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November 19, 2015

Roger Federer

London, England, United Kingdom

R. FEDERER/K. Nishikori

7-5, 4-6, 6-4

An interview with:


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Does the knowledge that you've already made it into the semis affect the way you played at all today?
ROGER FEDERER: Maybe. I really have no clue. The good thing is that I was through. It relaxes your nerves. The good thing is I've been in this position before so I know how to handle it.

I always mention the first time it happened to me in 2002, was the first time I ever qualified. I was also qualified after two matches. Agassi had pulled out. Johansson came in. I was totally out of sorts. I was like, Oh, God, there's so much points on the line, don't want to lose.

Anyway, I ended up playing all right. But mentally I was just spinning. So honestly, 13 years later or whatever it is now, I'm a bit more relaxed now about these matches.

It's just another match, a really important one for me, to move on with a good feeling. Yeah, again, there's points on the line and prestige, wanting to beat Kei, winning at the O2. Yeah, I want to do well here.

Q. As long as you keep winning, are you going to keep the beard?
ROGER FEDERER: Don't know yet.

Q. What will make the decision? Does Mirka have a say in it?
ROGER FEDERER: If it itches too much, I'll take it off. If my girls can't stand it, I'll take it off. If I look in the mirror and I don't like it, I'll take it off. Maybe I'll think of Santa and keep it. It's around the corner. I don't know yet.

Q. Does Mirka like it?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, she's fine with it. I mean, yeah, she's okay, I guess.

I do take decisions by myself sometimes (smiling). I don't know about your wife, but I'm allowed to.

Q. By keeping winning, you're sort of holding off Andy getting the world No. 2 spot. He said that it's not sort of a goal of his, but it would be helpful for the Australian Open. He'd rather be 2 than 3. Do you give significance there?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't even know what it takes. I have not thought about it at all since coming here. I was asked about it in Paris maybe, or even before that, by someone. Maybe it was in Shanghai. If 2 was a goal for the end of the season.

I see no importance to it for me personally, if it's 2 or 3. As well for the Australian Open, to be ranked 2 or 3 for me has no impact.

I'm playing this tournament like there was no ranking, just straight up, trying to do well, hopefully compete for the trophy.

I understand the questions and all that, and it could be important to some people, but I think for us personally the tournament is way more important than the rankings at this point.

Q. Rafael Nadal, do you think he can win this tournament this year? What do you think about 2016, he's again favorite for Grand Slams and tournaments?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I think he's only going to get better. '16 he's going to have a good season if he stays healthy.

Okay, maybe for his standard it's not the best season. What is he going to finish, top five? It's still a good season. Everybody would take it almost except maybe a few players at this tournament. The rest would all love to be in his shoes.

I think he's going to get stronger. In the backhand he showed what's to come in '16, in my opinion. Then with some time to practice and reassess his game, he's going to be tough to beat in Australia. I believe that.

Of course, he can win the tournament here after his convincing wins against Murray and Stan. So, yeah, I mean, it's not going to be easy. It's only going to get tougher from here. But he's done a great job. I'm sure he's also happy about his progress.

Q. Theoretically speaking you have a chance of ending 2015 with three, maybe four wins over Rafa and Novak. I wanted to know if it gives you confidence looking to 2016, that you can do it also in best-of-five-set matches?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, any win against any fellow top-10 player is a good thing. I beat most of them this year, which is good to know in my mind. When I face them, I'm not, like, worried about any sort of matchup there is.

Sometimes it's almost better to lose against a guy outside of the top 50. It's not a guy you play all the time. Losing against fellow top-10 players sometimes can play tricks on your mind, then the matchups come into play. When you play them in a slam quarters or semis, you almost feel a little bit uncomfortable playing against them.

But this year has been very successful for me, that's how I feel anyway, against fellow top-10 players. So, yeah, I think it's only going to be helpful looking forward. Still no guarantee. Every tournament is different. Best-of-five slightly different. But I had a good year in slams, as well, to be quite honest, except Australia. Hopefully next year it's going to be good again.

Q. Last year you played a long season, then Davis Cup. Can you give an assessment of your body at this point last year versus this year. How do you feel? You pulled out at the end of this last year.
ROGER FEDERER: It's been a more quiet back end to the year because I didn't win Shanghai. I think that's the difference.

It was the semis I played in Davis Cup, it was a playoff, where we were the overwhelming favorite against the Dutch. There wasn't so much pressure there. There hasn't been so much pressure from that moment on all the way leading up until the finals.

So it's been much more relaxed. I went on vacation after that Davis Cup tie after the Open. Lost early in Shanghai, gave my more time to practice. Came really early to Basel to prepare. Things went well there. Lost somewhat early again in Paris. Took three days off there. Came really early to London with the family.

Honestly, I feel really good about my body. I've got the perfect schedule. I'm off before the semis, which is huge. Now you're looking at potentially a maximum of two more matches and the season's over then. It's easy for the mind now, in my opinion. There's no best-of-five-set matches look forward to, so it should be pretty easy.

It's going to be tough in the sense to win. But for the body, I'm in an ideal situation looking at the semifinal match.

Q. You're 34 years old. Kei is 25.
ROGER FEDERER: Thanks for the reminder (smiling).

Q. There's a gap of generation. Do you enjoy playing with the younger generation like Kei? Does it inspire anything from Kei?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I have no choice but to embrace the fact to play younger guys. I was telling someone before, I loved the times before when I played my heroes, like Sampras, then other cool players only I knew from TV, Henman, Moya, Agassi, you name it, all these guys, Wayne Ferreira, Krajicek. Next thing you know I'm playing doubles with those guys.

It was different, exciting times, but really, really special to make it on the tour and be in the restaurant together with them. It was crazy cool.

Yeah, then all of a sudden they're all gone and now you're the old guy. Now you have to inspire yourself in a new way. It's about your own career, about your game, about matchups, places you play in, or also embracing the fact you're playing against younger guys now who are changing the game because of their speed and the racquet technology and string technology.

Kei is definitely one of those guys. It's amazing what he's able to produce on the court. Today was another showcase of that, how he's able to return second serves, staying on top of the baseline, yeah, drilling forehands and backhands up the line. It was impressive.

I enjoyed the match. It wasn't easy, but somehow I got it done. I look forward to playing him hopefully more often in the future.

Q. You were asked right after the match about your preferences for the semifinals. You say you have no preferences. I don't know if you noticed, I'm pretty sure you did, the crowd were chanting Rafael Nadal, Rafael Nadal. Would you like to meet him?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, or the finals. I prefer then. I don't know what it takes for him to finish second in the group, so it's going to be tough for him to finish second.

At this point, the way he's playing, he's favored against Ferrer he's playing now, so that's more unlikely to me than playing Murray or Stan.

Like I said, I have no preference. At this point everything is tough and fun at the same time because it's cool playing those kind of guys in the semis of the World Tour Finals. This is what it's about. This is where I wanted to be. Of course, I'm going to be happy to be there myself, seeing them battle it out tomorrow.

Q. Talking about the rivalry situation. Which rivalry do you prefer? The one with Novak where you're a lot closer, or the one with Rafa where you've been playing a lot longer? Secondly, regarding the beard, when was the last time you shaved?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't remember. But it's been a few days now. Maybe a week, I don't know.

The rivalries, they're unique in many ways. Obviously the more I play Novak, the more he's achieving in that timeframe, the more special it becomes. It's natural because every match becomes more important that we didn't play, as well.

With Rafa I go back further. The fact is obviously the epic Wimbledon finals. Then we had all these matches for me which were hard, the French Open finals. But they were very important for my career as well to win the French Open in 2009.

Yeah, I think we were the new guys and the face of the tour for so long. It's nice to see Novak and Andy break through, take it to the next level. Andy winning slams, Olympic gold. The same for Novak. To go on the run he's on, was hard to predict after being stuck at 3 and 4 for a while. So even more impressive for him to change it around and do it. That's also why I believe our rivalry has become nice as well.

Which is more special? It's hard to predict. Maybe slightly Rafa just because he came before Novak. I've always enjoyed the matchup with Novak. I think it's always very cool and athletic and straightforward, unlike Rafa where I feel like I have to change my game completely to compete with him.

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