Tennis pundit Catherine Whitaker has described Stefan Edberg’s admission that he’s advised Roger Federer to avoid a retirement ‘farewell tour’ as somewhat of a ‘bombshell’.
Edberg, who served as Federer’s coach for two years before they parted ways in 2015, recently opened up about his advice to the Swiss legend as he nears retirement.
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Edberg announced in December of 1995 that he would be retiring at the end of the following season.
However he regrets the drawn-out nature of his own retirement and has suggested Federer avoid suffering the same fate.
Edberg endured a frustrating 1996 campaign and is convinced his mind became muddled because there was so much discussion of his departure from the sport.
The former Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open champion - who won each of those grand slams twice - revealed he and Federer have spoken about how best to walk away.
“We actually talked a little bit about it and I would not recommend it to anybody actually, even if it's a nice thing to do, because it does put too much pressure on yourself and there will be too many things going on in your mind,” Swedish great Edberg told the Tennis Podcast.
“So, if you're going to announce it, I would do it just before my last tournament…or have it in my mind but not for anybody else to know.”
Edberg was feted from tournament to tournament in his final year but failed to win a single title, going closest when he reached the Queen's Club final.
“It’s just very tough to handle but at the same time, it was a memorable year. But, I would not recommend it,” he said.
Tennis pundit stunned by Edberg’s ‘bombshell’
Whitaker, a co-host of the Tennis Podcast, described Edberg’s comments as a “little bit of a Federer bomb”.
“Stefan Edberg famously completed a farewell tour of the world to say goodbye before his retirement and that is something we’ve speculated Federer might emulate,” Whitaker said.
“I think that is a bit of a bombshell because that theory of Federer retirement was one of the frontrunners of how he might do it.
“I think that effectively takes it off the table. I think for somebody that Federer respects and is as similar to in a lot of ways as Stefan Edberg, I don’t think he would listen to that advice and go against it.
“I don’t think he’ll want the tournaments and the matches to have a testimonial feel about them. If he’s playing a tournament, he wants to win that tournament.
“If you’re on a farewell tour and you know that someone’s waiting backstage during all your matches with a cake or a plaque or something to honour your final time at that tournament, it takes on a different feel. It does take on a slightly exhibition-y, testimonial feel and I’m not sure that’s desirable.”
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Roger Federer eyeing Tokyo 2021 Olympics?
At the age of 39, Federer is sitting out the rest of the 2020 season after knee surgery but looks set to return in 2021, even if tennis continues to be played behind closed doors.
The 20-time grand slam winner may elect to depart after one of his favourite tournaments and Edberg says the Swiss should make a sharp exit, rather than repeat his own mistake.
Many believe Federer wants to an add an elusive singles gold medal to his overflowing trophy cabinet and will prolong his career until the Tokyo Olympics - now in 2021.
The Swiss Maestro won gold in doubles at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, but hasn’t been able to capture one in singles.
“Olympics are always special,” Federer said recently.
“I’m excited to see what Tokyo will be like and hope the Games can take place in 2021.
“Of course I want a medal there. No matter whether in singles, doubles or mixed.
“I’m not there yet. If you have been on the tour for 20 years, you are happy to have a quieter year.
“The right preparation starts about three months before the Games – you don’t think about it beforehand.”