Few people know Stefan Edberg better than Tony Pickard, who coached the Swede for many years. Speaking on the eve of Federer’s second-round match at the Australian Open, the former Britain Davis Cup captain explained how he sees the 10-week collaboration working out.
I understand Stefan called you for advice before accepting the role?
Yes, that was nice of him, he told me all about it, said he’d had a phone call (from the Federer camp), asked my opinion, we had a conversation about it. I hope it all works out well for him.
What sort of thing did you say?
I said he had to think about it what he was going to bring to the party. So I know he went off to see Roger and I told him one or two things which are between him and I, one or two questions he should ask, which he obviously did and he came away with some satisfactory answers.
How do you see it working?
Obviously Roger’s not employing him as a coach, He’s obviously employing him for expertise and for what Stefan can bring to help him stay at the top of the game. It’s pretty difficult – OK, Stefan was No 1 in the world and so was Federer – but it’s pretty difficult to bring something new to somebody who was No 1 in the world because one of the most difficult things when you’re No 1 is to accept that somebodyt you’re not very close to can bring something that may appear to be criticism. I don’t think the young man would do that but it’s whether not they would accept it.
It seems like they are fairly similar characters?
I know Federer to say hello to and to have two mumbles with but apart from that I don’t know him. But he comes across as a quality young man too, in my eyes. Edberg’s a quality young man in every which way you look at it.
He looks like he could still be playing himself?
Yes, he keeps himself in good shape. I know he’s had a bit of trouble with his hips, he keeps himself in good shape.
What do you think convinced Edberg to say yes?
I think it fascinated him to be perfectly honest with you. I think it was something that fascinated him and it was going to be a bit of a challenge to see what he was going to bring to the party and if he could improve help him improve. It’s difficult to improve someone who’s been No 1 for such a long while but there’s always something, there’s always something you can do to bring your dinner.
Do you think he’ll ever be tempted to take a coaching role full-time?
I don’t think that’s what he will do. I think he’s accepted to go with Roger for this period of time and I think principally it’s because he likes the man, he gets on well with him and he feels he can bring something to the party and help. But I would be very surprised if young Edberg pulled up roots from his private life and business life to go back on the Tour.
An article containing the interview also appeared in Scottish newspaper, The Herald, on Wednesday. To read the story, click here