from The Telegraph
by Greg Rusedski
It has become fashionable to employ a famous former player as coach, but the best of the lot at the Australian Open could be Stefan Edberg with Roger Federer
When Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl look around at the number of famous coaches gathering in Melbourne for this year’s Australian Open, they should remember the old saw about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery.
Boris Becker, Michael Chang, Goran Ivanisevic and Sergi Bruguera have all agreed to work with a top player, but I would say the best signing of the lot is Stefan Edberg, who will be helping Roger Federer with his game over the next ten weeks.
Edberg spent a while living in London in the 1990s, and both Tim Henman and I got to know him well. He made quite a contribution to our tennis, spending time on the court with us and coming up with a few ideas.
One of Stefan’s great areas of expertise was always his smooth approach to the net. He called it his transition, and as Tim and I were both keen to move forward, that was the skill we concentrated on. I’m sure it will be the same for Federer.
Roger has been working hard on his net-play lately. He is trying to get lower when he volleys, and I see his long-term focus as preparing himself for a serious crack at Wimbledon. As with Andy — and we will come back to this later — the grass courts of the All England Club will present Federer with his best chance of winning a slam this year.
Stefan is a very shrewd character, but also a man of few words, so when he does come out with a nugget you really listen. He was there in Dubai over the winter while Federer was trying out a new racket, and I am sure he would have had his say.
Personally, I don’t think Roger has as much control with this racket just yet, especially on the forehand side, and that could affect his campaign here in Melbourne. But clearly he and Edberg have a longer-term goal in mind.
The critical thing is that Roger needs to get the balance right between attack and defence. Under Paul Annacone’s coaching he was much too aggressive. But Stefan will look at the situation objectively, just like Ivan did when he joined Andy’s team, and tell him that he has to be more patient.
I have played with Stefan on the Champions’ Tour. He admits that, if his career had coincided with the modern game, he wouldn’t have been able to serve-volley all the time. In the face of slow courts and ferocious top-spin, his best option would have been to mix it up more, and use the element of surprise. That is what Federer needs to do as well.
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