A Tribute to Peter Carter – Former coach to Roger Federer (from Virtual Tennis Coach)

A tribute to Peter Carter

Interview with Bob and Diana Carter in January 2007 (Peter Carters parents)

 

 

Peter Carter

Peter Carter

CLICK HERE to watch the Virtual Tennis Coach tribute to Peter Carter

 

 

Former ATP professional

Coach to Roger Federer (12 – 18 yrs)

Former Swiss Davis Cup Captain

Pupil to Peter Smith 10yrs +

 

 

Matt Wright:

“When it became obvious that your son Peter was a very promising tennis player I understand you sought out Peter Smith – what motivated this decision at the time?”

Bob Carter:

“Well Peter had been coming down to tournaments in Adelaide and doing quite well. He got picked in the state squad and Peter Smith was the coach in that state squad. We got to know him and saw his method and I thought well we want the best! So that’s why – Peter took him on and it’s turned into just a wonderful relationship for the whole family – yeah it’s been great ”

Matt Wright:

“In the early days of this relationship you used to drive down from the country each weekend for coaching – what are your recollections of those early days?”

Bob Carter:

“Well I enjoyed it because I could see such progress developing – so it was a great time. The two Peter’s right from the start really clicked, they seemed to get on so well with each other – it just helped so much I think and Peter was just so keen to learn”.

Diana Carter:

“And of course Peter and Bromwyn they had three young boys as well and they all got on very well together”

Matt Wright:

“I believe the relationship escalated when your Peter started living with the Smith’s and going to the same school that Peter taught at – this continued for a number of years – can you remember the impact that Peter had on your Peter’s game during this period?”

Bob Carter:

“Peter was just fifteen when he went down there and it could be an awkward age, you know when they are growing up and all the rest, but no he had an enormous influence on his character and his thinking. Also coming into a family like that it really set our minds at ease because it wasn’t easy losing him at fifteen”

Diana Carter:

“He was our youngest and the first to leave home so it wasn’t an easy time”

Bob Carter:

“Peter was doing pretty well down here in Adelaide any how, before he lived with them – but when he could hit more often with Peter his game just blossomed – volleying the serve and all of his game. He started beating people that were previously beating him – so he had an enormous impact”

Matt Wright:

“I know Peter was enormously proud of how your Peter developed as a player and as a person and more recently was in awe of Peter’s achievements with Roger Federer, the Swiss tennis Federation and its Davis Cup Team. I understand that both Peter’s used to talk on the phone and compare notes on their “boys” – amazing that both boys became World No.1’s and Roger is arguably the best player ever – can you comment”

Bob Carter:

“Well first of all we were very proud too of what he achieved in the coaching side of it. I think he was an understudy to Peter Smith, he saw his method of coaching and I’m sure he followed a lot of that. The two Peter’s used to communicate over the phone about their two players – Roger and Lleyton, they were real rivals together, although I think they did play a few doubles matches together. But not only did they talk about tennis, our Peter knew that if he had problems, he could ring Peter Smith, and he did that a lot. He was only a young guy running around the tennis circuit and all the rest, but he used to ring Peter and have talks. It was just a wonderful relationship that they had”

 

 

 

Peter Carter, Luke Smith, Peter Smith, Lleyton Hewitt

Peter Carter, Luke Smith, Peter Smith, Lleyton Hewitt

CLICK HERE to watch the Virtual Tennis Coach tribute to Peter Carter

 

 

‘The Development Stage’ DVD Dedication:

 “This DVD is dedicated to two young men with whom I’ve enjoyed an enduring friendship. To Lleyton Hewitt, the best pupil and the best player that I have had the good fortune to be involved with, To Peter Carter, who was like a son to us and whose achievements in coaching, with Roger Federer, the Swiss Tennis Federation and the Swiss Davis Cup Team, I’m in awe of.”  

Peter Smith

 

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Roger Federer’s 1st Wimbledon title – dedicated to Peter Carter

Swiss Tennis Player Dedicated his Victory to a South Australian Coach

Broadcast: 11/07/2003

Reporter: Partick Emmett

Peter Carter and Roger Federer

Peter Carter and Roger Federer

CLICK HERE to watch the Virtual Tennis Coach tribute to Peter Carter

 

 

IAN HENSCHKE: Last Sunday, when Swiss tennis player Roger Federer won Wimbledon, he dedicated his victory to a little-known South Australian coach.


Hardly anyone knows the name Peter Carter here, but in Switzerland he was a household name and captain of their Davis Cup team.

But all that was tragically cut short when he died in a car accident last year.

 

Patrick Emmett has more.

ROGER FEDERER: And I was always joking around when I was a boy — “I’m going to win this”, and now I have it. Thanks to everybody. Oh, it’s great.

PATRICK EMMETT: When Roger Federer broke down in tears after last Sunday’s Wimbledon final, much of that emotion was for Peter Carter.

And those tears were shared thousands of kilometres away in Nuriootpa by Peter’s parents, Bob and Diana.

BOB CARTER: We cried.

DIANA CARTER: We did cry because we saw Roger and we realised why he was so upset, because it had been in the paper that he was dedicating this result to Peter and so —

BOB CARTER: His first Grand Slam to Peter.

DIANA CARTER: ..so we did realise what it was all about.

BOB CARTER: And when he broke up, so did we.

PATRICK EMMETT: Peter Carter grew up in the Barossa in the ’60’s as part of a tennis loving family.

He’d trail along to the courts with his parents and two older brothers, but they thought he was too small to play competitively, until one day when he was eight.

BOB CARTER: He always used to take his racquet out and there was an older boy out there that was actually playing in the team tennis.

He went off with him and came back and said “I beat this lad”, so then I thought, well I better start looking into him and have a few hits with him, and he was just so good, even at that age.

PATRICK EMMETT: And he was soon playing even better.

When he was 12, he was playing A grade, then at 15 he moved to Adelaide to live with coach Peter Smith, the man who played a part in many famous careers, including John Fitzgerald, Darren Cahill, Brod Dyke and Lleyton Hewitt.

PETER SMITH, COACH: He was a little younger than Fitzy and Brod Dyke but in terms of Mark and Darren who were about the same age, I think people considered him to be the best of that particular group.

PATRICK EMMETT: One of Peter’s most memorable wins was when he defeated John Alexander while he was still at school.

He then went on the circuit, but dogged by injury, he eventually ended up coaching in Switzerland, where he met the young Roger Federer.

BOB CARTER: He said to me one night when he rang “Oh, have I got a young boy here who looks promising, “he’s only about 12 or 13”.

He said, “I think he’s going to go places.”

And that was Roger Federer.

PETER SMITH: As coaches would say that, you know, I spoke to them about this young kid that I was coaching I thought was going to be pretty good and he spoke to me about a young kid he was coaching that he thought was going to be pretty good, and of course it’s turned out that Lleyton Hewitt and Roger Federer turned out to be not just fairly good, they turned out to be superstars.

PATRICK EMMETT: Peter coached Roger through his formative teenage years.

The Swiss champion credits him with much of his success.

Those feelings were shared by other Swiss players and eventually Peter became the country’s Davis Cup coach and captain.

BOB CARTER: They did really respect him a lot.

DIANA CARTER: And the team actually refused to play unless he was the captain, at one stage.

PATRICK EMMETT: Peter’s life seemed complete when he met his wife Sylvia, but shortly afterwards she was diagnosed with cancer.

After a 12-month battle last year she was cleared of the disease, but worse was to come.

The pair travelled to South Africa to celebrate, but while travelling in separate cars Peter was killed in an accident.

BOB CARTER: Yeah, it’s something that you never forget getting that phone call at 2:45am one morning.

PATRICK EMMETT: The after effects of that tragic death still linger for Peter’s family and friends in Adelaide but the success of Roger Federer has helped to ease the pain.

BOB CARTER: I feel really good about that.

It’s a wonderful feeling really, because Peter had such an influence on his career, and really to watch Roger play you can sort of see a little bit of Peter there.

PETER SMITH: He had the same calmness and smoothness that Roger’s got and I’m sure it’s not a coincidence.

He was held in the highest esteem by everyone that knew him — more than anyone I’ve ever met or ever known.

There’s not just one person on the planet that I’ve ever heard had a bad word to say about Peter, and so it’s rocked tennis in Switzerland, there’s no question about that, and it’s rocked the foundations of tennis in Australia with those people that did know him.

BOB CARTER: People who knew him, respected him and we’re so proud of that.

He just cared about people and for that reason they cared about him and he was just so wonderful.

IAN HENSCHKE: And Peter Carter is now remembered as part of the Carter Altman Penfold Fund.

The charity known as CAP helps children with disabilities play sport and remembers two other tennis players, Nick Altman and Jeff Penfold.

 

Peter Carter

Peter Carter

CLICK HERE to watch the Virtual Tennis Coach tribute to Peter Carter

 

 

‘The Development Stage’ DVD Dedication:

 “This DVD is dedicated to two young men with whom I’ve enjoyed an enduring friendship. To Lleyton Hewitt, the best pupil and the best player that I have had the good fortune to be involved with, To Peter Carter, who was like a son to us and whose achievements in coaching, with Roger Federer, the Swiss Tennis Federation and the Swiss Davis Cup Team, I’m in awe of.”  

Peter Smith

 

 

Roger Federer / Peter Carter article (from http://rogiotaworld.lolipop.jp)

 

Peter Carter and Roger Federer

Peter Carter and Roger Federer

CLICK HERE to watch the Virtual Tennis Coach tribute to Peter Carter

 

 

HE STANDS ALONE

It’s not surprising that Roger Federer’s fans put him on a pedestal. What is shocking is how many of those fans are his fellow competitors, who feel that Federer has taken his game – and their sport – to a higher level.

By S. L. Price

He did what little boys do when faced with something huge and dark: He ran. He rushed out into the warm Toronto night; he was alone and the street was unfamiliar, and there were no taxis anywhere and he had to find someone to explain how this nightmare could’ve happened, but — where was his hotel? Where were the cabs? He ran and ran, past storefronts and doors and lights. No, he thought. He ran through the strange city, gasping, trying not to believe what he’d just heard. God, no — He had been in a bar. It was near midnight. His cellphone rang, but he ignored it, thinking, What does he want now? It rang again, he ignored it again. Why? Because he was 20 and had lived half his life being told he was special, and he had become rich too early; because Roger Federer was a boy still. He didn’t want to deal with responsibility that August night. He didn’t want to hear his coach, Peter Lundgren, telling him to get some sleep, or think about the next day’s doubles match or about how great he was supposed to be. Hadn’t he already bombed out in his singles match three days before? He lifted his glass. He didn’t have to answer if he didn’t want to.

Federer had, by then, shed his more brattish ways. He didn’t weep during matches anymore, or throw rackets or scream so loudly after mistakes that even his father, Robert, would yell down fnom the stands, “Can you please just stop?” Roger was years past the point of howling back at his dad, “Go have a drink and leave me alone!” embarrassing the man to the point that father and son would make the long drive home in silence, the trip ending once with Robert shoving his son’s face into a snowbank. But it still took Roger a half hour stop crying in the locker room after losses, and he still flung rackets in practice. When going to sleep, he often needed to lie on his stomach and slam his face over and over into the pillow – “head-banging,” he called it – searching like a troubled child for the rhythm that would send him into slumber.

He was soft. Everyone knew it. The year before, at Wimbledon in 2001, Federer seemed to make his long-predicted breakthrough when he snapped Pete Sampras’s 31-match winning streak there, but he lost in the next round. His game could be breathtaking, and that hurt him. He got lost in trying to play beautifully, to create astonishing points, and anytime he climbed into the cage with someone who could stretch a match to the place where talent and beauty weren’t enough, he was in trouble. He won minor titles but lost too early, too often, on the game’s biggest stages. By the summer of ’02, Federer had cracked the top 10 buy cemented a reputation. “The word on me was, Mentally he’s not the strongest,” Federer says. “People would hang on, thinking, If the match goes on over two hours, I will get him.”

Some people are middle-aged at 30; some remain children forever. Here was Roger Federer on Aug. 1, 2002: callow and unfinished. His cellphone rang, and he didn’t answer. He checked his messages, though, then called his coach at last. That’s when Lundgren told him: There’d been a car crash. Federer’s mentor, the 37-year-old man who had traveled with him for years, who had shaped him more than anyone into the player and person he’d become, who was more brother than coach, was dead. He had been en route to a safari, a trip Federer had long pushed him to take. Guilt coursed through Federer like poison. The cabs had vanished and Federer ran a mile, maybe more, searching for a ride back to his hotel. “I was going crazy,” he says. “It was horrible.”

Back at the hotel he went from being the recipient of bad news to the bearer of it, sobbing as he called friends. He was, as someone who spoke to him that night says, “destroyed. You cannot describe how he was at that moment: You had to hear it, feel it.”

Now experience and age came together for Federer, like hands of a clock lining up at midnight. How many of us can point to the moment they crossed into adulthood? When his friend’s body arrived in Federer’s hometown of Basel, Switzerland, a week later, Federer had grown up. It was his birthday. He was 21.

On a rainy afternoon in October, Roger Federer strolled to the dais in the council chamber at Basel’s city hall, taking both the applause and the setting easily in stride. Paintings depicting scenes from Swiss history covered the ceiling. The benches were only half-filled with officials and journalists, most wearing jackets and tightly knotted ties, and from the wood-paneled walls and the middle-aged men rose the scent of order, history, law and money. Ostensibly, all had come for the official draw of the 2004 Swiss indoor tournament set to open in Basel the next day, but it was more a celebration of the city’s favorite son. For the first rime, Federer had come home as the No. 1 player in the world, the first Swiss man to reach that height and- unlike his often mouthy compatriot Martina Hingis-now seemingly incapable of making the Swiss establishment cringe.

The old like Federer. He plays a classic game, never upbraids umpires or linespeople and, though he spent 2004 on one of the most spectacular rolls in tennis history, shows little sign of conceit. After being named the tour’s most popular player, Federer thanked everyone and finished with a catchphrase prized by grandmothers the world over: “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”

It’s no wonder that Basel tournament president Roger Brennwald, noticing Federer posing for a photographer before the oversized draw sheet, bolted in mid-sentence and darted across the room to throw an arm around his neck. Ten years ago Federer had been a ball boy at this tournament, and his mother had made name tags in the press office. This all fits nicely with Basel’s homey self-image; the town sits just minutes from both the French and the German borders, and in his multilingual openness, Federer is, as provincial president Jorg Schild puts it, “typically Basel.”

“Roger’s easy,” Brennwald said. “We are down-to-earth people. In Zurich they are a little . . . ” – and here he lifted his nose in the air -” . . . like the French. Basel is not like that. You can talk to Roger like a simple man on the street.”

Simple. Easy. Nice. Talk to anyone in the game who had to wrangle with John McEnroe or the Williams sisters or any open-era No. 1, and you will never hear those words together. Federer’s dominance has been so absolute, his winning of three 2004 Grand Slam titles so effortless, his assumption of the attendant media and sponsor responsibilities so angst-free, that it’s only human to overlook how radical a force he is. Tennis has never seen anything quite like him.

Sailing alone, making his own game plan, famously outthinking coaching guru Brad Gilbert during the Wimbledon final against Andy Roddick, the 23-year old Federer lost just six matches in ‘04, went 11-0 in finals and won his last 23 matches against top 10 players, routing the field to win November’s Masters Cup. Only a third-round loss to Gustavo Kuerten at Roland Garros stopped Federer from winning all four Grand Slam tournaments; the last time the sport got even a whiff of that was in 1997, when Hingis won three.

Yet if Federer’s campaign placed him in the company of tennis greats, it also had an oddly unique feel. Throughout, Federer seemed less intent on making history or crushing the competition than on exploring his limits. Whenever a big or tricky match loomed, he wondered if he could handle, say, Roddick’s power or bad weather or New York’s singular pressures; he was the first to say he didn’t know. Faced with Ivo Karlovic’s massive serve at Wimbledon, he was less nervous than intrigued. “I thought it was an unbelievably nice test: Can he serve me off the court? Am I not a good enough returner to cope with that pressure?” Federer said after. “Well, I did, and I’m happy.”

It’s not often you see the tennis tour used as a platform for personal growth, but Federer hasn’t followed the norm for a while. Despite his conservative demeanor, he has broken with convention far more fundamentally than, say, Andre Agassi or McEnroe; where it matters most-money and winning-the game’s rebels have needed their hands held as much as anyone. By the 1980s every young player had a big-time agent, either from behemoth IMG or one of its enemies, and a No. 1 without a full-time coach was as normal as a limo without a driver. But in 2003 Federer broke with IMG and directed his business dealings to his parents; his girlfriend, former Swiss player Mirka Vavrinec; plus a media expert, accountant and lawyer. Later that year, despite winning Wimbledon and the Masters Cup championship in Houston, Federer fired Lundgren. For the next 13 months, he talked over his game mostly with Vavrinec and a friend from his junior days. Last week Federer hired Aussie coach Tony Roche as a consultant, but he’s still in no rush to hire someone full time. After all, Federer broke into greatness on his own.

“Roger has this natural instinct for getting better-and he did,” Hingis says. “I find that incredible. I always had someone to tell me if something was wrong. He just felt it.”

Hingis, of course, upended the women’s game with brains and touch similar to Federer’s, but it’s no shock that his game leaves her mystified. It does that to everybody The service motion, forehand and demeanor prompt an easy comparison with Sampras, but Federer’s youthful nickname of Petit Pete hasn’t held up. Sampras’s career was built on aces and quickness; his greatness was easily explained and thus, for the easily bored, boring. But no one has accused Federer of being dull, because his tennis is as smooth and elusive as a ball of mercury. You can’t quite put your finger on him. In an age of power his is a game of manipulation: Federer doesn’t shut down opponents so much as expose them. Few players generate more racket head speed, and his combination of conditioning and exquisite footwork leaves the impression that he always has more time, more space, in which to react. His rivals, in a clear sign of surrender, have all but given up using tennis terms to describe him. Marat Safin, arguably the second-most-talented man on tour, calls Federer “a magician”; ‘04 French Open champ Gaston Gaudio calls him “a genius”; for Agassi he is “an inspiration.” Rod Laver, whose Grand Slam season in 1969 may well be the only one comparable with Federer’s 2004, is no less awestruck. Federer’s anticipation and court sense, Laver says, leave him wondering, match after match, How did he do that? “It’s uncanny” Laver says. “He’s never out of place. But you think, How can he never be out of place?”

Serena Williams says, “I wish I could play like Roger Federer.” It has been 20 years since a man has been talked about in such a way. McEnroe’s touch allowed tennis cognoscenti to bandy a word like “artistry,” and Federer is blessed with the same rare gift. But it’s harder to be an artist these days. Racket technology and weight training have made the players bigger, more powerful; Federer who is 6′ 1”, 177, is creating beautiful tennis off a barrage McEnroe never faced. At the same time, the tour is dominated by athletes, not players, and though the top 100 is better than ever, the top 10 is not. It’s easier to look as though you’re working with brush and palette when everyone else is playing painthall. “Nobody hits a good slice, so nobody knows what it is anymore,” says Swiss coach Heinz Gunthardt. “So Roger hits his little short slice-which used to be a standard approach shot-and nobody knows how to get past him, and people say, ‘My God! Look at that shot!”‘

There’s never been a player more complete. Unlike McEnroe and Sampras, Federer can beat the best on clay and will be a favorite to win the French; unlike Laver and Bjorn Borg, he has won Slam titles on hard court. “He stays back better than me, his backhand is better, and his forehand is just as good,” Sampras says. “His temperament will enable him to stay on top as long as he wants.” This is why, though Federer has won only four Slam titles, many believe he can complete a Grand Slam and gun for Sampras’s record of 14 Slam tities. “There’s no one who can play with him today,” Sampras says. “For the next four or five years, his competition will be the record books.”

Aside from injury, then, the only thing capable of stopping Federer is Federer. For now, he’s motivated: On Saturday it took him just 63 minutes to win the Qatar Open. Whether he cares enough to chase Sampras won’t be known for years, but it’s clear that the first stage of his career has ended. When Federer returned to Basel last autumn, he came home for the first time free of pressure, free of frustration and fear. “Everything from now on is only positive,” he says. “Of course there will be ups and downs, many moments when I’ll think I should’ve won that match or done this or that differently. But I’ve lived up to all the expectations. It gives me huge relief: I can look in the mirror and know I can achieve. I’m playing great tennis. I’m enjoying the tour, having fun with the fans off the court. I’m loving it now.”

 

Peter Carter

Peter Carter

CLICK HERE to watch the Virtual Tennis Coach tribute to Peter Carter


PETER CARTER died young, but that wasn’t the only reason his death felt cruel. The Swiss Davis Cup coach had just emerged from a wrenching period: He had been married just more than a year but had never taken a honeymoon because his wife, Sylvia, had leamed she had Hodgkin’s disease five weeks after their wedding. Their world revolved around doctors, chemotherapy, hair falling out in clumps, and Peter was there for all of it. Then, in the summer of ‘02, Sylvia’s tests came back clean. Federer’s mother is from South Africa, and he had always pushed Peter to go there, go on a safari, so Sylvia and Peter made their plan. “The trip was a celebration,” says Bob Carter, Peter’s father. “To celebrate her becoming well again.”

It was Aug. 1, the day after Sylvia’s birthday. Peter was riding in a Land Rover with a guide in Kruger National Park. Police say a tire may have blown out; the driver lost control, and the vehicle plunged off a bridge into a stream and overturned. Both men were killed instantly. Sylvia was in another car, riding with the other man’s wife. “It just destroyed her,” Vavrinec says of Sylvia. “It cannot get any worse. Her birthday is now a nightmare to her.” Nothing compares with the loss of a spouse or a child; Federer knows that his grief pales in comparison. But he was green enough to gain something priceless from that tragedy: the knowledge that nothing is guaranteed. Not happiness, not love and not, certainly, anything as flimsy as tennis greatness.

Carter knew that. He grew up in rural Australia, a graceful serve-and-volleyer but slight; “a waif,” says his coach Peter Smith. Carter had just two big moments: beating Pat Cash when Cash was the world’s No. 1 junior and then, in 1982, ranked 756th, stunning 34th-ranked John Alexander. But every year brought a new injury, and at some tournaments he played in constant pain. There was only one reason he accomplished the little he did. “He was so tough,” Smith says. Later, when Smith began coaching Lleyton Hewitt, he gave the tenacious blond boy the best compliment he could imagine: “You look like a little Peter Carter out there.”

By then, though, Carter had moved to Switzerland, playing club-team tennis and coaching, and washed up at the Old Boys Tennis Club in Basel. He met Federer as a 10-year-old, and already people were talking about Federer’s touch-and his attitude. The Basel youth tennis scene then was like Bollettieri’s-on-the-Rhine, highly competitive and highly strung; smashed rackets and screechy tirades made every tournament a trial. In one match Federer was beating his opponent so badly the boy started crying. On the changeover Roger told him not to be so hard on himself; things would turn around. Then the boy started winning, and Roger cried. Federer never screamed at anyone but himself, tormented by mistakes, poor judgment, his inability to stay in control. “Everybody tried to calm me down,” Federer says. “But I told them it eats me up from the inside. I knew I was over the top, but I just had to get it out.”

Carter coached Federer until he was 14. The two traveled together, “father and son stuff,” as Smith puts it. Federer credits Carter with teaching him his peerless technique, his backhand, a professional attitude, politeness-in many ways, how to be a man. It didn’t all take, not then anyway. After seeing Hewitt play in Europe, Carter called Smith and said, “I saw your boy today. Pretty good, but I think mine’s a bit better.” One thing bothered him, though. “He thought Roger didn’t have Lleyton’s mental toughness,” Smith says.

Federer may have been soft, but he didn’t lack will. At 13 he announced it was time to leave home and attend the Swiss national training center in Ecublens. He came home on weekends and cried every Sunday night on the way to the train. But he always went back. After joining the coaching staff at the new training center in Biel, Carter began coaching Federer again at 16, guiding his rise to world No.1 junior. It wasn’t easy. Federer’s talent gave him so many options on each ball that it was almost paralyzing. “You learn one new language quicker than four new languages,” says Pierre Paganini, Federer’s longtime trainer. “He plays 10 languages on the court.” Federer knew how good he was supposed to be; he heard what everyone said. “I really felt I had to please the crowd: to hit the most difficult shot,” Federer says. “But it made me lose.”

Lundgren, a former coach of onetime No. 1 Marcelo Rios, joined the staff at Biel and began coaching Federer on a limited basis in 1997. Two years later, when Federer joined the tour full time, he stunned everyone- including Carter-by choosing Lundgren as his coach. It made sense; Lundgren, a former top 25 player, had tour experience that Carter lacked. It also demonstrated that Federer possessed a ruthless objectivity about his career. But he also made sure to consult constantly with Carter, and after helping oust Jakob Hlasek as Switzerland’s Davis Cup captain in 2001, Federer used his clout as the No.1 Swiss player to install his old coach in Hlasek’s place. It wasn’t a simple task; in fact, it was a bit like making Nick Faldo the captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team. The Swiss Tennis Federation insisted that Carter, an Australian, couldn’t officially assume the captaincy and sit on-court with the team until he had gained Swiss citizenship. But Federer didn’t have to feel guilty anymore. Everyone had a place now.

Federer and Carter had one Davis Cup tie together, in February 2002. Federer beat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov in Russia, but Switzerland lost 3-2. Then came the summer, Federer’s first-round losses in Paris and London and Toronto, the phone calls, his first funeral. “Did it change anything in me?” Federer says. “I was playing quite badly, but it put everything in perspective. I fought a lot, and I came out stronger.”

Not instantly. Federer’s game collapsed at first; he lost in the first round in Cincinnati and the fourth round at the U.S. Open. Then came a late-September Davis Cup tie with Morocco, on clay, in Casablanca, with the loser to be knocked out of the world group. Federer rose to the moment, avenging the loss at the French Open by beating Hicham Arazi in straight sets, pairing up with George Bastl to win the doubles, then beating Younes El-Aynaoui to win the tie single-handedly. His rampage continued deep into the 2003 season, 10 straight wins, and he won Wimbledon for the first time. Everyone around him says it: Carter’s death gave Federer the inspiration he had always lacked. But he had soft spots still. Federer lost in the first round of the ‘03 French Open in straight sets to Luis Horna.

In September of that year Switzerland traveled to Melbourne for the Davis Cup semifinal against Australia. For the first time the two teams would play for the Peter Carter Memorial Trophy- awarded now at every Davis Cup meeting between the two nations. Bob Carter and his wife, Diana, and Peter Smith all came in from their houses near Adelaide. Federer won his first match on Friday but, with Switzerland down 2-1, needed to beat Hewitt on Sunday to keep the tie alive. He glided to an easy two-set lead, then to 5-3, 30-all in the third: two points from the win. Hewitt dropped a tricky return on the back of the line, and Federer swiped at it lamely, hoping for a call that never came. He had choked, and instantly knew it; when Federer looked up, his eyes were as wide and shiny as quarters. Hewitt came back, of course. He screamed, “Come on!” revved the crowd up, and clawed his way into his opponent’s head. Federer buckled, went down 6-1 in the fifth and ran off the court sobbing.

An hour later the two teams congregated in the team’s dressing room with Bob and Diana. Federer hadn’t seen them since before their son had died. His teammates urged him to stay strong, but something inside him gave way, something he had been carrying for a year, and for the second time that day, Federer broke down. He went into a smaller room with Peter’s parents, where they comforted him. “I’m very happy it happened,” Federer says. “It was hard to lose, and [Peter’s] parents came in and I got more emotional-so many emotions. But it was important for me to face it.”

The morning after he won Wimbledon last year, Federer called the Carters. He still does that occasionally, telling them how often he thinks of their son during tough matches. For them his success has become a vivid reminder of their youngest child, a graceful embodiment of everything Peter knew and taught and was. “We’re rooting for Roger,” Bob says. “We feel part of his tennis. We feel part of his team.”

 

 

Peter Carter, Luke Smith, Peter Smith, Lleyton Hewitt

Peter Carter, Luke Smith, Peter Smith, Lleyton Hewitt

CLICK HERE to watch the Virtual Tennis Coach tribute to Peter Carter


MELBOURNE changed Roger Federer. At 22 he had the artistic temperament down-everything had to be just so, the weather perfect, his hair set, before he could perform. He was a diva. But after his fold Down Under, he got harder. In November 2003, at the Masters Cup in Houston, tournament chairman and furniture magnate Jim (Mattress Mac) McIngvale cornered Federer and blistered him for some benign remarks Federer had made about the “wavy” court and smallish stadium. Federer argued a bit but got so rattled that he had to retreat to the locker room to compose himself. He told Lundgren he couldn’t play. “I’m not happy;’ he said. “I’m not ready.”

But he shook it off. He went out before the pro-Andre crowd that night, saved two match points and beat Agassi. He dropped one set the whole week, beat longtime nemesis David Nalbandian and No. 1-ranked Andy Roddick, then weathered a 2 1/2-hour rain delay and Agassi again to win the year-end championship. McIngvale all but ignored him while lauding Agassi during the postmatch presentation, but Federer just smiled. He had the win, and Mattress Mac’s money.

Even with his success, he wasn’t satisfied. Federer dumped Lundgren within days of his win in Houston because their relationship had gotten too comfortable for comfort. He went on vacation, but two days in he called his trainer to map out his fitness program for 2004. “I realized, Roger, you have to wake up now,” Federer says. “The train is leaving. You have to catch the train.”

Roddick pushed him at last year’s Wimbledon, but Federer adjusted and won. Wind and rain disrupted his quarterfinal match at the 2004 U.S. Open against Agassi; Federer adjusted and won. After losing seven of their previous nine meetings, Federer took Hewitt on an around-the-world clinic in 2004, beating the No.3 player on all surfaces-in every Slam in which they met-six times in all. Federer launched their U.S. Open final with perhaps the finest set of tennis ever played, winning all but five points in an 18-minute, 6-0 blitz. A point away from 5-2 in the second set, Federer wobbled, lost serve and gave Hewitt his chance. For a moment it smelled like Davis Cup all over again. But Federer didn’t get scared this time. He eased past Hewitt in the tiebreak and then carved him up again, 6-0, in the third, the first time that a U.S. Open finalist had been doublebageled. Federer made Hewitt look mystified, resigned; he took Hewitt’s fight, his Hewittness, away from him. “No one had ever done that to Lleyton.” says Smith.

It was, in a sense, the performance that men’s tennis has been leading to, the moment when class, artistry and athleticism gathered into something close to an ideal. “We’ve never seen tennis like that,” Hlasek says. “Nobody ever played as creatively, but it is as correct as you want to play too. He’s creating every point as it should be.” At the year-end championships, there was no drama: Federer beat Hewitt twice, including a straight-set yawner in the final. Mattress Mac couldn’t have been nicer.

Yes, Federer knows that he can only go down from here. But he doesn’t worry; he’s not that young anymore. In bed at night he bangs his face into the pillow only when he wakes up cold. Then his girlfriend covers him, and he sleeps again, deep and silent, like a man without fear. In the morning he remembers none of it, not even the dreams.

 

 

Peter Carter

Peter Carter

CLICK HERE to watch the Virtual Tennis Coach tribute to Peter Carter

 

 

‘The Development Stage’ DVD Dedication:

 “This DVD is dedicated to two young men with whom I’ve enjoyed an enduring friendship. To Lleyton Hewitt, the best pupil and the best player that I have had the good fortune to be involved with, To Peter Carter, who was like a son to us and whose achievements in coaching, with Roger Federer, the Swiss Tennis Federation and the Swiss Davis Cup Team, I’m in awe of.”  

Peter Smith

 

 

Roger Federer Biography (An article from www.jockbio.com)

 

Peter Carter and Roger Federer

Peter Carter and Roger Federer

CLICK HERE to watch the Virtual Tennis Coach tribute to Peter Carter

 

In professional tennis, the only crime worse than lacking world-class talent is squandering it. For years, the curse of untapped potential hung around Roger Federer’s neck like an anvil, as the waited with growing impatience for his big breakthrough. With no holes in his game, fans simply assumed the only thing the fluid, efficient Swiss star needed was character. One life-altering tragedy and 13 Grand Slam titles later, all is forgiven and forgotten, as Roger has brought an element of artistry back to the men’s game. This is his story…

 

GROWING UP

Roger Federer was born August 8, 1981, in Basel, Switzerland. His parents, Robert and Lynette, both worked in the pharmacuetical industry. Robert was an executive for Ciba-Geigy. He met Lynette, a native South African and also a Ciba-Geigy employee, during a business trip. Their marriage also produced a daughter, Diana, in 1979.

Roger and his older sister grew up in the town of Munchenstein, just outside the city of Basel. A 2,000-year-old city on the Rhine, it is home to Switzerland’s oldest university, dozens of museums and the famous Theater Basel.

Tennis was a family passion in the Federer home, though neither Roger’s parents nor his sister had any special aptitude for the game. Everyone enjoyed it, however, and Roger showed enough promise to earn entry into Basel’s crack junior program at the age of eight.

Roger’s first sports hero was Boris Becker, the young German who won Wimbledon in 1985. Roger recalls watching Becker play Stefan Edberg in the 1988 Wimbledon final. He cried when his idol lost. Controlling his temper was a problem that would plague Roger throughout his childhood.

His game already showed signs of genius, but like many kids his age, he was often out of control on the court. (Roger describes himself as a “hothead.”) He erupted after hitting dumb shots and rarely went through a day without hurling his racket against the fence. Robert and Lynette were mortified when they saw their son’s behavior during tournaments. Roger could not understand this. He was never rude to umpires, linesmen or opposing players. His anger was reserved for himself. The Federers refused to speak to him after one of his episodes, frustrating him even more.

Enter Peter Carter. A tough player from Australia, he had learned how to make a little talent go a long way. From the age of 10 to 14, Roger spent more time with Carter than his own parents. The coach taught Roger flawless technique on his ground strokes and serve, and watched him grow into his body and start dominating opponents. The two also discussed the mental side of the game—not just strategy and psychology, but also about the importance of being gracious and polite and reigning in your emotions. Carter was eventually able to get Roger to see how much energy he wasted during his outbursts, and over the next few years, the incidents lessened considerably.

In 1994, at the age of 13, Roger decided it was time to leave home and accept an invitation to Switzerland’s national training center in Ecublens, near Lausanne. He would come home on weekends and spend time with his family, but every Sunday night, when it was time to board the train for the two-hour ride back, he was terribly depressed. The training center was in the French-speaking part of the country. Roger, who spoke German, found himself isolated by many of the students and coaches.

Three years later, he left Ecublens and re-enrolled in a new training facility in Biel, where Carter had been put on staff. Reunited with his coach, Roger began a steady rise to the world’s top junior ranking.

In 1997, Peter Lundgren, a former ranked ATP player from Sweden who had once coached Marcelo Rios, joined the staff and worked with Roger on occasion. He helped to refine Roger’s already-silky strokes and hammered home the self-control message on which Carter had made such good headway.

The following year, Roger distinguished himself as the mot polished teenager in tennis and earned the ITF’s #1 world ranking, capturing the Wimbledon junior singles (versus Irakli Labadze) and doubles titles, as well as the Orange Bowl (versus Guillermo Coria) in Florida. He also reached the finals of the junior draw at the U.S. Open, but lost to David Nalbandian.

Only Edberg, Pat Cash and Bjorn Borg had taken the junior singles at Wimbledon and then gone on to win the senior singles. Aiming to be the fourth, Roger decided it was time to join the men’s tennis tour. After signing a representation deal with IMG, he played some year-end mop-up events and did well enough, reaching the quarterfinals in Toulouse—just his second ATP tournament—and winning the singles and doubles in a Swiss satellite event to finish the season.

Instead of tabbing Carter as his coach for his first full pro season, Roger chose Lundgren instead. Once a Top-25 player, Lundgren had insights into the pros that Carter did not. Roger still consulted frequently with his former coach, and within a couple of years, he engineered the ouster of Swiss Davis Cup captain of Jakob Hlasek so that Carter could step into this role. As Switzerland’s best young player, Roger had the power to do this.

Roger played well in 1999. He reached the semifinals of a tournament in Vienna and advanced to the quarters in Marseille, Rotterdam and Basel. His biggest victory came over Carlos Moya, who was ranked #5 at the time. Roger also won a Challenger-level event in Brest, defeating Max Mirnyi. By the end of the year, he was the youngest member of the ATP Tour’s Top 100.

 

 

Peter Carter

Peter Carter

CLICK HERE to watch the Virtual Tennis Coach tribute to Peter Carter

 

ON THE RISE

The 2000 season brought Roger his first two ATP finals appearances. He lost to countryman Marc Rosset in Marseille in a final-set tiebreak and to Tomas Enqvist in the finals at Basel. Roger was playing about .500 tennis until the U.S, Open, then finished 16-9 through the end of the year.

By far the highlight of Roger’s ’00 season was representing Switzerland at the Olympics in Sydney. He lost his quarterfinal match, barely missing out on a medal, By then Rogerhad become smitten with a member of the Swiss women’s team, Miroslava Vavrinec. Their relationship blossomed in the ensuing years, and she eventually was considered a member of the Federer family.

Roger finally got on the board in 2001, winning his first ATP singles title in Milan. He defeated Goran Ivanisevic, Evgeny Kafelnikov and Julien Boutter on his road to the championship. From there, Roger led the Swiss Davis Cup team to victory over the United States by taking both his singles ties as well as the doubles. The first “Federer Express” headlines began appearing soon after.

The best was yet to come. With everyone handing the Wimbledon crown to red-hot Pete Sampras that year, Roger stepped up and beat the American star in five sets to end his 31-match winning streak. Tennis fans thought this might be Roger’s long-awaited breakthrough, but he lost in the next round to Tim Henman. It was not the first time he had followed a significant win with a perplexing loss, and it would not be the last.

Roger spent the rest of the summer nursing a groin injury. He reappeared at the U.S. Open—where he lost to Andre Agassi in the fourth round. Roger picked up his game when the European indoor tournaments rolled around, reaching the final in his hometown of Basel after an impressive win over Andy Roddick. Henman was waiting for him in the final, however, and beat him for a second time that year.

Roger claimed his first two ATP doubles titles in ’01, in Rotterdam with Jonas Bjorkman and in Gstaad with Marat Safin. He ended the year ranked #13 in singles and got high marks on all surfaces. He had a winning record on hardcourts, grass, clay and carpet—an unusual feat for a developing player. Roger barely missed securing one of the six slots in the season-ending Masters Cup. He made it his goal to reach that tournament in 2002.

Roger started the ’02 season with a victory at Sydney, an important tuneup for the Australian Open. He began the Open well, advancing to the round of 16 without trouble. Then he ran into Tommy Hass. Though he was handling Haas—Roger actually had match point—the pesky German fought back and won in five sets, taking the decider 8-6.

 Waiting for Roger to claim his place in the Top 10 was becoming a frustrating process for his fans. After every signature vicotry, there seemed to be a deflating loss. This is not unusual on the men’s tour, but in Roger’s case, he won with such creativity and style it was hard to see how he was ever defeated. In Key Biscayne, he upended #1 ranked Lleyton Hewitt and seemed unstoppable on his way to the final, where Andre Agassi cleaned his clock.

From a player’s perspective, you were never sure which Federer was going to show up. And you didn’t always find out right away. For every guy Roger blew off the court, there was someone else who hung in until he lost his rhythm, and suddenly it was a match again. At the ’02 French Open, Roger was beaten by Moroccan journeyman Hicham Arazi in the first round. A week earlier, at a clay court tournament in Hamburg, he had destroyed Gustavo Kuerten and Marat Safin to win his first Masters series event.

As the summer tournaments rolled around, Roger managed to creep into the Top 10 for the first time. But he was still vulnerable in long matches. It wasn’t a matter of conditioning, but rather one of mental toughness. Roger knew it, too. After four- and five-set losses, he would weep out of frustration in the locker room. When he lost in the first round at Wimbledon in straight sets to 154th-ranked Mario Ancic, some of his most ardent fans began siding with his detractors; perhaps Roger did not have what it took after all.

Despite Roger’s claims to the contrary, the pressure of his as-yet-unfulfilled potential was starting to get to him. He had always been despondent after bad losses, but it was getting harder and harder to shake them off. To get to sleep, he would bang his head into the pillow repeatedly to release the tension.

Roger dropped another first-rounder that season at an August tournament in Toronto. He stuck around to compete in doubles, but was basically just partying at night instead of preparing for his matches. One evening, Roger went out for beers with some other players after attending a Cirque du Soleil performance, and ignored Lundgren’s repeated attempts to summon him on his cell phone. Finally, his coach called Wayne Ferreira and got through to Roger. Peter Carter was dead, Lundgren told Roger. Talk about guilt—it was at Roger’s urging that Carter had gone on safari in South Africa. His vehicle had veered off the road and fallen into a ravine. He and the driver were killed instantly.

Roger lost it. He bolted into the street. When he couldn’t find a cab, he panicked and just started running. He ran more than a mile until he gained his bearings and made his way back to the hotel. Roger returned to Switzerland to see to the arrangements for Carter’s funeral. The body arrived in Basel on his 21st birthday.

Carter’s death forced Roger to focus on his life, his game and his relationships. As a young pro, he had brushed aside some of what Carter had taught him about being a good player and a good man. Now he wanted to honor his old friend by finally embracing these qualities.

It didn’t happen overnight. Roger played the U.S. Hardcourts in Cincinnati and was beaten soundly in the first round, and then won only three matches in Flushing Meadows before bowing out of the U.S. Open. Roger finally began to turn things around later in September, when he avenged his loss to Harazi in a Davis Cup tie against Morocco. Roger teamed with George Bastl to win the doubles andbeat Younes El-Aynaoui to wrap up the series. In each match—they both ended 6-3, 6-2, 6-1— it was like watching a tennis God toy with mere mortals. Someone had flicked on the switch.

Roger finished the year strong enough to earn a #6 ranking, and was the only Top 10 player to win multiple singles and doubles championships—teaming with Mirnyi for titles in Rotterdam and Moscow.

Roger easily made the season-ending Masters Cup draw. He won the round-robin phase of the tournament andmet Hewitt in the semis. The two young stars pounded away at each other, splitting the first two sets 7-5 and 5-7. Roger was outlasted by Hewitt 7-5 in a classic third and final set, but he impressed tennis experts with his newfound grit against a superior player.

Never afraid to move forward—or move on—Roger decided to end his long relationship with IMG in 2003 and asked his parents to handle the bulk of his business dealings, adding an attorney and media consultant to Team Federer.

Roger started the year on fire, winning his first 10 matches and capturing singles titles in Dubai and Marseille. He lost in the fourth round of the Australian Open, but kicked back into high gear that April in Davis Cup play. Roger won both of his singles matches and the doubles to defeat France 3-2.

When the clay court season began, Roger took the first tournament in Munich without dropping a set. He also reached the finals of his next event. But at the French Open, Roger bowed out again in the first round, this time to Luis Horna.

 

 

Peter Carter

Peter Carter

CLICK HERE to watch the Virtual Tennis Coach tribute to Peter Carter

 

 

MAKING HIS MARK

Roger righted himself when the men’s tour moved to grass, winning at Halle, one of the tune-up events for Wimbledon. He was firing on all cyliders at the All-England Club, and for a change things seemed to be breaking his way. Co-favorites Hewitt and Agassi lost early, which meant the spotlight was retrained on Roger and Roddick, who were both unbeaten on grass in ’03 as they headed for their semifinal clash.

It was all Roger could do to get on the court for this match after straining his back during his fourth-round victory over Feliciano Lopez. Deep massage, pain pills, and a shot at his first Grand Slam kept him going.

There was still the small matter of Roddick. The favorite to advance to the final and win it all, he hadn’t lost in more than a month—and had his serve working. The fact that Roger had never gone this deep into a Grand Slam before did not help his cause with the odds-makers, who believed that he was once again in over his head.

A day before the Federer-Roddick match, tennis legends John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Martina Navratilova and Ilie Nastase authored an open letter to the ITF claiming that serve-and-volley tennis was dead, and that new rules needed to be implemented to save the beauty of tennis. Roger answered their charges in eye-opening fashion, demolishing Roddick in straight sets with a masterful display of all-court tennis. Roddick played well and served bullets, but had no answer for the game Roger brought to centre court that day.

In the final, Roger faced the only guy on the tour with a serve harder than Roddick’s, Mark Philippoussis. The Aussie held serve most of the time, but was overmatched by Roger once points went into play. The final score of 7-6, 6-2, 7-6 made the match look closer than it was. At no point was the outcome really in doubt. With the Grand Slam monkey off his back, Roger set his sights on a #1 ranking.

Roger reached the final in his next tournament, in Gstaad, but lost to Jiri Novak, ending his unbeaten streak at 15 matches. At the U.S. Open, he lost in the fourth round to David Nalbandian. So much for #1. After the tournament, Roger sucked it up for what he knew would be an emotional meeting with the Australian Davis Cup team.

The winner of this competition would not only get to the finals, it would claim the first Carter Cup, named in honor of Roger’s old coach. Anytime Switzerland and Australia compete in tennis, the trophy is on the line. Roger won his first match, but by the time he faced Hewitt, the Swiss were down 2-1. He played inspired tennis and took the first two sets. Up 5-3 in the third set, Roger failed to chase after a pretty shot by Hewitt that he assumed was going out. This one point turned the match around, giving Hewitt extra fire in his belly andRoger too much to think about. He lost the third and fourth sets, and then Hewitt ran him off the court in the fifth, 6-1. Roger rushed to the locker room sobbing.

Carter’s parents met with Roger privately after the match and tried to console him. They told him that in Roger’s tennis, they saw their son living on—that when they pulled for Roger, it was like pulling for Peter. This meeting enabled Roger to appreciate Carter’s life lessons on a much deeper level. Some say Roger finally transitioned from boy to man after this meeting in Melbourne.

Prior to the season-ending Masters Cup in Houston, Roger got on the wrong side of tournament chairman “Mattress Mac” McIngvale and endured a tongue-lashing that might have sent him packing in the past. Choosing to stay, he unleashed his anger on Agassi in front of a rabidly pro-Agassi crowd. Roger also destroyed Nalbandian and the new world #1 Roddick on his way to the final, where he beat Agassi again. It was a nice way to end the season.

Despite having just completed the finest year of his career, Roger fired his coach, Lundgren. Their relationship, he felt, had become too cozy. Roger needed someone who could rattle his cage when necessary. He believed he and Lundgren had been through too much together for that to happen.

Roger started the 2004 campaign with his second Grand Slam title, at the Australian Open. He was on top of his game, as he cruised through the draw and defeated Safin in the final. The victory convinced any remaining disbelievers that Roger had arrived, and vaulted him to the tour’s #1 ranking for the first time.

Roger held that ranking with tournament wins in Dubai, Indian Wells and Hamburg. The victory on clay in Germany was a significant one. Unlike the players to whom he was now increasingly being compared—Sampras and McEnroe—Roger was a killer on clay.

For this reason, he was installed as the favorite at Roland Garros. But a tough loss to Gustavo Kuerten in the third round derailed his dream of winning four Grand Slams. After the French Open, however, the Federer Express just kept rolling.

Roger took his next four tournaments, including Wimbledon. He outplayed Roddick and out-strategized his coach, Brad Gilbert, during a rain-interrupted final. The two young stars sparred for two-plus sets and sat through two delays before Roger finally found his rhythm and began playing his A Game. Even so, Roddick gained several break points in the third and fourth sets, but Roger did a great job fighting them off. He won 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4. After the match, all Roddick could do was shake his head in admiration. He had thrown everything he had at Roger, to no avail.

At Wimbledon, Roger showed the tennis world two things it had been waiting to see: he could win against a Top 10 player when he wasn’t at his best, and he could adjust to changing strategies and conditions. It was a truly artistic victory against an overpowering player and a coach who delighted in “winning ugly.”

Prior to the U.S. Open, Roger joined the Swiss team in Athens for the Olympics. He lost in the second round to Tomas Berdych, but had a good time at the games. The defeat turned out to be the last one of the year for Roger. Incredibly, he ran the table the rest of the way.

Roger’s sternest test came in the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows against Agassi, as wind, rain and a vociferous home crowd threatened to throw him off. Yet just as he had at Wimbledon, Roger adjusted again and won. The semifinals brought a familiar nemesis in Henman, but this time it was barely a match, as Roger blew him off the court.

In the final against Hewitt, Roger authored a near-perfect opening set. Stunning Hewitt and the crowd, he won 6-0 in under 20 minutes. Roger went up 5-2 in the second set but stumbled and let Hewitt back in the match. He recovered to take the tiebreak, and then blanked Hewitt in the third, 6-0. Those who knew both men were shocked. Hewitt’s greatest asset, his tenacity, had all but disappeared by the final set. Roger’s longtime flaw, his lack of grit, was all but absent during the match.

Tennis fans were gushing about the tour’s first three-Slam champ since Mats Wilander in 1988. Roger was not only hailed as the leader of the game’s new wave of male players, he was saluted for his “throwback” style.

Roger ended the season at the Masters in Houston, winning the tournament without a hiccup. This was Hewitt’s chance to reassert his former dominance over Roger. Instead, Roger clobbered him in their round-robin match. He beat Hewitt again in the finals, in straight sets—the sixth victory against the Aussie in ’04 against no losses.

Roger finished the season with only six losses and was a perfect 11-0 when he reached the finals of a tournament. In his final 23 matches against Top 10 players, he was perfect, too, going 23-0. It had been more than 30 years since a player had dominated the men’s tour to this degree.

A few days after the conclusion of the ’04 season, Roger began thinking about 2005. He was determined to improve his stamina and mapped out a more rigorous regimen and diet plan.

Roger’s first test of the ’05 season came at the Australian Open. He breezed through the early rounds, including a decisive victory over Agassi. In the semis, he met Safin, who had his eye on the #1 ranking. The match was a classic, as the two slugged it out for nearly five hours. They split the first four sets, delighting the SRO crowd with their all-out effort on every point. Several times Roger showed the strain of keeping his 26-match unbeaten string intact as he screamed at himself in anger.

Heading into the fifth set, he needed treatment on his right shoulder and elbow for pain that he later called more of a nuisance than anything else. Safin kept the pressure on, making Roger chase down balls all over the court. Trailing 8-7, Roger served to stay alive. With a chance for a break to win the match, Safin drove a shot deep to Roger’s forehand. He lunged in desperation, but dropped his racket as he hit his return. With Roger totally defenseless, Safin ended the thrilling match with a simple putaway. The final line score read 5-7, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (6), 9-7.

Roger rebounded to win the big ATP Masters events in Indian Wells and Miami. In the latter, he fought back from two sets down in a spine-tingling final to win in five sets. His victim was an 18-year-old Spaniard named Rafael Nadal. The two had met in Miami a year before, and Nadal had cleaned Roger’s clock. As the two warriors left the court after their epic final in 2005, their mutual respect was obvious. A rivalry was beginning to bloom. Their next meeting came at the French Open. Clay was Nadal’s best surface, and he beat Roger in a four-set semifinal on his way to his first Grand Slam singles victory.

At Wimbledon, Roger went through the draw like a buzzsaw, disposing of Fernando Ganzalez and Lleyton Hewitt in the quarters and semis. In the final against Roddick, Roger dominated the opening set, won the second in a tiebreaker, and closed the American out in the third 6–4.

Roger was untouchable at the U.S. Open. He did not lose a single set on his way to the semifinal against Hewitt, whom he beat in four sets. Roger bested Agassi in the final 6–3, 2–6, 7–6, 6–1. He finished the year at #1 again. There were really no weaknesses in his game at this point. Some were saying that he deserved to be mentioned among the greatest players of all time.

Nothing in 2006 diminished this observation. Roger practically slept through the Australian Open, beating Nikolay Davydenko, Flag of Germany Nicolas Kiefer and Marcos Baghdatis in the final three rounds. He got his wakeup call when the clay court season began, as Nadal beat him in Monte Carlo and Rome. The match in Italy lasted five hours, and Roger saved two match points in the fifth-set tiebreaker. It added yet another chapter to what had quickly become the most compelling rivalry in tennis. When Nadal beat Roger in the French Open final, their story was one of the most talked-about in sports.

Roger won Wimbledon again, taking every match in straight sets on his way to a final showdown with Nadal. Roger wiped him out 6–0 in the first set, captured the second-set tiebreaker and then finished him off in the fourth set. Nadal may have been the master of clay, but on grass Roger was still the man.

And on hard surfaces, too. Roger claimed the U.S. Open for the third year in a row, surviving a tough quarterfinal with James Blake and defeating Roddick again in the final. At the end of the year, he beat Blake in the finals of the Masters Cup, winning it for the third time in four seasons. Roger was number one again. Behind him at #2 was Nadal, but he was just a speck in the rearview, thousands of points behind. That would start to change in 2007.

Roger began the year by winning his 10th Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open. Once again he cruised through a lackluster field, dispatching Fernando González in the final. Roger took the championship without the loss of a set. He ran his consecutive match streak to 41 before losing at Indian Wells to Guillermo Cañas. He fell to Cañas again at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, leading some to speculate that either: a) Cañas knew something no one else did, or b) that something was wrong with Roger.

Roger lost to Nadal in the finals at Monte Carlo and dropped a match to another journeyman in Rome. That made four tournaments in a row without a trophy. However, just when people were whispering he was vulnerable on clay, Roger beat Nadal in the final at the Hamburg Masters. It was the first time he had defeated the Spaniard on the slow stuff. Nadal bounced right back at Roland Garros, denying Roger the French Open for a third consecutive year.

Heading into Wimbledon, Roger was well-rested. He skipped the warm-up tournament in Halle, which he had won each year since 2003, and tore through the draw at the All England Club. He defeated Richard Gasquet in the semis. In the finals, Roger met—who else?— Nadal. Their match lasted five grueling sets, with Roger winning two tiebreakers before taking the finale with relative ease, 6–2. The last time anyone had stretched Roger to the limit at Wimbledon was in 2001.

Roger won his 50th career singles championship in Cincinnati later that summer. Next, he captured the U.S. Open again, beating Novak Djokovic in the final. Roger finished another #1 season by beating Nadal in the Masters Cup semis on the way to the championship.

Roger started 2008 as the prohibitive favorite in Australia, but was bumped out in the semis by Djokovic, who went on to win it all. It was later revealed that Roger had been the victim of food poisoning. Later he announced that he had been diagnosed with mononeucleosis. Predictably, he showed poorly in the other early season tournaments.

Roger soon hired a new coach, Jose Higueras. In his first appearance under his tutelage, he won the Estoril Open in Portugal. His opponent in the final, Nikolay Davydenko, retired after suffering a leg injury in the second set. The previous year, Davydenko had pulled out of a match with a foot injury, triggering an investigation by the ATP. More than a million dollars had been bet against him by Russian gamblers in that match. Davydenko was ultimtely cleared of the charges.

Roger faced Nadal in the finals of two clay court tournaments that spring and lost both times. They also met in the finals of the French Open, where Nadal destroyed him. Roger lost one of the sets 6–0. The last time he had been bageled was in 1999.

Roger tightened things up in the weeks before Wimbledon and was sharp throughout the tournament. The tennis world watched in delight as he and Nadal headed for a second straight clash in the final. Roger had a chance to break the modern record with a sixth consecutive championship. 

The match went on all day—almost literally. Thanks to rain delays, it lasted over seven hours, with nearly five hours of breathtaking tennis. Nadal seemed to have the upper hand early on, taking the first two sets 6–4, 6–4. But Roger fought back in the third, winning in a tiebreaker. He took the fourth set in a tiebreaker too, saving two match points in the process. The fifth set featured one spine-tingling point after another. Nadal finally prevailed 9–7. Most people who watched the two superstars battle said it was the greatest match they’d ever seen.

A month later, Nadal surpassed Roger as the #1 player in the world. Roger had held that honor for a remarkable 237 consecutive weeks, easily eclipsing the men’s record (160, by Jimmy Connors) and women’s record (186, by Steffi Graf).

After winning a gold medal in doubles at the Olympics, Roger put his stamp on the U.S. Open for the fifth year in a row. After survivng a tough match with Igor Andreev in the round of 16, he beat Gilles Muller, Djokovic and Andy Murray for the championship. Murray had stunned Nadal, denying fans in Flushing Meadows a chance to watch a 7th Federer-Nadal Grand Slam final.

Those who claim Roger belongs in the same class with players like Bill Tilden, Rod Laver and Pete Sampras no longer have to defend their view. When Roger is playing his best, he is as good as anyone who has ever taken the court. He can do more to beat an opponent than anyone on the tour and isn’t afraid to adjust his approach if the situation warrants—or if he just feels like it. In an era when rackets amount to little more than power tools, Roger hand-crafts his wins. That type of virtuosity was thought to be a thing of the past not too long ago. Hopefully, for Roger and the rest of tennis, it’s a sign of the future.

 

ROGER THE PLAYER

Though capable of overwhelming most of his opponents, Roger prefers to pick their games apart—sometimes exposing their weaknesses, sometimes finding ways to use their own strengths against them. These cat-and-mouse games used to be his undoing, but he has perfected his craft, and now it his opponents who look helpless at times, not him.

Roger’s anticipation and footwork are as good an anyone’s on the pro tour—and maybe ever. His volleying skills are matchless among current ATP players, and the best the tour has seen since John McEnroe’s. Surrounded by super athletes who wield ultrapowerful rackets, Roger has reintroduced the slice to men’s tennis. So few current players have experience with this “weapon” that it has become one of Roger’s most effective approach shots.

Despite his reputation for finesse, Roger does not lack a power game. His strokes are so effortless, it seems impossible that he could generate the pace he does, but clean winners don’t lie—he hits as many as any top player. The same is true of Roger’s serve, which is well above average.

Off the court, Roger’s courteousness and openness have endeared him to the tennis fans. There may not be a nicer guy on the tour.

Those who believe Roger is as good at this age as anyone in history point to the fact that, unlike Laver and Borg, he is comfortable on hard surfaces, and can dominate on them. And unlike Sampras and McEnroe, his game is championship-caliber on clay.

 

 

Peter Carter and Roger Federer

Peter Carter and Roger Federer

CLICK HERE to watch the Virtual Tennis Coach tribute to Peter Carter

 

‘The Development Stage’ DVD Dedication:

 “This DVD is dedicated to two young men with whom I’ve enjoyed an enduring friendship. To Lleyton Hewitt, the best pupil and the best player that I have had the good fortune to be involved with, To Peter Carter, who was like a son to us and whose achievements in coaching, with Roger Federer, the Swiss Tennis Federation and the Swiss Davis Cup Team, I’m in awe of.”  

Peter Smith

 

 

Who is Peter Carter? (An article from Roger Federer Blogspot)

 

Who is Peter Carter?

Any tennis fan who loves Roger Federer, can associate Roger’s love for his former tennis coach, Peter Carter. Here is a tribute along with some snipets on Peter Carter.

 

Peter Carter

Peter Carter

 

Peter ‘Carts’ Carter (Aug 9, 1964 – Aug 1, 2002) grew up in the Barossa in a tennis loving family of Bob and Diana Carter. He would trail along to the courts with his parents and two older brothers. When he was 12, he was playing A grade, then at 15 he moved to Adelaide to live with coach Peter Smith, the man who played a part in many famous careers, including John Fitzgerald, Darren Cahill, Brod Dyke and Lleyton Hewitt. In words of his coach, Peter Smith, He was a little younger than Fitzy and Brod Dyke but in terms of Mark and Darren who were about the same age, I think people considered him to be the best of that particular group.” One of Peter’s most memorable wins was when he defeated John Alexander while he was still at school.”

He then went on the ATP circuit, but dogged by injury, he eventually ended up coaching in Switzerland, where he met the young Roger Federer. His dad, Bob, recalls: He said to me one night when he rang “Oh, have I got a young boy here who looks promising,” “he’s only about 12 or 13”. He said, “I think he’s going to go places.”. And that was Roger Federer.

Peter coached Roger through his formative teenage years till he turned pro. He was popular in Switzerland and eventually became the country’s Davis Cup coach and captain. His mom recalls: And the team actually refused to play unless he was the captain, at one stage.”

Peter’s life seemed complete when he met his wife swiss-born, Sylvia, but shortly afterwards she was diagnosed with cancer. After a 12-month battle last year she was cleared of the disease. They travelled to South Africa to celebrate. But, while travelling in separate cars, Peter died of injuries sustained in a car accident,as his Land Rover crashed near the Kruger National Park . He was 37 by then. Roger Federer was playing in Toronto ’02. After losing in the first round to eventual champion Guillermo Canas, he learnt of the sad news. Roger said: I was very shocked and very sad when I found out. He was a very close friend. This is the first time a close friend of mine has died.” 

Peter Carter is now remembered as part of the Carter Altman Penfold Fund. The charity known as CAP helps children with disabilities play sport and remembers two other tennis players, Nick Altman and Jeff Penfold. Also, the clash of Australia & Switzerland in Davis Cup is named as Peter Carter Trophy, which Australia won in Dec ’03 Davis cup final.

Bob Carter on Federer: Obviously Roger [Federer] has got enormous talent, but I am sure, and I can see it in his game, what’s there Peter would have taught him. The serve volley and the slice and the variety in his game, that’s how Peter played. I’m sure that is showing out in Roger now.”

Federer on Peter Carter: Peter wasn’t my first coach, but he was my real coach. I made trips with him. He knew me and my game, and he was always thinking of what was good for me.” 

 

 

Peter Carter, Luke Smith, Peter Smith, Lleyton Hewitt

Peter Carter, Luke Smith, Peter Smith, Lleyton Hewitt

CLICK HERE to watch the Virtual Tennis Coach tribute to Peter Carter

 

‘The Development Stage’ DVD Dedication:

 “This DVD is dedicated to two young men with whom I’ve enjoyed an enduring friendship. To Lleyton Hewitt, the best pupil and the best player that I have had the good fortune to be involved with, To Peter Carter, who was like a son to us and whose achievements in coaching, with Roger Federer, the Swiss Tennis Federation and the Swiss Davis Cup Team, I’m in awe of.”  

Peter Smith