Ahead of the first Grand Slam of the season, Roger Federer explained how and why he hired Ivan Ljubicic.
Via his press conference Saturday at the Australian Open:
Q. How it came to an end with Stefan and how you decided on his replacement?
ROGER FEDERER: I think I remember Stefan telling me maybe here last year that this was going to be his last year. Then I checked in with him again, if that’s really the case, maybe through Wimbledon at some point maybe.
With Ivan, it was really at the end of the year. I have a great team around me. Yeah, that’s when Ivan told me that with Milos it’s not going to continue. I said, So you would be available? I’m checking other options, too. But are you interested at all?
He said, Yeah, I would love to do it, so let me know.
I went through the process. At the end I called Ivan up and asked him then. He was very excited. So that was the process more or less.
Q. Had you been quite chummy with him when you were together on the tour, quite good friends?
ROGER FEDERER: We always got along well, even though he’s the only guy to beat me in Basel and Gstaad. We got along well. He used to be on the council, as well. We had some talks there. I think that was an important phase because I needed to trust Ivan there on the entire board change we were going through. It was quite tricky, not a comfortable thing to do. I had to work very closely with him there. There were a lot of moments where I had to see Ivan’s reaction, how he was handling it. It was a really good process. At the end we worked very well together.
Towards the end of the career when he had family, I had family, we also spent more time together. Towards the back end of your career you’re also a little bit more relaxed off the court. Yeah, we always stayed in touch. I was happy for him when he did as well as he did with Milos as a coach.
Q. Have you had to change any elements of your game specifically for Novak?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really. That was more something that went into the press. I’m always on the lookout for how to play certain players or certain tournaments or about my own game. So Novak might be a small piece of the puzzle, but it wasn’t the piece. I’m more focused about my own game than any other player.
Last year I did quite well against Novak. Of course, I got to keep it up. I always believe there’s new things you can learn, but there’s always sometimes a way of staying motivated, staying hungry. Someone like Ivan can also help do that.
But I can do a lot by myself, but I need my support team to push me the last 1%, 5%, 10%, whatever it is, because I’m not in the same mood every single day.
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