Federer, Djokovic & Wawrinka Reveal Their Favourite Practice Partners
Fans attending the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati know that one of the most unique experiences of attending an ATP Tour event is watching players practice. Not only can fans stand inches away as their favourite players prepare for a match, but they may also be able to watch practice points or sets that won’t be picked up on television.
But who do the players turn to among their peers when they hit the practice court?
“I like to play with Robin Haase or Jeremy Chardy, Diego Schwartzman, David Goffin… I have hit a ton with Marton Fucsovics as well,” said Roger Federer. “Guys that can also maybe play up in the court, play aggressive or steady. Guys that I get along with off the court and are good to have a chat with before, during and after the game. I’m not very picky, to be quite honest.”
Federer practised with Christopher Eubanks before his first-round win on Tuesday in Cincinnati. The pair had previously hit together at the 2017 US Open and Federer felt the rising American possessed all the attributes he looks for in a practice partner.
“It was his height and power, the variation with the one-handed backhand and a good slice,” said Federer. “You want a guy who tries hard and he does. He’s always going to joke around a little bit. You're going to have a good laugh. This is the kind of guy you want to have around.”
Stan Wawrinka said he also looks for a relaxed atmosphere in his training sessions, preferring to hit with his friends on Tour that include Gael Monfils, Lucas Pouille and Benoit Paire. But other players prefer to leave the practice arrangements to their team.
“It’s my coach who arranges the practice 99 per cent of the time by talking with other coaches. I just show up and hit some balls,” said Daniil Medvedev. “If you know you’re going to play a big server, you try to find another big server. You try to get someone who plays a similar style as your next opponent.”
Although the atmosphere on the practice courts is often relaxed as players smile or banter with one another after great points, some training sessions rival the intensity of a live match. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic isn’t choosy about who he hits with, but prefers to train with players at the top of the ATP Rankings in the days leading up to major events.
"When you practise with one of the top guys, it feels like a match situation because you don't want to lose that practice set,” said Djokovic. “You want to have that intensity in the practice session, especially if you want a test to see where you're at.”