When Martina Hingis taught Roger Federer about discipline

Martina Hingis recalls how she helped 'wild boy' Roger Federer transform into a champion

Roger Federer and Martina Hingis

Former World No 1 and five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis not only inspired a generation of young tennis players but also had some lessons for ‘wild boy’ Roger Federer when he first started out on the tour.

The duo represented Switzerland at the Hopman Cup in Perth in 2001. Federer was a talented teenager back then but was yet to win an ATP title.

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“We played Hopman Cup once together. I think he was at his younger age, he was a bit of a wild man, wild boy, not man yet, but there he saw how I was structuring things and everything was done for a reason,” Hingis told Chris Evert in an interview.

“The first day that we practised together, how everything was organised. Even dinner.

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“He wanted to go for dinner at 9 (pm) when we had a match at 10am next morning. I was like, ‘we can’t do that. We can’t go to bed with our belly full and just can’t sleep till 11 or 12. How can you play a match next morning?’

“These are the little things that maybe during this week, or these 10 days in Perth, he clicked.”

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Federer, who had a reputation of being a temperamental teen, later transformed into one of the calmest players on court, whose body language barely betrays his nerves or anxiety. The 39-year-old has won 20 majors and is coming back for more this summer.

In a 2017 interview, Federer had also spoken of Hingis’ influence on his career.

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“Martina was partially the one who showed me how it was all done,” he had said.

“It was great for Switzerland to have someone of her calibre. We were very lucky. I loved playing with her at the Hopman Cup, she was always super friendly, I love that about her.

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“I could look up to her and think, ‘Wow, how is she being so mentally strong and so consistent at such a young age?’

“It made me also believe with hard work and dedication you get really far, because I didn’t believe it that much at that point when I was younger, I thought it was more all talent.

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“Definitely she helped me to become the player I am today.”