A few hours after this interview Roger Federer in person confirmed Stefan Edberg as part of his coaching staff for 2014. Congratulations, Stefan!
from Basler Zeitung
by Andreas W. Schmid
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
Stefan Edberg and Roger Federer at the gala night of celebration for the world number ones of last August in New York
It's eight o'clock in the morning Swiss time. As agreed, the phone rings. At the other end of the line: Roger Federer. "Hello, how are you?," the world tennis star opens up a good half-hour conversation, as usual - and then clears his throat a number of times. A common cold? "Yes, but it's already going away," he explains. No need to worry then.
Federer is fit and well prepared for the new season, as he believes. Today he flies to Brisbane, where, on Sunday, the ATP 250 hard-court tournament begins. There, the player from Basel is seeded n.1, the clear favorite - a role that he no longer held in the past, rather difficult months.
Roger Federer, in the last few weeks you surprised the fans with some news. Especially with the announcement on Christmas Eve, that you will be a father for the third time in 2014. When will the baby be born?
I don't like to talk about the details, even if everybody asks. In the end, this is something very personal. What matters now is that Mirka is alright and she will experience a good pregnancy again. Just as the last time. Back in 2009, she stood at Wimbledon with no problem during the dramatic five setter against Andy Roddick and she was at the eighth month. This was not obvious, I think. So far she is doing well. Let's hope she stays that way.
But if the baby..
Well... we are flexible enough to respond. That's the good thing about the tournament calendar of ATP that you can react quickly to something. If something important is happening, then I play just less and a few weeks later more. This year, I've also spontaneously added tournaments from Hamburg and Gstaad in my schedule. Such short-term changes are also possible at any time in the new season.
What do you think: as a future father of three children rather than two, will this change much for you?
It doesn't, necessarily. However, I can't answer this question until six months or maybe even a year after the birth. I still remember exactly how we thought before the birth of our twins: this will be tough... And then it was still very good. And now, the older they are getting, the easier it gets. Therefore, I have much less fear of what may come to us in the future, than it was back then.
Eventually, I had the thought: wouldn't it be an incredible thing if my former idol would spend a week with me? Thereafter, if nothing else happens, so what! We have at least spent a few interesting days together, talking about my tennis and maybe I got some input from him. Edberg pondered my question very well because he has little experience as a coach and it was something new for him. However, after the great experience he had in his career he's well up for it. I was happy when he finally agreed.
Will he continue to implement part of your coaching staff?
So far he is not my coach, yet. We have to discuss it deeper together. But we would be happy, of course, if he could meet during a few weeks in the new season sporadically. Otherwise, the staff remains the same. Severin Luthi is still my coach, there is no reason to change anything. Pierre Paganini's my fitness trainer, Stephane Vivier my physiotherapist.
With Edberg's involvement does your game style become clearly offensive?
No, no. People have misunderstood. If you train with Thomas Muster, that does not mean that you continue to hit all the balls from three meters behind the baseline. Neither you must now constantly stay at the net and play volleys, if you've worked with Edberg. Each player has his own ideas and his own style, with which he must work. I listened to him and was always happy with the inputs of my coach. I had to implement it by myself. In addition, I have my ways not only in the net game, but also from the baseline. That's why, I think, I'm an interesting player to coach.
What impresses you the most about Edberg?
The way he plays the volleys, I'll never be able to play like that. He has spent his whole tennis life at the net and there he earned his success. I repetedly met Edberg in recent years and was never disappointed after a meeting with him. He always behaves incredibly well and has a positive attitude and joy of life. This is important to me.
You could also have worked with Boris Becker...
Yes... but since I was a little late (laughs)... He was already gone.
Which was your first reaction when you heard that Boris Becker is Novak Djokovic's new head coach?
When Boris and I meet, we always have a chat off together. Nevertheless, I was probably as surprised as everyone else. I had not expected that he would return to the tennis frontline. And that he would like to travel so much once again and be on the training court daily. Even if he still works a lot for Sky and at Wimbledon for the BBC.
Boris Becker now lives in England. Also because he feels misunderstood in Germany. In fact, the comments on his new job as Djokovic coach fluctuated between malicious and spiteful...
I'm sorry about that, because he did great things on the court, no one can deny it. Becker had a great career. What happened next is his private matter.
Andy Murray is working with Ivan Lendl, Stanislas Wawrinka with Magnus Norman, Djokovic with Becker, you are getting advice from Edberg. Is this the new trend in tennis that you join the stars of the eighties and nineties?
I can only speak for myself: with Stefan Edberg I can talk as equals. He himself was very successful and knows what it means to play at the top. And I found it really exciting to talk with someone from the generation of players that you have just mentioned. Apart from Peter Lundgren, previously I have never worked with a player from this generation. Paul Annacone, Tony Roche and Jose Higueras are all older.
Last summer you made a first attempt with a larger racquet after the early exit in Gstaad. Now you have again tested the new racquet model during the preparation. Will you also use it on the tour?
Yes, I'm going to play in Australia with a similar model as in my first attempt. Actually, I wanted to take the test right after the US Open again. But then I had so much to do with myself and my game, that I dropped it. Now I have more time to still make further small changes and to discuss with my outfitter company Wilson on the details.
You could also say: why should I change something in the racquet I have reached such great successes with?
It is a fact that the sport of tennis continued to evolve and the racquet technology with it. Nevertheless, one must always think twice before changing something on his racquet. Because the equipment is extremely important. But now I have the feeling that it is the right time for a change. I've played for two and a half weeks with the new model and I am confident. The racquet suits me very well in the hand. But the truth is on the court. We will see the outcome in the tournaments in Australia.
Prior to 2013 you spoke of a transition year. What can you tell us for 2014?
Nothing, because now I have to wait and see the start. My gut feeling tells me that within March or April I'll be in top form again. Then the bad talks that have been made in the past year should be reversed. In the last few weeks I could not do everything exactly as I wanted it. That makes me feel confident. The last season was different because I forced the back pain again and again to train. Now I was able to try some of the things I had to do without precaution in spring and summer.
No specific goal for 2014?
I just say everything is possible. At the end of the season it was already much better. The fact that, despite the problems, I'm number 6 in the world at the end of the year is almost unbelievable and gives me motivations.
Last season, you could have saved yourself a couple of public debates, if you had said from the beginning: I could not play better because I was injured. But as it was said in many places: Federer loses, because he is too old.
I do not want to come up with an excuse for a defeat every time. This has to do with respect for the opponent. Perhaps he had his problems, also. I would rather try to get myself out of my hole. Only when the physical issues persist for some time, it makes sense to talk about them. The way I did it last year in Gstaad also...
...where you better wouldn’t have played at ll?
In the future I will have to pay attention to my body. Even if I have no joy in cancelling tournaments, it is certainly better to be honest with yourself and say, friends, this way it makes no sense. I've never retired during a match, which I am very proud of. At the same time this must not mean that I feel like my body is undestroyable, once it has got problems.
Let's talk more about the Davis Cup. Will you be in Belgrade at the end of January to play against Serbia?
It will be difficult, especially with the news of the last days. That's why I'm always in contact with Severin Luthi and Stanislas Wawrinka. I am happy that the team spirit and communication are so good. This makes things much easier.
Marc Rosset called the chances of victory in the Davis Cup as good as ever.
It depending on how you look at it... The chances were also there before. At the same time the Davis Cup is a difficult topic for me. It cost me a lot of strength and effort, if I take part in it. You must ponder whether you want it or not. It is unlikely that I play.
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