Federer says Nadal, tennis legends made him a better player
NEW YORK — Roger Federer gives credit where credit is due.
The 17-time major champion says several past opponents helped him become the player he is.
Federer mentioned Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt as the first to force him to improve.
Those two “really made me feel like a bad baseliner to an extent, until I realized I had to move better and be more consistent, have variation in my game,” Federer said after his first-round victory at the U.S. Open on Tuesday.
Federer picked up pointers on serve-and-volley tactics from Pete Sampras and Tim Henman, for example.
And more recently, Rafael Nadal made Federer’s backhand better.
“Rafa challenged my backhand the most throughout my career,” he said. “I had to return differently every single time I played against him.”