from Il Corriere della Sera
by Gaia Piccardi
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
The idol on the bench, the last trend in tennis. Federer chose Edberg to revive
John McEnroe used to collect pieces of contemporary art and anything he wished. Bjorn Borg debts and women. What could have Roger Federer, the billionaire from Basel who had received everything from tennis, ever gifted himself for Christmas? "My childhood idol: Stefan Edberg".
Sometimes they come back. We are in a full revival of the '80s-'90s, the "game of pairs" on the ATP World Tour (Djokovic-Becker, Lendl-Murray, Gasquet-Bruguera, Nishikori-Chang) surprisingly brings back on stage the blond from Västervik, who hated the baseline: he won't change the life of the former number 1 with a wonderful future behind his back, because there is noone who can explain Federer how to do better what he has come to do (how sensational and disruptive would have been the choice of taking to his bench a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize, a fantastic nerd from the Silicon Valley or, unbelievable, a woman), always assuming that the master of serve and volley knows how to teach serve and volley.
But in hindsight, as the Swiss said to the Basler Zeitung, it's not about that: "If you work with Edberg it does not mean that you will only play volleys or always come to the net. Just as if I trained with Muster I would not start to hit from three meters behind the baseline... I'll listen to him, but I have my own style."
And that one, that also earned him a little something (17 Grand Slam titles and 302 weeks as world n. 1, just to make it short...), does not change.
Roger, in the end, aged 32, second only behind Tiger Woods in the list of the highest paid sportsmen on the planet with $71 millions (but his portfolio of 11 sponsors, alone, guarantees him 65), thought well to scratch the itch.
A Ferrari? With a third child coming in 2014, drifting on the freeway in the canton of Basel would have not been cautious. A private jet? He has it already. A carboy of bubbles? A five-year agreement with Moet&Chandon has just been signed. So what? Roger himself explains it well: "Until 2010, during the tournament of Stockholm, Stefan Edberg was the only hero of my youth I had never rallied with. And now that he has agreed to work with me and my staff (coach Luthi, athletic trainer Paganini, physiotherapist Vivier) for at least 10 weeks starting at the Australian Open, I could not be more pleased."
A drop of life in the body, a light bulb in the head, a fresh motivation for going all the way in 2014 with the wish to face 2015 on the momentum (there are contracts to be met): this is what Federer is asking of Edberg. The placebo effect of the champion's fluid injected into homeopathic doses, hoping to obtain the same results as Lendl had with Andy Murray, the Wimbledon champion from Great Britain 77 years after Fred Perry.
The "certified pre-owned", in short, is getting popular among the VIPs of tennis (only Nadal remains faithful to his uncle Toni, to whom he is linked by an indissoluble Oedipus complex) recreating dangerous intersections on the stands, because Becker-Edberg was the most fascinating rivalry of the yuppies generation.
If the natural and constitutionally selfish (Edberg, ann.) is able to share splinters of Art and inspiration, it is yet to be proved. But the body of a Ferrari is also likely to be scratched. Then better Edberg, whom, in 48 years, life has never been able to ruffle. And, if it goes wrong, there is always Pete.
- Stefan Edberg & Tony Pickard Mr Class and his teacher
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- "Federer is exceptional, but tennis needs a new name too"
- "I am a happy person"
- Federer criticizes young players: "I wish they volleyed more"
- Nadal prefers continuity to celebrity
- Back to old for something new
- Federer & Edberg: the meaning of a challenge
- «A source of inspiration»
- Roger Federer looks for new angles with Stefan Edberg
- And now, Federer-Edberg!
- Another shocking pair for 2014. Federer hires Edberg
- Edberg to coach Federer in 2014
- Federer: «I will never be able to volley like Stefan Edberg»
- Courier: Becker and Edberg fresh air for Nole and Roger