Roger Federer has never held back when it comes to providing some valuable advice to younger players. The 20-time Grand Slam champion will undoubtedly be remembered as the most popular tennis player ever, even if his records fall under the blows of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
The former world number 1 has not been seen on the pitch for almost a year, as his last official match dates back to the 2020 Australian Open semi-final against Novak Djokovic. Just over a week ago, the 39-year-old Swiss announced that he will not be at the start of the Happy Slam in 2021, thus giving up the Australian trip for the first time in the last 23 editions.
In a recent interview for the ATP website, the American promising J.J. Wolf recalled his training experience alongside the Basel legend, which helped him believe more in means than he does. The American is not the first to confess his admiration for Federer, idolized without half measures also by Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini.
Wolf pays tribute to Roger Federer
"I got to practice with one of my idols,” said J.J. Wolf. “I was so nervous, but we hit for an hour or so, and then afterward we sat down and spoke for about 30-40 minutes.
It was small talk and advice about anything. That meant the world to me”. But despite Roger Federer’s enormous success and status, Wolf believes that the Swiss legend is no more than ‘just a regular guy’.
Federer’s humble nature also inspired the American and gave him a new-found vigor to work hard to fulfil his dreams of reaching similar levels of influence someday. “I got to have a normal conversation with a definitely extraordinary human being,” said the American.
“It just made me look up to him more. He's just a regular guy who has unbelievable accomplishments. He's so down to earth. It made me want to keep working hard and be someone with influence like him,” he added.
Roger has been out of action for close to a year now after a surgery on a troublesome ankle, and there’s no word yet on when he will return. He has already withdrawn from the Australian Open, the first time he has done so since he started playing Grand Slam tennis.
He took this step as his recovery is still behind schedule and he is yet to reach peak fitness. While he traveled to Dubai to start his pre-season training under the watchful eyes of coach Ivan Ljubicic, he realized he was still short of where he needed to be to take on the big boys at the year’s first Grand Slam.