by Franck Ramella
contributed and translated into English by Ludmilla Geeraert
Stefan Edberg and Roger Federer during their training session together at the 2010 Stockholm Open
Nostalgic of the 80's like Novak Djokovic, freshly associated to Boris Becker, the Swiss has asked the elegant Swede to join his coaching team. An upscale partnership on the paper.
Roger Federer has won the Stefan Edberg Sportmanship award so many times that he couldn't accept that as it stood.
Finally, in this completely staggering revival ambience - last week, Novak Djokovic has joined forces with Boris Becker - what could be more logical than to see the student join the master of aesthetics?
Because in fact, who is the master and who is the student? As great as he is, Federer seemed to shake in the tennis world in front of one man only: Stefan Edberg.
You should have seen the Swiss beg a small training session to the Swede at the Stockholm tournament in 2010 to understand how high he regards him.
"It was a great moment for me", told Federer. "He was the last childhood hero with whom I had never practised. I idolized him, even more than Pete (Sampras)."
This absolute respect and mimicry in the art of good manners have obviously played a big part in the set-up of this new partnership, which had already taken shape during a recent training week in Dubai.
Back with Severin Luthi since his split with Annacone in October, Federer probably thinks that to bounce back and surprise, he needs a little touch of innovation.
Always eager to work with discreet collaborators, he couldn't find a more reserved person than the hermit of Vaxjö.
Guarantor of silence and serve and volley play erected as art during his career ended in 1996, Edberg was after all the man for the job.
"Same playing style, same elegance, same approach to the game, Edberg for me is the master of the geometry of the court, with a play at the net so elegant that he seemed to draw some arabesques" tells Patrice Dominguez, Montpellier tournament director.
Since the end of his career, Edberg was enjoying co-managing his investment (a bit) and spending time with his family (a lot), avoiding watching tennis on TV.
A peaceful life, as always, far away from Boris Becker's eccentricities.
When he was asked his opinion, he was replying with his soft voice: "If I had been his coach, I would have asked him to come to the net 7 out of 10 times against Nadal. It's difficult to play against someone who consistently breaks your pace. Roger is able to do it and I think it's a key for him."
5 years later, Edberg can't do anything to rejuvenate him, but will he at least instill the right dose of serve and volley in his protege's game?
Alongside Luthi, he will have at least 10 weeks this year - starting at the Australian Open in Melbourne - to work with the myth determined not to become commonplace.
But, like for Becker and Djokovic, the same questions arise when it comes to former champions turned coaches - one remembers the mixed results obtained by Connors and Wilander in the past.
Trend? Gadget? Strong will to progress?
"Players turn to those who have proven their ability to overcome their demons to better handle certain situations" says Dominguez. "It's foremost mental and a bit tactic. And it's above all good news for tennis!"
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