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June 29, 2016

Roger Federer

London, England

R. FEDERER/M. Willis
6‑0, 6‑3, 6‑4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Were you surprised at all about him, about the atmosphere? Did you know anything about him?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I watched most of his first‑round match because I think he was maybe playing just before me. While I was getting ready, he was playing the whole time. So I actually saw quite a bit of it. That's why I knew to some extent what I was getting into.
On the other hand, the atmosphere, yes, I expected something like this, especially under the roof. He was going to have some supporters, they were going to have chants.
I must tell you, I was quite a bit intrigued even before he was in my section of the draw. After he qualified, I was reading a lot about his story. And then next thing you know, he's like one match away from me if I win. Of course then it happened. More and more stories build up.
I felt very well prepared. I enjoyed it. I thought he played very well. My approach going into the match was that I was playing a top‑50 guy, because that's how he is now, after just this particular week.
He's beaten a top‑60 guy. He's qualified. He's on a run. He's feeling good. He's from here. Clearly he's going to play a little bit above his ranking, let's say.

Q. For all that, was that the most thankless hiding to nothing that you ever experienced at Wimbledon in a singles match?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't remember. But I'm sure I got less support probably back in '99 when I got the wild card in Court 8, lost in five sets, because nobody cared about a former Wimbledon champ. Maybe there were a hundred people. They just came to watch. There wasn't much clapping going on.
I thought I got my fair share of support. He deserved more. He deserved more in the bigger moments. He played some great points. He fought hard. Great personality for a Centre Court like this.
I must tell you, it's not easy for him as well just to come out there and just play a decent match. There's a lot of pressure on him as well. I thought he handled it great.

Q. What did you say to each other at the end, Roger?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't remember that he said much. I said more things to him probably. It's a short moment, you know. I met him briefly in the player restaurant. I congratulated him on a great run already. I thought it was amazing what he was doing. Today again, after the match, I just said he played great and I wished him the best for the rest of the year.

Q. This whole thing almost played out like a movie script.
ROGER FEDERER: A little bit.

Q. Why do you think we're drawn to stories like this? You said you were reading about it. Just the human nature of it, why do we gravitate towards a story like his?
ROGER FEDERER: Because we don't know him. He's made waves in our sport with a very low ranking to make it very far. It's not just that he got a wild card into qualifying and he's ranked 300, he comes from much further than that. It's like when a junior makes a run.
Unfortunately we don't have enough of those stories anymore where a junior of 16 years old, if a junior of 16 years old would also make a run like that, we would be talking about it similarly. We used to have those stories almost every Grand Slam say 10 years ago. It's not happening that much anymore because it's becoming mentally and physically maybe too grueling. I'm not sure.
I said a few days ago, this story is gold. I just hope the press respects his situation. It's easy now to just use it, chew it up and then throw it all away. He's got a life after this. He's got a career after this. He definitely made the most of it. He enjoyed it.
Must have been so much going on. It's not been simple for him as well to handle it. But I thought he handled it great on the court. I wish him the best.

Q. Now that you've experienced the person and the player behind the story, what moments from today will stand out most for you?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, as I was playing, I was thinking about the match. I was thinking, This is definitely one of the matches I'll remember, because I start forgetting some. I'll remember most of the Centre Court matches here at Wimbledon, but this one will stand out because it's that special and probably not going to happen again for me to play against a guy 770 in the world.
That's what stands out the most for me, the support he got, the great points he played. In some ways, I mean, I enjoyed it as much as I possibly could, but I also had to put my head down and focus really hard to get the lead in the first set.
I knew he could play. I knew he could serve very well. With his chipping and coming in, going for broke sometimes, it was always going to be a tricky match.
But I was relieved when I got the break in the third just because, you know. It was nice, but difficult in some ways.

Q. He walked out ahead of you onto the court. Did you indicate to him he should do that?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, how shall I say? It starts all the way in the back where you walk from the locker room. He was already waiting when I came. When I came, he went to the toilet, so then I was there first. Then I wasn't sure if he wanted to go first or second. I had to wait for him.
I don't know if he wanted me to go first. I said, You have the choice. I don't know what you want to do.
I guess whoever goes first from that moment on goes also first on court. I wanted the cooler experience for him. I don't know what the cooler experience was, if it's walking ahead of me or behind me, going out first on Centre Court or not.
I thought it was cool that he got out first because it's his moment, in my opinion. I wanted him to have a great time.

Q. Clearly he's got a good game for grass. What do you think of his potential overall?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, it's tough to judge right away. Especially grass court tennis is something else. This grass is different the first four, five days. I've said it many times now.
What I like about his game is he reads it well. He knows when you're coming in. He can slice easily, even really keep in the court. He chips it really well, cross‑court and down the line. He sees when it's short and he steps into the court and he goes for it.
Clearly he's got an extreme grip on the forehand. Even today he had not too many problems coming over the ball. On grass you would think it would be the toughest.
Then he has a nice serve. I struggled reading it really. Especially on the ad side, he was doing a great job of mixing that up.
At the net he was very solid, like most British tennis players. They get taught at the net how to play. I think for him, it's a question of just day in, day out, just wanting it, being able to bring it point for point mentality.
I saw that today. I believe he can make big strides. But then again, don't forget the challengers are brutal, so are the futures. When he gets stuck between 200 and 500, 600, 700, it's a big step getting out of that.

Q. You said after your first match you weren't sure how you were going to recover physically. He had quite a testing all‑court game. Do you have a better idea now of how you're feeling?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, actually I thought I was going to have a very easy practice yesterday just because of the toughness of the first round. But actually I practiced much more than I thought I would. I had great intensity yesterday. Felt fresh as I woke up. Same thing today.
You know, I'm where I want to be, so I'm very happy.

Q. Is it fair to say that Marcus, despite losing, put up more of a fight than perhaps the England football team did on Monday?
ROGER FEDERER: I didn't see the match, so I can't comment on that. Such a pity. I was playing or in the press. Actually, I've got an alibi (smiling).

Q. In that respect, is it fair to say he's restored, maybe a little bit, of much‑needed pride into British sport?
ROGER FEDERER: You're brutal, you guys (smiling).

Q. Just say yes.
ROGER FEDERER: Will I make the headlines or not (smiling)?

Q. I'll make you a star.
ROGER FEDERER: You'll make me a star, okay (laughter).
It was definitely a big surprise to see England lose against Iceland, you know. What do you want me to say? I don't know.

Q. I'll write it down for you. In between all the clowning around and playing to the crowd, he's actually not a bad player.
ROGER FEDERER: Absolutely.

Q. He didn't crumble.
ROGER FEDERER: Absolutely. I thought he got better as the match went on. He fought, he tried, he hustled. So, yes, I think he did very well. Did he do better than England, 11 guys, I'm not sure.

Q. What advice would you give him?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think for anybody in this ranking, you know, whatever, outside of, let's say, 300 to 2000, let's say, it's really important to set yourself goals, short‑term, long‑term, how many tournaments to play, when to practice.
Sometimes I feel like these players lose sight of how important practice is. Matches you can play every week on tour. It's very misleading sometimes where you just think, Well, this next week could be the breakthrough. Well, could be next week if I lose first round.
You just keep on plugging away and you just hope. But that's not how you're going to improve. A few years go by, you sometimes lose interest, you don't love it anymore because you actually haven't been looking at the big picture.
Had your vacation. The body needs healing. The mind needs resting, as well. Getting the right schedule, number one. Getting the right team for practice, where you're going to train, with who you're going to train, the surface, listen to good advice, put your head down, work hard, enjoy it while you can because it runs away very quickly.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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