Federer's new coaching collaboration not a surprise, says Annacone

As Roger Federer's coach at Wimbledon in 2012, Paul Annacone remains the last man to have guided the Swiss to a Grand Slam singles title, and he has as good an understanding as anyone as to how the player thinks and operates.

The Californian has told Wimbledon.com how Federer's long-standing friendship with his new coach Ivan Ljubicic will allow them to have a "successful partnership", which could mean adding to his 17 majors. "Roger and Ivan know each other really well and have spent a lot of time together as fellow competitors and as friends, and that's only going to help them. I expect any changes that Ivan makes to Roger's game are going to be subtle stuff. But those small, subtle changes can have the biggest impact at the right moments," said Annacone, who disclosed that he was not all surprised that Federer's collaboration with Stefan Edberg came to an end this month after two years together.

"I don't think that Roger and Stefan ever planned on a long relationship. I think they always knew that they had a fairly finite amount of time together," Annacone said of Federer's association with his childhood idol from Sweden, which brought appearances in the 2014 and 2015 Wimbledon finals.

"They had a really successful run, with Roger reaching three slam finals, at Wimbledon in 2014 and at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2015, and in all three of those matches he ran into a guy, Novak Djokovic, who was playing some phenomenal tennis. I think Stefan had a great impact, and I think he just didn't want to travel so much any more. These are two of the nicest guys on the tennis tour, if not two of the nicest guys on the planet, and I would think that the reason that they didn't continue was about the travel and also the finite amount of time they were dealing with."

Annacone's analysis is that Severin Luthi, who has long been part of Federer's team, will be instrumental in enabling Ljubicic and Federer to prosper. "Severin is still there, and he is going to be the glue that holds things together. I think Severin will play a really important role in helping speed up the learning curve, and in making sure that Roger and Ivan are going to be just fine," said Annacone, who has also coached Pete Sampras and Tim Henman.

"An underrated force in the game," is how Annacone described Luthi. "Probably people should be talking about Severin a bit more, I would say so. It's easier for people to gravitate towards big, prominent coaching names, and to talk about them. Severin doesn't have a huge name but he plays a huge role. I know that without Severin there I would have really struggled at the beginning. He really helped to make the transition easy for me and also easy for Roger. Severin is a wealth of information. He does a great job, and he'll have as much impact as he has in the past," Annacone said.

"First of all, he knows Roger better than anyone else. He's been with him for a long time, and that helps. And also he knows the game really well. A lot of the value that he brings is the combination of those two things - that he knows the game and the person. Because he knows both very well, he is able to give Roger very clear instruction and a clear evaluation of what's going on. He does that really easily. And then Roger is able to digest that information and instruction really quickly and adjust as needed, and that's really helpful."

Naturally, Federer is fuelled by an ambition to win another major. But Annacone disclosed that a pure love of the sport is also propelling Federer to great things in his mid-thirties. "You prioritise your goals, and I would imagine that winning another major is right at the top of Roger's list. But Roger enjoys the process and journey so much that he enjoys winning any title, and he enjoys playing and competing around the world. So I think that's probably the main reason why he's so successful, that he still enjoys the game."

Date: 22nd December 2015, Source: Wimbledon


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