Former Grand Slam winner Stefan Edberg, believes that during his playing days he possessed a better backhand than the man he now coaches, Roger Federer.
There are few better sites in tennis than the almost effortless backhand of the 17-times Grand Slam Champion, Federer.
Battle of the backhands
Everything about one of the Swiss' most elegant shots, from his movement in getting himself into position, to the free-flowing extension through the ball showcases class, however when Edberg was asked about who he felt was the better executor of the shot, the normally humble Swede claims that he would edge his star pupil in that department.
“A lot of the other strokes I think he does a lot better than I did but I’ll give myself a bit of favour with my backhand,” Edberg said ahead of the Aug. 2-10 Rogers Cup in Toronto.
“I had one of the better backhands in the game when I was playing, I could use it offensively or defensively, a lot of variations. It was a key shot for me," the six-times Grand Slam Champion proclaimed.
Edberg was brought into Team Federer last December to help the Swiss rediscover some form after an average season last year, a decision many thought was an ideal match considering their playing style's and similar calm temperament.
The partnership seems to be baring fruit after a rejuvenated Federer has shown a welcome return to form, reaching the final in Brisbane, Indian Wells and Wimbledon, for a ninth occasion, while he has also tasted victory in Dubai and Halle.
There are clear signs of the Edberg influence within his game since the pair joined forces, most notably the improved regularity of coming to the net, a sublime speciality of the Swede's game during his pomp.
Both players are a rare breed when it comes down to the single-handed backhand, with most players today opting for the double-handed approach which potentially provides more power, but falls well short in the elegance department that is a trademark of both players.
Edberg was speaking ahead of the Rodgers Cup which begins in Toronto this weekend, the first Masters event of the US hard-court season and a tournament Federer has won on two-occasions, while his coach has been a losing finalists two years in a row when he was beaten by Boris Becker and then Ivan Lendl.
The Rogers Cup is the first of two consecutive Masters series tournaments, with Cincinnati to follow ahead of the final Grand Slam of the year, the US Open from Flushing Meadows.
All the big guns will be looking to fine-tune their games in Toronto as the race for the season ending ATP World Tour Finals hots up.
Edberg acknowledged that Federer's form has improved with his run into the Wimbledon final evidence of this.
“As we all know Roger had a really tough season last year,” said Edberg.
“He was struggling physically with his back but he has put in a lot of work over the last nine months, I think he is fit now and a lot better than he was in the past.
“It showed in Wimbledon, he was very, very close to winning Wimbledon.
“He’s back playing some really good tennis. The way he is playing now it is as good as anyone out on the tennis court I believe.”