Roger Federer Play the final match of his legendary career in laver cup side by side Rafael Nadal. his coaches, Ivan Ljubicic And the Severin LuthiThey were in the crowd at The O2 to support their shipment for the last time.
Ljubicic and Luthi wrote for ATPTour.com about working with Federer, their friendship and their favorite memories.
I first met Roger when we were playing futures tournaments, and we started in the ring. I was 17 and he was 15. Roger was a talented and emotional kid.
But we actually got to know each other a little later, in the early 2000s. We both won our first ATP title in 2001, when they took a trophy in Milan before and did the same in Lyon later in the year. We were already sharing jokes about it at the time.
Speaking of jokes, I only have funny memories of Roger – not many serious memories! Roger is a very clumsy and funny person. we had so much fun.
Sometimes it’s hard to travel the world without my family most of the time. But with him, it was never difficult. I never felt like I was working. There were always good times. In his spirit, he always made sure we enjoyed our time with him.
You can also sometimes see funny things with Roger in public. He loves to scare people and jump out of nowhere as a joke. There is never a dull moment with him. Life with Roger is never boring!
In the locker room, Roger was very likeable and always very nice to everyone. He understood, especially later in his career, how much he represented to many young players when he would first meet them. He was making sure everyone was very comfortable around him.
When I became a coach for Roger in 2016, I first knew him as a competitor. I’ve competed with him 16 times in my professional career and the most impressive thing for me was that he didn’t play two of those games the same tactically. He was always bringing something new to court and making sure there was no reference for you to learn from.
The problem with him is that he will play a match one way and the next time he appears and do something completely different. He was definitely the only player I’ve ever encountered who could play this way, and no matter what he did, he was very, very good quality. For me, this was a huge problem because when you lose to someone, you say, ‘Okay, I’m going to learn something from this time and get ready for the next stage’, but that wasn’t possible with them.
When I started coaching Roger, I realized that his way of thinking about tennis was very different from anyone else’s. I think that was the biggest difference, that he had this big, big bag of tactics that he would pull whenever he felt like he needed it.
When I watched his matches, Roger was a very elegant and strong player. He made it look so easy. You think everything is talented, but he was an incredibly hardworking worker.
I didn’t say anything to him nor did I ask him to do something saying to him: “No, let’s cut something out or do less.” If anything, he would be the one who wanted to do more. Visually, his game looks easy. But behind his elegance and style there was a lot of hard work.
I will never forget 2017 Australian OpenHe returned from injury to win his eighteenth Grand Slam title. For me this was the first peace tournament I won as a player or as a coach. It was a very important moment. You can feel emotions and pressure.
Roger hasn’t won a major since 2012. He never said that to me, but I felt like he approached me to coach him because he wanted to change something. Honestly, I always thought he was doing things right and it was just a coincidence that he didn’t win more majors during that time. For me, in some situations it was unlucky.
But as a player, I never remember going through the feelings I had in Melbourne in 2017. When you’re competing, you have things on your racket and the emotions are different. But when you’re sitting there in the crate, you can’t do anything but scream. Sometimes sitting and watching is more emotionally difficult than playing. That was a great moment for me personally, but also for us as a team.
Roger has had a great career and we had a lot of fun in the process. We played 16 matches against each other and shared many memories with the same team. The time when I have to be a part of it will always be something special.
I first met Roger at the Swiss Junior Championships when I was 16 and he was 11. I remember there was a guy with one-handed backhand and I thought, “Why would he play one-handed backhand?” He was very small and thin.
Two years later, he came to the National Tennis Center. I just remember a guy smiling in the restaurant and I had no idea why he was smiling. he had [a mark] On his face because I think he fell off a bike the week before. I thought, “Who is this guy?”
That was Roger. Little did I know it would become such an important part of my life.
Roger was getting better and better every time I saw him, and I was surprised. I was thinking, “How did it happen so quickly?” Every six months he would have gotten a lot better.
I became the captain of the Swiss Davis Cup in 2005, and two years later I started traveling with Roger as well. I quickly learned that he could do anything in court. For me, the most impressive part is that he was really playing the game. It never worked out. Even though there was a lot of work behind it, it looked pretty easy on the court.
Sometimes it’s hard for people to understand how much work he had to put into his game. It’s fun to see him play.
We trained a lot with the younger players. Obviously, these guys were probably too nervous and dangerous because they wanted to do a good job. I often thought about how cool it was that he looked like he’s 15 and the other guy is 30. He has always found a way to have fun playing it.
Ivan Ljubicic, Severin Luthi And the Roger Federer“/>
Image source: Clive Brunskill / Getty Images
You could do the most ordinary, most boring exercise possible, and Roger always found a way to have fun with it. He either imitates other players or makes a different noise for each shot he hits. Roger found a way to make it fun for himself and it was always impressive. He showed me how much he enjoys playing and still enjoys the sport.
Roger also always wanted to learn. He accomplished a lot, but he knew it was important to keep your feet on the ground. You should never think that you know everything and he always liked to hear something from the outside. A lot of people ask me, “What would you say to a guy like Roger?” I can tell you, these guys, they still want to know things every day. They always want to keep moving forward.
For me, that’s also something that makes the game more interesting for a guy like Roger. If he had always done the same things, he would have been bored sometimes. I think as coaches we always tried to do new things, maybe it wasn’t all that different, but you wanted to do something a little different every day. That made it more interesting and he stayed up like that. Otherwise, it would be repetitive.
Something people may not realize is how much Roger is concerned. In 2009 he lost a match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Montreal after leading 5-1 in the third set. I was disappointed after the match and then we got into the car. Roger said, “Are you okay and all?” I said yes. I was disappointed and always asked myself what I could have done better or differently even though I knew it was 98 percent up to him.
Roger told me, “I think sometimes you’re more disappointed when I lose a game than I am now.” This may have been true!
There was always hope that Roger would make his decision to retire, so we always tried to stay positive. This is something he was better at than anyone else. I think Roger is really the world champion in being positive.
When he learned he was going to have surgery in 2016, he was very positive from the moment he made the decision. Roger told us, ‘When I get back, I’ll be in better shape than ever. Now I have time for my family. I was like, “Yeah, okay, but now you need to have surgery!” He knew what was going to happen, but he had a good attitude about it.
There were some good moments last year when he was able to play again, but obviously it was more difficult because you have to be careful, you always need to know how much practice you can put in and often that was a lot. Then you had to slow down again.
But I think the big difference between Roger and many of the players is that he also lived off the tennis court. It was very difficult and he was disappointed when things were not going well, but after he was away from tennis or was with his family, he also had another life. That made it so good for him, because he never felt like he was missing something.
This was a tough period, but I think Roger coped with it incredibly. As usual.