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By Chris Oddo | Tuesday November 13, 2018

Roger Federer

Fair or foul? Julien Benneteau says Roger Federer has been given preferential treatment by the Aussie Open TD Craig Tiley.

Photo Source: Corleve/Mark Peterson


Julien Benneteau raised questions—and eyebrows—when in a radio interview over the weekend he pointed fingers at Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley for unfairly favoring Roger Federer when it comes to scheduling.

Benneteau’s comments, when coupled with an interview with former Paris Masters Tournament Director Jean-François Caujolle (who admitted that he was a Federer fan and gave an account of once consulting with Federer on how to speed up the court surface in Bercy) have caused critics to cry foul while others have rushed to Federer’s defense saying that the Swiss megastar he has earned everything he gets.

“I told myself: before I leave, he must win," Caujolle recounted in the interview. "For the story, it was good that Federer wins.”

Tennis Express

Benneteau, recently retired and the current Fed Cup Captain of Les Bleus, also called into question a conflict of interest between the Laver Cup, owned partially by Federer’s TEAM 8, and Tennis Australia.

Benneteau says it is Federer that benefitis from this convivial agreement between the two tennis entities.

“In organizing this event, there's Craig Tiley, the boss of the Australian Open, who deals with marketing and TV rights,” Benneteau said. “He is paid by Roger Federer's agent and behind, as luck would have it, Federer played 12 of his 14 matches at 7:30 pm.”

Benneteau is referring to what he perceives to be a schedule that unfairly lends Federer a hand. Tennis purists know how much conditions such as heat, time between matches and which court the match is played on can affect results at a Grand Slam.

In the discussion Benneteau went on to talk about Federer’s agent, Tony Godsick, who reportedly took a strong stance with the U.S. Open with regard to Federer's desire not to play on the new Louis Armstrong Court. At the root of the discussion could be Benneteau’s frustration over the fact that Federer is backing the Laver Cup over Davis Cup as the two international team competitions vie for prominent space in the tennis universe.

Benneteau had choice words for Laver Cup and hinted that it is not legitimate because of selection process

Tiley responded to Benneteau’s comments on Tuesday, saying that there is no conflict and adding that it isn’t favoritism—it’s what the fans want.

“In terms of players and their appeal, it needs to be said that Roger Federer is a once-in-a-generation player widely regarded as one of the biggest ‘box office’ athletes in the world,” Tiley said in a statement.

He added: “He has been regularly voted Australia's favorite athlete. The fans demand his appearance in the big stadiums and our broadcasters naturally want his matches to air in prime time.”

Novak Djokovic and John Isner also defended Federer when asked about the subject in London on Monday.

“I really don’t see a very strong argument there,” Djokovic told reporters, according to Goerge Bellshaw of Metro UK after easing past Isner on Monday in London. “To be honest, I understand Julien’s point because sometimes it does seem that maybe certain players get more favored year after year in certain tournaments. You kind of have to follow the pattern to really understand whether there is a case or not.”

Tecnifibre T-Fight

Djokovic said one also has to consider how much of a driving force Federer is on the tour in terms of revenue and the sports' popularity.

“Again, on the other side," Djokovic continued, "you have to understand that also Federer is a driving force of tennis in terms of revenue, in terms of attention, in terms of all these different things. Julien and guys like him are also benefitting from tennis, because of Roger, because of what he has done for the sport.”

Isner, who played Laver Cup along with Djokovic in September, took a similar stance.

"The top players, they sell the most tickets therefore they should get the most. That’s what I think,” Isner said. “‘So I don’t think there’s a favouritism system like that at all. I think those guys are the ones that by and large carry our sport in a big way and they deserve everything they’ve ever earned.”


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