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June 17, 2002

Roger Federer

GREG SHARKO: Good afternoon and evening for some of you. Thank you for joining in today's conference call with Roger Federer, who joins us from 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, where he is the No. 2 seed in the Ordina Open. Earlier this afternoon Roger advanced to the second round with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Richard Krajicek. This year Roger's enjoying the best season of his career with titles in Sydney and Tennis Masters - Hamburg and runner-up finishes in Milan and the NASDAQ -100 Open in Miami. He's No. 4 in this week's ATP Champions Race and No. 9 on the ATP entry system. Last year at Wimbledon, Roger broke Pete Sampras' 31-match winning streak at the All England Club with a five-set victory in the Round of 16 en route to the quarterfinals. The seeds were just announced earlier this evening in London, and Roger will be No. 8 going in to next week's Championships. So at this time, we'll open up calls.

Q. Roger, could you just talk a little bit about going back to Wimbledon this year after, you know, such a great victory there against Pete, and just how special it's going to be for you going back.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I've always been -- I'm looking forward every year again to go back to Wimbledon. And this year is kind of special to me because I've played my matches now on Centre Court, which was always my dream. And, plus, with that nice experience from last year beating Pete, I'm very happy to come back. And, yeah, I'm one of the favorites. Hopefully I can play well.

Q. At this point in your career, particularly on grass at Wimbledon, do you feel like, you know, you're a favorite to win just about every major?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, grass court is a tough surface, you know. I mean, sometimes the matches get decided just on a few big points. So I just really hope that I can win the first few rounds, then I can find my way into the tournament. But I've played already well the last week in Halle, and also this week again I'm playing another lead-up tournament for Wimbledon just to have enough grass court matches for the tournament. I feel like I have a good chance of winning, but there's just so many players out there which also want to win so it's going to be very tough to win.

Q. I wanted to ask you, again, not to make too much of the Pete match last year, but when you beat him, a lot of people sort of said, "Hey, who's this Roger Federer guy?" Even before that, you'd had some success. But what did that match do for you - I don't know - either confidence-wise, or even just to validate the fact that you are somebody to watch on this tour?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, it's true a little bit what you say, I was little bit unknown. I mean, I guess in Europe I was quite known because I had some results. But I think that gave me kind of the international breakthrough last year in Wimbledon, and it was just huge for my confidence. I mean, unluckily, I was injured right after that match - or actually during that match. I was already injured coming in to Wimbledon, but I was playing with painkillers and all this. So I had to sit out for like a month to the US Open. So when I came to the US Open, I really felt like I was more known, especially in the States, because I beat you guys in the Davis Cup and then I beat Pete in Wimbledon. So, I mean, for me it helped me a lot just, as you said, for press and my -- everybody knows me better now than before.

Q. Just to follow up a little bit on that now, when you go to a tournament these days, people expect you to be up there in the semifinals, finals, that type of thing. Is there a lot more pressure on you now than maybe this time last year when you could sort of sneak in there a little bit and do damage?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, it's always, I think, the same story. I put the pressure on myself. It's never -- I never feel like I have pressure from somebody, like I really have to play well. I just feel like I have to perform, you know? But now I always feel better when I'm in a favorite's position where I know I can win almost every tournament I go to now. So it's better when I know I'm not the underdog, and this actually helps. So that's why also I think I'm playing much better this year than years before.

Q. I just want to ask you, when you were 14 and you left home to go to the tennis center, whose idea was that, and how hard was it for you to tear yourself away from home and do something drastic like that?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, what happened was I got -- had the idea once to go. Actually, I think my parents asked me when I was like maybe 13. I said, "No, no, no, no, I want to stay at home," and all this. But then I saw a tape again like maybe a half a year or a year later, and suddenly I got interested. I told the press that I'm actually quite interested to go there. My parents read it through the press. And we started talking about it, we looked at the positive sides and the negative sides. And I went to play there and they thought I was -- had quite some talent, so they took me. And that's actually how I went. It actually was almost my decision, just my parents helped me with the decision a little bit.

Q. Pretty lonely, though, when you got there?

ROGER FEDERER: Yes, in the beginning. The first six months were very tough because I'm from the German-speaking part and I couldn't speak French, so I didn't have any friends down there. I was in a family which was very nice to me, but I didn't have any success. It was very tough in the beginning. But then I got to know all the players and the coaches and everybody down there, the language also. That helped me a lot. Actually, still now. I can speak three languages perfectly and that helps a lot.

Q. I wanted to ask you if you thought, especially this year, that it was possible for someone to win Wimbledon from the baseline after quite a long time of serve-and-volley domination, and whether indeed that somebody could be Lleyton Hewitt? What do you think of his chances, and generally winning from the baseline?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I definitely think that the conditions are getting slower just in general for tennis, because they want to see more rallies. So I can see in the future that a guy like Hewitt can definitely win Wimbledon - if not this year already. Because I give actually Lleyton and Agassi also a very good chance of winning. So, yeah, I mean, he won at Queen's one more time, so I think he's playing well. I think not only on grass, he's a favorite on any surface. So I could pick him for any Grand Slam, he could win it, so... But, how do you say, the challenge is very big from so many players right now and it's going to be tough. But I give Lleyton a good chance of winning Wimbledon, again, this year.

Q. Do you think that your seeding, No. 8, is fair? Where did you expect to be placed?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, actually, I had no idea how they were doing the seeding in Wimbledon this year. I just know it's different than the other Grand Slams. I think the seeding is quite fair, what they do. I think they take it over the last year or two on the grass court results, the points you have, and they add it and then you get your total points. I think that's very fair. Yeah, 8th seed is, I think, very good so far.

Q. Secondly, you talked about some of the international press you received after beating Pete and the positive things that happened. Did your life change at all in a negative sense where people started bothering you a little bit more and sort of invade your privacy?

ROGER FEDERER: I always get more attention now than before - especially in Switzerland, in my home city. All over Switzerland people knoow me almost everywhere I go. So I don't quite look at it that it's annoying. I think it's a good thing that -- for me, it's just important that I'm well-liked in my country, also just around the world. So I don't see this as a negative thing. I haven't had actually very bad , how do you say, experiences.

GREG SHARKO: Just to inform you guys, the way the seeding procedure worked, what Wimbledon did, they took the entry system ranking points as of today's ranking, and they added 100% points earned for all grass court tournaments in the last 12 months. Then they also added 75% points earned for best grass court event in the 12 months before that. So that's the criteria that went in to the seeding process.

Q. I was just wondering, how hard is it for you, people keep looking at you as one guy that everybody expects to break through with a Slam win, how hard is it to play so well, say, up until the French and then to have sort of that early exit and get yourself jacked back up for Wimbledon?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. I mean, yeah, I get the feeling also a little bit that people are really expecting me to break through in a Grand Slam now - very soon. So, I mean, I'm also putting the pressure on myself. I thought I had a very good chance in Australia to do really well. Unfortunately, I couldn't make the matchpoint against Tommy Haas. Now French Open was a tough one for me. I think Roddick played really well. I was still little bit tired from Hamburg. But what I'm very happy about this year already is I made a breakthrough on the Masters Series, which I always thought was very important to do well there because everybody's playing and they have to play. I really hope now this year either in Wimbledon or US Open I can make a breakthrough. This is also what I'm expecting from myself also really.

Q. You did so well at, like you said before, at last year's US Open. It seemed like, you know, you got really hot. Seemed like you were going to ride that through to the later stages of the tournament, then you ran into another really hot player. Does that just speak to the depth of the tour?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, in the moment, I think it's at an unbelievable high level right now because -- or maybe it's also because it's not really somebody totally dominating, you know, even though Lleyton is quite a bit in front. But I still think there's a lot of players who can beat him, you know? It's not like maybe the years before. I actually quite look at this as something very interesting, and I'm actually enjoying the time. I hope that -- it's like a few young players like Roddick, myself, Ferrero, Safin, Hewitt, I hope really that I can be one of these five players that can really make it to the top in the future. I'm looking forward to a good challenge.

Q. I just wanted to ask about the length of the grass court season, whether you thought just having a sort of three-week season gave you enough time to adjust in time for Wimbledon.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think somebody from Wimbledon came up and spoke to me in Monte-Carlo and they asked me just what I thought about a one week longer grass courts. I mean, I had to say that of course I think it would be better to have a longer grass court season because it's kind of a really short season, you know? I mean, you play one tournament, you lose first round, and then you don't play the next week and you're already in Wimbledon. So I told him that I would like to have a longer grass court season, but at the same time I have to protect the Swiss tournament in Gstaad which is the week after Wimbledon. It's actually worthwhile thinking about having one more week of grass, I think. Otherwise, the season looks really short to me.

Q. Also, I just wanted to ask, with so many players missing this year, particularly the two finalists from last year, does that help your chances?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think now it's a lot of players - again, like five to ten players - who can really win this Wimbledon or are major favorites. As you said, I mean, Rafter is not playing, Ivanisevic is not playing, the both finalists from last year. So that obviously helps myself and other players for the possibility to win. But, I mean, we'll see who can take the chance and win it so...

Q. You were known for having a pretty firey personality when you were a junior coming up. Can you just talk about, I guess, how difficult you actually were back then and maybe the process of calming down over the years.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, when I was very young, when I started playing tennis -- well, I started very early, when I was three years old. But I was always swearing around the court and throwing my racquet - but really bad. So, I mean, my parents felt embarrassed and they would tell me to stop because they said they wouldn't come with me to tournaments anymore. So I had to kind of settle down. But this actually took me until I was maybe 19, maybe one or two years ago, which I really started to make improvements. Before I would still, like, complain on every point I would lose and all this stuff. So I don't now how I got over it. I kind of thought like I'm losing too much energy by always getting upset with myself. And now I'm totally calm. I got very good press at the French and Wimbledon for my behavior on the court. Yeah, but now I have to almost watch out that I'm not too calm sometimes on the court.

Q. I wanted to ask you a little bit about, you were talking a few minutes ago about how they're sort of wide open this year. Is it odd not to be mentioning Pete's name as the favorite? Until last year, until you ended his streak, he was sort of always the one people expected to win. Have times changed a lot?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I've seen Pete play now in Halle last week. Obviously, he's still struggling a little bit because he hasn't had too many matches this year. But I still think he's for sure one of the guys to beat, even though he's maybe not a favorite like he was last year - just because he didn't win, you know, last year. But Pete is so dangerous on grass. I mean, the draws in a Grand Slam are much bigger, so he can play against less good players, you know? So he can find himself into the tournament, then he's going to be in the quarterfinals or semifinals again. This is when it's getting very dangerous. So I still give him a very good chance of playing really well or winning even the tournament.

Q. Could you talk, Roger, about your relationship with your coach and what sort of positive things he brings to the equation.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I've known him for maybe four years now - three, four years now. I've been traveling with him privately for maybe a little bit over two years. Well, it's going really well, as we can see with the results. For me, it's just important also that the coach for me is at the same time also a very good friend. I spend with him a lot of time, I go with him to dinner every night. We call even each other when we have time off. So this really shows how good friends we are. Plus, he was a player before. He tries to teach me what I shouldn't do, you know, because he did some mistakes maybe in his career before. So he just wants me to not to do it. And he has helped me a lot over the -- since we working together. It's going well. I'm happy to have him as a coach.

Q. I see in the ATP Media Guide that you're a big fan of pro wrestling. Does he share your love of that sport, too?

ROGER FEDERER: Actually, I was actually a big fan when I was young. Always with my friends I would watch. Now, because I'm traveling so much, we hardly get the channel to watch it. But after, for a little bit. My coach, he doesn't like it at all so...

Q. Who was your favorite wrestler when you were younger and were able to watch it?

ROGER FEDERER: I always liked The Undertaker a little bit. Now I like The Rock a lot. But I hardly see the guys. So it's tough to follow it up.

GREG SHARKO: Any other follow-ups? (No response). Roger, thanks again for joining us. Good luck the rest of the week and, of course, at the Championships beginning next week.

ROGER FEDERER: Okay. See you all, bye-bye.

End of FastScriptsâ?¦.

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