Federer has hired Edberg, twice a winner at Melbourne Park, to
help him win more slams and the new partnership began successfully
on a baking hot Tuesday as the Swiss moved into the Australian Open
second round with a 6-4 6-4 6-2 trouncing of local wildcard James
Six-times grand slam champion Edberg watched impassively from behind
a pair of sunglasses, and sat in a shaded stand at Rod Laver Arena
as his 32-year-old charge wrapped up proceedings in less than two
hours to escape the heat.
Federer, unlike triple defending champion Novak Djokovic or Briton
Andy Murray, has never been one for drawing comfort from the
player's box, and is unlikely to change for his "childhood hero".
"I realize after a set I didn't look up once yet," Federer told
reporters after notching his record 57th appearance in grand slams.
"I better check if he's actually sitting there. I did see him. He
was wearing sunglasses. 'Okay, he is there'.
"No, I don't look up much. I stopped doing that way back when
because I said you just can't be dependent on these entire looks all
"Being coached from the sidelines, that's not how I grew up. I feel
like it's like in school, you know, you do your work. At home, you
get ready for the test, and then the test, you don't cheat and you
try to do your best score.
"I see it the same way in tennis. Clearly when I did look up ...
it's nice seeing him sitting there. Even if he wouldn't be my coach
it would be nice. Plus he's in my corner, it's great."
Federer said he had made a conscious decision to avoid glancing up
at friends, family and former players for a number of years, having
found his desire to impress them would throw him off his game.
"It usually used to be family and friends back home. Always felt
strange when they were all sitting there," he said.
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"Normally you'd be sitting at dinner tables or coffee shops,
and here you are now playing in front of them. It just felt
"Then it was when legends of the game came out to watch you
play: Bjørn Borg, Rod Laver, Stefan, (Boris) Becker.
"You saw them around and you're like, 'Ah, these are the ones I
used to look up to'. I want to make it extra special and I feel
like I have to impress them ... just come up with something that
they might think is 'wow'.
"And then you realize it's actually better to win the match than
win a few 'wow' shots, so you go back to basics. That's kind of
where it's hit me the most usually, when those kind of people
have sat in the stadium.
"Today I'm a bit more laid back about it, thankfully."
Edberg also showed himself to be relaxed about their
relationship, filing out of the stadium as Federer, who will
next play 99th-ranked Slovenian Blaz Kavcic, completed his
courtside interview after dispatching Duckworth.
"We will probably go to dinner tonight and just see who else
joins in, and then we will just watch some matches," Federer
said of his debriefing with the Swede later.
"I think he wants to see quite a few matches live, as well. He's
seen a lot on television but live is a different animal."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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