Defending Australian Open men’s singles champion Roger Federer has revealed the lasting emotional impact of his former Australian coach Peter Carter.
Federer dropped his guard and spoke candidly of his former mentor during an interview with CNN at his Dubai training camp ahead of the Australian event at Melbourne Park.
Carter, 37, died in a car crash during his honeymoon in South Africa in 2002, while Federer was competing at the Canadian Masters in Toronto – one year before the Swiss star’s maiden grand slam triumph at Wimbledon.
According to The Australian, Federer reacted to news of Carter’s death by fleeing his hotel and running “bawling and hysterical” through the city’s streets.
When asked what he thought the Australian would make of his record-breaking success, Federer was brought to tears, before thanking Carter for his guidance during his formative years.
“Sorry. I hope he would be proud,” Federer said. “Peter was really a really important person in my life because I think if I can say thank you for my technique today, it’s to Peter.”
Federer credits the tragic incident with instilling a renewed fire and altering his mentality from temperamental to that of a grand slam-winning champion.
“I guess he didn’t want me to be a wasted talent. It was somewhat of a wake-up call for me when he passed away and I really started to train hard,” Federer said.
What I would like to say is that I have been incredibly fortunate having had the right people at the right time.”
Federer revealed Carter would compare the prospects of his charge with fellow Australian coach Darren Cahill, who was coaching Lleyton Hewitt at the time.
“They used to call each other and say ‘I have this really special kid I’m training’. Darren would say the same from Adelaide and then we played each other when we were 14, 16, 18, 20 and then the whole career,” Federer said.
Federer maintains an ongoing relationship with the Carter family, with the Australian’s parents invited annually to sit in his player’s box during the course of his Melbourne Park campaign.
The Australian Open starts on January 14.