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Federer & Edberg Make Dream Team Debut

Melbourne, Australia

Edberg© Getty ImagesStefan Edberg (right) was in Roger Federer's box for the first time.

Racing into the second round of his record 57th consecutive Grand Slam tournament with a straight-sets win over Australian wildcard James Duckworth, Roger Federer managed a rare glance to his player box to check that champion coach debutant Stefan Edberg was paying attention. He was.  

“I realised after a set that I didn't look up once yet. I better check if he's actually sitting there,” Federer said of Edberg. “I did see him. He was wearing sunglasses. Okay, he is there.

“I don't look up much. I stopped doing that way back when because you just can't be dependent on these looks all the time.  Being coached from the sidelines; that's not how I grew up.

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“I feel like it's like in school, you do your work.  At home, you get ready for the test, and then the test, you don't cheat and you try to do your best. I see it the same way in tennis.”

The match against Duckworth was the first time Edberg warmed Federer up before a match—a multi-tasking hitting partner and coach—and after a successful debut, the 17-time Grand Slam champion is eager to go through the post-match motions before his second round against Slovenian Blaz Kavcic on Thursday. 

“We will probably go to dinner tonight and just see who else joins in, and then we will just watch some matches. I think he wants to see quite a few matches live, as well. Because he's seen a lot on TV but, live is a different game. So he's going to do a bit of that.

“Tomorrow we will just go through the motions in practice and discuss my future opponent.  Just spend time, the three of us, with Severin Luthi, my coach, as well. That's what's on the planning front right now.”

While Federer remained couth about his 57-straight Grand Slam appearances, he cracked a smile at the mention of one of his seemingly countless records, the most ATP Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Awards. The partnership seemed a match-up destined to eventuate. 

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“[It’s] a bit weird, and I think I won it more than he did. That's my favourite thing about the award,” Federer laughed.

“I'm joking. Obviously he was a role model for me growing up, the way he conducted himself on the court, away from the court, in the press room. I learned a lot from him, and it's nice to have him in my corner and be able to just speak to him and be inspired by what he says about the game today and about how it used to be for him maybe, telling me stories.”

His sixth seeding is Federer’s lowest at the Australian Open since 2003, but the relaxed Swiss, with 59 total Grand Slam appearances, well and truly has the experience behind him.

“I think it's only a thing players do since maybe 20 years ago to go to all the Slams. By virtue of that Slams have gotten more important over the years.

“There's no short-cuts in Grand Slams because of the best of five set situation. Two weeks and it's spread out throughout the year, so you have to stay injury free and be healthy. I showed that for, what is that, 13 years?”

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