Home Roger Federer insider opens up on ‘first date’ with legendary player | Tennis | Sport

Roger Federer insider opens up on ‘first date’ with legendary player | Tennis | Sport

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Federer’s coach Ivan Ljubicic invited Italian world No 79 Fabbiano to train with them ahead of the Australian Open.

The 28-year-old flew to Dubai to act as the eight-time Wimbledon champion’s hitting partner and he was pleased with the way he performed on-court – despite some serious nerves.

“I only know that that first afternoon in Dubai I arrived well in advance and that I was tense as on a first date,” Fabbiano said.

“But after that early afternoon in Dubai he and his team must have thought that they can count on me with their eyes closed.

“To be fair, Federer had been inactive for a month and a half, and the fact he was just getting up to speed helped me break the ice.

“We actually played at least 11 sets.

“And almost always it was a long set decided at the tie-break.

“In short, in Dubai with Roger I played it on an equal footing four times.”

After training with Fabbiano in Dubai, Federer headed to Perth to play in the Hopman Cup, his traditional season-opener.

And having won there, the Swiss then flew to Melbourne for the Australian Open, where he picked up his 20th Grand Slam title, a feat he later admitted he never thought possible.

But Fabbiano, having had prior knowledge of exactly the kind of form the 36-year-old was in, claims he was always convinced of Federer’s chances.

“I knew Federer would win the Australian Open,” Fabbiano added.

“Even before you see the draw, even before you guess the conditions of [Djokovic], Stan [Wawrinka] and Rafa [Nadal].

“Even before knowing where [Grigor] Dimitrov and [Juan Martin] Del Potro, [Nick] Kyrgios and [David] Goffin had ended up.

“Before we even look at Sascha Zverev for heaven’s sake. But Roger is Roger. 

“And the others … okay. I knew Federer would conquer his 20th Slam in Melbourne.

“But I took had the chance to understand why. Indeed, to see why.”

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