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July 4, 2017

Roger Federer

Wimbledon, London, England

R. FEDERER/A. Dolgopolov

6-3, 3-0 (ret.)

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What explanation did Alexandr give to you at the net for his withdrawal? Obviously there have been other withdrawals in the first round.

Q. Five. Which seems to have damaged the first few days of Wimbledon. Is there a feeling for you that there are maybe some players starting games that shouldn't and doing it for the money rather than real physical reasons?
ROGER FEDERER: Tough call.

So his explanation to me is that he felt too much pain on the serve, maybe on the jump. That's what he told me. I don't know what he told the press, if he has been in yet or not. That's what he told me. It's getting worse.

At that point obviously when you're down a set and a break, it's getting worse, he's in pain. I see the point. If you feel like it's getting worse and you can hurt yourself even further, it is better to stop.

The question always is, should they have started the match at all. That only the player can answer really, in my opinion. You hope that they would give up their spot for somebody else, even though they deserve to be in there, but fitness not allowing them.

I don't know how much of that has something to play with it. On the ATP level we have a different sort of situation, whereas if you can't play, you still get your prize money twice in the year. Maybe the Grand Slams should adopt some of that, then maybe we would eliminate maybe half of the players.

Some of them, maybe something really did happen. Now you're thrown in the same basket, so that's rough. But I see your point.

Q. Novak said he joked with you that maybe you should play a practice set or something on Centre Court. Do you remember that happening ever before, where the match following you also had a similar retirement?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, not really, to be honest. When I went out, I felt like there was a bit of a letdown from the crowd. They couldn't believe that it happened again, exactly the same situation. Called the trainer after the set, pulled out at 3-Love, the same thing.

When I walked up, the chairman said, You guys should go and play for another set and a half.

I said, Yeah, let me go try to find Novak.

I found him in the locker room. I told him, Maybe we should go out and play another set.

It's not going to happen.

I feel for the crowd. They're there to watch good tennis, proper tennis. At least they see the two of us who gave it all they had. They saw other players that tried at least. They put in another match right now at Centre Court, I believe.

Yeah, it's unfortunate that it happened today like this.

Q. Since Lleyton Hewitt in 2002, the big four, led by you, have won every Wimbledon. Why do you think at other majors there have been occasional breakthroughs, and here not one during that period?
ROGER FEDERER: Stan. That's it. I mean really. He broke down that statistic, if you like. He won the other three tournaments. It's that simple to answer your question.

Q. Cilic and del Potro.
ROGER FEDERER: Sure, but that was the US Open. But it's really Stan who stands out to me. That is the problem with the statistics overall. It remains that way.

I think it just happens to be that Wimbledon it didn't happen. I don't think there's an obvious reason why Wimbledon has been protected by the best four since 2002.

Q. What to you is the reason for the dominance across the board of the four of you?
ROGER FEDERER: I think mind, fitness, tenacity, then talent as well. Put them all together, it's hard to crack us four consistently down. If you beat one of us, you might not beat the next guy.

Plus we play all very different. I don't know, pick me, Rafa, Novak, how different we all play for one another. For a player to run through the three of us is extremely difficult. If you're ranked lower than us, that's who you have to beat maybe on the way to win the tournament. It just seems pretty rough.

Q. It's always a joy to see you play.

Q. But to you, what is the most enjoyable, is it to play as the No. 1 in the world or is it to play tennis trying to become No. 1?
ROGER FEDERER: It's better to be No. 1, yes (smiling). If I could choose.

Q. Why?
ROGER FEDERER: Because it feels better to be No. 1 than No. 5. I mean, I'm happy right now in the situation I find myself in. I'm healthy. I'm happy. I'm back at Wimbledon. I just won my first round.

The times when I was world No. 1, it felt great. It's sort of achieving the impossible, showing up when everybody feels you're the favorite, everybody believes that you should win or have to win. I don't know, I kind of enjoyed that part of playing.

But then again, it's secondary to the love for the game I have, how much I love winning. Rankings get shoved a little bit aside for me at this stage of my life.

Q. Do you think if Grand Slams tournaments were like most ATP tournaments, best-of-three, maybe players in the situation your opponent today found themselves in, they might keep going and try?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, of course.

Q. What do you think about that idea of one day perhaps changing the Grand Slam tournaments to best-of-three?
ROGER FEDERER: I hope it doesn't happen. But I believe that more players clearly would finish their matches. Looking at best-of-five, down two sets to love, basically for you the match starts if you're down. The other guy, you're a set away. It's a long way to go if you're carrying an injury.

Best-of-three, it's more of a sprint to the finish line, whereas best-of-five is more of a marathon. It's a completely different mindset.

Q. £35,000 a player receives for being in the first round. Can you understand why a player might take to the court when they're not fully fit and take the check?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I think I answered the question. No, a player should not go on court if he knows he should not finish. The question is, did they truly believe they were going to finish. If they did, I think it's okay that they walk on court. Otherwise, I feel they should give up the spot.

In the process, I think maybe the tour -- well, the ATP has adjusted its rule. But maybe the slams should maybe have a look at what they could do for the players to make it just a little bit easier.

Like you said, it's a lot of money. For some it's more, for some it's less. It doesn't matter. For some, they just want to be out there because they feel like miracles happen: maybe the other guy retires, or maybe the other guy is carrying an injury. If I win, I have a day off, maybe I will feel better on Thursday. All these things play into the equation as well. Don't forget those things as well. Could be rain, come back the next day. You never know what the player's motives are.

Q. Again on this topic again.
ROGER FEDERER: I love it (smiling).

Q. Do you think guys are sometimes too willing to quit? If you're far from the finish line in a best-of-five match, it looks like too far to come back, they're too willing to throw in the towel? We see more retirements in men's slams than women's.
ROGER FEDERER: Is that the question?

Q. Yes.
ROGER FEDERER: I'm sure best-of-five sets has something to do with it. Then, of course, I mean, I would only personally pull out if I felt like my injury is going to get worse and I'm taking a chance, otherwise I'm not pulling out.

I go back to the point, miracles happen, and you never know if you hang around, you start dropshot-ing the guy, twists his ankle, you move on. You have to look at these things. Maybe a big cloud's coming in. We're here in Britain, so...

There's always the big, thick cloud that moves through. You have to look at these things. I'm sorry. But best-of-five doesn't help the case if you're not feeling great physically.

That's why when we talked about Murray a few days ago, if he feels he's ready to play, that to me shows he can play seven times five sets, otherwise I don't think Murray would have stepped on court yesterday.

Q. Last year you left here after your battle with Milos and took the rest of the season off. Clearly there were immense benefits for you health-wise. Taking that much time away from the game, perhaps the first time ever, were you able to gain a sense of perspective, and did you play some psychological games when you were off?
ROGER FEDERER: The thing what's nice about when you're not playing tournaments is that you're in charge of your daily routines. If you're carrying an injury, well, you don't have to practice. If you don't feel so well, you're sick, whatever, you don't have to play through it. That's nice about it.

But, of course, at the end I'm a tennis player, I'm a match player, that's why I want to be. Sometimes you have to reset to come back there.

I just think for me to have this sort of really, like, big distance to actually playing matches and understanding that I won't be around for a long time, really put me in a place where I could really relax and do other things, not think about tennis day-to-day.

I think that was good, too, even though I think I'm really good at, you know, when I'm on-site playing, I'm really into tennis. The moment I will leave this room, I will get in the car to go home, I'm in a different place. I'm family, I'm a husband, I'm a dad. I don't know, I'm easy, I'm a friend. I see that.

Then I watch tennis on the TV as a fan. I think I've done that always really well. But I think this really gave me that distance and that time to really just reset. I think it felt great.

I didn't work on my mind or anything like that. My idea was just when I do return in January to Australia, I'm refreshed and rejuvenated and happy to be back, not sort of worn out from practice, worn out from doing all sorts of things. I was able to achieve that, which was big.

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