In a telephonic interview with Andreas W. Schmidt published on BazOnline (click here for the full article, in German), Roger Federer spoke about the baby on the way, his fitness and his thoughts on 2014. The full article is in German; the following report summarizes what he had to say.
He started off by confirming the news that Mirka, his wife, is pregnant once again, and they are expecting a third child. He hoped for her well being and a smooth pregnancy. He also remarked that if any complications were to arise (let’s all hope they don’t), he can reschedule his tennis calendar by adding and subtracting a few tournaments, like he did last season when he spontaneously made the decision to play Hamburg and Gstaad. He rounded it off by saying that this does not impact his tennis much, but rather makes him happy as a father and enables him to play better.
He talked about his week of training with Stefan Edberg, one of his childhood idols. He said that they spent a few days together, where he received valuable input from Edberg; it was a new experience for Edberg himself, as he had little prior coaching experience. He further went on to say that it was not yet decided whether Edberg would become his permanent coach, but if there was a way, he would be happy if Edberg joined his coaching team on some weeks during the tour – he couldn’t be a permanent part of his team as it required a lot of travel. He further affirmed that his current coaching team remains the same – Severin Luthi (coach), Pierre Pagnini (fitness trainer) and Stephane Vivier (physiotherapist).
The interviewer then asked him if meeting with Edberg meant that he was tuning his game to be more offensive, but Federer dismissed it as a misconception, saying that if he trained with Thomas Muster, it would not mean that he would start playing two-three meters behind the baseline. He said he was simply happy to have received valuable inputs from Edberg. He felt that he was an interesting player to coach, and held the volleying skills of Stefan Edberg in the highest regard.
Jokingly, Federer said that he was too late to strike up a deal with Boris Becker (“he was already taken!”). Federer went on to say he was ‘as surprised as everyone’ with the decision, as taking up a full-time coaching role meant staying away from one’s family and having to travel so much. The interviewer asked him to remark about the recent trend where players are hiring players from the 80’s-90’s to be their coach. He said that he can only speak for himself, and that he had a great time with Stefan Edberg. He also said that gaining the perspective of these greats was very good for him, and apart from Peter Lundgren, he has never worked with a player from this generation.
Federer then confirmed that he will play in the Australian Open with the larger 98 sq. in. racquet. He further went on to say that he wanted to play with it right after the US Open, but could not because he had to ‘sort his game out a bit’. Now, he has had more time and has tweaked the racquet more to his liking by collaborating with Wilson. He said the change was inevitable with the direction tennis was headed. He said that he has practiced with the racquet for two and a half weeks now, and is feeling very confident. He said the racquet suits him very well, but the real test would be in Australia.
For 2014, Federer said that he was feeling very optimistic and felt that he would be in top form come March or April. He wanted to turn it around after the US Open itself, but could not due to the back problem, and hence, he felt restrained. He said that now he will play more freely having shaken off the back problem.
He said that he was very proud of the fact that he had never retired from a match in progress, and out of respect for the opponent, did not cite his back problem as the reason for his defeats in 2013. This just shows his class as an athlete and as a person. He said that he only talked about it freely when it had persisted for quite a while.
Lastly, Federer was asked about whether he would play the Davis Cup in 2014, to which Federer did not give a straight-forward answer but it seemed as though Federer was not going to play Davis Cup next year. He said that it was unlikely that he would play since it costs him a lot of strength and effort, and in the end, it became a question of how much he wanted it.
We came to know three important things from this interview -
- That he will play with his new racquet in 2014 (I have previously also written about how much this was necessary)
- That he will most likely not play Davis Cup in 2014 (It would have cost him unnecessary energy)
- That he will start 2014 injury-free (This was essential; playing with even a small-ish nagging injury is very tough)
The biggest news of this hour is that Federer has confirmed on Facebook (see post below) that Stefan Edberg will join his team!