Exclusive Interview with Tennis legend and Roger Federer's former coach — Stefan Edberg

The six-time grand slam champion was the mentor for the third edition of Times of India Sports Awards (TOISA) and he discussed the development of sport in India and what it takes to grow as a sporting nation

Exclusive Interview with Tennis legend and Roger Federer's former coach — Stefan Edberg

Former World No.1 and Tennis legend — Stefan Edberg — was in Mumbai for the Mahindra Scorpio Times of India Sports Awards (TOISA) and was the mentor for the third edition in 2018. From being Roger Federer's coach between 2013 and 2015, to being a six-time grand slam champion, Stefan Edberg discussed the rise of sport in India and his time with the 20-time grand slam winner — Roger Federer. 

The significance of events like TOISA (Times of India Sports Awards) and you being the mentor this year

Sports awards, in general, feels good when we get-together and meet personalities from different sports and the sportsmen and women get recognised and felicitated for their achievements. I'm honoured and happy to be here as this is my second visit but it has come after many years. I'm happy to promote tennis here in India.

What do you have to say about the growth of Tennis in India

India, in the recent years, has produced good doubles players but there's still a long way for the athletes to make a mark in the singles competition. Tennis has grown globally and India has potential to make a mark in the future. But it'll take time with the growing infrastructure and development. Patience and constant progress is very important in the long run. 

One legend coaching another, your experience with Roger Federer

Two great years! Like I've said in many interviews (with a wide grin) it is nothing that I expected but I enjoyed the time and hopefully, I made a little difference in his career. I respect Roger for what he is and he probably respects me for what I am. The combination was good and probably brought some new thoughts into his game which he needed. He had a tough season back in 2013 with injuries. We made a few changes but in the last couple of years, Roger has done something exceptional. I'm really proud to have mentored him at one point. His 20th Grand Slam victory was a big gift to Tennis as a whole.

What does Tennis need globally?

Honestly, the game needs a new name. We have Rafa, Roger, Novak, and Andy but you need to see a new name breaking through. It has not happened yet. But with all these great players, a young talent emerging this year would be great for the sport. Yes, it's great to see these big names win title after title, but would be great for spectators to see a new name.

Your visit to India and what you've noticed

 It's been great so far, limited time of course but we visited a few young kids from the area and I enjoyed spending time with them on the court and giving a few tips and adding value to their life. They love the game and I would really encourage people from the sporting world to come and help the growth here. Interacting with kids at the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA) was a special moment and I'm glad I came here. 

What other sport do you follow?

Apart from Tennis, I follow Ice Hockey and Football a little. The Premier League and the Hockey league in Sweden are on my radar. I don't follow Cricket at all! 

One thing you feel India could learn from Sweden in terms of sports

It all starts locally and now in India, you can see people emphasising on kids participating in sports and if the grassroots are strong, you develop as a sporting nation. Kids need to be encouraged to play any kind of sport and need to be supported by parents and professionals. 

One last question, your greatest rival during your playing days

Boris Becker. It couldn't get bigger than that. The 1992 US Open final against Pete Sampras was really special as well as it was my second and last US Open title and it was one, tough game!

Cover Image Credits: TOI