Ivan Ljubicic paid tribute to the recently-retired Roger Federer, saying that the biggest strength of the Swiss was his ‘big, big bag of tactics’ that he could draw from.
“While I became Roger’s coach in 2016, I first knew him as an opponent,” Ljubicic told ATP tour.
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Federer retired this weekend at the Laver Cup with 20 Grand Slams and 103 tour titles to his name.
Thank you boss . What a journey. Definitely preferred coaching you than playing against you ❤️ @rogerfederer pic.twitter.com/9B4WP7mkCC
— Ivan Ljubicic (@theljubicic) September 24, 2022
“I competed against him 16 times during my professional career and for me the most impressive thing was that he did not play two of those matches the same way tactically.
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“He would always bring something new to the court and make sure that you didn’t have any reference to learn from.”
Federer won 13 of the 16 matches against Ljubicic.
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“The problem with facing him is that he would play a match one way and show up next time and do something completely different,” Ljubicic, who reached a career high of No 3, added.
“He was definitely the only player I ever faced who could play that way, and no matter what he did, it was at a very, very high quality.
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“For me, this was very problematic because when you lose to somebody you say, ‘Okay, I’ll learn something from this time and get ready for the next one’, but with him it was just not possible.”
One last with Seve…. pic.twitter.com/hsHut48fuZ
— Ivan Ljubicic (@theljubicic) September 23, 2022
When I started to coach Roger, I realised the way he is thinking about tennis is just different than anybody else. I think that was the biggest difference, that he had this big, big bag of tactics that he would pull out whenever he felt he needed it.
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The Swiss started working with Ljubicic in 2016 and won his 18th major at the 2017 Australian Open after a six-month hiatus from the tour due to knee surgery.
“When you watch his matches, Roger was a very elegant and powerful player,” said Ljubicic.
“He made it look very easy. You think that it’s all talent, but he was an incredibly hard worker.”
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Former Swiss Davis Cup coach Severin Luthi, who was part of Team Federer for years, said the Swiss’ positive attitude was one of the bedrocks of his longevity.
“Until Roger made his decision to retire there was always hope, so we always tried to stay positive,” said Luthi.
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“That is something he was better at than anyone. I think Roger is really the world champion in being positive.
“Roger also always wanted to learn. He accomplished so much, but knew it was important to keep your feet on the ground.
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“You should never think you know everything and he always liked to hear something from the outside.
“Many people ask me, ‘What are you going to tell a guy like Roger?’ I can tell you, these guys, they still want to know things every day.
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“They always want to keep progressing.”
Ljubicic and Luthi were present at London’s O2 Arena this weekend, when Federer bid an emotional farewell to the sport.