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March 24, 2016
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Can you explain to us exactly what happened to you and what has happened since?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, well, I mean, it happened the day after the Djokovic match. I woke up, I don't know exactly remember what happened, I think I was going to run a bath for the girls. I made a very simple movement, turned back, heard a click in my knee. Went to the zoo. My leg was swollen.
Came back and had an MRI done in Switzerland. Saw a doctor right after the MRI. He said I had to have surgery on Tuesday. I did that in Switzerland.
Here I am seven weeks and two days later. I'm very happy how it went, but clearly that was very sad when I did get the news I did have to have an operation because I thought I was going to get through my career without any. It was a big shock and, yeah, disappointing when I got the news.
Q. How do you feel at this point getting ready for tomorrow's match? What expectations do you have?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, pretty good. I mean, beating (indiscernible) a little bit, so a bit tired. Obviously, humidity here, getting back into it, it's been energy-consuming to say the least.
I'm excited. Anxious to find out how it's going to react, is it going to be different day-to-day, how is it going to feel after the match and so forth.
I'm just really pleased that I'm here. Couldn't be more happy how rehab has gone. It's baby steps. Still at the same time you go from crutches to walking to running to jumping to sprinting. It's pretty incredible to see the progress I've been able to make in a short period of time.
I had a great team around me, had great support. It's nice to be back here, show everybody that it was worthwhile to put in the work.
Q. What would you coach Roger Federer to beat Djokovic?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. It would be the same thing. I mean, you got to take it to him. Got to wait for the right moment. When the right moment comes up, you want to play well.
You got to play aggressive. Novak plays very well aggressive himself. Don't let yourself be frustrated by, you know, his retrieving or whatever it is, his confidence.
You got to make it difficult for him to beat you. That's what he's going to do with you, too.
In a way it's very simple going forward. But you have to believe from the first point to the last, for sure.
Q. How do you come to this match tomorrow with both of you coming from injuries? How do you feel to play this?
ROGER FEDERER: It's very exciting, to say the least. I like Juan Martin. We've had good matches over the years, Paris, five sets twice, US Open obviously. Other places.
It's nice to see him back. I haven't seen him play at all since he's been back, so I'm not quite sure what to expect, even though my coach went to see his match yesterday.
At the end I'm going to focus on my own game tomorrow, my own mind, you know, managing my problems that I've had the last few months.
Yeah, just also enjoy it out there. We're both in a similar situation. His injury was much, much greater. That's why I'm really pleased for him that he was able to find a way back onto the tour.
Q. Quite a bit has happened since you've been away.
ROGER FEDERER: Do you want to fill me in? How much time do we have? You've been waiting for this moment, haven't you (laughter)?
Q. Equal prize money, which was an issue. Do you believe that men and women, irrespective of the obvious commercial realities, should be paid the same?
ROGER FEDERER: Everywhere? We are getting the same prize money at slam levels, and some events.
Q. Not in all events. What are your views on that?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, we don't always get the same like the women, as well. I think it depends on what tournaments we are talking about. I think you have to be very specific what you're talking about.
I mean, I'm all for equal prize money. When I was fighting for prize money increases, especially at the slam level, I was always very aware of the fact that it was always going to impact the women's game, which I was very happy about. Both at the same time were growing.
But then you have to look at the history of each and every event, where it came from. Some tournaments were a men's tournament, then the women joined or vice versa, it was a women's tournament and we joined them.
It's sometimes hard to make equal prize money there. It's up to the tournament director to decide if he wants it to be that way.
Sure, you could imagine something like that. It's already happening here, Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid as well, all the slams.
Yeah, I'm happy that tennis has produced some of the greatest female athletes in the world. I think that's great. It's a great platform. Yeah, equal prize money is a good thing.
I think that debate was talked about a long time ago. I know it came up again.
Q. The other big story that's developed since you were off the tour. Can I ask what your reaction was to Maria's announcement a couple weeks ago? Do you think it backs up what you said before about more rigorous testing in tennis?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I definitely think that tennis is doing a lot, better than what we have in the past.
We're getting more professional. The program is getting bigger and stronger. You could always do more testing. You could probably ask somebody here in 50 years and he could say, It could be more. But do you want to be tested four times a day at a certain stage?
Clearly I was very surprised. I thought she was going to announce retirement or something, so I was completely surprised by the news. But it also shows that, you know, also the famous players can get caught in the system that seems to be working.
I still believe we should keep blood samples for 10 years, store them, let athletes and tennis players know that's the case. You could be punished retroactively. I'm a big believer in that.
I've been in Dubai now for 10 years there and been tested once. That's not okay for me.
I get tested more in Switzerland because the guy from Switzerland lives in my village. He comes sees me the day after my surgery, one week later. In Dubai they've only come once, the Asia games. In certain countries maybe the testing is not as serious as in Switzerland. I'd like to see that across the board to be the same way and fair, you know.
But I think tennis is doing more and more. Sure, it was very disappointing news, to say the least.
Q. It's been a while since you won here. The people love you here. What are some of your memories from this tournament? Were you actually running the bath when you hurt your knee or were you on your way?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm not sure anymore what happened. I remember I turned, I felt my knee was funny, I turned back. That's when I heard a click. I did feel that something was strange in my knee.
Very simple movement, probably a movement I've done a million times in my life for sure.
So I'm happy it didn't happen on a tennis court. I'm happy it didn't happen in a moment where I could maybe strain it more.
It was very simple. All I did after that was walking. Maybe that's why I'm also here seven weeks later. I came into the surgery totally fit because I just came off a great training block in tennis, a lot of tennis in Jan. My body was really in good shape. It would have been tough to recover if I had been on vacation for two weeks and then injury struck.
This way, it was a faster recovery because of it.
Q. And memories?
ROGER FEDERER: Memories from here?
I have a lot of them, good and bad. Mostly good, though. Because once you win a tournament, it washes out all the bad ones.
I remember getting a wild card here in '99 after winning the Orange Bowl on this court in '98. Played a very disappointing match. It was a learning curve to me after losing that match in '99 on an outside court.
I think it was a big finals for me in 2002 maybe, playing against Agassi in the finals, four sets. I beat Lleyton in the semis. It was a big great 32 for me, confidence from the Sampras win I had at Wimbledon, then I won Hamburg. It was the beginning of the rise in the top 10. Then I was able to win (indiscernible).
Q. How long were you on crutches? When did you actually begin full training? As far as playing here, your first event since the Australian, what are you expecting out of yourself?
ROGER FEDERER: So I was on crutches for 12 days, maybe. Full training, no restrictions whatsoever, probably a week ago, nine days ago. Just managing, as well, progress, not wanting to overdo it, but also pushing it so I knew I could play three-hour matches and all that.
Also a lot of testing, making sure the knee does hold up.
If I feel something tomorrow, I won't play. It's very simple. Expectations are really low, which is nice for a change. Just see where I am, go out there.
Once you're out there, you want to win, it's clear. I'm a competitor. I'm just really pleased I'm back. I didn't expect myself to be back here so soon after surgery.
Q. (Question about playing in Brazil and the best memories there, and excitement about coming back to Rio.)
ROGER FEDERER: It's big. I had a great time in Sao Paulo the one time I went to Brazil. Rio, I've never been there. This is my first time to Rio. I'm excited about that.
Olympic Games is obviously massively important for me. I love playing in the Olympics. I love representing Switzerland. I think it's going to have a very special flair, a unique flair to all the other five that I've been in. It's going to be different. It's one of the main goals for me of the season.
Q. Right knee?
ROGER FEDERER: Left knee.
Q. Were you turning to the right and then came back and a weight shift?
ROGER FEDERER: I turned to my right, turned back, I think (laughter). Honestly, it was such a simple, small movement. I was doing stuff that I didn't think much of it when it did happen.
Q. Were the kids right there?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm not sure they were in the room. But they were coming to take a bath, so I figure they were somewhere close.
Q. The Miami tournament, they talked about the future might be in jeopardy. What does this tournament mean, keeping it here? Also, the attacks in Brussels, you're a world traveler, you have to travel for your job. With the way the world is today, do you think twice about some of the day-to-day things you have to do?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, this tournament clearly is a big tournament in the calendar. Used to be best-of-five sets. Considered the fifth slam, all these things. I always enjoyed coming here. Came here a ton. I hope that this tournament stays successful for years to come.
It has a nice vibe, you know. Here in Florida, here in Miami, I think it's a beautiful place to play tennis in.
I've been coming here to Miami since I was 14 years old. It's one of the places I know best really. If I think back as a player, it's the first big trip I had when I was 14, coming over here for the Orange Bowl at 14 at the Biltmore.
I clearly want to see this tournament continue to be good, prestigious, all that. I think they're trying to figure it out as much as they can, but it's clearly a difficult situation.
Yeah, of course, when you're traveling, you're always aware of things that are going on. This one now, I'm a bit further away from things where I'm on the other side of the planet. When the Paris attacks happened, we were in London. We just came from Paris, so that was scary. Not that this wasn't, but it sure makes you wonder. You're aware of the fact when you do travel about all these things, yeah.
Q. You mentioned this is your first injury.
ROGER FEDERER: First operation.
Q. Rehab is a personal journey. Would you share some of those personal thoughts during the rehab.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, sure.
When I got the news that I had to have the operation, I kind of took it like a man: I guess so. I see the pictures. I trust my doctors. It's the only way out of this one.
When I was in hospital, about to go in the operation room, that's when I got really nervous and sad about it all. When I woke up, I kind of looked at my knee, it doesn't feel like my leg. I can't believe I did the operation. I hope it will come back from here. That's when I got scared.
Then literally one day, two days later I had no more pain. I realized I could already move my leg again. You learn how to walk on crutches and all that, which I'd done once before in 2005 when I tore the ligaments in my foot.
Then honestly, it sounds weird, but I kind of enjoyed the process of improving every day. I had a positive mindset. We worked two to three times a day. We were in Switzerland for five straight weeks, which it's rare for us to be in one place, especially our home for so long.
Enjoyed everything about it, being there, away from the tour, time with my family. Nothing to do other than rehabbing and spending time with the family. It was a really nice process.
Then I got motivated because I saw progress. Then I expected that it was going to be more massaging, feel-good stuff that is going to make me improve. Actually it was through hard work that I got the confidence back and I realized I was making the biggest improvements.
Never had any setbacks. That was very crucial that I'm here today. Interesting, to say the least, but I kind of enjoyed the process, if that makes any sense for you guys.
Q. You spoke of expectations coming back. What is the pressure on a guy like Djokovic who is on top? Does tennis need the rivalry thing? I know you're all trying to catch him.
ROGER FEDERER: I think both are okay. I think it's good when many guys win the biggest tournaments and I think it's fine if one guy wins it. It's always going to change. It's not possible it stays like this for decades or years or months, whatever. It keeps changing a little bit.
You can have a good season or a great career side-by-side, like we are all showing. So I think it's very interesting every step he takes further. It's more and more impressive. History gets written. It's good. It's good stories, good news, other than some other ones we heard today. I'd rather talk about that than other things.
Unbelievably impressive to say the least. Obviously other guys have to figure out their game, reconsider their work ethic. It's interesting in many ways.
I came through phases where when I came about, many different guys. I thought that was very cool. I enjoyed it more when I was winning everything. Then again, you enjoy the rivalry you have with Rafa, as well, Murray, all these guys, Djokovic coming up. It's interesting. I like it.
Q. Back to the situation with Maria. Do you think tennis has a doping problem?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't think so. I'm na├»ve maybe in the fact that I believe athletes, I trust what they're doing. Clearly when they get caught, you turn. You're like, I can't believe they tried to do that, forgot about it, whatever.
I really don't think there is a major problem. I don't know many people. All I can talk about is myself. I know what I take. What you take, you've got to be sure. That's why I quadruple check whatever I take because I don't want to take any chances whatsoever.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports