Thomas Fabbiano has revealed that he was so nervous before his training session with Roger Federer that he felt like going on his first date than a tennis game. Ranked a modest no. 79 in the world, he was invited by Federer's coach Ivan Ljubicic to train with them ahead of the Australian Open.
The Swiss ace had an extremely successful 2017 campaign, going on to win seven titles – including the Australian Open and Wimbledon – taking his tally of slams to 19 and was looking to carry forward his form into the Australian Open in 2018 in order to defend his title.
And to almost everyone's delight. Federer continued his dream run and became only the fourth player after Margaret Court, Serena Williams and Steffi Graf to win 20 or more major singles titles. However, his preparation for the event was heavily aided by the presence of Fabbiano, who was asked to travel to Dubai by Federer's coach.
The 28-year-old flew to Dubai to act as the eight-time Wimbledon champion's hitting partner and he was pleased with the way he performed on-court.
"I only know that that first afternoon in Dubai I arrived well in advance and that I was tense as on a first date," Fabbiano said, as quoted by the Express. "But after that early afternoon in Dubai he and his team must have thought that they can count on me with their eyes closed.
"To be fair, Federer had been inactive for a month and a half, and the fact he was just getting up to speed helped me break the ice. We actually played at least 11 sets.
"And almost always it was a long set decided at the tie-break. In short, in Dubai with Roger I played it on an equal footing four times."