Roger Federer paid an emotional tribute to his former coach Peter Carter, who tragically passed away in a car crash a year before the Swiss won his first Grand Slam title.
Speaking ahead of his Australian Open defence in Melbourne next week – where he is targeting an unprecedented 21st major crown – the world No. 3 was asked to reflect on the impact Carter had on his career.
Aussie Carter was credited with discovering the 37-year-old great but a car accident prematurely brought an end to his life, with Federer using his death as a source of motivation as he won Wimbledon for the first of eight times just a year later.
And in an emotional interview with CNN Federer fought back the tears as he recalled memories of his former mentor.
Asked what Carter would have thought to see him with 20 Grand Slam titles to his name, he choked up before saying: Sorry.
I hope he would be proud. I guess he didnt want me to be a wasted talent. So, it was somewhat of a wake-up call for me when he passed away, and I really started to train hard.
Ive been incredibly fortunate to have the people at the right time, the right coaches at the right time. Sure you could argue I made those decisions, but I had luck along the way.
Carters parents often sit in Federers box at the Australian Open to this day and Federer told the story of how he was discovered by his former coach.
Its actually a really nice story, Federer added. He came to play club tennis in Basel, when I was little he was one of the star players on the team.
I was able to have coaching lessons with him.
Carter was a close friend of world No. 1 Simona Haleps former coach Darren Cahill, who was coaching Lleyton Hewitt at the same time.
They used to call each other and say “I have this really special kid Im training”, Federer smiled.
Darren would say the same from Adelaide and then we played each other when we were 14, 16, 18, 20 and then the whole career.
Who knew we would both become Wimbledon champions, world No. 1s… so Peter was a really important person in my life because I think if I can say thanks for my technique today its for Peter.
Federer will look to win a third consecutive Australian Open at Melbourne Park by the end of this month and is feeling good ahead of the tournament.
Am I confident? I dont know, he shrugged. I feel good, Ive been training really well, Ive had another great season, still happy playing and I won the last two Australian Open editions.
So yeah, I definitely should be going in there with confidence. I love playing in Australia, I love playing in Melbourne, theres so much that connects me to the place.