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January 26, 2017

Roger Federer

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

R. FEDERER/S. Wawrinka

7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What did you think when you were playing the fifth set? Was it struggling a lot or not?
ROGER FEDERER: No. Like I said on court, the leg wasn't better or worse in the fifth. I felt tightness throughout the match, and I felt like it slowed me down.

I just hoped that maybe having the physio work on it, that it would make me feel better. But it didn't. It's not something I'm necessarily really worried about in any way. So that's a good thing.

In the fifth, I just knew I had to find my energy again, you know. Play with intensity, play more aggressive, take the ball early, believe in myself, serve good, try not to get in too many tough moments early on, which then I did.

It was an awkward match. Always against Stan, it was always never going to be easy. Especially how the third and fourth set went by, I needed to react really, because he had the upper hand from the baseline.

I thought it was going to be tough in the fifth. I think he gave me a cheap break in the fifth. After that, I never looked back.

I'm happy with my attitude in the fifth. So I'm very pleased, of course.

Q. Are you saying the leg is not going to affect you in Sunday in any way?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, no. If I had to say anything right now, no.

Q. Now that you're back in the final, can you look at the six months that you had to take off as almost a good thing, something that worked in your favor?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, now it seems like it. It was a good thing to do. You can only ever do so much treatment to feel decent. What I've just come to realize is when you don't feel well, you have too many problems going on, you just won't beat top-10 players.

At some point you reach a limit, and you just can't go beyond that. You can play them tight. You might win one of them. You just can't win back-to-back. Just not feeling free enough, you know, in your mind, in your body.

That's where both, I guess, Rafa and myself said, Okay, enough of this already. Let's get back to 100%, enjoy tennis again, enjoy the practice. Not just practice, treatment, practice, treatment, match, treatment. All the time all you're doing is fighting the fire.

From that standpoint, yeah, the six months definitely gave me something in return. I didn't go into a direction where I felt like I had to reorganize my life or reorganize my tennis in any way. I just wanted to get healthy again. I'm happy this week has been a good one.

Q. In terms of knowing your limits after six months off, when you're in a second five-setter against top-five guy here, is that too far?
ROGER FEDERER: Midway through the fourth when I realized my game was fading, Stan was having the upper hand on the baseline, I thought, I guess that's what I was always talking about. Things turn for the worse, you don't know why.

But the good thing is, I did have the cushion from the first two sets. I think I did a lot of things right. I prepared the match in a way that allowed me to win it later on.

He definitely, I think, relaxed midway through the third and fourth mentally and played more freely. I, unfortunately, didn't have the best serving day today. I think also Stan put pressure on me. Things can change, but maybe that's part of that.

I'm happy with the way I came out of the blocks again. Against Stan, I think that was always going to be really, really important. I know he's a tough customer in the fifth set. Maybe his knee did not help him. Look, a lot of people carry a lot of things that we don't know about. It is what it is.

Yeah, super happy I was able to win another five-setter in a Grand Slam. I don't know how many times I won two five-setters in a Grand Slam. Maybe never before. So this is big.

Q. You said on the court you never take the timeouts. That's kind of a new turn for you. Did it help to give you a chance to clear your head before the fifth set?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I think these injury timeouts, I think they're more mental than anything else. Okay, normally you would have to do it on court. If you do groin or something like that, or a tape way up there, you have to go off court.

For the first time maybe during a match you can actually talk to someone, even if it's just a physio. We know him well. It maybe relaxed Stan, you know, just to be able to talk about I don't know what. The same thing for me, as well. You start chatting about it, how good or bad the leg is, how you hope it's going to turn around. That can leave a positive effect on you when you come back.

I only really did take the timeout because I thought, He took one already, maybe I can take one for a change, because I'm not a believer in any way that we should be allowed to take a lot of timeouts. But I took it after the set break.

Yeah, people know I don't abuse the system. I hope it's going to stay that way in the future for me, too.

Q. You know the media, crowd, everybody in the tennis world would like to see a final between Federer and Nadal again and again. If I were Federer, maybe I would prefer to play Dimitrov. I'd like to know, considering the previous matches, what is your opinion? Best to play Dimitrov, or Nadal for the history?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, yeah, you would probably think I have a slight better chance to beat Dimitrov than Nadal. But who cares. At the end it matters if you win or not.

I'm in the finals, I know that. I know I will have a chance to win on Sunday now. That's a great position to be in. Regardless of who it's going to be against, I think it's going to be special either way. One is going to go for his first slam or it's the epic battle with Rafa.

All I care about is that I can win on Sunday. Doesn't matter who's across the net. But I understand the magnitude of the match against Nadal, no doubt about it.

Q. On court you said in your rivalry with Rafa early on, you maybe played him too many times on clay court, and that impacted how you played him. Can you go into more detail on that.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, not really. Why give him an edge? I said enough. Maybe I lost the Wimbledon finals in 2008 because of too many clay court matches, because he crushed me at the French Open final. I said that before. I think it affected my first two sets at Wimbledon. Maybe that's why I ended up losing.

I know Rafa played great in that final. I actually ended up playing great, too. It was similar like today. I was fighting a two-sets-to-love lead. I wasn't fighting the right way. I think that was the effect that the French Open loss that I actually got crushed in left on me.

That's kind of the things I meant with it. It was more mentally something at some moments. Now it's a different time. A lot of time has gone by. I know this court allows me to play a certain game against Rafa that I cannot do on center court at the French Open.

Q. You talk about age a lot. You're the oldest guy since Rosewall to make a men's slam singles final, since '74 US Open. He was 39. You're 35. What does that give you in terms of pride about your longevity? I know you're a big fan of the Aussies from that generation.
ROGER FEDERER: Especially Ken Rosewall. We don't speak about him enough. I think he's a wonderful man. He wrote me a letter again this week to wish me well again. He does it every year at the Australian Open. Still haven't seen him, unfortunately. I know he's around.

I love that generation of players with Tony Roche, Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Roy Emerson. We got to milk a cow together in Gstaad. We go way back.

I know he's a few years older, but I know he had a tremendous career. So to be in the same breath like these guys, it's a great feeling. I love these guys. It means a lot to me to have equaled something like this since a long time.

Q. You said on court that you're Rafa's number one fan. Have you always been able to appreciate him or has absence made the heart grow fonder?
ROGER FEDERER: I just think he's an incredible tennis player. He's got shots that no other one has. When you have that, you are unique and special. Plus he's got the grit. He's got the mental and physical ability to sustain a super high level of play for years and for hours and for weeks. He's proven that time and time again. He's come back from many injuries, you know, time and time again. He made it seem easy, and it's not.

I think he's been tremendous for the game. I have a lot of respect for him on many levels.

Q. If it is Dimitrov, people have said that he has imitated your game over the years. Do you accept that? Because of that is he an easier opponent to play?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, only result will tell. If going in, he's easier because I don't think I've ever lost to him. There you have it. But that doesn't buy me anything. That doesn't give me the trophy.

I think he's playing totally different now to how he was playing 12 months ago when I beat him in Brisbane and here back-to-back. I think he's got the confidence. Like I said, you never want to play a guy with confidence because he believes he can rip trees out, you feel like Superman for a second. Rightfully so, he worked super hard. He probably believes he's worked harder than anybody right now.

I think he has a legit shot against Rafa. If he won that, then clearly also against me. I think he's doing a nice job with his game right now. He's cleaned it up nicely. He came from a tough place.

I've given him some advice, too, because he came to me last year at some point. He was having all sorts of issues. We were just having a simple conversation. I'm happy he took some things onboard. He seemed to turn it around somehow. I'm really happy for him.

Now if the match were to come up, I know I have to play a good match because he does present different things. He brings different things to the table because of the way he plays. Not many guys can do what he can do. He might be similar to me, but I was similar to Pete, too. I always told people, I'm not Pete Sampras. He's not me. He is his own guy. He's his own identity. Different character. Just because he played with Nike and Wilson like I did with Sampras doesn't make us in any way the same. I think you got to give him that, please.

Q. Having not played against each other, you and Rafa, would that help you overcome the psychological edge?
ROGER FEDERER: I didn't understand.

Q. Having not played each other, you and Rafa, in a Grand Slam final for a while now, will that in any way take the edge?
ROGER FEDERER: They haven't played in a Grand Slam?

Q. You and Rafa.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, yeah, it's better than being crushed at the French Open and playing him at Wimbledon again. If you're looking at that, it's better to have not played. The last match I played against him, I won, in Basel.

I'm not looking back at that match like, If I win Basel, I'm going to win here. There's a lot of work to be done. Still super far away from winning the trophy. It is only one more match now. But it's something I can mentally prepare for. Like I said on court, I'll leave all the energy here in Australia, and then I can relax after here.

It's gone much better than I thought it would. That's also what I was telling myself in the fifth set. I was talking to myself, saying like, Just relax, man. The comeback is so great already. Let it fly off your racquet and just see what happens.

I think that's the mindset I got to have, as well, in the finals. Sort of a nothing-to-lose mentality. It's been nice these last six matches to have that mentality. It worked very well so I'll keep that up.

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