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Watch: Roger, Rafa Relish Coaching Each Other

Roger Federer calls Rafael Nadal his greatest rival.

Now, the iconic champions have embraced new roles: Relishing coaching each other during this weekend’s Laver Cup.

Federer: Loudest Crowd Ever

During Federer’s 6-7(5), 7-5, 10-7 comeback conquest of Nick Kyrgios in Geneva today, Nadal, citing rally stats that showed Kyrgios winning longer exchanges, urged the Swiss superstar to pull the trigger when he got the shot he wanted.

“I know it’s difficult because this guy reads the ball so well,” Nadal told Federer of Kyrgios during the changeover.

“I need to be patient—and then go,” Federer said.

“Exactly,” Nadal replied.

Afterward, Roger said he shares strategic alliance with Rafa.

“I really enjoy his clarity in his advice,” Federer said of Nadal’s direct coaching method backed by stats. “It was a struggle from the baseline trying to find the right balance of how aggressive to play and whatnot. What I really enjoy with Rafa is just that we very often align, our ideas align. And obviously when it comes to rally points, he's excellent. You know, he knows how much is enough and how much is too much.”

Familiarity helps the rivals help each other.

"Of course with Roger, we have a good relationship," Nadal said. "I think we know each other very well, so all the matches that we played against each other, we know the things that we can do or not. So at some point we can have an idea about the things that can help to change the dynamic of the match if it's not going the right way."

Federer said partnering Nadal in doubles at the 2017 Laver Cup in Prague provided personal insight into the Spaniard’s shrewd problem-solving skill—and cites that adaptability as an asset.

“He's a great problem/solution-finder, how to get through that,” Federer said. “I found it quite impressive in the doubles when I played with him, how he's constantly looking for a new way to win or stay on a certain track if he feels that winning. I think that is the true reason why he is the champion he is today, because he's not scared of changing a winning tactic, and he's also a big believer in investing. You know, and I do similar things, so it's very enjoyable to hear him speak, especially during the game.”

After Federer’s comeback put Team Europe up 5-3 over Team World, the 20-time Grand Slam champion returned the coaching favor during Nadal’s match against Milos Raonic.

“I think always when you see a chance to come to net against him challenge him for a passing shot—you’re so good at net,” Federer told Nadal during a changeover. “Spin, slice, you know more like this. Like in the old days.”

On court microphones near the team areas and benches where players sit during changeovers brings athlete and audience closer enabling fans to eavesdrop on tactical plans.

"I think it ended up being one of the secrets of the Laver Cup, why it's also maybe fans tune in to see and hear what we have to say," Federer said. "We don't do it for that reason that they get that insight. It just happened to be that way.

"If you ask anybody on our team, we can't control ourselves not saying anything and then live with regret. So we have to go out, say it, and if it doesn't work, so be it. If it does, we feel a little better."

Photo credit: Christopher Levy