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May 11, 2016

Roger Federer

Rome, Italy

R. FEDERER/A. Zverev

6-3, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. After the issues you had in Madrid with your back and everything, how were you feeling in this match physically?
ROGER FEDERER: Cautious but extremely happy. You know, I was expecting to lose in straight sets today. That was the mindset going in, so to win in straights is actually a really big surprise to me.

I played cautious, and I only decided after the warmup that I was actually going to play. So for me it was a big match on many levels.

In terms of information, looking ahead for next few weeks, regardless if I'm going to play tomorrow or not, this was something I feel like I needed to do to get a sense of where I'm at. It would have been easy not to play and then just be unsure how I was going to feel in Paris.

So at some point you have to go out there and see how it feels, and I'm happy I was able to play a full match without any setbacks.

Q. Was it you who asked to play possibly at noon or early in the day when the weather is less wet, since you have this back problem? Or there was some discussion about it?

Q. Or you don't care or you would like to play even at night or tomorrow or you prefer to play during the day?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, yeah, I don't know how the decision was made, but I only assumed that they put me at noon in case I was not going to play, that it wasn't -- it wasn't going to be a prime-time slot that was going to miss maybe a top 5 player. So from that standpoint, that's the way I can explain it.

I didn't request day or night. The only thing I asked was to have a chance to play Wednesday. Usually when I ask to play Wednesday, they grant it to me, especially now that I have had issues. So, yeah, then what time of day I'm playing doesn't matter. I was happy that there was no rain, but that's not because of my back or anything. That's more for the flow of the match and for the fans and for the tournament.

Q. Just to be clear, you're unsure you're going to play tomorrow?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. I don't know how I'm going to feel tomorrow. So, yeah. I mean, I hope so. But I'm literally going practice after practice. Every 15 minutes I speak to Ivan or Severin and say, What else can we do?

It's baby steps right now. So to even think of tomorrow is already a big ask (smiling).

Q. It tactically looked a very smart game. How much did it help that you've played him like in training sessions and practice sessions before? And what did you think of how he played you?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I think it wasn't an easy match for either one of us. Clearly he's very talented and expects a lot of himself, center court match against someone he has looked up to, from what I heard. So it never was going to be simple just to come out and just to play the best match possible.

For me, same thing. I'm coming off a brutal last few months, and I'm just happy to be able to play normal tennis to some extent. I didn't have that many options, either. So I had to play with what I had. So I guess the combination made it, for a particular game, if maybe I would have felt and played better he might have also lifted his level of play.

So I'm not sure how much the practice itself actually has made a difference today. I would have said nothing at all. It was more me focusing on my own game and him trying his best under the circumstances. I think the second set clearly was big for him coming back. Then he would have had to win that to really have a good chance to win in the third set, in my opinion.

I think I was better. I created more chances, and, you know, had more options maybe with the dropshot than the slice and so forth. Maybe experience came through today. Well, I don't know.

Q. Which is the reason you and Stefan Edberg stopped collaborating?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, the idea was always I think for him to do a year. So for him to do two years was already tremendous and phenomenal for me. But he told me like a long time before that he was not going to do the next year and I totally understood, you know, because any time period he gave me for me was very cool, because he's my hero and looking up to him was amazing. Having him by my side for as long as it lasted was great.

I'm still in touch with him. He's a good friend of mine now, which is wonderful. So it was all positive.

Q. You saying you were playing cautious and weren't sure you were going to play until after the warmup, I guess, why risk your health for this match with the French Open coming up and everything else coming up on the calendar if you thought you weren't going to be 100% today?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I felt it was the only logical step for me to go to the next level was to play a match. I could have just, you know, skipped it and just kept practicing but then also still being cautious in practice. At least if something happened today during the match, I still felt I had enough, you know, days to recover again for Paris. And if I get through it, I feel like the upside and the confidence and what maybe I can do from now till the French Open is going to give me much more than if I wouldn't have played.

So it was a calculated risk, if you like. So I'm super pleased that I was able to play, let alone to win. So for me it's a big day and huge step in the right direction.

Q. Your opinion about the Zverev after this match maybe prove until to be No. 1 in the future in four, five days or five years?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, yeah, I mean, I hope he can do it, you know. Clearly he has a big game and nice technique and good attitude and all that.

I think every day that goes by he's going to learn more and only going to become more stronger. It's normal. This is, if you like, the weakest Zverev we'll ever see. He will only get better from here. Once he's past 40 years old, he will start going down again maybe. But for the next few years now he will get so good that I hope he will compete at the top, top 10 at least, if not then top 5 and No. 1. No. 1 is always a big ask. A lot of things need to align for that: consistency, fitness, mental. So you make it sound like you just become world No. 1, like, at will. If you look at who's been No. 1, there is not really that many players. I hope he can do it. I think he's a great talent.

Q. Do you think to sacrifice any tournament scheduled at the beginning of the year to get in shape for Olympic Games?
ROGER FEDERER: The question exactly is what?

Q. If you think to sacrifice any tournament you have scheduled at the beginning of the year in your preparation for being able for Rio.
ROGER FEDERER: I never said Rio was my only No. 1 goal of the season, so my goal right now is to get back now in good shape, whatever that means. I hope to be 100% soon. I'm far from being 100% right now, so I still have some work to do.

I hope there is a lot to be done in the next 12 days because I have a base, I have a level, which is really important to have. I'm not coming from no man's land. I'm coming from a level which is totally acceptable. I have done as much as I possibly could in the last four months. I'm happy about how I'm feeling there.

It's just I have been unfortunate with Miami and now Madrid. That setback was unnecessary, but it happened. It was unfortunate. Now looking forward, I'm not even thinking one second of the Olympic Games because there is going to be a lot of tennis being played before that, hopefully.

We'll take it day by day, like I explained before, and tournament by tournament hopefully and beyond. So at the moment, I cannot think that far ahead, to be honest.

Q. This is one of the few tournaments you haven't won in your career. Do you think you still have a chance to win here in Rome? It would be important to you or it doesn't really matter to win Rome to you?
ROGER FEDERER: It would be wonderful to win, but not this year.

Q. Not this year? Why not this year?
ROGER FEDERER: Because it -- it won't happen (laughter). Well, let's talk in a few days. Yeah. I'm too far off. I'm so far off that it won't happen.

But of course maybe next year. Maybe sometime down the road. I don't know. But I would have loved to win it. Unfortunately, it never happened. So I'm just happy to be playing again in the tournament this year, but the goals are more realistic this year.

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