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April 12, 2016

Roger Federer

Monte Carlo, Monaco

R. FEDERER/G. Garcia-Lopez

6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please, in English.

Q. How did you find your knee was? Also, when you're playing someone like that that is going for shots all the time, testing your movement?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, the knee felt really good, like in practice. Felt like I didn't have to worry about it. I could just go freely. I think I'm at a point now where, you know, I'm looking more forward in the sense that whenever I can dig out a good point, I did good movement, I just kind of went for the dropshot without having second thoughts. It's only building on my confidence now, which is great.

It's been like that for at least, I'd say, over a week now. Yeah, I was very pleased how I felt, even how I played. I mean, he did kind of go for his shots, but we had longer rallies in the beginning of the first set.

I think in a way it was a perfect match. It was close in the beginning, then I was able to go on a roll. Points were cut short by virtue of me serving better and returning better, getting second serves, taking advantage of that fact.

At the end, again, I had to fight for it. I went through different phases in the match. Also emotionally. I was excited and tense in the beginning just because it's a first round. It's my first match back. So it was nice to go through all these emotions.

At the end he's a guy that knows how to close out, knows how to play points on clay. It was a great win for me. I said beforehand, it was always going to be a winning result today, regardless of winning or losing essentially. I'm just very happy I'm back on the tour again.

I think I got what I needed. So we'll see how I feel tomorrow, tonight, the next day. Sometimes after a match, you can feel it for two days. At this point I'm pretty confident I'll feel fine.

Q. You were saying the knee felt good for the last week. Does that mean in retrospect maybe it was a good thing you didn't play in Miami?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I would have been okay in Miami. Just that it was close from feeling perfectly fine. I was probably one week in of feeling fine. But every week that goes by, you feel more confident, more solid.

I've been going full out for three weeks now maybe. Ever since I arrived here, I've been able to practice on center court every day. I felt really good.

It's nice to see it also held up in the match the way it did in practice.

Q. Is the medical advice you don't need to hold back at all?
ROGER FEDERER: No, no, I'm at the point where the knee's solid, and it's fine. I mean, the knee does feel different after the operation. It just does feel like a different knee. I guess I also got to get used to that.

It's not painful or anything. It just feels different because I've had a different knee for 34 years. So that's why it's a different feel, but not in a bad way, I must tell you.

Q. Had a minor meltdown, broken to love serving for the match.
ROGER FEDERER: I served and volleyed twice. He hit twice a really good return off the backhand which he didn't hit for the entire match. Maybe he was saving that one for that particular game (smiling). I don't remember what happened on the other two. But I think I actually served okay in that game.

He's a good player, so clearly it can happen. It was good for me to see, as well, that if your opponent strings some good shots together, some good points, and you maybe pick the wrong decisions, it can happen very quickly. That's why you've always got to stay very focused.

I was trying to do that. It just worked out in a way really well for him to get back. Now in retrospect, I'm happy I got tested like this, that I did have to take the right decisions at 30-All, 5-4, serving for the match. Serve and volley on the second serve, all that stuff. It's good to go through these tougher moments early on in a tournament like this, especially coming off an injury.

Q. How much did you miss it? How hard did you find it to be away?
ROGER FEDERER: Honestly, I didn't miss it too much. I was really happy being home. I was really happy doing the rehab. I just enjoyed the process of getting better every day. I really thought it was something very different that I've never really had to experience to this extent in my career.

I'm very happy how I came through it mentally, physically, emotionally as well. I had a short sort of down right after surgery where I felt very sad and worried for maybe 12 hours. After that, once I got back up walking on the crutches, I felt it would be fine, it's going to be okay.

Then I felt improvement every single day. Big improvements. I was surprised how much I could do, how quickly I could do it. I was pretty healthy going into the surgery, because I just came off playing best-of-five-set matches. Plus I had December where I worked out really hard. I think that's also why I was able to bounce back as quick as I did.

I'm really happy with how I coped with the injury and the rehabbing, yeah.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. That was your first match after being away for two months and a half. How did you feel on the court?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm quite reassured. I was dissatisfied. I don't know if you can say I'm relieved, it's not the right word, but I'm just happy that I was again on the court playing against the best players in front of a crowd.

I saw the atmosphere was different on center court from the 10 previous days where I had practiced on the court. Suddenly the stadium was full. Also the tension was different. You can feel it in your body.

So I'm happy that I was able to experience this once again. I'm also very satisfied with my performance. The knee was okay. I was able to serve well. But I don't want to go into the details because everything was positive for me today.

Q. Just to be precise, was it the internal or external meniscus?
ROGER FEDERER: The internal meniscus.

Q. During the whole process, did you have a moment when you were afraid that something wouldn't come back, that you wouldn't be able to do something again?
ROGER FEDERER: As I said, for me, the toughest moment was the two hours after waking up. I couldn't feel my knee, my leg. I could hardly move my toes. It was hurting a little. This is when I was a bit afraid about the future. Suddenly I thought that I needed to really go for it if I wanted to be a professional tennis player. I was wondering.

But then my father came to visit me in the hospital. Mirka was there, too. The first evening things were already better. We were joking again with my doctor. It was good to see everybody there.

The next day or two days later I had a meeting with the whole team to talk about our plan, our schedule, how we were going to do the rehabilitation process, what tournament I could start playing again. From there, it became a lot more pleasant because I was able to be much more positive mentally. I knew we had a plan.

Once you have a plan, it's better. You have to wait until the surgery is over to know how the surgery went. Then it was good talking with the doctor who told me what I could expect for the next 10 days, the next three weeks, et cetera. So there was a slight possibility of me playing Miami.

It's always good to have a goal. So the goal was Miami. In the end, I was very satisfied to say I was ready to play for that tournament, but unfortunately the virus stopped me from doing that.

Q. Is it true that in your whole life you never had a total anesthesia?
ROGER FEDERER: I had anesthesia for my wisdom teeth, but that was local anesthesia only. So, indeed, I was a bit afraid before the surgery. I had a different kind of fear after the surgery. After the surgery, I was sad I had to do this surgery. I thought I would be able to have my whole career without any surgery.

But I was happy the way it happened, in fact. It didn't happen when I was playing and pulling on my leg too hard or something. But I don't know what I did. I gave a bath to my daughters. It was something that could have happened to anyone. Maybe my meniscus was degenerated and ready to collapse already, so I'm happy the way it happened. I'm thankful for that.

Q. This is a question that has nothing to do with the knee. Julien Hoferlin went earlier than he should. Can you say something about him?
ROGER FEDERER: I've known him for a very long time. I've known Thierry and Julien since we were juniors. Later on I didn't see him because he was playing the challengers. But I saw him a lot on the tour. We always got along together.

It's always very sad. So the whole tennis family is sad for his family and for friends like Thierry. It always affects me, of course, when it happens. It happened so quickly, after an exceptional year for the Belgian team in Davis Cup.

Fortunately he was able to experience huge moments with his tennis team, the Davis Cup team. But there's nothing you can change.

Q. Sometimes soccer players, when they have a surgery, say the major test is when they're able to tackle again. Is there something particular you need to do to be totally reassured about your knee?
ROGER FEDERER: Right now? No. Maybe I will need to see how my knee will be after three matches in a row. But I'm not afraid because I didn't go too hard during the practice, the fitness sessions. So I've been working with my physio. In rehabilitation they told me, Now you're cured, you don't need to be afraid anymore. If I'm still afraid, it's only in my mind. I'm creating this.

I have no pain. I can go for it. I'm totally reassured. In the beginning it was extremely interesting to see how things developed. First I was afraid when I was walking with the crutches, then I started walking without the crutches, and then the stairs. So it's one step after the other, like a child learning.

When you don't have your crutches, you start running. You think it's wonderful. Then you can jump. Then you can jump higher. Then you can move more quickly, you can sprint. Every time I was able to do something for the first time, I saw I was improving, it made me more confident.

I did that for six weeks. I loved that part of rehabilitation.

Q. So today you went to your limit? You let go?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I always did what the physio and the doctor and the physical therapist told me. Each time I was improving, we went to the limit, then they looked at the reaction of me knee, one hour after, three hours after, then the next day. If nothing happened, then you go to the next level.

Maybe once I had some liquid in the knee after serving 20 times. But 24 hours afterwards, it was fine. That was the worst thing that happened, nothing else. So it was good to see it was a crescendo all the time. I would like to thank everyone who worked for me.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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