Passionate about tennis from his earliest age, Roger Federer is one of the greatest the sport has ever seen. The road to success and the world top 10 has not been easy though. Indeed, his early years were marked by temper tantrums on the court, earning him the nickname “Little Devil”.

Federer, a hot headed youngster

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Roger Federer was very hot headed. He struggled to keep his composure when things did not go his way. In the online magazine Slate, his father recalls that “defeats were absolute disasters for him. And when he didn’t like something, he could become very aggressive. Dices from board games would fly around the room.”

The Swiss champion had a habit of breaking his rackets. As Christopher Freyss, Federer’s coach between the age of 14 and 16, told L’Equipe, “He wasn’t a tennis prodigy. From his technique, footwork and attitude, it was impossible to imagine he would become such a great champion (…) He wasn’t stable, and was very impulsive on the court.”

At school, Federer was no role model either. He lacked discipline and motivation and would even fall asleep in class. Although his sole ambition was to become a professional tennis player, his attitude was not an encouraging sign for the talented Swiss player.

Three coaches to build a champion

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To become the legend he is today, Roger Federer has had to learn to control himself. Without a doubt his coaches Paul Dorochenko and Peter Carter, and his wife Mirka Vavrinec are the triggers that brought about this change.

Paul Dorochenko insisted a great deal on intense physical preparation, necessary to attain a high level. But he also used to impose strenuous physical exercise that was unnecessary from a physiological point of view. “To keep him focused, I used to, for example, to make him run for an hour.  Even though it wasn’t necessary on the physiological level, it kept him concentrated ».

Peter Carter, an Australian coach with a reputation of being strict, played an important role in helping Federer grow as a man. Carter’s death in a car accident in 2002 left him distraught but also toughened him up a great deal.

Finally, Mirka Vavrinec, a former tennis player herself, married Basel native on 11 April 2009. After they met at the 2000 Sydney Olympic games, Mirka became a true pillar in his emotional and professional life, offering him unconditional support and stability.

Little Satan on top of the world

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Through working on himself, the Little Devil has gradually become an exceptional tennis player.  Adjectives currently used to describe him are “calm, confident, reserved”. This exemplary attitude was on show when he battled Marin Cilic to win his 8th Wimbledon title.

His composure, true mark of a champion, has enabled him to win many titles. He has 19 Grand Slams to his name, more than any other player in tennis history. He also holds the record for the most Wimbledon titles, a tournament considered by many to be the most prestigious.

Another record Federer holds is the number of weeks as World N°1 in ATP rankings (302 weeks). Between 2 February 2004 and 18 August 2008, he reigned over world tennis, occupying the N°1 spot without interruption.

Throughout his career, Federer has amassed huge sums in prize money, earning more than €100 million. It is more than fair to say that Federer’s career has been a phenomenal success, which he owes partly to all the work he had to do on his attitude so as not to compromise his success.