by Arthur Pralon
contributed and translated into English by Ludmilla Geeraert
Q: How was the idea of an association with Stefan Edberg born?
A: After my split with Paul Annacone (in October), I finished the season with Severin (Lüthi), then he and I 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 he will split up with me 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 off-season. 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 changed?
A: In fact I don't even know! Only my stringers and Wilson know that. I'm not controlling every detail.
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