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"I didn't realise the importance of it until late in my career" - Stefan Edberg about being world number one. Watch the interview

Stefan Edberg returns to Melbourne

by Joanne Cox (from Melbourne, Australia)

On January 17th Stefan Edberg returned to where it all began for Team Fedberg in 2014.  His very successful partnership with World number two Roger Federer started at Melbourne Park on the first day of the Australian Open last year.  Until now speculation had been rife as to whether the duo would continue their working relationship.

Interest in the Super coach/Super Pupil pairing was keen when it was announced in December 2013, particularly among fans of the long retired Swede.  Federer went on to have a remarkably strong 2014 season featuring five titles in Dubai, Halle, Cincinnati, Shanghai, and Basel and six runner-up finishes, including Wimbledon. At the ATP Finals year end championships Federer had to withdraw with a back injury from the title match against Novak Djokovic. Federer finished the year as the oldest player to rank number two (at age 33) while also having the best win/loss record of any player in 2014 (73-12).

Edberg would have been very pleased with Federer’s playing Davis Cup in 2014; Federer would have been even more pleased, along with World number 4 Stan Wawrinka, Switzerland won the title for the first time in the country’s history.

Bring on December 2014 and the question remained: will Edberg continue to travel the world and to work with the Swiss Maestro?

Federer started the 2015 season by returning to Brisbane and winning the title, after a hiccup in dropping a set to unheralded Australian John Millman, Roger won his quarter final (James Duckworth), semi (Grigor Dimitrov) and final (Milos Raonic) playing majestic tennis. Severin Luthi, Swiss Davis Cup captain and long-time coach to Federer, was with him but still no sign of Edberg in the camp.

Finally on January 17th the question was answered by Roger at a press conference in Melbourne ahead of the first Grand Slam tournament of the year:

In another pleasant surprise for Edberg fans, the Swede was courtside for the Australian Open’s Kids Day event.  This event grew out of a charity initiative by Roger Federer to raise funds in a ‘Hit for Haiti’ event after an earthquake ravaged that nation in early 2010.  In 2011 Roger again organised a charity exhibition for the Australian State of Queensland after severe flooding caused widespread damage just prior to the Open.  Now it has become an annual fun day of activities for children, Roger Federer has headed it for each of its five years.  The highlight for Federer fans was the official tennis (courtside) debut of his 7 month old twin sons Leo and Lenny who attended the match with their mum Mirka, older sisters, five year old twins Myla and Charlene, plus ‘Uncle’ Stefan.

Notably the teams played the new ‘Fast 4’ version of tennis, first to win four games, let shots played, no change of ends (or sitting down) allowed with an advantage (game) point as in doubles if the score gets to deuce.  The teams did not change ends as Roger wanted to stay at the end of the court his children were sitting.

Mirka Federer’s mum holds one baby Federer, Stefan Edberg is seated next to Mirka, who holds one of the girls and Mary Jo Fernandez, wife of Tony Godsick (Federer’s agent) holds the other baby Federer.  Their second daughter sits behind her mum (partially obscured).

Once the exhibition was complete, Edberg headed to one of the outside courts to watch rising 18 year old Swedish player Elias Ymer win his final qualifying match over Hyeon Chung of Korea, to make the main draw of the tournament.  In doing so Ymer became the first Swede since former top ten player Robin Soderling, who competed in the 2011 event.  Ymer won in straight sets 7-5 6-2 with some strong net court play, a solid serve and a good slice shot.  He should be a name to watch in the future; let’s hope so for the sake of Swedish tennis and the Good to Great Academy, where Ymer trains with Magnus Norman, coach of Stan Wawrinka.

Stefan Edberg watches 18 year old Swedish player Elias Ymer, recent winner of the Stefan Edberg scholarship, win his qualifying matches to make the Australian Open main draw. Elias Ymer won entry to the Men’s singles draw  Ymer’s coach Magnus Norman watches on. After seeing Ymer secure victory, and obliging a young fan a photo Stefan met up with Roger to practice on Rod Laver arena.

With Team Fedberg back together, confirmed for another ten weeks on the road this year, and Roger Federer in fine form, starting 2015 with a title in his first event in Brisbane, the future looks very good for the Swiss/Swedish pairing.

Edberg joined Federer later in the afternoon to practice on Rod Laver arena.

Team Fedberg really are the best thing in tennis, all the greats are saying so!  Nick Bollettieri, former coach of Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Mary Pearce and Monica Seles, has thanked Edberg for working on Federer’s attacking game. After Federer won his 1000th match in Brisbane the Australian great Rod Laver commented that Stefan has given Roger a little more confidence at the net, and where to place his volleys.  The Swedish great himself said the longer Federer remains in tennis the better the game will be.

Every Federer fan would agree, by attacking the net, shortening the points and mixing the play up, Roger is playing better tennis and the results speak for themselves.  Only time will tell if Federer can win the title in Melbourne this year, thus receive the trophy from his childhood idol; Edberg is here as a guest of the tournament and will hand over the silver wear to the winner on February 1st.  The future for Team Fedberg looks good and tennis fans around the world will celebrate their return and the glorious tennis.

Stefan Edberg returns to Melbourne


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