Ivan Ljubicic has revealed what it is really like to coach Roger Federer and has insisted that the tennis legend "is not going anywhere" after his retirement.
Federer enjoyed a very emotional send-off at the Laver Cup in London as his rivals and friends on Team Europe made sure they were present to celebrate the career of the 20-time Grand Slam singles champion.
It may have been Team World who ended up victorious for the first time in the event, but ultimately it was all about Federer as he basked in the appreciation from his fellow players, fans and family members.
'A part of my life left with Federer' – Nadal recalls emotional goodbye to tennis legend
Ljubicic was one of those most deeply affected by Federer's decision and the emotions that came with it, as he explained to Eurosport in a special interview.
"It is going to take some time, but we obviously knew a little bit more in advance," Ljubicic told Eurosport about coping with Federer's farewell.
"We could prepare for it, but it is hard. It is hard. I knew Roger would struggle emotionally, of course, I think everyone expected that. But for me personally, the trigger was to see others - Rafa, Novak and Andy - the whole thing was really emotional.
"Then you see Team World and wherever you look, you look around and everyone is in tears. It is really difficult to go through that moment, but in the end, we decided that it is a celebration.
"It is not a funeral, nobody died, it is all good - so we have to move on and celebrate who Roger is, what he brought to our sport, and what he will keep bringing in the future because, as he said, he is not going anywhere.
"He is not going to be playing any competitive matches, but he is definitely going to be close to our sport. He loves it too much to not be connected to it.
- The Roger Federer 20: Swiss legend's greatest matches ranked
- Laver Cup takeaways: Djokovic returns in style, Federer's emotional farewell, Nadal injury worry
- Exclusive: 'It’s been a wonderful journey' - Federer reflects on Laver Cup farewell
"I think this week, this moment, was for the fans. For everybody here in London and watching from home. We, who are lucky enough to be closer to him will have more of those private moments.
"We try to kind of be ready for it and not make too big of a deal about it because, in the end, he is still around. We are still going to spend time together. It was not easy and it was tough to get up in the morning, that is for sure."
Federer reflects on Laver Cup goodbye and ahead to 'hopefully a long night!'
Asked how it was working as a coach with Federer, Ljubicic gave a simple answer: "Easy! Easy because he makes it easy for coaches. He is really open and makes sure you have freedom. You are comfortable and you feel you can say whatever you think is right and the way it is.
"He always said 'I don't want to hear from you what you think I want to hear - I want to hear what you really think; I want to hear the truth'. He repeated that multiple times, really making sure that we as coaches - or at least me as a coach - really felt free and comfortable. It was always that.
"There were many moments where I just wouldn't have anything to say because he was just perfect. Really, there were some practices that were ridiculous! I would just give him balls and just say 'you are good!' but we had some tough ones as well, some tough times, and difficult moments, but most of the time it was just very, very enjoyable."
Ljubicic was then asked what made Federer so special, and he responded: "The way he is, the way he functions, the way he thinks and the way he deals with his life, with the things that are flying around him.
"There is so much going on, and he is able to deal with it all perfectly. To combine his private life, sponsors, practices, and friends - there is so much, but it feels like he is always making the right decisions. I don't know how he does it, but I guess that is just who he is."
Medvedev, Tsitsipas have had their confidence hurt by the Big Three - Mouratoglou
Djokovic 'heavy favourite' for Aus Open, 'still No. 1 player in world' - Woodbridge
Share this article