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August 29, 2017

Roger Federer

New York, NY, USA

R. FEDERER/F. Tiafoe

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

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Another match against the NextGen. Would you describe the difference, positives and negatives, between these players and your generation?
ROGER FEDERER: What's the question?

Q. Describe the difference.
ROGER FEDERER: Ours was called New Balls Please campaign. I remember that (laughter). They had a lot more older guys in there. I remember Guga was in it, Tommy Haas, everybody, it was great.

But, no, I mean, in a way it's similar because it's a bunch of them, which is what we need. We need not just one or two guys coming up, but 10. That seems what's happening right now. They seem all like totally different characters. I guess that's similar to what we were back then. We were all very different to one another.

Of course, one is always going to make the move earlier. But then the rest of the group is going to look towards that guy and try to imitate and surpass him.

I think it's a great initiative, the NextGen. Frances has done well, as well, this year. Moved up the rankings. Got a taste of Arthur Ashe, how it is to play against top players. He's only going to learn from a match like this and become better.

But obviously our generation also was very strong. We went on to become, many of us, top five players. I wish the same for them.

Q. At Wimbledon you had plenty of tough moments, but went through without losing a set. Here tonight was messy, loud, five tough sets, a street fight. A quote from Jimmy Connors during the '91 run, he said to the crowd, This is what they want, this is what they'll get. Do you think tonight the crowd got what they wanted?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think in many ways people were hoping for a good battle between the NextGen and somebody established like myself. In many ways also it felt like people were happy to see me again after missing last year. I felt like the energy was in the building. They were very excited about seeing me back on the court, especially after the year that I've had. They seemed like really a good crowd, crowd support for both players. It was a lot of fun playing in that atmosphere.

Then, you know, you don't want to see the one-sided clash. So I think the people did get what they want. They got a back and forth, bigger swings than what we normally are used to in the men's game where it stays much more close in sets, not 6-1, 6-2 sets. The court plays on the slower side, so it can happen this way.

Yeah, then at the end was the drama, the back and forth. It was very exciting. I really enjoyed myself even though maybe I also was tired and nervous at the end. It was very cool to be part of that match.

Q. What do you attribute the slow start to?
ROGER FEDERER: Why that is?

Q. Yes.
ROGER FEDERER: I don't think I had the preparation I was hoping to get. Since Montreal, focus has been more on the back, making sure I can play the tournament rather than being well-prepared. I always knew I was going to come in feeling rusty or not great. I was hoping to start better.

I really struggled early on. I think Frances connected well. I just really kind of lost my footing sometimes. My eye wasn't working. I was misjudging distance.

I think I was also being a bit cautious with my movement. Then in the second set I think it all started to come together. That was good. But because of the preparation being not the best that I've had, I think I was quite up and down. Every time I was down, Frances took care of it. Then in the fifth, it was just more of get the energy back, you know, play to win, don't just play to hope that he will miss.

I think I did that, so I'm really, really excited that I won tonight. I'm very happy.

Q. Frances, only 19, playing tonight on one of the biggest stages in the game. The pressure of that moment is obviously something you understand.

Q. When you think back to the beginning stages of your career, the beginning of your success, what do you wish you had known or been more aware of then?
ROGER FEDERER: Nothing really. I think the unknown is the exciting bit, to be quite honest. Not knowing how you're going to feel in a fifth set, not knowing how you're going to be serving for a match at 5-4 in the fifth. Not knowing how it feels to be broken three straight games, but you still have a chance. In these best-of-five-set matches you have a lot of lives. It's more to go through all those emotional rollercoasters early, the rush of getting crowd support, then the feeling like, Oh, I got to produce something so the crowd gets back into it. Feeling that pressure is not fun, but it's part of what you go through.

I think the unknown was actually extreme exhilarating back in the day.

Q. You mentioned your back in the on-court interview after the match.
ROGER FEDERER: I was asked (smiling).

Q. Did it bother you at all? After a five-set match like this in the opening round, do you take any extra steps in your recovery?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I'm very happy that I'm feeling as good as I'm feeling right now. Honestly, if I would have felt like that going into this tournament that my back was going to get worse every match, I probably wouldn't have played.

My hope and my belief is that it's only going to get better from here because every day that goes by puts me further away from what happened in Montreal. So that's how I see it.

I'm very happy how I'm feeling right now, how I felt coming off the court. I think there's a lot of positives for me to look at, that I can come through a five-setter with the preparation that I had. I was definitely also lucky to play tonight because the rain. Others got all pushed over to tomorrow. So that would have been tougher for me maybe to back it up back-to-back days.

Look, if I enter the tournament, it's because I believe I can play and go deep. I still believe that. I think this will actually give me a lot of confidence. In the first set really I was just seeing and feeling it, see how far I could push, but I was never in pain. It was okay. That's why when I was down a set, I just said, Okay, the match starts here. One set all, Okay, it's a best-of-three set match. Being in the fifth set, I said, It's great, I'm still in the match. Things are actually great.

I always try to keep a very positive mindset out there.

Q. This is your first match under the roof.

Q. Do you think that took you by surprise?
ROGER FEDERER: No, not really. I warmed up under the roof actually after Rafa and Ostapenko won. I had a chance to warm up under the roof, which gave me a bit of a feel for it.

It was more of a surprise how the court felt back in '15 when the structure was on. Dome feel was there. I was just really surprised how little sunshine we get in the court now and how little wind gets into the court.

I think the tournament's changed forever in this way because this used to be more like the windy slam. This is kind of changed, if you play on center. Of course, other people still get moved back and forth, often on center. But it definitely makes for better playing conditions. I would think down the stretch, if you look at the next hundred years, it's going to favor the better player because the wind is a bit of an equalizer, so is the sunshine sometimes.

Q. Rafa mentioned the noise, it made it difficult for him to hear how the ball was coming off the racquet. Is that something you had to get used to?
ROGER FEDERER: No, not too much. I expected worse because I heard comments like this. I heard last year that it was apparently also very loud, all that.

I didn't think it was that bad, to be honest. I think when the crowd really got into it, it was really cool. It was a great atmosphere. It was loud. It was louder than what I'm really used to. Not that it wasn't loud before, but I think it comes back down onto the court. I think it's really nice actually.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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