Roger Federer caught in funny altercation with coach at Australian Open

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

Roger Federer is clearly in a playful mood at the Australian Open.

The 20-time grand slam champ was captured on camera playing hide and seek and wrestling with his coaches on Sunday at Melbourne Park after a practice session.

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Federer playfully hid from coach Pierre Paganini as they walked through the corridors of Rod Laver Arena, before grabbing his coach in a head lock and pretending to wrestle him.

Federer’s fellow coach Sevrin Luthi also joined in the act, ‘attacking’ Paganini as well.

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Hitting back at claims he was "selfish", Federer earlier backed the Australian Open's new air quality policy after organisers copped international criticism for allowing qualifiers to play under a blanket of thick smoke haze.

Smoke from bushfires burning in Victoria's east caused hazardous air quality and visibility to plummet across Melbourne during the opening days of qualifying for the season-opening grand slam.

Organisers were subsequently lashed after they appeared unprepared for the conditions, initially allowing play to go ahead at Melbourne Park leaving several players adversely affected.

Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic had to quit her qualifying match after a coughing fit, while Australia's Bernard Tomic also sought medical treatment after complaining that he could not breathe.

Canadian Brayden Schnur and Brit Liam Broady led the charge of disgruntled players.

Schnur branded Federer and fellow superstar Rafael Nadal "selfish" for not speaking out on behalf of all players, while Broady launched a Twitter broadside that labelled communication from organisers "a slap in the face".

Roger Federer is clearly in a playful mood at the Australian Open. Image: ATP

"Go in the streets, ask the people if they want it to move from Melbourne or from Australia. No, I don't worry," Federer said on Saturday.

"From what we were told in the player meeting, the Olympic Games and other competitions have the numbers set at 300. Ours is set at 200.

"From that standpoint, I think we're moving in a very safe range. We're not here for six months straight at over 200, 300, you know.

"That's when maybe effects really become bad.

"I don't worry too much, to be honest. I worry more for everybody else who is in the fire, in the smoke.

"Also we can stay indoors all day, quickly go out and play, go back in again.

"It's not like we're stuck outside at all times.

"I think we're going to get through it and it should be fine. It shouldn't move, no."

Roger Federer practices as coaches Ivan Ljubicic and Severin Luthi look on. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Federer seemed offended at claims he and Nadal didn't do enough to represent the suffering lower-ranked players in qualifying, saying he'd been in the tournament office last Tuesday closely monitoring the situation.

"I think we're all confused," he said.

"Is it super unsafe or is it totally safe to play? The problem on top of it, it was actually quite hot, too ... some players are not used to playingat 35, 33 degree heat, especially if you've practiced on the indoor season.

"I'm not saying they're not ready or whatever it is, but it can always hit you.

"Of course, everything gets put down on it was thes moke. For sure, it can be nothing else.

"So what can I do? I can go to the office, speak to them."

The 20-times grand slam champion said he understood the players' frustrations and that communication between tournament officials and competitors was the key to another happy slam.

"I don't think I can do more than what I did," Federer said.

"I'm on the council. I've been on the tour for so long. I came through the lower ranks, the juniors.

"At the end of the day, we all care for one another."

with AAP