By Mauro Capiello
Stefan Edberg will no longer be Roger Federer’s coach. With a message on his social channels the Swiss communicated to his fans a decision he and Stefan must have already agreed since long. The original deal was for at least 10 weeks in 2014, it became a successful partnership that saw the Swedish legend travel the main events of the Tour again for two years, almost like in the old days.
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) December 8, 2015
Although the media emphasized Roger’s role in the decision, it is clear that such an effort in terms of time and energy must have been a huge stress for the quite and reserved Stefan, who would have never imagined to get back on the stage until only a minute before receiving the Swiss’ call. So we can reasonably suppose that celebrating his 50th birthday in Australia was not in Edberg’s plans and that even if Federer had asked for a further extension of the agreement, this time Stefan would have said no.
«Edberg confirmed that he had coached in 2015 with the “clear understanding that it would be my last year given the time commitment.”
On the other hand, Roger has always liked to add new persons to his team in order to both bring new elements to his game and renew his motivations. From this point of view, his new coach Ivan Ljubicic (whose analytical skills we’ve been appreciating in Italy since he started commentating for Sky Sports) will probably insist on the mental side of the game better than Stefan could ever do, the Croat having played tennis against many of Roger’s rivals until just a little more than three years ago.
But also Ljubicic, who will join the long time members of the team Severin Lüthi and Pierre Paganini, will necessarily need to start from the huge contribution Edberg gave in refreshing Federer’s tennis, taking the 17 time Grand Slam champion back to his top level of form after a disappointing 2013 season and to compete for the Major titles against opponents averagely 5-8 years his juniors.
In the last two years, Stefan was at Roger’s side in 17 events of the tour (11 in 2014, 6 in 2015). With him in his team, Roger:
– won 11 titles (5 in 2014, 6 in 2015);
– won 3 Masters 1000 events (2 in 2014, 1 in 2015);
– reached three Grand Slam finals and two ATP World Tour Championships finals (all five lost against Novak Djokovic);
– won a Davis Cup with Switzerland;
– won 136 singles matches, losing just 23;
– beat a top-10 ranked player 31 times losing only 12;
– beat current number 1 Novak Djokovic 5 times, losing 8 (one was a walk-over in last year’s London final)
These already outstanding results would have surely been even better, hadn’t Novak Djokovic played two amazing seasons, losing just 14 matches in 2014 and 2015 combined. I think nobody could deny that against any other player Federer would have won at least two of those three Grand Slam finals he played and Team Fedberg would have taken that Major title that has been Roger’s obsession since he took his last Wimbledon crown in 2012.
But even without it, never in the history of tennis a guy well in his thirties has showed this kind of consistency at the top and this is obviously thanks to Roger’s unique qualities, but partly also thanks to the game style adjustments suggested by Edberg. Considering the average level of today’s players, this new approach will keep Roger competitive for at least two or three more seasons (should he decide to still keep playing for such time) and I’m sure that this is something Roger will always pay Stefan tribute for, after any success that should come in the future.
Still, through these two seasons that we followed closely in the Fedberg section of our website, we’ve always had the impression that the partnership between Stefan Edberg and Roger Federer was something going beyond sports goals, statistics, strategies, technique, possibly even beyond tennis. It was the perfect duo, based on a common sensitivity, made up by two similar spirits who have been inspired from each other.
The link between the two is something meant to stay. You can bet that in the future Majors, looking back to his corner after converting a set point, Roger will miss the support of the calm angel he had transformed in his most passionate fan, just like, for a moment, Stefan will regret not being there to root for his pupil from the crowd.
Check out Mauro’s website STE… fans
Enjoy the second edition of Break Point, our monthly roundup of the best tennis-related articles on the web:
– another veteran player, Pat Cash talks about life on the Seniors tour: A Week With Tennis Champions: Private Planes, Celebrities and Locker Room Gossip
– ever wondered what it’s like to be a ballboy at the US Open? Enjoy this Grantland post: I Tried Out to Be a US Open Ball Boy and Saw Dave Chappelle, and All I Got Were These Two Lousy T-Shirts.
– in May 1984, six of the world’s Top 10 were American, as were 24 of the Top 50. 30 years later, there are only 3 Americans in the top 50, with a chance at winning a Slam really close to 0. Can US Men’s Tennis Rise Again?
– the story of Irish player James McGee, who qualified for the main draw of the US Open for the first time of his career: James McGee rekindles fond memories of grinding out wins in Gabon as he aims for the bright lights. Also James great blog post on financing the tour.
– why Wimbledon defeats the #USOpen game, set and match in the social media arena, by Tennis Buzz contributor Andreas Plastiras.
– and finally, Mauro’s article on how Stefan is transforming Federer into an “Edberg 2.0”
Photo credit: Margaret
Stefan Edberg flew from Indian Wells to Stockholm to take part to the Kings of Tennis tournament. He beat Henri Leconte and Mats Wilander but Thomas Enqvist was simply to good in final.
Next up for Edberg is a trip to Miami to join Roger Federer for the Miami Masters next week.
Henri Leconte, Marcelo Rios, Carlos Moya, Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg and Thomas Enqvist. The legends gathered in Stockholm for the 2014 edition of the Kings of Tennis and it was the “home player” Enqvist who impressed the most.
In Friday’s final against Edberg there was no doubt: the 40-year-old dominated all through the match and only conceeded five games.
Son of success
Afterwards, he revealed the secret of his success: his son Tim, 7.
He coached me the all week. He used to say, “Dad, why don’t you run on the balls?”. I answered: “Because I can not reach them.” Then he just said: “Yes, but you can not know unless you run.”
The fact that we can have Stefan and Mats (Wilander) here, after all they have done for Swedish tennis, is incredible. Thank you for being here, said Enqvist.
Edberg, who recently hit with a certain Roger Federer (his current “pupil”), admitted the defeat and also praised Enqvist.
He went a little too fast today. He played fantastically well, so there was not much I could do. I tried to mix up the game but it was not enough. He (Enqvist) deserved to win.
In the tennis community, the alignment of stars looks like something magic. Everybody knows of the professional relationship, just as solid as the former Czech’s massive jaw, tying Ivan Lendl and Andy Murray: to merge the destinies of the terrible Ivan and the Scottish boy, a dream named Wimbledon. Now expired for the former number one who tried anything, even skipped the French Open, not to give up that last, desperate chance. But won only two shots against the target of the sacred fire of the Championships and failed both in 1986 and 1987. As a coach, on the other hand, Lendl has been able to eradicate the virus that weakened Murray in the Grand Slam, with the vaccine that he himself had experienced after four finals lost in Paris, Australia, and New York in the early eighties; Andy repaid him violating the ground of Wimbledon, for the delight of the British fans.
You know the news: former champion training a champion. There’s more, though. In these few weeks of preparation for the upcoming season, Roger Federer has withdrawn in his plastic hermitage of Dubai, where he sweats and moves, like the arms of the goddess Kali, parts of his business activities, especially those in real estate. The fallen king, after the upset of the last few months spent with an aching back, invited to share his training camp not a kid chosen among the juniors, or one of the lately unemployed professional coaches. He called Mr. Stefan Edberg, the master of the lost art of serve & volley, the heron with Scandinavian blood and movements inspired to Nureyev’s.
After splitting up with Paul Annacone, veteran Federer is still looking for an advisor for the last stage of his professional life: “We preferred to have him come here, away from everything,” because Roger is one who speaks in the plural and includes in his reasoning the faithful collaborator, and who knows what else, Davis Cup captain Severin Lüthi. But he himself decides; what he has thought for 2014 is not given to know, and yet there is a class wedding in the air.
A wedding, however, that has just been celebrated at Djokovic‘s, it will be not as fine and elegant but seems to be the answer to that same design from above: the name chosen by Nole, in fact, is Boris Becker. Bum Bum, the phenomenal boy of Wimbledon ’85, the diver of total tennis. So the Triad of the game of modern era would be ready to be reunited with weird similarities: Becker was never able to run his tank over Paris, Djokovic, equally, is chasing in the City of Light the last Slam missing in his own collection. Like Lendl and Murray, from a failure and a half as singles to the common triumph. Novak has convinced his longtime mentor, Marian Vajda, to submit to the role of assistant coach, now the team leader is Boris, who has not done much to keep his reputation after retirement. Aged 46, in the third millennium Becker has been known for his poker mania and a facelift, but Nole is enthusiastic, and so is Boris: “I am sure that together we will have great gratifications,” which will have to pass through the dismantling of Rafa Nadal. The only one who remained faithful to the family agreement, Rafa, at the moment working in Manacor with Uncle Toni to start biting at the next Australian Open.
If astrology were a science in tennis, Nadalito should alert us of a new liaison, maybe with the crazy John McEnroe. To restore a wise men committee, Ivan, Stefan, Boris, MacGenius, legends of a heartbreaking, varied tennis, knocked out by a bulldozer called progress.
Which partnership will be the most successful in 2014?
- Federer-Edberg (57%, 24 Votes)
- Djokovic-Becker (29%, 12 Votes)
- Murray-Lendl (14%, 6 Votes)
Total Voters: 42
For more infos on Federer-Edberg partnership, check out Mauro’s website STE… fans
A few videos of Del Potro’s 6-3 6-2 win over Andrey Kuznetsov in the second round: