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August 12, 2017
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
R. FEDERER/R. Haase
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.
Q. It will be either an 18-year-old or a 20-year-old in the final with you tomorrow. Does that at all change your approach to the match as compared to playing against a more seasoned player in a final?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I think it changes a little bit just in the sense that, you know, I think also those young players don't quite know what to expect, and so do I, because nobody quite knows. Not even the fans, not even their entourage. Even though, Zverev is a more experienced player than Shapovalov at this stage.
Still, it's a big opportunity, a huge opportunity, the semis tonight and the finals tomorrow, for them. It's exciting. Like I just said in French, to have a player at 18 or 20 years old in the finals of a Masters 1000 is not something we've seen very often, very rarely, except maybe when Andy, Novak and Rafa, you know, were coming up. They were such great teenagers that we maybe saw it more often. Not even I probably achieved finals of Masters 1000 at that age.
I think it's very exciting for tennis. It's the biggest stage that we have in the game on the ATP Tour. So to have young guys like this be there, it's a good opportunity for them.
Q. Ivan Ljubicic, do you think he has a pretty good job? He coaches a good player, and you gave him six months off last year.
ROGER FEDERER: It looks like it, but it wasn't like that (smiling).
Q. What special does he bring to your game compared to anybody else who has coached you before?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I hope he has a good job. I hope he's happy with his job. I'm happy, too. I think we go well together.
I knew Ivan for, I mean, since I came on tour. I remember him at the Sunshine Cup back in West Palm Beach like back in '96. I go way back with Ivan, over 20 years. Seen him on tour, played him on tour. He coached against me. Now he's helping me.
It was a rocky start for both of us, you know. Came to the team, had a couple of tournaments, then I was injured, surgery, rehab. Tried to come back in Miami, was sick. Went on the clay, but was never really healthy. All of '16 had to be forgotten. We were just playing with what we could do in the moment. We couldn't really even talk tactics that much because my knee was such a joke.
Then anyway, he was a great supporter, you know, throughout the year in the decision making with the rest of the team. He was always there for me. He was always willing to travel to come see me if need to be.
I think this year has been exciting for Severin, Ivan and myself just to talk, How do we want to play this guy? How do we want to play tomorrow?
It's so exciting just to be able to speak tennis again instead of: Are you okay? Can you come to the net? Are you still not feeling that your knee allows you to?
It's been great so far. Obviously now with confidence, things are quite easy and simple, it seems like.
But he's staying focused. So am I. We're hoping to be more successful moving forward.
Q. On the possibility that you might face Shapovalov, obviously you've been in that situation before, facing a young guy on his home court. Is there a special way to approach a guy like that, who has that support, who is on a hot streak?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I guess this is where my experience kicks in. Like, I've seen some great atmospheres over the years. Almost everywhere I've went, I've been in such close battles, where the crowd goes wild, you just expect that maybe in a finals like this.
I know that's not going to be the problem for me. It will be, you know: What are his serving patterns? What are his shot-making decisions? How much can I focus on my own game? How much does he allow me to play my own game? That's my first sort of question I would ask myself, you know. The rest happens by itself really at this stage of my career.
But, you know, even Zverev, same thing. Haven't played him that much yet. Never really on a hard court, except at the Hopman Cup. It will also be a good match just to watch, I think.
Q. Considering what you said last weekend about your form, how do you see it now?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, look, I'm happy. You don't always have to play your very best to come through. Of course, I'm very happy that I've made it here.
It was a good decision for me. If I would have known I would have gone to the finals, I would have said 'yes' right away. Sometimes you've just got to wait and see how you feel.
I'm happy, most happy that I'm actually really healthy going into the finals. I haven't wasted too much energy. I've been able to keep points short. I've been really clean at net. I think my concentration and just my playing has gone up a notch. I'm just playing better.
So I'm very excited for the finals tomorrow.
Q. You were incredibly efficient on serve today. I think you had a stretch winning 26, 28 points. How big was that for you to sort of constantly flip the pressure to Robin, especially in the second set because it was so competitive?
ROGER FEDERER: Right, yeah, I mean, it's been a bit up and down this tournament, the serve. I've been serving okay in patches. But that's not what I like doing. I like to be consistent, then serve clutch when need be. It's not been really going this way.
I really hoped before this match that I was going to be better, serve better on the first serve, more accurate, to the lines. Then especially second serve, have a higher, you know, winning percentage on second serves. I excelled today. So that's great. It's good confidence going into tomorrow.
Having a high winning percentage on your second serve is crucial, especially against the best, in the final stretch of a tournament.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in French, please.
Q. Tomorrow you will have a chance to win a 94th title in your career, and join Lendl in modern history in second place. What do you think about that?
ROGER FEDERER: I have reached levels that I never thought I would be able to reach, winning so many titles. Each title you can add is like a thrill. I am playing tennis to try to win titles. I always said that the ranking, if you're not No. 1 in the world, doesn't count really. It's secondary. Now I'm lucky because both are in sight.
Lendl is a legend of tennis. He reached incredible records. He was extremely consistent. He won many titles. It's fantastic and cool that I'm able to reach his level.
Q. Why do you say you never thought you would reach these levels?
ROGER FEDERER: Maybe Denis is different. He thinks he's going to win a hundred titles in his career maybe. For me anyway, I thought I might be able to maybe on the tour win one title. When you're 14, you're a junior, you just don't come and say, I will never lose a match any more, and the others can try and beat me. It's not like that.
Everything is very fragile. You don't know if you're going to be able to make it into the top 100, in the top 10, or whether you can win a title.
Of course, now you are looking at it in hindsight. In the beginning, you have a lot of uncertainties. Should I, for example, keep studying? Or should I become a tennis player? It starts there.
This is not the moment when you are going to say, Am I going to win 94 titles? If you say that to something, in Switzerland anyway, they will say, That guy is a bit lost.
Q. It was a good risk for you; it was worthwhile?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, yes, but...
Q. Many athletes, when they reach 35, believe that their careers are behind them, and they sort of discover the pleasure of being on the tour, they enjoy it more. Is that the case for you?
ROGER FEDERER: I believe my life changed in 2009 when I had my girls. After that, with the ranking, you are checking the scores, the points you have to defend every week, every day. But after you start calming down a little. I can't say you only play for pleasure because you need to have that ambition to win.
But it's easier. I know every place where I have to go and play. I have made friends everywhere. I have friends in New York, in Shanghai, everywhere. I'm always very happy to go back to a tournament so I can see my friends year after year. Sometimes I haven't seen my friends for a whole year.
Now, for example, I'm not playing Rome. I have friends there. I'm sad for the tournament, me, the fans, but for my friends. I might not see them for another year.
You start appreciating all these things when you get older.
Q. With the way you are playing this year, do you feel you now have that psychological advantage on your opponents? Before any player knew coming on the court to play you, that they had to play a perfect match. Apparently this advantage has returned.
ROGER FEDERER: You should ask my opponents that. But it's something I always tried to create in the minds of my opponents. I try to let them know if they play against me, I'm going to be tough to beat. They just have to hope I will be having a bad day.
But I had to beat Rafa three times to reach that level. I had to hope that Andy and Novak lowered their game a little.
It's true that this year I am really enjoying it very much. Also I'm much more confident. Every player who wins Australia in the beginning of the year is in a good position, and all the others are still trying to find their rhythm.
I feel fresh this year because I didn't play much last year, and the combination is a good one for me.
Q. We all know what your career was a year ago. Tomorrow you are going to play your sixth final this year. You won the first five. Going back to Australia, did that victory change anything in your mind, in your goals? Did it teach you something about yourself?
ROGER FEDERER: What was the end of the question?
Q. Did you learn something new about yourself?
ROGER FEDERER: In my planning, I think it took away some pressure, that I have to chase a better ranking to be better seeded in Wimbledon. This was important. The plan was for me to be top 8 after Canada. I was ranked 17 in the beginning of the year. If I had lost in Australia early, I would have been down to 30. The draws would have been much more difficult.
Beating Nadal in the final gave me a lot of security, knowing that everything I did in the off-season and in rehab was working. As an athlete, I felt a lot better. Also in my mind. Psychologically it helped me. I am able to play more freely. That's the way I would say it.
Q. Whoever you're going to play tomorrow, it's going to be a young player, 18 or 20 years old. For a professional like you with a lot of experience, do you feel extra motivated to play against younger players? Are you more eager to beat them?
ROGER FEDERER: It's really cool and nice to play them. It's also one of the reasons why I keep playing on the tour: to be able to play against different generations.
What I appreciated a lot is at the end of Agassi's or other players' career ends, I was happy they stayed on tour for so long so I had the opportunity to play them. I played against Andre 15 or 13 times. I was happy he didn't retire until 27, because otherwise I wouldn't have been able to play him. Also staying on the tour, I can do that for the others. But for me it's nice also to play them.
I'm looking forward to the match. It's going to be an opportunity to play against the future of tennis.
But I have to stay focused on the final, then whoever I play doesn't matter. You think about the title. But it's really nice to have someone 20 or younger in a Masters 1000 final. Before it was always players 25 or older. So it changes. It's nice.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports