Roger Federer names three legends who inspired the way he plays tennis

Wimbledon Championships Qualifying - Day 4

Tennis superstar Roger Federer has long been acknowledged as one of the most graceful and stylish players to ever wield a racket and he has revealed some of the heroes who inspired his classical style.

The Swiss ace is widely recognised as one of the sport's greatest athletes, not merely due to the countless titles he has accumulated or the staggering longevity of his record-breaking career but also because of his on-court artistry that has transfixed tennis fans for almost two decades.

Renowned for his nimble footwork as he dances lightly about the court with his racket primed like a paintbrush ready to apply subtle spins or precise arcing power, his game is increasingly unique among today's more metronomic baseline players.

The 36-year-old, who will begin the defence of his Wimbledon title next week has spoken of the influence three former champions at SW19 had on his game as he was growing up.

Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and Pete Sampras are amongst the greats and they shared some common characteristics with the Swiss player who has since gone on to surpass all of their achievements.

Despite what you might think, powerful accurate serving combined with an ability to conjure winners from any part of the court were not the only aspects of the game they shared.

Perhaps one of the most glorious sights in tennis is the swish of a Federer backhand delivered one-handed with a wide flowing arc.

This sumptuous shot has helped him to many a victory but it was born from watching his idols in his formative years.

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“I think the style of my play comes from the players I used to admire,” he explained, per The Express.

“So Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and Pete Sampras all played in a similar way, but they had their unique style.

“What sticks out is that they all had a one-handed backhand.

“That’s maybe why I have a one-handed backhand because they had one.

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“There were of course the Jim Couriers and Andre Agassis with two-handed backhands, but that inspired me to play the way I played.

“I used to probably chip it a lot more like Edberg and Sampras did.”

Becker, Edberg and Sampras are legends of the sport but they will undoubtedly be pleased to hear that one of their lasting legacies was to inspire the iconic one-handed backhand of perhaps the greatest player ever to pick up a racket.

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