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Roger Federer says he is disappointed by his early-career meltdowns, calls Nadal & Borg 'the best teenagers in history'

(L to R) Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Bjorn Borg at Laver Cup 2019
(L to R) Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Bjorn Borg at Laver Cup 2019
Namit Kumar
Modified 16 Nov 2020, 13:29 IST

Roger Federer is the most successful player in the history of the ATP Finals, having won the event on six occasions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Swiss maestro was called on - alongside the legendary Bjorn Borg - to participate in the Champions Chat series on Sunday.

The chat was organized to mark the 50th anniversary of the tournament, and Federer spoke about his early days on tour, his best moments at the ATP Finals and also his reverence for Borg.

Roger Federer was not the calmest player on the court when he was a teenager, and the Swiss admitted he regrets his temper tantrums from his early days.

"I've had some major meltdowns," Roger Federer said. "Mostly angered by myself. I'm seriously disappointed by the handshakes I gave back in the day."

The 20-time Grand Slam champion didn't have the kind of success as a teenager that Bjorn Borg and Rafael Nadal did, and he believes his temperamental nature is to blame for that. Over the years the Swiss did learn to become more even-keeled on the court, but he pointed out that Borg developed his ice-cold nature much earlier.

"I think Bjorn and I have been similar that way, the exception being that he figured it out at early on in his teens and it took me much later to understand what it means to be a champion. That is why Bjorn together with Rafa (Nadal) are the best teenage players in the history of our game," Federer said.
"I just needed more time to figure things out. How to handle the pressure, like TV and spectators in the stadium, and understand what respect for the game meant. People often ask me how I'm so calm and composed because they only know of me since my first Wimbledon win in 2003, but the years before that were the really interesting ones," he added.

Would like to have Roger Federer's slice backhand: Bjorn Borg

Roger Federer at Wimbledon 2019
Roger Federer at Wimbledon 2019

As is customary on the Champions Chat series, Roger Federer was asked which aspect of Bjorn Borg's game he would incorporate in his own. And the Swiss maestro was quick to pinpoint what he would choose.

"Backhand down the line maybe," said the 20-time Grand Slam champion. "It never missed. My battle in life has been to make sure I can hit four backhands in a row over the net nicely and I feel like Bjorn can close his eyes and do that all night long."

Asked the same question, the 12-time Grand Slam winning Swede had words of high praise for Federer.

"Can I take his whole game? (laughs) He has the perfect game. But I would like to take his sliced backhand. It's very effective when he's in the mood and he knows exactly what to do with it. I need that slice if you ask me," said Borg.

Roger Federer also spoke about his love for the ATP Finals, and claimed that qualifying for the event for the first time in 2003 was a big confidence booster for him.

"Honestly it doesn’t matter where it (the event) moves, any player will go where it goes. I would go to the moon if I could," Federer said. "Qualifying for the Tennis Masters Cup (in 2003) was a huge deal. It opened my belief that I could beat the best baseline players from the baseline. 2003 was a true breakthrough tournament for me at the time."

The full video of the chat between Roger Federer and Bjorn Borg can be watched below:

Published 16 Nov 2020, 13:29 IST
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