Opponent, friend, mentor, coach. Ivan Ljubicic, a fundamental piece of Roger Federer's career, talked about his relationship with the Swiss phenomenon, who played his last match on the Tour, after more than a year of absence, alongside Rafa Nadal in the Laver Cup .
In the long shoulder-to-shoulder interview with Severin Luthi, the Croatian recounted the first meeting, the sixteen challenges and obviously also the most intense emotions felt alongside Federer. Ljubicic retraced the stages of history starting from the beginning.
"We actually met a little late, around 2000. We both then won our first title on the circuit the following season. The extraordinary thing is that we faced each other sixteen times and all sixteen times he played completely differently.
Absurd. He always managed to find a different tactical plan, to read the difficulties of the opponents, he never gave points of reference. I have never faced such a player in the course of my career," he explained during a very long interview on the ATP website.
Ljubicic: "The best memory? The 2017 Australian Open"
The best memory? Obviously linked to the historic victory of the Australian Open in 2017: "I'll never forget that. He had just returned from injury. For him it was the 18th for me the 1st title of the Grand Slam as a coach.
I felt the pressure, the emotion. I confess that not even as a player I experienced the emotions of that tournament alongside Roger. Also because when you are not on the field you can do nothing but encourage and give some advice.
Sometimes it's really hard to accept sitting and just watching what happens. In any case it was an incredible success for me, for him, but more generally for the whole family. Roger's career has been unforgettable and I'm happy to have been part of it."