Could Pete Sampras have beaten Roger Federer

A former companion on Roger Federer: "He even broke taboos"

A Geneva sports journalist, who once stood on the pitch with Roger Federer, provides new and exciting insights into the world of the 20-time Grand Slam winner in his book.

Mathieu Aeschmann is once a talented tennis player himself, in earlier years even won the Swiss championship title among the U14 juniors and then honed his skills in the performance center in Ecublens. There, in the 1995/96 season, his path crossed for the first time with Roger Federer, who was three years his junior.

Because Aeschmann is not making the hoped-for progress in the Swiss Tennis youth development program, he often has to train with the younger talents - and that is one of the reasons why he gets to know the Basel bidder better. Around 25 years later, he shared the lasting impressions in his newly published book: "Think and act like Roger Federer."

"Federer does not wear a mask"

“At first I hesitated because I thought that writing about his human development was not my thing,” Aeschmann said in an interview with the “Tagesanzeiger” about his latest work, which was part of a series by the Paris publisher “Les Éditions de l'Opportun " belongs. In it, the 42-year-old examines the character of the Basel bidder from different perspectives.

“It's the little things that make it so fascinating. Like his humanity, his interest in other people, his sincerity. Federer does not wear a mask, always remains true to himself. He takes time for everything, can listen well and never does two things at the same time, ”emphasizes Aeschmann. In addition, Federer is a "master of the moment", which is also shown on the court. “He manages to give the tennis ball another trajectory at the last moment. He is always fully there. "

No undue respect

While Federer was probably the worst in the performance center when he arrived in Ecublens in 1995, according to Aeschmann, his relaxed, humorous but at the same time ambitious manner made him stand out even then. “Once he saw a poster from Pete Sampras from the Swiss Indoors 1996. He said: I'll beat him in three years. Everyone burst out laughing. But he actually hit Sampras five years later. "

In any case, excessive respect for teenagers Federer is not appropriate. “He even broke taboos. If he went to the restaurant at 11:50 am, he just sat down somewhere without respecting the usual seating arrangements. " It was similar with his coaches, whom he did not always obey unconditionally. An example: «When Christophe Freyss once asked the players to only train longline passing balls, Roger kept playing cross. He wasn't afraid to challenge the authorities. "

And even in the fun football games, Federer's healthy self-confidence can already be seen. "He preferred to look for a deal himself in two-on-one situations," says Aeschmann. Federer's behavior also appeared arrogant in some cases. "Like when he said that the five minutes he warmed up were enough for him to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of an opponent."

It wasn't until much later that the paths of Federer and Aeschmann, who is now working as a radio reporter, cross. In the press room at the French Open in Paris. Federer recognized him immediately and asked what he was doing here. "He even remembered a flying ball from me from our game," said Aeschmann.

What impresses the Genevan, however, is primarily the looseness and lightness that the maestro still displays: “The closer you get to him, the more the star Roger reveals the traits of an eternal child who is capable of everyone Moment to live to the fullest. "

But it is precisely this ability not always to take himself that seriously, which is possibly the required counterpoint to the uncompromising attitude with which he pursues his dream job - and one of the many secrets of the 20-time Grand Slam's success.