Great players don’t always make great coaches but in Roger Federer’s case, it looks like the Swiss is a natural at both.
Federer briefly put on his coaching hat on Friday when he approached the bench and gave Alexander “Sascha” Zverev some advice during the German’s match against Denis Shapovalov in the inaugural Laver Cup in Prague.
The video of that on-court coaching visit has gone viral of course as Federer reminded Zverev to stay closer to the baseline after the return of serve.
And while on-court coaching on the WTA tour has been criticised by many, the way Federer’s brief pep talk was received indicates perhaps how big of a hit it is with tennis fans.
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Asked how much he’s been enjoying having an advisory role during this Laver Cup, and whether the experience has piqued his interest in perhaps turning to coaching in the future, Federer quickly cut me off and said with a laugh: “Yeah, 40 weeks a year, not so much.
“No, I mean, look, I always try to be at the service of the team, and if I can give some advice, I’m happy to do so, even more so with the younger guys who are going to go through more emotions, ups and downs, and maybe a bit of advice from myself or Rafa (Nadal) or somebody else, it’s just going to settle your nerves and give you a better understanding that maybe you’re not doing so bad.
“It is a first round. Don’t expect yourself to hit every ball in the corners yet. Really trying to calm down the nerves sometimes. I only feel I should be up there if I can be of any help.
“In the Davis Cup you sit much closer to the coaching bench, so there I would always try to speak to the captain and interact with him and then also try to help the players as much as possible. It’s just something I like doing.
“In the future, a coach? I’m not sure. I’m always going to be helping juniors along the way. A touring coach, it’s going to be hard for me with four kids that need me more than the coaching needs me.”
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal has also paid a visit or two to the bench to support his Europe team-mates and Dominic Thiem admits having the Spaniard and Bjorn Borg give him advice during his match was an “unbelievable” experience.
“They were cheering me up, which was unbelievably nice,” said the 24-year-old Austrian.
“I mean, it was, I think, unbelievable great experience for me and for all the other guys to see these two legends.
“They really have great team spirit. I mean, we saw them on the bench how they were going with us and everything in the first match and also in mine.
“So this was really nice to see, and that they came down was amazing. It was already a big boost that they were cheering me up.”
Zverev, 20, explained how hanging out with his team-mates Nadal and Federer has involved the pair recalling many stories from their past battles.
“Oh, there has been a lot. Rafa and Roger have been talking about I think the Wimbledon final that they played in 2008, the Wimbledon final before that they played, as well, those kind of things,” said Zverev.
“Also, all around, other subjects, not only tennis, other subjects that they have opinions on. It was quite fun.”
Roger Federer admits stepping up for the doubles with Rafael Nadal on Saturday night at the Laver Cup in Prague will be "difficult" but he is relishing the opportunity of teaming up with his long-time rival.
Federer has not played doubles in two years -- since a Davis Cup World Group play-off against the Netherlands in 2015 -- and he acknowledges the adjustment it requires from him.
The prospect of Federer and Nadal playing doubles together has been heavily promoted from the second the idea of the Laver Cup was first announced during the 2016 Australian Open.
It is a sight fans have been longing to witness -- in a competitive capacity -- and it will finally happen in the Czech capital on Saturday night when Federer and Nadal represent Team Europe against Team World's Jack Sock and Sam Querrey.
"Yes, it's going to be difficult. Unfortunately, it's the truth," Federer told reporters of the challenge of playing doubles, after defeating Querrey 6-4, 6-2 to extend Team Europe's lead over Team World on Saturday.
Alexander Zverev can easily have a career as a Master of Ceremony if the tennis thing doesn't work out as the German gave the perfect introduction to Roger Federer during the Laver Cup gala night on Thursday in Prague.
Zverev, who is 16 years younger than Federer, recalled a time when he met the Swiss legend as a five-year-old at the Hamburg Masters, where he asked him for his autograph.
"I was just looking at him, 'can I please have an autograph?'He was 'like, yeah sure'..." said Zverev.
"He started responding to me in German, which back then, as a kid, I didn't know that Swiss people speak German. So you know, that was very nerve-wracking, so I got his autograph, he started talking to me, he said 'well maybe if you work hard, one day we might be playing each other, somewhere'.
"And I was like, 'well yeah, maybe' (laughter). But no chance you could have known that we would have been on one team.