(Reuters) - Roger Federer, who has taken on childhood hero Stefan Edberg as part of his team, thinks the recruitment of former great players as coaches will be good for tennis in the long term.
The 17-times major champion said bringing the likes of Edberg, Ivan Lendl, who coaches Andy Murray, and Boris Becker, who is now working with Novak Djokovic, back into the sport was a positive move.
The 32-year-old, who earlier this week said Edberg had taken some coaxing to get involved, had been surprised at Becker’s involvement, though.
“I didn’t think he wanted to become a coach, I didn’t expect to see him back on tour, that was a bit of a surprise,” Federer told reporters at the Brisbane International on Monday.
“But then again, I’m happy to see former greats and legends excited to be doing such a job and wanting to help the next generation and it brings them back into the game.
“I think it’s a good thing, I think in tennis we have tendency to, I won’t say drive out, our legends and former greats (but) I think we should integrate them more.
“I don’t think it’s the best way to integrate them as a coach,” he chuckled. “But at least you see them again.
“And maybe they actually get a taste of it and other greats see that they are welcome and that we are so happy to see them.
“I think it sends out a good message.”
Despite the plethora of big name coaching recruits for the teams of the top players in men’s tennis, Federer sees little change in the pecking order for the Australian Open, which starts on January 13.
“I think Rafa (Nadal) and Novak are going to be the ones to beat this season, particularly at the beginning, and then we have to see if they can stay injury-free, if they keep on winning as much as they did,” the world number six said.
“I expect them to go deep in most of the tournaments they enter, of course.”
Wimbledon champion Andy Murray would almost certainly be grouped with world number one Nadal and number two Djokovic had he not been sidelined since mid-September after electing to have an operation on his lower back.
Murray has chosen not to defend the Brisbane title he has won for the last two years but Federer said he was looking forward to catching up with the Scot at Melbourne Park.
“I’m really hopeful for him that it’ll be alright for the Australian Open,” said Federer, who gets his season underway with a second round match against Jarkko Nieminen on Tuesday.
“It’s a going to be huge test for him now, it’s going to be the best of five sets.”
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty