Roger Federer hits with 75-year-old Rod Laver on eve of Australian Open

• 'It's an absolute dream come true,' says Swiss
Sixth seed warms up for season's first grand slam

Roger Federer traded shots with his hero Rod Laver in the stadium that bears the Australian's name before promising that his hunger for grand slam titles remains as strong as ever.

The 17-times grand slam champion beamed with pride after enjoying a few rallies with the 75-year-old, who was dressed in traditional whites and impressed a packed crowd with his movement before Federer's exhibition match with the French world No10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

"Hitting with Rod Laver for me clearly is an absolute dream come true," the Swiss said after a crowd-pleasing 6-7, 6-3, 7-5 win over Tsonga in the fund-raising event for his charity, the Roger Federer Foundation, in the buildup to next week's Australian Open for which he is seeded sixth.

"It's in his arena as well, it's named after him and he deserves it so much. He told me that his wrist was hurting less on the forehand so he asked me to play there a bit more often.

"While I was playing my racket was feeling extremely heavy, that means I was very nervous which I really was because you don't want to miss a shot.

"I was happy we had some rallies. What an honour it was for me and I hope that the crowd enjoyed it and I'm very thankful that he was willing to do something like this because it's not normal in any way and that's why I really appreciate it."

The 32-year-old Federer has won four of his 17 major titles in Rod Laver Arena and famously burst into tears when receiving the second of his winner's trophies in 2006 from the Australian, the only man to complete two grand slams in calendar years.

Laver has returned the admiration and said during the Melbourne launch of his autobiography in October last year that the Swiss could hit back from his disappointing 2013 by winning the year's first grand slam in Melbourne. © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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