Stefan Edberg and Roger Federer had a practice session with Ivan Ljubicic last year in Indian Wells
But Ljubicic does offer one important thing that Edberg didn’t: He has played many of the opponents that Federer will face next year, and, in his time with Milos Raonic, coached against virtually all of them. In that sense, Ljubicic is closer to the Brad Gilbert coaching model than he is to today’s superstar mentors. When Andre Agassi hired Gilbert as his coach in 1994, BG had yet to officially retire as a player (he would call it a career the following season). Gilbert had spent his career trying to figure out how to beat the same guys that the much more talented Agassi had been facing for years.
Ljubicic’s own track record as a coach is hard to measure. He started working with Raonic in 2013, and during their time together the Canadian cracked the Top 10 for the first time. In 2015, Raonic underwent foot surgery in the spring and dropped to No. 14 in the rankings. Still, as Montreal tennis writer Stefanie Myles points out, judging by the wording of Raonic’s break-up announcement, it was the coach, rather than the player, who put the kibosh on their partnership.
“The decision has been made,” Raonic wrote on Instagram two weeks ago, “that we will not continue our professional relationship in the coming year...”
The decision, it seems possible to surmise, was made by Ljubicic so he could coach Federer instead. Can you blame him?
Federer and Ljubicic already know each well. Both men have been involved in ATP governance, and Ljubicic has called Federer the “leader” of men's tennis. Presumably, they won’t need too much time to get to know each other, an important consideration in a year when Federer will turn 35.
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