Busted Racquet

That’s so Roger: Evaluating Federer’s cocky comments

Chris Chase
Busted Racquet

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(Getty Images)

We like Roger Federer. We like him a lot. We'd dare say that if there were a list of Roger Federer admirers out there, we'd be in contention for No. 2, right along with Anna Wintour, Chris Evert, Mirka and the person who made this banner.

There's no such battle for the top spot, of course. That position is occupied by Federer himself.

Nobody loves Roger Federer more than Roger Federer and that's never more evident than in his press conferences. When talking with the media, Federer speaks in polite braggadocio mixed with an amusing lack of self-awareness and creates a whole new level of athlete preening. It's not trash-talk. It's not Joe Namath guaranteeing the Super Bowl. It's not even classifiable as boasting. It's different. There's a subtlety when he talks about his greatness, almost as if he's embarrassed to be discussing it, but desperate to get it out. It's downright Federerian.

Today, Busted Racquet introduces the "That's so Roger" Fed-O-Meter. Its purpose: To parse Federer's press conference quotes and to rate them on how much "Federer" is in there. The lower the score, the less boastful the comment. A full ranking of five Feds means he's preening like a peacock at mating season.

Our inaugural edition takes quotes from Federer's presser in Dubai.

"It would be great having [Pete Sampras' record for most weeks at No. 1] but my life is very much OK without it, too. Pete is a good friend and was an amazing champion for our game. I don't need to break every record he has."

A perfect starting point. Federer is gracious (talking about how amazing Pete was) and honest (he wants the record but is cool if he doesn't). And then he makes sure to let you know that he's broken most of Sampras' records already.

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[On his recent Grand Slam performances.] "Did I miss some big opportunities? I think I put it more down to that than actually not playing [well]. At times I think I was even playing better."

True story: In his mind, Federer hasn't been defeated on the tennis court since 1994. When he loses, he beats himself every time.

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"I feel like if I play really well from here till the US Open, obviously there's a shot [at regaining No. 1]. But then there's a shot for probably 10 players to do that."

On the surface, there's nothing Federerian at the statement. Every tennis player has aspirations to be No. 1, especially a guy who's been there for 286 weeks already. It's the false modesty at the end that makes this quote chart on out countdown. There aren't 10 players who can end the year No. 1; there are three, maybe four. Trying to relate to Janko Tipsarevic? That's so Roger.

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"I've struggled early on in the tournaments here in the past."

We were fully expecting that Federer "struggling" would be him referring to the time he dropped a set in the first round to Kristian Pless. Then we remembered that he lost a first-round match in Dubai four years ago to Andy Muray. (The Scotsman was ranked No. 11 and unseeded at the time.)

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"I've already won it four times, so you kind of draw out of that and hope you can do it again. Five [titles] would be amazing, but the competition is really tough."

How many titles have you won? And how many titles will you have won if you do, indeed, win this week? Gotcha.

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"I came so close [to breaking Sampras' record] and I could have chased it if I had wanted to. I didn't choose to.''

This is why we play the game. Federer didn't break Pete's No. 1 record because he didn't want to. Not because Rafael Nadal took it away from him or Novak Djokovic denied him two Grand Slams last year. Nope, Roger chose not to pursue the record, just as I choose not to be a billionaire.

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