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The tragic accident that turned Roger Federer from a tennis brat to a sporting hero.

Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic are just as known for their talent with a racket as they are for their antics in-between matches.

With the Australian Open beginning this week, all eyes were on the young Australian tennis players as both men made digs at retired Australian tennis player and now captain of the Australian Davis Cup, Lleyton Hewitt.

“No one likes him anymore,” Tomic remarked in an interview on Monday night.

“Kokkinakis, Kyrgios, we don’t want to play anymore because he’s ruined it [the Davis Cup]. He’s ruined the system. Like, go away. I thought he’d retired, like, why are you still in tennis? Why do you still play all these doubles tournaments?” the 26-year-old continued.

Just days later, Kyrgios made his feelings known about Hewitt too, sharing a snarky social media post that has since been deleted.

In a time where we should be focused on the Australian Open’s rising stars, all eyes are instead on Tomic and Kyrgios’ ‘bratty’ antics.

If young tennis players are not okay, then whose responsibility is it? Post continues below…

But in our haste to love-to-hate the Kyrgioses and Tomics of the arena, it appears we are forgetting a part of tennis history.

Swiss world champion Roger Federer, who is now renowned for his calmness as a sportsman and professional, was once very similar to the Kyrgioses and Tomics of the world.

In fact, Federer was once a “brat” who blasted loud music while his coach was in the car and who had “too much energy” for others to handle.

Former communications manager at the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) David Law, who met Federer when he was just 16 and helped him prepare for press appearances, has shared a side of the 37-year-old 20-grand-slam-title winner that we never saw coming.

“The number of times we would go to tournaments and he would throw in a substandard performance where he’d mentally break down or he’d get emotional and throw his rackets – he was a baby,” Law said on his podcast, News Corp reports.

“Honestly, he was a crybaby on the court.”

Law said Federer was lazy and carried an attitude that came from knowing he was talented. The first time Law practiced with him, he said, he thought ‘wow’, but he didn’t think this about Federer’s skills. Instead, much like Tomic and Krygios, the 16-year-old didn’t seem to care at all.

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Come onnnnnnnnn????????

A post shared by Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) on

Federer often found it hard to control his emotions on the court, with his parents recalling the tennis professional crying when he lost a match, throwing and kicking his racket around the court and swearing on court.

Federer’s parents would often watch their son play from the balcony and call on him to be quiet and remain calm while on the court.

“Go and have a drink, leave me alone,” Federer would yell back to his parents, according to The Telegraph.

“This stage was part of his growing up,” Federer’s mother Lynette said.

“But when his behaviour was bad, we told him that it was bad and that it upsets us. We used to say, ‘Come on, Roger, get control of yourself, pull yourself together’.”

Federer’s coach at the time, Peter Lundgren, also had a tough time with the budding champion, Law explained.

“I know Peter Lundgren used to take him out in a hire car in Miami and they’d stick on AC/DC and Federer would sing it and shout it at the top of his lungs,” Law said. “People don’t realise what an exuberant character Roger Federer is, how loud he likes to be.”

“In the locker room and the showers he’d be screaming at the top of his voice doing impersonations of other players and characters that he might have seen in the World Wrestling Federation and things like that just because he had so much energy.”

 

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Oh what a night???????? @serenawilliams

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But in one instant, everything changed for the over-energised, arrogant boy.

In 2002, Federer’s long-time coach Peter Carter was killed in a shocking car accident while on his honeymoon in South Africa. The accident occurred just months shy of Federer’s first Wimbledon win.

Peter Carter, the man who had coached Federer from age nine to 18, was suddenly gone and the tennis star was shattered.

But while the sudden loss of his coach was devastating, it was this moment that was the turning point in his life, guiding him to become the admired and adored professional he is today.

“Federer was devastated,” Law said. “That made Federer grow up incredibly quickly because I don’t think he’d ever had to think about mortality before.

“It stopped him in his tracks and it caused him problems for a long time in terms of dealing with it, dealing with the grief. This is someone he knew well, who he saw every day, who he travelled everywhere with.”

Speaking to CNN ahead of the Australia Open last week, the tennis star broke down in tears when he was asked what Carter would think of seeing his protégé with a record-breaking 20 grand slams under his belt.

“Sorry… I hope he would be proud. He didn’t want me to be a wasted talent. I guess it was somewhat of a wake-up call for me when he passed away. I really started to train hard,” he responded.

“Oh, man, I still miss him so much. I hope he would be proud,” he added, according to the network. “Geez, never broke down like this.”

In honour of Carter, Federer each year pays for the late coach’s parents to travel from Adelaide to Melbourne and sit in the player’s box as he competes in the Australian Open.

Australian coach Carter discovered Federer in Basel, Switzerland when he was just a child.

By the time he turned 11, Federer was one of the top three junior tennis players in Switzerland under the guide of his coach.

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