By Frank Pingue
NEWYORK (Reuters) – Roger Federer said he is sick and tired of complaints that he receives a favourable playing schedule after his latest U.S. Open victim suggested on Friday the five-times champion gets preferential treatment.
Federer began day session on Arthur Ashe Stadium against Briton Dan Evans, who because of rain earlier in the week did not finish his second-round match until Thursday afternoon.
Evans looked tired from the outset of his third-round loss to Federer, who completed his previous match under a closed roof on Wednesday, but the Swiss great said his team did not demand an early start time but were asked if they had a preference.
“That doesn’t mean like, ‘Roger asks, Roger gets.’ Just remember that, because I have heard this shit too often now,” said Federer. “I’m sick and tired of it, that apparently I call the shots. The tournament and the TV stations do.
“We can give our opinion. That’s what we do. But I’m still going to walk out even if they schedule me at 4:00 in the morning.”
Federer, who is seeking a record-extending 21st Grand Slam title, also pointed out that whatever time Evans finished his second-round match he was always going to be at a disadvantage.
Still, the 38-year-old Swiss said he understood Evans’ frustration at the quick turnaround but was not about to apologise for something that was out of his control.
“That’s tennis. It’s entertainment, and the show must go on,” Federer said after his 6-2 6-2 6-1 win. “Luck was on my side. There you have it. So, yeah, I understand if Danny is, like, a little bit frustrated.”
While Evans admitted that Federer was simply too good, he also pointed out that he was trying to beat the Swiss while tired a day after a four-set match was “near on impossible.”
Evans also suggested that there are about three players who have a say in when they play their matches and when asked if his team requested a later timeslot, he shot back and asked if a player ranked 58th would actually have a say in the matter.
When told there was a suggestion that Federer requested that match time, Evans did not seem all that surprised.
“That wouldn’t be the first time the higher-ranked player has had pull,” said Evans. “But also, the tournament… would rather Roger be going through that match than me, so it’s understandable.”
Evans is not the first to moan about the subject.
Last year Frenchman Julien Benneteau caused a stir when he accused tournament referees of being kinder to Federer when it came to scheduling matches.
He felt the Swiss’s status meant organisers at events such as the Australian Open would regularly schedule Federer’s matches during the night session so that he would avoid the scorching temperatures.
But there were plenty of players, including world number one Novak Djokovic, who leapt to Federer’s defence.
“He deserves the special treatment because… (he’s) arguably the best player ever,” Djokovic said last November.
“If he doesn’t have it, who is going to have it? People want to see him play on the centre court, and they want to see him play in showtime, the best hours, which is 7:30 at night.
“Sometimes it does seem that maybe certain players get more favoured… On the other side, you have to understand that Federer is a driving force of tennis in terms of revenue, in terms of attention.”
American John Isner said the likes of Federer, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal should get even more privileges.
“If anything, maybe they should get more special treatment because those guys… have made other players below them a lot of money.
“Roger… He is men’s tennis in my opinion. He deserves everything and more that he’s ever had.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue, editing by Pritha Sarkar)