The Team Behind Roger Federer
We all know that Roger Federer loves tennis because of its individual nature, the fact that no coach nor teammate, can affect the outcome of play.
Yet it cannot be ignored that behind the scenes and off the court, Federer has a close-knit, intelligent and highly skilled team, to ensure that he is constantly at his peak fitness, mentally and physically, for every match.
This slide show will examine past and present members of his immediate team and their roles in ensuring the Federer Express always reaches its desired destination.
Pierre Paganini is Federer's official fitness coach and trainer - and arguably the longest standing member of Federer's tennis team.
Federer met Paganini while training as a junior in the Swiss National Tennis Centre in Ecublens, near Lausanne - Paganini is also a key member of the Swiss Davis Cup team.
Since Federer's youth, Paganini has been indispensable in maintaining the player's deceptive strength, speed, and endurance through extensive off-season and mid-season fitness sessions.
The pair have been working together for over a decade, with neither Federer nor Paganini loosing the dedication and motivation that it takes to maintain the star's fitness and agility.
Together they put in 100 hours of fitness training throughout the season; prior to a big tournament or in the off season they will often work for 10 hours a week, or even more.
Paganini concocts a combination of strength and endurance work, circuit training, running and a wide range of exercises, designed to practice all the movements Federer is likely to make on a tennis court.
Clearly respect is mutual between both individuals, and the success of Paganini's work is evident though Federer's consistency and lack of injuries in recent years.
(Photo: Federer is worked on by a masseur, Australian Open, 2005)
An Aussie masseur who was plucked from virtual obscurity two years ago, Gary Hamilton has become another essential asset to the Federer army, especially as Federer is in his 12th year on the ATP tour and aches and strains are increasingly likely throughout his grueling tennis season.
Hamilton is a regular in Federer's player's box, to be at the player's disposal after every match if necessary.
He served as temporary masseur for the ATP but Federer offered him an exclusive deal that he could not refuse, thus securing that he work independently for Federer.
Officially the Swiss Davis Cup captain and in many people's eyes, Federer's 'official yet unofficial' coach, Severin Luethi accompanies Federer to practically all tournaments on the ATP tour and indeed acts as a full-time advisor to the former World No.1. Luethi worked with Federer for 35 weeks in 2008.
Offering additional eyes and ears for the player, Luethi provides refreshing and illuminating insight for the often stubborn superstar, reviewing Federer's previous matches and other contests involving future opponents.
When asked if he would prefer a different coach, Federer replied, 'I will just continue with the great team that I have.'
Clearly the Swiss connection is something that Federer considers highly important and a key quality for many individuals in his team.
Despite being a senior vice president at IMG Tennis, with overall responsibility for IMG's extensive tennis-related acquisitions, activities and events, Godsick is nearly constantly at Federer's side at tournaments around the world to help with interview requests and logistical details in the busy superstar's life.
Despite being Federer's agent and hence a non-sporting member of Federer's team, Godsick really has integrated himself into Federer's inner circle.
He is present in the player box at practically all of Federer's matches, providing support and assistance whenever necessary, meaning that he effectively acts exclusively for his most important client and commodity.
Federer signed with IMG in 2005, when his popularity and demand in tennis circles began to reach new heights. Before his profile rose stratospherically, his family handled much of his scheduling and off-court activities.
IMG, with Godsick as Federer's spokesperson, has been instrumental in managing and expanding the former World No.1's image on a global platform.
Thanks to his efforts, Federer has expanded his endorsement deals from the likes of Swiss-based Jura and Nationale Suisse, to internationally-renowned organisations such as Gillette, Rolex and Mercedes.
IMG were also instrumental in securing the extension of Federer's Nike apparel deal (the most lucrative tennis endorsement ever, standing for 10 years at an estimated $13 million a year) and his Wilson Tennis lifetime contract.
Godsick does have another reason to be at the most prestigious tournaments—his wife is Mary-Jo Fernandez, former WTA player and US TV tennis commentator. They married on 8th April 2000.
Clearly Godsick is an agent, and team member, that Federer can trust.
Looking back at former members of Federer's team, there have been several individuals that stand out.
A proprietary trader for Credit Suisse in his day job, Reto Staubli has been a longtime friend of Federer's and was a former national player in Switzerland.
Staubli met 14-year-old Federer in 1995. Back then, Staubli, who played at a club in Basel, was one of the best players in Switzerland, he says. 'Roger wanted to watch the elders play,' Staubli says. 'It was interesting for him to see good-level tennis.'
Since then, they have remained great friends.
When Federer was about to split with his coach, Peter Lungren, at the end of 2003, he called Staubli for some informal advice before the 2004 Australian Open.
Again, in the rain delay of the 2004 Wimbledon final, when Federer was down 2-4 in the third set against Andy Roddick, Federer asked Staubli for advice on how he should counter the American's thunderous serves.
After returning to Centre Court, Federer won in four sets.
Staubli used to accompany Federer to many tournaments, effectively acting in a coaching capacity; in 2004, he travelled to 10 tournaments, which was 'an amazing experience'.
In recent times Staubli has curtailed his travel due to work commitments, but he still occasionally uses his vacation time to attend the bigger tennis events, such as Miami and the U.S. Open.
He has also been present at the Davidoff Swiss Indoors in Basel, Federer's hometown.
He remains a great personal friend. In September 2008, after Federer's 5th consecutive US Open win, the player and his then-girlfriend, Mirka, attended Staubli's wedding on the island of Majorca.
'Reto is a great friend,' Federer says, 'and has been extremely helpful to me during the most difficult times in my career.'
Jose Higueras acted as a clay court specialist-coach for Federer, acting in partnership with Luethi, for the 2008 clay season.
The team worked successfully at the start of their collaboration; Federer won the Estoril Open comfortably, beating Nikolay Davydenko in the final.
Equally Federer reached the finals of the Monte Carlo and Hamburg Masters Series events, using more aggressive tactics and dropshots on the slower surface—yet both times, Federer lost to Nadal in straight sets.
The season ended badly with Federer's emphatic defeat to Nadal in the Roland Garros final.
It was thought that Higueras would become Federer's full-time coach, continuing his position well after Roland Garros.
Shortly afterwards however, Higueras announced that he would be taking a full-time position with the US Tennis Association, terminating his relationship with Federer. The pair still occasionally keep in touch but the relationship is no longer official.
The Australian Tony Roche acted as Federer's coach from 2005 to May 2007. It is reputed this was on a 'handshake agreement' with no contract—Roche was paid by the week.
Having a long-standing affinity with Australians (Federer's first coach, Peter Carter, was Australian, and the Federer family often travelled down under for vacations; now Gary Hamilton continues the connection), Roche was a highly desired choice for Federer.
On Christmas Day in 2004 Federer travelled to Roche's hometown to persuade the Australian to coach him.
During the partnership, Federer yielded 192 wins from 205 matches, 25 titles and six majors in two-and-a-half seasons.
It is arguable that the relationship was strained from the start; Roche refused to travel to all tournaments with Federer—with a maximum of 15 weeks a year on the road—and towards the end of the relationship, much of the pair's communication was by telephone and email.
After two-and-a-half years of intermittent contact, Federer believed it was time for a change.
A former player on the ATP tour himself, Lundgren made a name for himself as a coach when he took Marcelo Ríos into the top 10. He began working for the Swiss Tennis Federation helping out with the juniors, where he met the young Federer.
After a difficult decision for Federer, Lundgren was chosen to replace Peter Carter as his coach.
They worked together from 2000 to end of 2003, the period in which Lundgren was able to ease Federer out of his on-court tantrums and volatile results and into the form of a calm and professional Grand Slam champion.
Under Lundgren's tutelage, Federer won the 2003 Wimbledon Championship—his first of five consecutive titles—and the 2003 Tennis Masters Cup.
Federer ended the partnership at the end of 2003, saying that he had learnt all that he could from Lundgren, surprising many in tennis circles. He remained without a coach for the entire 2004 tennis season, nevertheless winning three of the four Slams and the Tennis Masters Cup.
Carter worked for the Swiss Tennis Federation after his own tennis career was dogged by injury. He immediately saw Federer's potential, believing that he would be a big star, even when Federer was only 12.
Peter coached Roger through his formative teenage years, accompanying him to many junior level tournaments.
Nevertheless in 2000, Federer made the decision to turn to Peter Lundgren, a former Swedish ATP player, to help him transition to the professional ATP tour.
Carter remained hugely popular in Swiss Tennis circles was even allowed to become Swiss Davis Cup Captain after disputes within the team over the state of organisation.
At one stage the team actually refused to play unless he was the captain. Throughout these activities Carter remained close to Federer and became one of his trusted friends.
After Carter's wife contracted cancer, but was then cleared of the disease, the couple went to South Africa to celebrate in 2002. Traveling in separate cars to the Kruger National Park, Carter was tragically killed in a road accident; Federer was shocked and crushed by this loss.
Despite affecting him badly for several months, Federer began to realise that tennis was not the sole thing that mattered in life; more important issues were health and happiness.
Consequently, it is argued Carter's death proved to be one of the catalysts that propelled Federer to new heights as he gained a new perspective on his career.
Robert and Lynette Federer
Although not regular members of Federer's player box throughout the year, there is no doubt that Lynette and Robert Federer, Roger's parents, were, and will remain, an integral part to his life.
Previously managing all of Roger's activities and scheduling before IMG took over the majority of international requests and demands, the Federers now play their biggest role in co-ordinating the Roger Federer Foundation, Roger's charity for underprivileged children in Africa and Switzerland. Mrs Federer has particular affinity with this cause - she was born and raised in South Africa, a key country in the Foundation's activities. She visited a deprived township in the country, Port Elizabeth, with Roger in 2005.
Naturally they also receive and respond to Federer's fan mail which is sent to Switzerland and additionally have occasional input in Roger's official fan club, Fans4Roger.
Moreover their activities in the past, in nurturing and encouraging young Roger, were crucial to forming the talented, intelligent and classy man we see today. Traveling to tournaments across the country and even Europe-wide meant that their time was always engaged with Roger and his tennis. Patience and understanding was also critical in the Federer household: 'As a family we always had to save, count costs,' said Robert. Dealing with temper tantrums and losses were difficult, they say, but the Federers knew that Roger had to mature in his own way before he could truly achieve.
Roger has to use more than compensated the previous worries - not only in numbers, but also in unforgettable experiences. His parents have travelled to Wimbledon, New York, and Melbourne to witness numerous Grand Slam victories. Most important, Roger has also been able to achieve what all parents ultimately desire - to see their children happy and content in their lives.
Finally, one cannot write about Federer's supporting team without discussing the most crucial member, Mirka.
Much has been written about Federer's new wife—in both positive and negative contexts—but Federer himself is keen for his longtime sweetheart to maintain her privacy as much as possible.
It is hard for one to avoid describing her, however. Since the couple met, she has been a permanent member of Federer's player box, meaning that as much as she likes to stay in the shadows of Federer's intense spotlight, she is never far from his side and frequently photographed.
As well as being the star's partner, officially Mirka also deals with interview requests and the pair's travel and accommodation plans; she also maintains close contact with the webmaster of Federer's official web site.
With the huge and unrelenting demand for Federer from all corners of the world, she is always busy; indeed, it is evident to all that Mirka always keeps her BlackBerry close to hand!
Moreover, Mirka is clearly an indispensable part of Federer's 'on-court' team. One can highlight the epic Wimbledon 2008 final as a clear example of Roger's trust and respect for his then-girlfriend of eight years—it was not to his coach or advisors that Federer turned in the first rain delay in the final, where he was two sets to love down against Rafael Nadal - but 'his' Mirka.
Many in the tennis world believe she is a cold, inflexible and obdurate person—perhaps their evidence being her refusals of their interview requests and contact—but this is justified by Federer's need for peace and privacy.
There have also been rumours that she is the lead instigator in the hiring or subsequent firing of many of Federer's coaches or advisors; no-one can unequivocally confirm this, as there are surely many factors determining the connections between Federer himself and his team.
Nevertheless from many Federer fans' perspectives and from how she is portrayed in the visual media, she is a warm, encouraging and compassionate lady, always ready to support her husband in victory or defeat.
Now many months pregnant with the couple's first child, it will be interesting to see if she continues to attend all of Federer's forthcoming tournaments, especially in the late weeks of the pregnancy and immediate aftermath of the birth.
Nevertheless, it is unquestionable that she will remain the most loved and most trusted individual in Federer's team.