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August 31, 2017

Roger Federer

New York, NY, USA

R. FEDERER/M. Youzhny

6-1, 6-7, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How is your back? Everything good?
ROGER FEDERER: No, good. I'm better than the first round, so I'm happy. Yeah, this match wasn't about the back, which is good. This is more just a grind. I felt different, completely different, the way it played and everything. But I'm really, really happy I got through.

Q. What do you think of naming kids after tennis players past?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, why not? I mean, look, we didn't think of it. Why not? I think it's cool. If you think of tennis players, to name your kid after, why not? Or the tennis theme, if you like.

Q. How did Central Park playing tennis come about? Was it planned?
ROGER FEDERER: How did it work? I think we were looking for if there was anyplace at all in the city to play tennis at. Then I think we spoke to Eric Butorac of the tournament, spoke to coaches, maybe gave an idea at Central Park, apparently they have a US Open court. I was like, Yeah, anything that doesn't make me drive very long.

I really liked the idea of playing in Central Park for the first time. We tried it out. It was perfect. I was really happy. It was really a totally different experience in the sense that when I finished practice, that was fun. If only all practices were like this. I really enjoyed myself.

Q. This is the first time you played five-setters in the first two rounds of a Grand Slam tournament. Any concern, or how much concern might there be about fatigue, the fact you're playing more than you would like to early on?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, no, I think because you're on a high, you're thrilled that you got through, so you don't look at the negative. Or I don't. Yes, I might feel more tired than I normally would going into a third round, but that's okay.

My preparation hasn't been good at all here. I knew I was going to maybe struggle early on. Maybe I struggled more than I would have liked to. But I'm still in the draw, which gives me a chance. I still believe I'm going to pick up my game and become just more consistent because I'm not playing all that bad. It's just that I'm going a bit up and down in waves throughout the match.

So clearly I'm happy how I felt after the first round, because that was the scary bit. But that's passed now. Now I can just look forward to play tennis. With a bit of fatigue, that's okay. I've done that hundreds of times. That's not something I'm too concerned about.

But, sure, perfect would be right now to be in the third round one set up. That's how it would have been in Wimbledon. But I'm stuck in the second round, which is totally fine, too (smiling).

Q. You said it wasn't about the back today. It's just about finding your timing?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I think in a way it's pretty simple to analyze just because of my preparation, not been able to hit any returns almost, the serve, not going full in practice. You just have a bit lacking rhythm, whatever it may be.

When the match comes around, you're more susceptible to being a bit up and down. If you get broken once or twice a set, it's hard to win those sets consistently. That's what I was doing so well through Wimbledon, through other tournaments where I just protected my serve at will and always in a nice way. The margins are so small. Even if I'm winning in straights, margins are still small.

When you're not feeling your best right away, you get broken or you lose sets, then it becomes a completely different match. The way it's also played by your opponent. I think really Mikhail was also able to pick it up today. He was playing very well at one stage. Then you have to break the code again.

I'm happy I found that way. I won through fitness, as well, which is clearly always a good feeling to have.

Q. Cliff Drysdale said today that 2018 is likely to be sort of a fascinating year with veterans staying up top, but also a whole new generation.
ROGER FEDERER: Who is staying on top?

Q. The veterans. What are your thoughts on whether or not you think 2018 is going to be a more wide-open year?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I'm not sure if it's going to be wide open just because we don't know how a lot of those top guys are going to come back. A lot of those guys are not playing here this week. How are they going to come back at the beginning of next year?

I think it might look like it's open, but it might not be the case just because they might be super refreshed and ready to go. A lot of training, all these things.

What I think is going to be interesting is that their ranking is going to be all over the place. We're going to see some interesting draws, to say the least. We had a little bit with me and Rafa down in Australia. But now we're talking probably about a bigger group. That's going to go down maybe all the way to Murray, as well, depending if he's going to be playing at all for the rest of the season. Got a lot of points to defend. If that's the case, he might drop further down outside of the top four, then things are going to look real weird.

I think it's going to be very interesting. Changing of the guard is going to come at some stage. Could very well be next year. But I still predict it's going to take a few more.

Q. When you played and have beaten an opponent so many times, as you have against Mikhail, does it make it harder for you to respond when he suddenly comes and plays as well as he did today?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, not really. I think I benefited from my head-to-head in the beginning stages. I should have taken advantage of the fact I was up 6-1, 4-2 maybe. Somehow in that second set, I don't care if I'm winning in the breaker or just earlier, but I have to win it somehow. That's where my biggest regrets are for today. I didn't get the two-sets-to-love lead. At two-sets-to-love, I'll win in three or four, that's my opinion. He doesn't have a big enough serve to consistently put me under pressure at that stage. I would be able to play more freely.

I think losing that second set was huge for him, tough for me. It really put me in a tough spot there. Like I said before, I had to come up with something. Because I wasn't feeling it so much at some stage all of a sudden, it came through fighting. Just believing, good energy, get my legs moving again. I thought my legs were not really working after losing the second, beginning of the third.

Then he started to play well. He's got wonderful variation with his slice, the big backhand that we know he has. It was perfect conditions. If you're feeling it out there, it's tougher because it's not so easy just to at will serve aces and service winners. It's a bit slower this year, which makes it a bit different.

Q. You had the great practice session at Central Park yesterday. Earlier this summer, Serena came out of nowhere in a park in San Francisco, told a couple guys, Can I play with you? In all of your years traveling, on public courts, can you think of the most interesting, unique moment you've had?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't do it nearly enough because the problem is we always go out, there's always something to improve. If you don't go out and improve something, you feel like it's a waste.

Sometimes I think having a fun practice session, being in a totally different surrounding like yesterday, where all 20 courts just stopped playing, came to watch you play. I don't know. It was kind of really different, you know. People were just happy to see you there, meet you, talk to you, maybe get a photo. They didn't care about autographs.

I don't know, it was a different crowd. I really enjoyed that. Just to be in that environment for a change. I've seen the routine of normal practice sessions and matches, press, all the things we do in a row, it's always the same. I think this was very refreshing. I hope I can do these things a bit more often.

Q. There's the sports adage that a win is a win is a win no matter how easy it comes. Is that the mentality that you have to have given the first two matches that you've won in this fashion? What is the most encouraging thing you can draw from these two matches?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, like you said, I see things very positive right now because, like I said, the preparation hasn't been its best. Made the most we could with the team. We analyze it in a way that we say, It's the only way to do it, this way.

A big compromise, I might struggle early on. Still hope to get through the early rounds somehow, preferably in three sets, maybe four, maybe five.

So here we are. It is what it is. I'm pretty confident that I'm only going to get better from here. That's a good thing. Because I've played a lot, I definitely found some rhythm now, even though it's going to be a different serve coming my way, lefty. But I know Feliciano also really well, like I know Mikhail really well. I think that plays in my favor a little bit.

So, yeah, good thing was that I started well today after not doing that at all in the first round. So I think that to me is also encouraging. I just got to iron out those little ups and downs that I'm having a little bit so it's not too extreme, think I think I'm going to play better.

Q. You said you were not feeling it today. We saw some other top players not feeling it and they lost, like Zverev and Dimitrov. Can you talk to a couple things that sets you apart, being to still win?
ROGER FEDERER: Look, sometimes it's just -- probably it helps me to have been there so much. Like today again, fifth set. I backed myself to find a way in the fifth. I find my way. I don't panic. I think the point-for-point mentality helps me a lot. Not thinking too far ahead.

I remember when I lost in the French Open the first round against Horna, I lost the first set. I looked at the match like it was a mountain to climb. I still had six matches to win the tournament. I don't know what I was looking at, but I was thinking the completely wrong thing than just let's hit the next forehand for a winner. When your mind wanders like that, it's hard. Best-of-five can sometimes do that to you. By having a very simple mindset, it keeps me very simple, keeps me grounded, humble as well.

But a point is just a point. You win it or you lose it. You keep on moving along. I think that maybe is a bit the experience that maybe the other guys just don't quite have yet. Maybe these matches that they lost, Zverev or Dimitrov, they're going to learn a ton from them. These things will maybe never happen to them again. I hope they do see the positives in this.

Q. You said earlier that today's match wasn't as scary as Tuesday's was against Tiafoe. Was that because it was your first one back, you were shaking off the rust? Can you elaborate how different it felt today?
ROGER FEDERER: I think you said it. Just the unknown of the back in the first round, pressure of being back on Ashe, the rust was clearly there, then not quite knowing can I pick up my game.

Today I felt like I was going to. In some way, I knew I was going to play better than I did in that third set or fourth set. I knew I was going to be able to pick it up. I didn't disappoint myself, whereas in the first round I was just not quite sure.

Q. Nico No. 1 draft pick in the NHL. Playing in New Jersey. You will both be starting your professional careers with a lot of expectation, coming to a new environment. Did you have a chance to talk to him, given his situation?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, look, we're very happy in Switzerland that we have such a great hockey player in the starting blocks who is hopefully going to be a great, great player. Hope he stays healthy. I'm only hearing great things about him. He's a good guy. Unbelievably talented. People predict a great future ahead of him.

I had the same. It's always easy to predict. But he's the guy who has to put in the work and be the guy who does it every single night on the ice. That's the tough thing about it. It's always easy for people to talk, predict you're going to be world No. 1, best goal-scorer. Doesn't matter. You have to put your head down and just work as hard as you possibly can, have a great entourage around you. If he has any questions, I'm always happy to help. I'm happy he can be around here in New York. Amazing place. Not far from Switzerland, to be honest. It's a short flight for a tennis player. He can still go back sometimes. But I wish him all the very best. Haven't met him yet. I hope to meet him someday.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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