People just laughed at him, including me,” he said. “I thought that he would perhaps become the best player in Switzerland or Europe but not the best in the world. He had it in his head and he worked at it.”

However, Roger’s tournament career at the club began with a fiasco. In his first tournament competition at the age of eight, he lost his first serious competition 6-0, 6-0, although, according to his own estimation, he didn’t play all that badly. Not surprisingly, Federer cried after the loss.

“His opponent was much bigger,” said Kacovsky. “He was also very nervous in his first game where the match really counted.”

Roger constantly sought out people to practice with and if he found no one, he hit balls against the wall, over and over for hours. At age 11, the Swiss tennis magazine Smash first became interested in him. A small article appeared about the young Federer in October, 1992 after he reached the semifinals at the Basel Youth Cup, a gateway series to competitive tennis. Although Roger was improving rapidly, he still suffered many bitter defeats. Dany Schnyder, the younger brother of the later top women’s player Patty Schnyder, became his arch rival and his biggest junior adversary. “I tried everything but it didn’t make a difference,” Roger recollected. “I always lost and lost decisively.”

Schnyder, six months older than Roger, grew up in the neighboring vil­lage of Bottmingen and has fond recollections of his junior duels with Roger. “We played against each other 17 times between the ages of eight and 12,” he said. “I won eight of the first nine matches but lost the last eight matches. Roger always played aggressively. I kept the ball in the court for the most part. Everything went wrong for him at the beginning. His gambles didn’t pay off. That’s probably why I won. But then suddenly his shots stayed in.”

“I was surprised to see Roger suddenly storm to the top,” said Schnyder, who eventually gave up his tennis career to pursue academics. “One noticed that he had good strokes at 11 or 12, but I never would have thought that he would become the No. 1 player in the world. I think what he’s accomplished is great-but he’s not an idol, a world star or a super hero for me. Whenever we see each other, he’s still the same guy as when we first met.”

Schnyder also corroborated the fact that Federer didn’t take practice matches nearly as seriously as tournament matches. “When things counted, he could always rise to the occasion,” he said. Roger himself was aware that his performances in practice matches had not dispelled all doubts. “I was conscientious but I didn’t like to train,” he said years later. “My parents always said, ‘Start training better,’ but I often had problems getting motivated. I was a match player.”

Negative emotions also often took control of him on the court. “When things weren’t going the way he wanted, he would curse and toss his racquet,” Kacosvky explained. “It was so bad, I had to intervene sometimes.”

“I was constantly cursing and tossing my racquet around,” said Federer. “It was bad. My parents were embarrassed and they told me to stop it or they wouldn’t come along with me to my tournaments anymore. I had to calm down but that was an extremely long process. I believe that I was looking for perfection too early.”

In 1993 at the age of 11, Roger won his first Swiss national title, defeating Chiudinelli in Lucerne in the final of the Swiss 12-and-under indoor championships. Six months later, he defeated Schnyder in the final of the Swiss 12-and-under outdoor chamionships in Bellinzona. Both tournament victories were very important to the developing Federer. “I thought, ‘Aha! I can compete,'” he said. “I can do it.”

Michael Lammer from Zürich, a year younger than Federer, remembered at that time that Federer was still a work in progress. “You could see early on that he was a talent, but at this age, it’s hard to say that a new star is being born,” said Lammer. “At the beginning, he still had problems with his backhand because he played it single-handedly and he didn’t have that much power. That’s why he sliced a lot, but his forehand was complete by then.”

Their duels, said Lammer, were explosive. “It was chaotic sometimes,” he said. “We played about five or six times before we were 14-years-old. He was very emotional. Our games were very even but he gained strength at the de­cisive moment because he was instinctively doing the right thing. That’s why I could never beat him.”

Roger was still playing club soccer in addition to tennis, but the many practice sessions in the two sports were too hard to coordinate. So, at age 12, he decided to give up soccer and concentrate on tennis. The choice wasn’t difficult for him although his soccer coaches also confirmed that he was a great talent. “I scored a few goals in soccer but I didn’t do anything especially well,” said Roger. “We won some regional tournaments but I had already won a national title in tennis.”

His great talent lay not in his feet but in his right hand.

Roger’s quest for perfection also led to his decision to give preference to tennis over soccer-not because he was a loner, but in the collective setting of a soccer team, Federer was simply too dependent upon his teammates. As a soccer player, he not only had to deal with his own imperfections but also with those of his fellow players. This wasn’t for him in the long run. He had enough to do fuming over his own mistakes.

After his ninth birthday, Federer sometimes trained at the Old Boys Tennis Club with Peter Carter, a young assistant instructor. The Australian, who wanted everybody to call him Peter whether they were housewives or bank directors, was a sympathetic, serious man with straight, blonde hair that fell uncombed across his forehead. He had large blue eyes and a soft voice. He was born in 1964 in Nuriootpa, a small city with 40 wine producers in the Barossa Valley in South Australia. As a member of the Australian Sports Institute, he became a tennis professional but was not even a journeyman player, achieving a career-high ranking of No. 173.

In 1984, Carter played the Swiss satellite circuit, a tournament series at the lowest professional level, and despite not meeting with much success, his hiatus in Switzerland proved fateful. The Old Boys Tennis Club asked him if he wanted to play with on their national “league tennis” B-level club team. Carter agreed. Soon he was not only playing for the team, but was also active as club’s coach and by the beginning of the 1990s, his workload was constantly increasing.

The Old Boys Tennis Club offered him a full-time coaching position in 1993 to build a mentoring program for the young tennis players. Carter accepted and he was now training a group that included a 12-year-old Federer. “Peter was not only an ideal coach for Roger but also a good friend,” Seppli Kacovsky recollected. “He was also an excellent instructor and psychologist.”

“When I first saw him,” Carter once said of the future world No. 1, “Roger hardly came up to the net. His talent was instantly visible. Roger could do a lot with the ball and the racquet at a very young age. He was playful and especially wanted to have his fun.” Federer, he said, was very natural and was coordinated in every respect. “He had a great feel for the ball and he always had a very good forehand,” said Carter. “He learned with extraordinary speed and ease, including things that he had seen Boris Becker or Pete Sampras do on TV. He always made progress.”

When Roger was 13, his dream became an obsession-he wanted to become the No. 1 player in Switzerland and then reach the top 100 in the world rankings. His playing level and ranking allowed him to play in international junior competitions. In the meantime, he was no longer as much a Boris Becker fan but became an enthusiast of Stefan Edberg, the Swedish rival of Becker.

The idea to send Roger to the Swiss National Tennis Center in the Swiss city of Ecublens came about in winter 1994/1995. His parents were satisfied with Peter Carter and the training conditions but the National Tennis Center mentoring program-or the “Tennis Etudes” program-was funded by the Swiss Tennis Federation and thus was financially attractive to the Federers.

Eight boys and four girls trained at the National Tennis Center on Lake Geneva, where qualified coaches were available to them. The students had the option of living with guest families and could attend public schools where they were exempt from certain subjects. One of the program’s central figures was Pierre Paganini who, like Peter Carter, would play a central role in Federer’s career. A former decathlon athlete and college-trained sports teacher, Paganini was the endurance trainer and administrative head at Ecublens.

When his parents asked Roger if he was interested going to Ecublens, he objected. However, they were even more astounded to later read their son’s statement in a tennis magazine of his intention to graduate from the acad­emy. In March of 1995, Federer went as one of 15 candidates to Lake Geneva to take the entrance examination that included a 12-minute run, an endur­ance test, demonstrations of his skills on the court and a test match. Federer quickly convinced Pierre Paganini and Christophe Freyss, the national coach, that he was worthy of entry. They informed him while he was still in Ecublens that he passed the entrance examination.