The man responsible for shaping Roger Federer into a tennis great, Peter Lundgren, now makes his home in Houston and coaches at the Galleria Tennis & Athletic Club.
Lundgren spoke to Geoffrey Gray for a long piece on Federer in New York Magazine:
Lundgren works in Houston now, helping to run a tennis facility on top of the Galleria mall. I met him for lunch there in the spring. It’s been almost a decade since he coached Federer. His former pupil went on to win so many titles that he travels the tour in his own private jet—Forbes recently declared Federer the fifth wealthiest athlete in the world, with earnings of over $50 million a year, mostly from “the most impressive endorsement portfolio in sports.” Another part of Federer’s genius has been positioning himself within his own global luxury brand. He also had his own fragrance (“Feel the Touch”) and is known on tour for his fashion sense, keeping close company with Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
The Houston Chronicle‘s Dale Robertson caught up with Lundgren in March when he started his new coaching gig:
Lundgren’s decision to join the GTAC staff was an easy one to make. He’s reuniting with three good friends dating back to their days in the Swedish juniors ranks, Niclas Kroon, Ville Jansson and Johan Kjellsten. They have ambitious plans going forward, hoping to work with the ATP to establish an elite program for young pros. “I was tired of always traveling,” said Lundgren, who most recently coached Federer’s countryman, Stanislas Wawrinka.
“This is going to be fun, a good change for me. And I’ve always liked Houston.”
Lundgren reminisced on his years coaching the Swiss great in his youth to Gray:
As a young player, Federer could be a challenge to travel with. He was a vegetarian as a kid, and a picky eater.
“Gnocchi with Gorgonzola, and pasta and tomato sauce,” Peter Lundgren recalled of the two dishes that Federer used to order. “I had to get him to eat meat.” Over the years, few people have spent more time with Federer than Lundgren. A former pro from Sweden who beat the likes of Ivan Lendl and Andre Agassi, Lundgren was an easy face to spot in Federer’s old box. With his goatee and long shaggy hair, Lundgren looked more like the bass player of a heavy-metal band than a tennis coach. When he first met Federer in 1997, Lundgren had been hired by the Swiss Tennis Federation to help develop the country’s talent. When Federer decided to leave the federation and go on his own as a pro, he hired Lundgren to be his coach and started to bankroll his own career.
“When he had to pay for everything himself, that’s when he really grew up,” Lundgren told me.
He also mused to Robertson about Federer’s youth:
With Lundgren as his coach, Federer reached No. 1 for the first time in January 2004, not long after he won his first Masters Cup at Westside Tennis Club. Their partnership began when Federer was just 17 and something of a wild child, as hard as that may be to picture today.
No matter how much Lundgren respects the Swiss for his prodigious tennis skills, he’d rather talk about the role model Federer has become.
“We’d have to take Roger off the court sometimes because he was throwing his racket and behaving badly,” Lundgren said. “He’d really flip out. But, once he started paying his own bills, he settled down. Because of that (history), it’s always great to see how Roger carries himself on the court.”