- Roger Federer cried and then apologised during an interview with CNN this week.
- Having helped Switzerland win the Hopman Cup in Perth, Federer has flown to Melbourne where he hopes to win a seventh Australian Open this month.
- Federer expressed his love for the Australian tennis calendar, as there is much that connects him to the country.
- One of his earliest coaches, Peter Carter, was Australian, but the coach died before Federer won his first major.
- Federer was asked about Carter’s death. He cried, said he misses Carter, and that he hoped he made him proud.
Roger Federer cried and then apologised when he was asked a question about the death of one of his earliest coaches during a CNN interview this week.
Federer is in Melbourne ahead of the 2019 Australian Open, where he hopes to win a third successive major at Melbourne Park.
The 37-year-old is in hot form having helped Switzerland win the Hopman Cup in Perth, getting 2019 off to a perfect start having won his very first opportunity for silverware in the new season.
And the Australian tennis calendar, the country’s athletes, and the sporting culture as a whole continue to leave an indelible mark in Federer’s character.
This is because one of Federer’s earliest coaches was Peter Carter, who was “incredible, inspirational, and important” in his life.
Recalling his relationship with Carter, who died in 2002, Federer said: “It’s actually a really nice story… he came to play club tennis in my club back in Basel at Old Boys Tennis Club when I was little. He was one of the star players on the team and I was able to have coaching lessons with him.”
While Carter coached Federer, his countryman Darren Cahill trained a young Lleyton Hewitt, a future Australian tennis star, in Adelaide.
“They used to call each other and say ‘I have this really special kid I’m training’ and Darren would say the same [about Hewitt] from Adelaide. We played each other at 14, 16, 20 years old, and who knew we’d be Wimbledon champions and world number ones.”
Federer added: “So Peter was a really important person in my life and if I can say thank you today for my technique, it’s to Peter.”
Carter died in a car accident while on honeymoon in South Africa before Federer had won his first major almost 17 years ago.
CNN asked Federer what Carter would think now Federer’s won 20, and is in the running to extend that to 21 at the Australian Open this month.
But the question upset Federer. His eyes watered and reddened, he looked down, and said “sorry.” Speaking emotionally, Federer said: “I miss him so much, I hope he would be proud.”
“I guess he didn’t want me to be a wasted talent so… it was somewhat of a wake-up call when he passed away and I really started to train hard. I think what I would like to say is that I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the right people at the right time, the right coaches. I made those decisions, but I’ve been lucky along the way.”
He later added: “Geez, never broken down like this.”
As for the Australian Open itself, Federer – who has won six times at Melbourne Park already – is one of the favourites to win again in 2019.
“Am I confident, I don’t know,” he said. “I feel good… I’ve been training really well. I’ve had another great season this year, still happy playing and I won the last two Australian Open editions so I definitely should be going in there with confidence.
“I love playing in Australia and in Melbourne, there’s so much that connects me to the place. The legends that I admire from that country, the coaches that I’ve had have been incredibly inspirational and important to me in my life.”
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