Like Bennifer, TomKat and, at some point probably, Kimye, the Fedberg pairing is no more. It was announced Tuesday that Roger Federer would split with coach Stefan Edberg, who had been Federer’s childhood idol, after the pair worked together for two successful years following Federer’s troubling 2013.
It was a mutual decision, with Edberg saying he began the year knowing this would be his last with Federer.
“Roger and I had a wonderful two years together. When he originally approached me at the end of 2013, I committed to work with him for only a year. It became very clear from the start that this was going to be a special partnership, working with the greatest ambassador tennis has ever seen. It was exciting for me to be back out on tour and to see that the sport has made so much progress…. After an amazing 2014, I decided to continue on for another year, but with a clear understanding that it would be my last year given the time commitment.”
You can understand Edberg’s sentiments. The long haul of a tennis season isn’t just felt by players, but also coaches, trainers, hitting partners, physios, family and significant others who make the crisscross journey around the world too. Edberg had to deal with practice sessions, training sessions, waiting around all day for night matches against players ranked below No. 100, sitting in the baking sun while Federer played an early-round match in Cincinnati, flying to “who knows where” late at night on a Sunday for the next tournament after playing a final in “where were we again?” and, all the time, almost certainly having to hear about the history and usage of emoji.
Severin Luthi will remain as Federer’s head coach while Ivan Ljubicic will take Edberg’s role as advisor. He had previously worked with big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic. Though it shouldn’t be a tough transition, Ljubicic has some big shoes to fill. While Luthi has been around eight years and is the core of Team Federer, it’s the new guy who gets the credit or blame and Edberg certainly earned the former, coaching Federer during a 136-23 stretch (.855) in 2014 and 2015. That followed his lost 2013 in which Federer went 45-17 (.625), the worst of his career.
Edberg was with Federer as he transitioned to a larger racquet and tried different strategies, coming to the net or staying at the baseline with ease, all while throwing in some showy tactics (think SABR).
Of course, for as successful as Fedberg was, getting to three Grand Slam finals, Federer still didn’t win that major, a drought now dating back to Wimbledon in 2012. At 34 and with a new advisor, one who was 3-13 against Federer in his career and made it past the quarters of one Slam, can Federer get back in the winner’s circle?