Annacone: AO was Federer’s light-bulb moment

Published by Matt Trollope

Roger Federer started his 2017 with a win at the Australian Open. Photo: Getty Images
Respected American coach Paul Annacone, who worked with Roger Federer for more than three years, believes the Swiss star’s victory over Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final has changed the complexion of the rivalry.

Paul Annacone, former coach of Roger Federer, believes the Swiss player’s victory over Rafael Nadal in the final of the Australian Open has infused Federer with a massive dose of belief against his nemesis.

Federer went into that match trailing Nadal 11-23 in their career head-to-head record, but has closed the gap to 14-23 with victories in Melbourne and later at Indian Wells and Miami.

The 18-time major winner has now won his past four matches over the Spanish star, the longest winning streak of his career against Nadal.

Speaking to Annacone on the Sports Illustrated-Tennis Channel Beyond the Baseline podcast, host Jon Wertheim asked Annacone how important it was for Federer to dethrone his great rival – after being down a break in the fifth set – in such a big match.

“I think it’s huge,” Anncone replied.

“I lived it for three-and-a-half years trying to solve the Rafa problem (laughter).

“And the Rafa problem is that he’s great; he’s a tremendous competitor with a lot of margin on his groundstrokes, so when the pressure comes his margin creates safety and his athleticism allows him to stay in points longer which tends to create, very simplistically, more errors from Federer’s style of game.

“So when Roger all of a sudden at 3-1 (down) in the fifth (set of the Australian Open final) is able to play 20 minutes of spectacular tennis and basically hit Rafa off the court, that is an awakening.

“And I think we’ve seen a little bit of the trickle-down effect in Indian Wells and in Miami. That Roger now feels like, oh, I can do this.”

Annacone and Federer worked together from mid 2010 to late 2013.

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