Perfect match: How coach’s death set Federer on the path to greatness
The Swiss great was 20 when Peter Carter died in SA and he has dedicated his subsequent career to him
This is a story about grief and trauma. It is about the eternal, ripple-like influence of a great teacher or coach. And it is about the origins of the most wondrous sight in sport: Roger Federer’s one-handed backhand.
Search for the words “Peter Carter” and “tennis” on YouTube and many of the clues soon appear. There is the grainy footage of Carter announcing himself in senior tennis with a rasping, Fed-esque, cross-court backhand winner to defeat John Alexander in the South Australian Open. There is then the testimony of Federer’s parents, Robert and Lynette, about how their “restless” child learnt to control his once-volatile on-court behaviour. There is the footage of Federer winning his 20th and most recent Grand Slam title, the 2018 Australian Open, in front of Carter’s parents, Bob and Diana, at the Rod Laver Arena.
And then there were Federer’s tears earlier in 2019 in Melbourne during an interview with CNN when the subject turned to Carter, a man he has described as his “real” coach and whose life was cut short at the age of 37...