Federer: Ljubicic has played against a lot of the players I still play today

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Roger Federer.

Roger Federer believes Ivan Ljubicic’s playing experience against many of the players of the current generation could prove invaluable to him and his team, which the Croat has joined as a replacement coach for Stefan Edberg.

Federer announced on Tuesday that his two-season partnership with Edberg has come to an end and that former world No3, Ljubicic, would be joining his coaching staff, which will still be led by Severin Luthi – the Swiss’ main man for the past eight years.

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Ljubicic, who retired from the game in 2012, recently vacated his role as the coach of Milos Raonic and was hired by Federer to work alongside Luthi.

Federer and Ljubicic faced off 16 times during the Croat’s professional career and the 36-year-old will bring to the table lots of knowledge from his matches against Federer’s top rivals, both as a player and as a coach.

“I think it’s very exciting that he’s joined the team,” Federer said of Ljubicic while speaking to reporters in Dubai on Friday ahead of his participation for the UAE Royals in the IPTL.

“I’ve known Ivan for very long, very well. Super nice guy and because he’s played against a lot of the players I still play against today – it’s the first time I’ve had someone in my coaching staff who has done that.

“I’ve always worked with coaches who have played in a different generation, so I think number one that’s very exciting for me to hear him out.

Roger Federer presents Ivan Ljubicic with a birthday cake at Indian Wells in 2008.

“Also just in terms of motivation, hearing a different voice is always very nice. I’m very happy I was able to get him on my team. I can’t wait when he arrives here (in Dubai) and we’re going to start practicing together. But in the meantime of course Severin Luthi is my main coach.”

In his last two seasons working with Edberg and Luthi together, Federer has captured 11 titles and made three grand slam finals.

The 34-year-old Swiss, who will be playing in the Delhi leg of the IPTL on Saturday before flying back to Dubai for the December 14-16 action at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, said Edberg – his long-time idol – would still stay in touch with him and “see me sometimes, help me out still if ever I needed him”.

While many may not have predicted Federer’s choice in adding Ljubicic to his team, the 17-time major champion is confident in his decision.

Asked what exactly he looks for in a coach at this point in his career compared to in the past, Federer said: “I feel it’s tougher to find somebody now just because Severin and I, we know a lot. So the question is what are we, or what am I exactly looking for?

“And then all of a sudden you break it down and you see like there isn’t a million people for that kind of a job out there.

“He needs to match the team, because my team is super solid, super well in place with my physio, my fitness coach, my agent, my wife, my kids… it’s solid. So that person needs room to be able to say what he wants to say, and have freedom to work.

“He needs to be to some extent a family man, he needs to understand my world, my life, that’s why I think Stefan, Paul Annacone and everybody I almost worked with had kids as well. Which is helpful because they understand the process and they know how important family is, to them, and to me in particular, I’m a huge family person.

“So it’s not a priority but it’s just a really important aspect which people forget, I do have four kids and my life is extremely busy in a great way.

“Then important is what can you bring to the team? He’s got experience from the tour as a player, as a coach, he wants to win, he wants to make me a better player, he wants to be a great support within the team. Trust is really important…

“I think I’ve had the best coaches all along the way, at the right times, I had the right coaches. Parts of it was because I got lucky, some were because the federation hired them, others because I was able to hire them. But I think I didn’t make a mistake ever hiring anybody.”

Ljubicic is expected to start working with Federer and his team soon in Dubai, where the Swiss will be having his preseason training.  

Federer is looking forward to defending his title in Brisbane, to kick off his 2016 season, before turning his attention to the Australian Open where he hopes he can do “much much better” than his third round exit in the 2015 edition.

The ex-world No1 is happy with his past 12 months but admits catching up with the dominant force that is Novak Djokovic is a priority for next season.   

“I thought it was nearly great,” said Federer of 2015.

“The only problem was that Novak was extremely tough to beat, especially in the big occasions. He’s got sky-high confidence. We’ll hope one day that’s going to come down again, hopefully rather sooner than later. We’re working hard to try to catch him. I’m working hard to try to catch him, I’m working hard to become the best player I can be, also next year. I was very happy with this season even though I didn’t win a Slam unfortunately.”

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