Roger Federer interview by Arthur Pralon for L’Equipe, translated by Tennis Buzz

Q: How the idea of an association with Stefan Edberg was born?
After my split with Paul Annacone (in October), I finished the season with Severin (Lüthi), then he and I, we discussed. We asked ourselves if we needed someone else in the team. Who? Why? How many weeks a year? I only had a few names in mind , and Stefan was one of them.
I really did not think he would be available, because he’s been off the circuit for 15 years. But he is one of my childhood hero so I said: Why not try to contact him. He needed a lot of time to make his decision, he really was not sure of himself! (Laughs.) But he was very flattered and he finally agreed .
He came to Dubai and spent a week all three (with Severin), so that he get an idea of my daily life, because all the top players have their own arrangement. I wanted him to meet my family, my team, so that he feels the most comfortable possible. After that, I asked him again whether he wanted to work with me and he agreed.

Q: How will you organize?
Severin keeps travelling with me most of the time, and Stefan has agreed to accompany me at least ten weeks a year, slightly less than what my former coaches used to do. I’m really glad he could find time for it. I am very excited, and he also, even if he had never imagined to coach someone.

Q: What will he bring to you?
A: I’m sure he can bring a new perspective to my game. I see him more as a source of inspiration, a legend of the game who joined my team, than a full time coach. We’ll talk a lot. In fact, neither he nor I really know how it will happen. But we’re both excited to be back together in Melbourne (next week).
There is no real expectation, we just want to spend quality time together. I have always have former players by my side: Lundgren, Higueras, Roche, Annacone, Luthi. But I’ve never had someone as successful as Edberg. His generation is the one that impressed me most as a junior, so the priority was to find someone of his generation to help me.

Q: So, we guess you followed with interest the announcement of the collaboration between Novak Djokovic and Boris Becker…
A: Yes, I never thought Boris would embark into this, he would coach. But it’s great for them and great for tennis. I am pleased to see former legends try to help the next generation.

Q: To work with Edberg means that you will play a more attacking tennis?
A: You think if will resign if I don’t play serve and volley (laughs)?
It will be interesting to see if he thinks it is still possible to do many serves and volleys on today’s slower courts, or if there are other ways for me to go to the net. In any case, all Edberg will tell me will mean a lot to me.

Q: Let’s talk about your offseason. What about your back problems?
A: I have done more than what I expected, and it’s really encouraging. This year I haven’t played any exhibition, which allowed me to train extremely hard, and for a longer period of time.
For the first time for more than a year, I’ve been able to train three or four weeks in a row without any problems.
In 2013, every time I had small problems, pains, including back, and it cost me confidence.
For a few months now I can move again without problems and I can give myself fully, especially mentally. I completely recharged my batteries.

Q: Many people speculate on your chances of capturing another Grand Slam title? Where do you have your best chance?
A: If I play my best tennis, probably Wimbledon, then the US Open, the Australian Open and Roland Garros.

Q: We’ve seen you with a new racquet at the practice here
A: Yes, this racquet is different from the one I’ve tried last summer (in Hamburg and Gstaad).
Wilson worked over details that I notify them. They sent me the first batch of racquets after the US Open, and a second one after the Masters.
I chose a frame and I trained with it for two and a half weeks in Dubai. I feel very comfortable, more comfortable than with the racquet of last summer. This one is more like an extension of the one I used previously, with a futuristic look. I can not wait to see how it will happen in matches.

Q: Has the weight of the racquet changed?
A: In fact I don’t even know! Only my stringers and Wilson know that. I’m not controlling every detail.

Novak Djokovic
Preview, recap and analysis:

Novak Djokovic first practice session
Roger Federer first practice session
Day 1 recap
Day 2 recap
Day 3 recap
Day 4 recap
Day 5 recap
Day 6 recap
Day 7 recap
Women’s semifinals highlights
Li Na and Dominika Cibulkova roads to the 2014 Australian Open final
Rafael Nadal and Stanislas Wawrinka roads to the 2014 Australian Open final
Li Na defeats Dominika Cibulkova, wins first Australian Open title

A trip down memory lane:

Australian Open trivia
The tragedy of Daphne Akhurst
The Norman Brookes Challenge Cup
1960 Australian Open: Neale Feaser, a costly volley
1960: first Grand Slam title for Rod Laver
1960-63 Australian Open: Jan Lehane four time runner-up
1974 Australian Open: Jimmy Connors first Grand Slam title
1981: First Australian Open title for Martina Navratilova
1987-1988 Swedes spoil the party
January 11, 1988: first day of play at Flinders Park
1994: First Australian Open title for Pete Sampras
1996 Australian Open: Mark Philippoussis defeats Pete Sampras in the 3rd round
1997 Australian Open: Pete Sampras defeats Carlos Moya
2001 Australian Open: Pat’s last chance
2001 Australian Open final: Andre Agassi defeats Arnaud Clément
2003 Australian Open: last Grand Slam title for Agassi
2005 Australian Open: Heartbreak for Lleyton Hewitt
2009 Australian Open: Rafael Nadal defeats Roger Federer

Fashion and gear:

Andy Murray adidas outfit
Ana Ivanovic adidas dress
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga adidas outfit
Caroline Wozniacki dress by Stella McCartney
Rafael Nadal signature shoes: the Nike Lunar Ballistec
Roger Federer signature shoes: the Nike Zoom Vapor 9.5
Novak Djokovic Uniqlo outfit
Venus Williams dress by EleVen
Rafael Nadal Nike outfit
Roger Federer Nike outfit
Serena Williams Nike dress
Maria Sharapova Nike dress
Victoria Azarenka Nike outfit
Li Na Nike outfit
Juan Martin del Potro Nike outfit
Lleyton Hewitt C’mon outfit
Kei Nishikori Uniqlo outfit
Eugenie Bouchard Nike outfit
Flavia Pennetta outfit by Stella McCartney

Polls:

Who will be the 2014 Australian Open champion?

  • Rafael Nadal (33%, 92 Votes)
  • Novak Djokovic (28%, 80 Votes)
  • Roger Federer (27%, 76 Votes)
  • Juan Martin Del Potro (4%, 11 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (4%, 10 Votes)
  • Stanislas Wawrinka (2%, 5 Votes)
  • Tomas Berdych (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Other (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Richard Gasquet (0%, 1 Votes)
  • David Ferrer (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 283

Loading ... Loading ...

Australian Open 2014 champion?

  • Serena Williams (49%, 70 Votes)
  • Victoria Azarenka (15%, 21 Votes)
  • Maria Sharapova (12%, 17 Votes)
  • Na Li (9%, 13 Votes)
  • Other (5%, 7 Votes)
  • Caroline Wozniacki (4%, 6 Votes)
  • Jelena Jankovic (3%, 4 Votes)
  • Agniezska Radwanska (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Angelique Kerber (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Petra Kvitova (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Sara Errani (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 144

Loading ... Loading ...
Roger Federer and Stefan Edberg

What do you think of this partnership? What can Edberg bring to Federer’s game? Please share you thoughts.

For more infos about the Fedberg collaboration, check out Mauro’s website STE… fans

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

Loading ... Loading ...
Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl

From L’Unità by Federico Ferrero
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello

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

Loading ... Loading ...

For more infos on Federer-Edberg partnership, check out Mauro’s website STE… fans

Enjoy Mauro’s view on the EdbergMcEnroe final at Stockholm’s Kings of Tennis:

Who didn’t think that the worst was going to happen again? When Stefan Edberg was one set and a break up in the Kings of Tennis final against John McEnroe and started to walk with a limp, repeatedly touching his left thigh and asking for the physio, we all went back to the 2012 Zurich final against Carlos Moya, when the same kind of injury prevented him from winning the title with the match that seemed already over.

The fact that this time he went all the way in front of his home crowd, against an opponent 6 years his senior (that had struggled himself with a neck injury in the match before against Henri Leconte) can’t make us forget that almost twenty years have gone by since Stefan’s professional days and, inevitably, playing serve & volley tennis for entire matches in consecutive days on fast surfaces (stressing out articulations and muscles) is getting increasingly demanding for his body.

Yet it remains a show! Watching the final, all the lovers of vintage tennis can’t help noticing and appreciating the variety that Stefan can give his shots. When you see him use three different spins on three consecutive serves, you immediately think that, even though racquets and strings have developed becoming a technological weapon today, an alternative to exclusively power tennis would still be possible if the player’s arm and hand are educated and know the game’s history and secrets.

When you see two monsters like Stefan Edberg and John McEnroe apply today the same kind of strategies they played twenty years and more ago, you think that, it’s true, surfaces have been slowed down, but no way this is a factor to completely erase net play from the game.

At every interview Stefan keeps repeating that, had he played tennis today, he wouldn’t have served and volleyed at 90 per cent, but only half of the times. Still, when he enters the court, it’s so evident that the net remains an irresistible attraction for him. His touch is unchanged and the decreased speed makes it even more enjoyable to watch. His right side seems even improved and lower speeds this time can’t be the reason, because Stefan’s forehand has always been a counterpunching shot that gave him more troubles right when it was him who had to generate the power.

In the Stockholm final, instead, he looked unusually sharp on this shot, while he unexpectedly missed several backhand crosscourt passings.

For a good hour the final was top-level tennis. Since Stefan’s injury, I would say from the fourth game of the second set on, it went down. The two thousand spectators of the Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre didn’t notice it. They were delighted, because the loss of quality was balanced by an enthralling fight in the second half of the match.

At the end the audience were all on their feet. But the real question is: how can an Edberg vs McEnroe final, even today, be watched by just two thousand spectators? An event that, I’m sure, would have filled the Royal Albert Hall in London (5.500 seats) or the Stade de Coubertin in Paris (5.000)… And, remember, last June there were 10.000 persons in Halle (which is not a capital city) to watch four tennis glories, right in the Sunday of the French Open final…

The Waterfront Congress Centre may surely be the tennis facility that Stockholm was waiting for. It is central, modern and multifunctional. But at the same time, it is the clear evidence of the downsizing of tennis in Sweden. In the ’80s and early ’90s the Stockholm Open was played at the Globe Arena (14.000), then, from 1996, it moved to the Kungliga Tennishallen (5.000). Now, a senior event that puts together two former Swedish world number ones (and Borg was in the stands) plus two more Swedish top ten players and a world sports star like John McEnroe is hosted in a much smaller stadium. And it’s not sold-out…

The news of the winner has barely found some space on the Swedish most important online media, where the sport pages are now almost completely filled with ice hockey. It looks like the Kings of Tennis, more than revitalizing tennis in Sweden, reminds the Vikings of a past that can no longer be.

Visit Mauro’s website: STE…fans

Photo by Tim Edwards