17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer (Player Bio) announced a few days back that he had parted ways with American coach Paul Annacone, who had been with the Swiss for three and a half years. While the spit may appear sudden, Annacone insists that it was mutual and that there are no hard feeling regarding the matter. In fact, he is still confident that Federer will find success without him.
“Greatness doesn’t stop,” Annacone told USA Today Sports. “It doesn’t just go away. He’s not all of a sudden now not that good anymore. The problem is that the expectations and the bar are so high.”
Federer has had one of his poorest seasons in over a decade, winning his lone title in Halle and failing to one of the four Grand Slam quarter-finals for the first time since 2004, when he exited Wimbledon (2nd round) and the US Open (fourth round) in disappointing fashion. It is also the first time since 2002 that he does not reach a Grand Slam final. He is currently vying for a possible qualification spot in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November and if he does not make the final eight, it would mark the first time since 2002 that Federer would not take part in the year-end championships.
Annacone had previously worked with former World No. 1 Pete Sampras and Tim Henman, believes that it is not abnormal for “phenoms” to have drops in performance for a significant period of time, yet it would be inaccurate of us to assume that it is a permanent drop. He even went so far as to say that he would be “surprised” if Federer does not win another Grand Slam title before retiring.
“Whenever you start to doubt people like this you kind of set yourself up to get your own foot stuck in your mouth,” he said. “They’re atypical. They’re phenoms. As much as Roger still loves to play, the exuberance he still shows in every practice, his desire to continue to enjoy the game — I can’t imagine anything other than success coming his way. For me, it’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when.”
While Federer’s formidable rivals continue to dominate their competition, Annacone is certain that the former No. 1 will make the necessary adjustments to improve drastically in 2014.
“Roger is smart,” he said. “He is a very objective, thoughtful person. He’ll figure out what he needs. He’s at an interesting time in his career where there is plenty of greatness left. He just has to put the pieces of the puzzle together.”