Tennis legends Laver, Federer trade strokes

SAM LIENERT
Last updated 02:44 09/01/2014

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Roger Federer traded shots with Australian legend Rod Laver on Wednesday night then showed he hasn't given up on making more tennis history of his own.

Federer's brief hitting session with 75-year-old Laver - the only man to have won all four grand slam tournaments in a calendar year twice - on the Melbourne Park court named in the Australian's honour clearly meant a lot to the Swiss great.

"The racquet feels a little heavy right now, I must say," he said a he rallied with Laver.

He then won an exhibition match with French world No 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-7(5-7) 6-3 7-5.

Federer came from a break down in the final set, although had to serve twice for the match to clinch it, indicating there were some nerves despite the clash, part of a charity fundraiser, being played in a casual atmosphere.

Federer's win will give the 32-year-old winner of 17 grand slam titles a confidence boost ahead of his Australian Open campaign.

In Federer's most recent previous meeting with Tsonga, the Frenchman downed him in straight sets in the quarter-finals of last year's French Open.

Since then, Federer's streak of 36 straight grand slam quarter-final appearances or better ended with a second round exit at Wimbledon, followed by a fourth round loss at the US Open.

Federer, the current world No 6, also slipped out of the top five for the first time in more than a decade.

He has since hired a new coach, Swede Stefan Edberg, and is using a new, bigger racquet to try to revive his late-career fortunes.

Federer's clash with Tsonga was his only match this week - as he prepares for the Open starting on Monday - after losing the Brisbane International final to Australia's Lleyton Hewitt on Sunday.

Tsonga was fresh from helping France win the Hopman Cup in Perth.

Earlier, Federer was pleasantly surprised when Laver entered the court wearing a vest, shorts and tennis shoes to rally with him.

The event, which also included appearances by Hewitt, Pat Rafter and Tony Roche, was arranged by Federer to raise money for his foundation, which supports education for underprivileged children in southern Africa.

The night raised more than $1 million.

"It's in a way a thankyou from my side, to just give back in a way," Federer said.

"But of course I'm (also) on the receiving end this night. There were so many amazing moments and memories I will take away from tonight."

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- AAP

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