Roger Federer was lazy at the beginning, says former coach Peter Lundgren

  • Roger Federer's former coach Peter Lundgren revealed that the Swiss was difficult to work with as a youngster.
  • Lundgren also expressed sadness that Federer's first coach Peter Carter wasn't alive to see his success.
Shruti Sinha
Modified 18 May 2020, 21:36 IST

Roger Federer (left) with his former coach Peter Lundgren
Roger Federer (left) with his former coach Peter Lundgren

Ever since Roger Federer first tasted Grand Slam glory on the hallowed lawns of Wimbledon in 2003, he has been a force of nature. Federer's hunger for excellence and will to reinvent his game have brought him a staggering 19 more Major titles, making him the most successful men's tennis player in history.

But there is a certain Swede who knows what exactly it took to help Roger Federer reach the top. That man is none other than the 55-year-old Peter Lundgren, a former player who coached the Swiss maestro from 2000 to 2003.

It is the timing of their collaboration that makes their partnership so significant. Long touted to be a future World No. 1, the young and temperamental Federer had trouble living up to those lofty expectations early on. Emotions frequently got the better of him, and his lack of maturity and composure often led to his downfall on the court.

Lundgren had been working with the Basel-born promising star in those days along with Federer's childhood coach Peter Carter and fitness trainer Pierre Paganini. Their job was to mould the highly talented yet immature youngster into the champion that he is now.

And it was not easy. In a recent interview with Tenis Brasil, Lundgren revealed how Federer would often give him a headache with his lack of discipline and focus.

"It is never easy to work with a tennis player, but at the time Roger was a very talented young man, only lazy," Lundgren said. "He had some problems to concentrate, besides that he was not physically on point." 

But one thing that stood out even in those days was Federer's desire to become the very best. That was the driving force behind his transformation into a champion both on and off the court.

"Things happened quickly for him because he always wanted to be the best and I saw that he had the potential to achieve that," Lundgren added. "The truth is that he was a difficult person to work with, but he has a big heart and is a good guy, he grew up very fast and today he is the tennis ambassador. I am very proud of him."
Roger Federer trains under the watchful eyes of Peter Lundgren
Roger Federer trains under the watchful eyes of Peter Lundgren

Lundgren also underlined how not every player matures the same way or at the same time. Citing the example of Rafael Nadal, he went on to say that while the Spaniard won his first Major at 19, Federer had to wait longer for the same breakthrough.

It is crucial for every coach to understand what exactly his ward needs and how to guide him in the right direction, according to Lundgren. There is no fixed formula to build the perfect player.

"It is difficult to say exactly how to build a player," Lundgren said. "You need to start with the technique, fine-tune it and then obviously move on to the mental part and work on physical strength. Each person matures in a different way, then all of these components need to come together for you to reach the top. 
"Remember that Federer won his first Slam at the age of 23, which means that not everyone is Rafael Nadal," he added.

Winning 2003 Wimbledon was a relief for Roger Federer: Lundgren

Lundgren was able to instill conviction and belief in Federer, who used that to go out and conquer the world. With the Swede by his side, the 22-year-old Federer evolved as a player and grew in confidence. The mutual trust and respect that they had for each other soon translated into a moment that neither will ever forget.

When Mark Philippoussis failed to return a serve on match point at Wimbledon in the summer of 2003, it was a dream come true for both Lundgren and Federer. And it was also a source of relief for the latter.

"It was a very special moment for both of us," Lundgren said. "I've always wanted to win Wimbledon since I started playing tennis. I made the round of 16 as a player, which is not bad, and I won as a coach, something that makes me very happy.
"For Roger, this title was what everyone was expecting from him. The truth is that even for him it was a relief," he added.
A young Roger Federer with coach Peter Carter
A young Roger Federer with coach Peter Carter

Despite the happy memories, Lundgren also carries with him a tinge of sadness. The Swede rued that Carter could not live to see Roger Federer reaching the pinnacle - something he had prophesied a long time ago.

The Australian had been a father figure to the young Federer and had identified his immense talent at the age of nine. However, he passed away in a tragic car accident in 2002, which was a big blow for Federer.

"With Roger, there was a talented boy, he was a diamond to be polished," Lundgren said. "Peter Carter and I took Federer to the top, starting from scratch to win Wimbledon. It was just surreal! I just wanted Peter to be with us to have lived it all.

Published 18 May 2020, 21:36 IST
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