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LAVER CUP MEDIA CONFERENCE
June 29, 2017
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, I open the floor to you for questions.
Q. (Question regarding John McEnroe praising Roger.)
ROGER FEDERER: Great. I don't know whether it helps me. Does it give me a couple free rounds? Maybe some big point winnings? I'm not sure.
Look, it's nice that John thinks highly of me this season. Australia went well. So did the hard courts in general. Now last week. I'm healthy.
From my side, I feel good about my chances. Then again, it's such a long way to go. There's other guys that feel great right now, as well. I know it's going to be a tough one. I think a lot of guys will have their chance to win.
I do believe, though, that Wimbledon is going to be won by the top contenders, in my opinion. I hope I'm there, too. If John thinks that, that's even better.
Q. You only have to win seven matches.
ROGER FEDERER: That's it (laughter)? At 35, we should get only five matches.
Q. Roger, today we discovered that Andy Murray is struggling with a hip injury, has had to pull out of an exhibition match tomorrow. He's only played one match on this surface leading into the tournament. Without knowing the full details, do you think that's not exactly ideal, to only play one match on grass coming into a tournament like Wimbledon?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, sure. Ideally you win everything beforehand, have sufficient rest, feel great in practice. That's ideal. But that doesn't give you the chance to win Wimbledon every time, as well.
I think at some stage when you reach the level that Andy has reached, he knows with whatever preparation he's had, with the mental strength, the fitness and everything, that a lot is possible at Wimbledon for him. He is the reigning champ.
For him it's most important to get through the first week. The good thing for him, in my opinion, is he's a great first‑week player. He doesn't mind the slippery grass. He doesn't mind the bounce of the ball. He might even thrive in these conditions.
We'll speak differently if he wins the first three matches. I think that's the key for him now, and not look too far ahead.
I'm not happy to hear he's struggling with something. I hope it's not serious. It's the first time I heard about it. From that standpoint, I wish him the best there.
Regardless of how he played in Queen's, how he's feeling right now, if he's 100% physically on Monday, I think we'll see a very strong Andy Murray for the Championships.
Q. Roger, we saw in January the benefit that you had apparently from the six months you took off at the end of last year. How much do you think we're going to see the benefits over the next fortnight of the recent break you've taken, missing all the clay court season?
ROGER FEDERER: It's hard to tell. I mean, the idea is to be mentally fresh still, so eager to play, when the second week rolls around. That was the idea, too, not making any compromises about the grass court season, really skipping the clay court entirely. It was never the plan, to be quite honest. My plan was more to skip seven weeks, then to play. At the end I opted for the 10 weeks.
I never had any regrets, which was good. When I take a decision, I sort of move on with it. Practice went great. Weather was beautiful in Switzerland, in Stuttgart, in Halle, too. I got an incredible amount of practice on grass done.
But now it's the time where Wimbledon is coming around. This is when you want to feel your best, play your best. Similar to Andy, I just have to focus on my first round, then sort of take it from there.
If I go deep, I think it could be very beneficial that I didn't play the clay at all.
Q. Roger, the format of Davis Cup and Fed Cup has changed. Do you think you all and the ATP have put enough pressure on the ITF to think that they need to enter the modern era?
ROGER FEDERER: Possibly. I think there's been discussions for a long, long time now, what to do, what to change, if at all. I didn't give any advice, because I don't know what the solution is. We're going to see whether it's going to be a good decision or not. Yeah, that's pretty much it for me.
I played a lot of it. In recent years it's been more and more difficult because four weeks in the calendar is a lot. Three days in the Laver Cup is something completely different. That's why I don't think we rival with those events.
JOHN McENROE: As far as back when Rod was playing Davis Cup, 40 years ago‑ish when I started playing, we quickly realized that four weeks a year, particularly after majors, the week after majors, was crazy for the players. We've been pushing for change for literally 40 years.
Maybe it takes something like the Laver Cup to wake these people up. It may be too late because, in a way, Davis Cup has been unfortunately, because it meant a lot for me when I played, going in the wrong direction.
I'm hoping this will be a big huge burst for the sport.
Q. I'm old enough to remember having seen Rod Laver play when he was still playing on TV. I wonder what your first memories of him were, when you came across his name, when you had the chance to actually see him playing?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, for me, I didn't remember seeing Rod play, only the highlights at some stage. But it started with storytelling by Tony Roche when I started working with him, really.
Of course, I've heard of his name, his records prior to that. Then, you know, having the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne obviously rings the bell like Arthur Ashe at Flushing Meadows, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. This resonates with the current players.
It's really the storytelling from Tony Roche that made me understand the whole generation of Australian tennis way back when, and Rod being right up there with everybody, making that decision to go from amateurs to professional.
I was very intrigued to find out why that was, how did it come about. I think that story is very significant because it changed the game forever. We profited both from it, John and myself, to be playing on a professional tour, earn our living through it.
It's a generation that I feel like we both are very thankful to. They put a lot into it, and all they received was a tap on the back, Well done, thank you for playing.
Today it's so different. We have these most modern stadiums, press, sponsors. There's so much to it now. Back then, it was different, very different.
As I got to know Rod, obviously things changed entirely. I met a man who is incredibly humble, a legend, the nicest man. It's nice to be able to call him a friend today.
JOHN McENROE: I got to hit with Rod when I was about 16, so that was huge, in Dallas. There was a big event where Rod played Ken Rosewall. That was one of the first televised matches. 7‑6 in the fifth I believe was the score. Ken Rosewall looked tired in the warmup. Five hours later, he was dragging my idol to a tiebreaker in the fifth set. That drove me a little crazy.
I remember seeing Rod also at the US Open. I was a ball boy there. By the way, we all know he won two, but sometimes it happens you remember these matches. He was up 4‑2 in the fifth, I believe, you correct me, against, Vijay Amritraj. He decided, because the court was wet, to put on spikes. He lost, I believe, the next four games, lost the match. Rod will clear this up in a second.
I was very, very depressed, as someone who idolized Rod, he made this what appeared to be a brilliant decision, but somehow it backfired.
Maybe you can finish that story, Rod.
ROD LAVER: I had forgotten all about Vijay and playing. I think it was the first US Open. I don't know if we went to five sets, but...
JOHN McENROE: Maybe I have it all wrong.
ROD LAVER: I wish we could make it change.
No, Vijay was always a tough player on grass. He was leading. I did put spikes on. Through Harry Hopman, the Australians, the grass down there, we played with spikes quite a lot. A lot of times when we were practicing for Davis Cup, if it's raining a little bit, Okay, guys, put the spikes on, we're going down the back. We're going to learn to play on grass with spikes.
That's why I felt comfortable putting spikes on. When you put your feet down, you've got to lift them back up. You can't slide. There's no sliding. Some of those things are unique.
But I couldn't blame it on spikes. I think Vijay was just a little tougher. If we went to five, we were in the fifth set, I was having trouble for three hours prior to that (laughter).
Q. How important a part of the experience of being a Wimbledon champion is walking out on that Monday afternoon to defend a title? How injured would any of you have had to be, how injured would Andy Murray have to be, to consider not doing that on Monday?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I feel like you would need to feel like you could play for 14 days, seven matches. If you feel you can only play one match, I don't think then it's good enough to play the tournament. Going over best‑of‑five sets, over two weeks, only the tough ones will survive. It just flushes you out that way.
You need to feel confident in your body at some stage, otherwise what's the point? You put yourself out there just to be out there?
Andy has had too much success to do that. I understand if it was somebody else finishing his career, Okay, I'll play one more match in my life, let that be Wimbledon. Plus the world is watching because it's the defending champion opening the court and all that. It's a big deal. Because it's a big deal, you feel like you want to be at 100% or very close to 100% if you're competing.
ROD LAVER: I agree. I think it's a tough one, a Wimbledon champion from the past year, or someone that's coming along. It's one thing to be able to say you're in reasonable shape, but if it's Andy Murray going out on Monday, if he's not really able to play, I'm sure the thought is in the back of his mind, Why am I going out there if I can't win this tournament or this match? Am I doing the right thing? It's almost like, I'm taking somebody's place.
I'm sort of downplaying maybe the thought that he isn't as critically injured as maybe he's saying. Hopefully whatever he's taking will help him get through that portion.
But when you walk on the Centre Court at Wimbledon, you're saying you're ready to play, you're going to play your best tennis. Unfortunately you can't if you're injured.
JOHN McENROE: Well, I think that everyone in this room knows how nice a tradition that is, that the defending champion gets to come out. I believe the last person who didn't or wasn't able to do that was Goran. Oh, I'm sorry, Rafa. For Goran, that was the only one he ever won. That had to be really hard, not to do that. I'm sure that it killed Rafa, as well, not to be able to do that. There's no question.
I would be amazed that Andy would not do it, absolutely amazed if that didn't happen. That would definitely tell you that this would be a serious injury, that he'd be out a pretty significant amount of time. Clearly he's in great shape.
Q. Roger, you expect Andy to be there on Monday morning?
ROGER FEDERER: You're talking to a guy who didn't even know that he has anything. Now you're telling me he's in hospital almost. It's like he can't walk any more. You're making it sound very bad.
The way I know Andy, he's tough as nails. I feel like he's going to be there on opening Monday. He would need to be significantly injured not to play. There is also injuries and injuries. For me, if he can get through that first round and feel better afterwards, absolutely he should play.
I expect him to play, unless I missed something completely. I would know more about it if he was really significantly injured.
Q. Rod, do you make Roger the favorite? Who do you see as his big rivals?
ROD LAVER: I guess there's always a few favorites when you're coming along. Roger, having just won this last great grass court tournament, having had a good season from January, I'd have to put Roger in the area of maybe not the favorite, but he's one of an equal three or four people that I feel would be in a position to win the tournament.
A lot of things go on. I think the draw becomes an important part. When you get to tomorrow, the draw is going to be made. If you see the draw, you have a lot of players that maybe you don't like to play, not that Roger is saying that, but there's a lot of times out there you wish they were in the other half. You feel like there's big servers, serve and volleyers, something of that nature. That becomes pretty critical in the early rounds.
If you come through those areas, I think you become a favorite in that second week if you've done that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Rod, Roger, John.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports