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Federer tries out new coach

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April 13, 2008 11:25 IST

World number one Roger Federer practised with a new coach at Portugal's Estoril Open on Saturday in an attempt to recover from a poor start to the 2008 season and improve his claycourt game.

Spaniard Jose Higueras, 55, who won 15 ATP titles and helped American Michael Chang win the French Open aged just 17 in 1989, coached the Swiss for over two hours on centre court.

The pair appeared to be getting to know each other under the watchful eye of hundreds of spectators.

At one point, Federer stopped to catch his breath and Higueras asked him if he liked to play golf.

"I do sometimes," said Federer. "But I couldn't care less if the ball lands on the rough or on the fairway."

Federer has been going through some rough times himself by his standards. The 12 times Grand Slam winner split with coach Tony Roche last May and has yet to reach a final this year, which may have prompted him to look for guidance.

Higueras's experience coaching French Open champions Chang, Jim Courier, Carlos Moya and Sergi Bruguera may boost Federer's chances of winning the only Grand Slam title to elude him.

The 26-year-old Swiss hopes to beat Sampras's record of 14 Grand Slam wins. Federer currently has 12 Grand Slam titles.

"Statistically, he has yet to surpass Sampras's Grand Slam tally but tennis-wise Roger is already the best and no-one can argue against the stratospheric level of play he's shown in the past years," said tournament organiser and former Portuguese champion Joao Lagos.

"I hope the Estoril Open can help Roger get the Roland Garros title missing in his resume."

Federer faces Belgian Olivier Rochus in the first round of the Estoril Open next week while number two seed Nikolay Davydenko of Russia meets Austria's Juergen Melzer.

The event has been a launching pad for French Open champions with Bruguera, Thomas Muster, Albert Costa and Juan Carlos Ferrero all winning in Portugal before succeeding in Paris.

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