Australian Open: Roger Federer tears up as he remembers Australian coach who died

In an emotional interview with CNN, tennis icon Roger Federer broke down on camera talking about his former tennis coach, who died in a car accident almost 20 years ago.

The Swiss athlete spoke passionately about his love for his sport before his return to the Australian Open, where he will defend his title.

As he reminisced on the evolution on his career, Federer spoke fondly of Australian Peter Carter, who was an influential figure in his success.

"Peter was a really important person in my life," Federer said. "If I can say thank you for my technique today, it's to Peter." 

When asked what Carter would think about his record men's haul of 20 Grand Slams, Federer lost control of his emotions.

"Sorry... oh, man, I still miss him so much. I hope he would be proud.

"Geez, never broke down like this."

A year before Federer's first Grand Slam victory at Wimbledon in 2003, Carter was killed in a car accident on his honeymoon in South Africa.

Federer learned of Carter's death while competing at the Canadian Masters in Toronto, causing the 37-year-old to face the toughest time in his life.

Federer "left his hotel and ran through the streets, bawling and hysterical", an Australian newspaper reported at the time

The father-of-four keeps in contact with Carter's parents and is understood to pay for their travel from Adelaide to Melbourne to sit in his player's box at the Australian Open each year.

Before this year's competition, he said he was feeling good after training "really well".

"I've had another great year," he said. "Still happy playing and I've won the last two Australian Open editions, so I should be going in there with confidence.

"I love playing in Australia, love playing in Melbourne. There's so much that connects me to that country.

"The legends that I admire, the coaches that I've had in Tony Roche and Peter Carter - they've been incredibly inspirational and important to me in my life."                  

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