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Roger Federer can play for another 4-5 years: Former Coach Roche

Kolkata: A Grand Slam title may be eluding Roger Federer for two years but the 33-year-old can't be written off yet, his former coach Tony Roche said here today.

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

"I think he can play as long as he wants to on the mental side. Physically, I think he can play for another four-five years without any problem," said Roche.

Asked about Federer adding another major to his record 17 titles, Roche said, "Another Slam definitely... Obviously, Wimbledon is his best chance but he's knocking on the door in last few Slams. As long as the guys still respect Roger, he is always going to be a threat," the Aussie told reporters on the sidelines of a seven-day camp at the Jaidip Mukerjea Tennis Academy here.

"Roger is the most talented player to ever play the game. Working with Roger was a little bit different. I introduced Roger to harder practice sessions to not only rely on his talent but to put in the hard work. We worked a lot on his second serves and volleys."

With fluent skill that comes so natural to him, the biggest advantage for the Swiss great is to stay injury free, Roche said. Revealing his former ward's secret to stay injury free, he said: "It's the way he hits the tennis ball so fluently it's not so physical as a lot of the other guys...

"It's just the way he plays, he does not take much out of him. He is lucky to not have any serious injury over the years. Injuries play an important role in tennis. Look at Rafa (Nadal). He's got an unbelievable record but it could have been a lot better if he stayed healthy."

The former French Open winner also coached Ivan Lendl and he said the Czech's success was through sheer hard work.

"Lendl on the other hand achieved greatness through sheer hard work. He was not a great talent but realised that for him to win Slams and dominate he had to change his ways which he did."

The 69-year-old will work with the likes of India No 1 Somdev Devvarman and the Davis Cup team in his seven-day long sojourn. With the Indians struggling to keep pace with the modern day's power packed tennis, Roche cited the example of Kei Nishikori who finished runner-up in the 2014 US Open and became the first Japanese to break into top 10.

"The game is pretty much all power. Leander is a very talented flashy player. Now it's more about power with bigger and stronger guys. Having said that look at a guy like (Kei) Nishikori he's doing exceptionally well. He is not a big guy but plays the modern day tennis quite well. I'm saying there's nothing you can't do. But overall, the game has changed. Probably the Indians have struggled a bit. Probably it's because of the physical aspect nowadays."

The heat has been a big factor in the sport but Roche said the players need to get adjust to it.

"I don't see any problem with the heat. It also gets hot in New York. It's part of the game. Now they have the roof and I think with this they can cover three courts in Melbourne. I think the players need to prepare mentally. All the players nowadays are super athletes so I don't think it's a problem."

Roche is also looking forward to the return of Andy Murray in the season opener Slam Australian Open and hoped the Brit's new mentor Amelie Mauresmo will turn out to be a 'super' coach.

"We will have to wait and see. Maybe she will turn out to become a super coach. Obviously, Andy has gone through some injury problems. It will be interesting and everybody would be waiting to see how he goes in the Australian Open next year."

On his coaching mantra, Roche said he never had a contract with any player. "It's just on the shake of hands. I feel that you got to have mutual respect. The important thing in tennis is to be an unbelievable athlete. You got to move well," he concluded.

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