Sports culture places a lot of judgment on anyone who throws a game or conspires to influence the outcome of a contest. So despite Roger Federer's golden-boy image, it's surprising to find out that he was once punished for intentionally losing a match.
The circumstances are outlined in a book, Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection. Written by Swiss journalist Rene Stauffer, the book traces Federer's journey from a relative unknown to one of the great tennis players of his generation. It was published in 2007, but World Tennis Magazine is citing a passage from it to explain why Federer might have had a sympathetic view about Nick Kyrgios' tanking a match this week at Wimbledon.
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) July 7, 2015
The book reveals how a 17-year-old Federer, then a juniors star, advanced to the quarterfinals of an ATP tournament and saw his world tennis ranking leap from No. 878 to No. 396.
That jump earned him entry into a Swiss Indoors tournament against another familiar name: Andre Agassi. Suddenly, Federer was playing in front of crowds of 9,000 fans. The media were discussing him as a budding star, and Federer signed a deal with IMG and was getting regular gifts from Nike.
Agassi beat Federer easily, though, and he quickly found himself out of the spotlight. He was back playing in dark tennis gyms in front of few to no spectators. And, in a match against the No. 11-ranked Swiss pro -- Federer at the time was ranked sixth in Switzerland -- Federer pouted his way to a 7-6, 6-2 loss.
The tournament director criticized Federer for his "unmotivated" play, and he was fined $100 for breaking the "best effort" rule, which is tennis' version of cheating.
After receiving $87 for participating in the tournament, Federer ended the weekend owing $13. But he avoided more serious penalties of possible disqualifications and suspensions, and the punishment was enough to snap him back into shape. The rest, as they say, is history.
(H/T): USA Today