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November 17, 2015

Roger Federer

London, England, United Kingdom

R. FEDERER/N. Djokovic

7-5, 6-2

An interview with:


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Are you a bit surprised the way the match went on or you think it's normal? You beat him three times this year in probably the best Djokovic year ever.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I wouldn't have picked it maybe before the tournament, you know, just because of his really good record on the indoors, the year he's had, especially with the run he's been on.

I focused more on beating Berdych and Nishikori and let's see what happens against Novak. That shows me that I didn't expect this victory. But then again, all day I felt good about my chances. It was clear in my head how I wanted to play.

Once the match went on, I felt like, I'm with him, I'm serving well, could play better from the baseline maybe at times, but he was doing a good job there. We were just staying with each other really.

I was just hoping I was going to get a good return game, which I did get eventually. Then winning the first set clearly in a match like this gives you the upper hand. It was important to strike again as quick as possible in the second set, and I did. I was a bit disappointed he got back on me, which didn't happen in Cincinnati. It was a similar situation. But he did well to break.

I stayed calm. At the end it was not that surprising because I was playing really well and he dropped his level towards the end.

Q. Novak said you didn't give him any rhythm, kind of mixed up your slices and speeds and depth. Was that part of the game plan?
ROGER FEDERER: I didn't think I mixed it up that crazy, to be honest. I didn't play any insane tactics. It was pretty straightforward, in a way I've played him many times in the past.

My game is to mix it up, change up the spins. His game is to press you away. I think we both played our regular game, and it was a good outcome for me tonight.

Q. On the court you talked about Nishikori, when you practiced with him when he was 16, 17. At that time you thought he would be a top player. I was wondering, what did you see in him back at that time? What quality did you find in his tennis?
ROGER FEDERER: I thought he was fast, number one. He has to be for his height. He needs to be fast. If you don't have the speed, being his size, it's going to be tough. But he had it, natural speed, very coordinated.

Then he had the power, as well. For a smaller guy, it's not so easy for him to do. He finds it very easy to generate a lot of power on the backhand, finds great angles on the backhand, and can redirect up the line almost better than anybody right now in the game.

The forehand, I kind of like it, because it's different to his backhand, which is more flat. The forehand is more loopy.

Then the question was, could he be injury-free, how good would his serve become, could he keep it together, his mind, throughout the season with the traveling, all that. It seemed that wasn't really a problem. It was just getting through the initial injuries probably.

He showed his talents very quickly and very early. It just took him awhile because of his injuries to really, really break through. Now he's there and one of the best players.

Q. Is your game still improving and developing or is it a case of it's your experience is what is keeping you up there? If it is a case of improving and developing, what specifically are you most satisfied with?
ROGER FEDERER: I think a tennis player never stops working on his game. Unfortunately we don't have enough time to practice. A lot of match play, a lot of resting, a lot of preparing.

Of course, in the perfect world it would be great to have many more months to prepare because you then could actually come back and be sort of a different player.

Of course, it's in our decision to take that time, but it's hard to sit on the sidelines for months when other guys are just winning tournaments, and your ranking is dropping in the process.

I don't say I regret doing it, but I wish I could have taken even more time to train on my game. So I think because every player presents different problems, you just have to try to manage your game as good as you can.

I think in the last couple years since I changed my racquet, that gave me a totally different approach on how I can return, how I can serve, what I can do. It was about keeping my forehand and my slice up to a standard which I liked. And naturally the backhand and the serve improved because of the easier power I received from my racquet. Of course, then tactical elements come into play more and more.

The experience helps. The experience can also hinder you sometimes because of playing too much percentage tennis. I still feel like I'm young in the mind and I don't shy away from trying new things. That is what keeps it still interesting for me to be on tour.

Q. Earlier today Novak said he felt like he handed you the win, especially in the second set. Is that how it felt for you, as well?
ROGER FEDERER: He handed the win?

Q. Yes.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, he wasn't as good as in the first set. But I feel, honestly, with the way he's played this season, you still have to put him away. It's not an easy thing to do. It's not like he played terrible. I know he can play better.

Why did he play that way? I'd like to give myself credit for that, quite honestly, yeah.

Q. You and Novak have played so many times. It's hard to do a quick brain scan of all the different matches you played. Considering how you felt after the first match here, particularly the bad start, considering his level of play, where does this rank as far as your surprise in coming out with a victory?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, on the higher side, but not crazy high. I like indoors. I like the World Tour Finals. I back myself to win also matches like these.

Like I explained in the beginning, he was the favorite going in. There was less pressure in this match because regardless if you're going to win or lose, it's still on your racquet to win.

I know it's a big win. Could help me for what's to come in this tournament, or at least for the next match it's going to give me a lot of confidence. It's going to help me for next year. It's always good beating Novak or any top player moving forward.

But still to me Novak is still the favorite of the tournament. Heavy favorite in the Berdych match, in my opinion. Then he should make his way to the semis somehow. I don't know exactly what he needs. And he'll be the favorite in that probably, too, with the year he's had.

He's far from gone. The way I know Novak, he's going to find a way to be tougher to beat from now on. It was important to take advantage of the fact he was not playing so well today, and for me to come out stronger than I did against Berdych.

I didn't feel great when I came out on court. It was like, Oh, don't start again like against Tomas. Still said, Okay, I'm starting to serve, let's just see how it goes.

It worked well, so it was a good choice.

Q. It seems a little unusual to hear you talking about not expecting to win a match. Have you felt like that in other matches against him this year or other players?
ROGER FEDERER: This one's different because I don't have to win, so why put extra pressure on yourself. It's not a finals. I think that's why I could really have that approach to just say, Let's see what happens. Just go out there, try a few things. If you don't feel like it, you don't feel like it. If you feel like it, do it.

I had a long conversation with Stefan and Severin about what I should try, what I shouldn't try. Then just also went with feel, you know. Yeah, I'm happy it worked out. It was nice to play maybe a match with less pressure. Don't know if it made me play better, but it was a solid match and I'm very pleased where my game's at right now.

Q. I think this is the second time this has happened for you against Novak. You've walked out, taken the wrong chair.
ROGER FEDERER: Took the wrong chair?

Q. The towels were on the wrong side.
ROGER FEDERER: Okay, a towel doesn't mean much to me, to be quite honest. I'm not going to be pushed by a towel. I sat on that chair when I walked out against Tomas. I said, I'd like to sit here again. I walked out first. Usually the guy who walks out first decides which side he wants to sit on. That's the rules to me, not a towel, to be quite honest. Maybe to you a towel matters more. To me a towel is to take a shower with.

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