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Tim Henman to watch Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic keenly with new coaches

Sunday, 12 January 2014 - 7:38pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: PTI

Former British tennis player Tim Henman today said it will be interesting to see what changes Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic bring in their games after employing new coaches.

Swiss legend Federer has roped in former world no. 1 Stefan Edberg while the Serbian has engaged former German great Boris Becker as his coach.

"I am very interested to see how this is going to work. I will be interested to see if Federer and (Novak) Djokovic are going to play a little bit differently," said the 39-year-old former British number one.

Former world number 4 Henman, who was here to conduct the HSBC-Road to Wimbledon junior tennis programme, said engaging a top former player had worked well with his UK compatriot and reigning Wimbledon men's singles champion Andy Murray.

"(Ivan) Lendl has done a great job with Murray; obviously with his experience he has had a great impact on Murray's game. Lendl lost his first four Grand Slam finals and Murray lost his first Grand Slam finals and then for Lendl to help Murray mentally to get over that has been fantastic," Henman said, adding he did not expect Becker and Edberg becoming coaches.

According to Henman, who conducted one-day junior programme with All England Club's chief coach Dan Bloxham, it could be about formulating a strategy against a particular opponent.

"It's not about Edberg, Becker teaching new shots to Federer and Djokovic. It's all about strategy and maybe game style against a particular opponent or may be to do something with the preparation or something mentally on the court," he said.

Asked about Federer still going strong as a player at the age of 32 when most players of his age had retired, Henman said the tennis fans would miss him when the great Swiss retires from the game and advised them to enjoy his game till it lasts.

"For me Federer is the best player that has ever played the game. We should be enjoying watching him while he is still playing. When he stops playing, we are going to miss him a lot then. He has earned the right to play as long as he wants. If he's enjoying it (playing), who are we to say that he should stop?

"Federer has won 17 slams. He still has the desire and hunger. That's why he is a great champion. (Spain's world no. 1 Rafeel) Nadal is the best competitor in any sport. He plays every point hundred per cent. And that's why I am a tennis fan, I love watching him," he said.

On Federer deciding to play with a a bigger racket head, the former British player said it's great to see the Swiss master trying out different things even after what he had achieved as a player.

"I think it's fantastic that Federer wants to try different things. He has played for so long and achieved great things. He still has the hunger and desire and knowing how he has been training in the off-season, he has been great. The racket he used had small head and probably did not give him any help and now he wants to try a bigger head. It's great and Why not ? I used a 95 cm head," Henman said.

Asked whether Federer has set a new trend for players to go on well beyond 30, he said there was no right or wrong age to call it a day with the way the current players are training physically.

"Everybody’s journey is different. I was 19 when I came to India to play the satellite circuit, I was probably ranked 450 in the world. Federer was probably top 10 at 19. His journey has been different to my journey. Now Federer is 32. Is he going to play one more year, three or five more years, I don't know? He should play as long as he is enjoying," Henman said.

According to Henman, Murray's turning point came when he won the tennis men's singles gold at the same Wimbledon courts less than a month after losing to Federer in a gruelling five-set final of the All England championships in 2012.

"I think it was an important stepping stone for him. He played a great Wimbledon final in 2012. He lost to Federer and one could see the emotions; the disappointment and his character to come back 28 days later on the same court, against the same player and to win the final in straight sets.

"The belief he got from that Olympic final was huge. He went to New York to beat the No.1 player in the world, Djokovic, in the US Open final. He had won his first Grand Slam and he took the confidence and momentum into last year’s Wimbledon. And to win the final was incredible," Henman said.

Observing that current one was the toughest era in men's circuit, Henman said he did not see any man completing the Grand Slam of titles in one calendar year which may happen in the women's game.

"This era is the toughest in men's. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have won 36 slams together. I don't think in the modern game, there has been an era that's been as tough as this.

"May be in the women's, I don't see (it happening) in the men's," he said about the possibility of a male player completing the singles Grand Slam in one calendar year in the near future.


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