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August 26, 2017

Roger Federer

New York, NY, USA

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Can you give us a little bit of a status update on your back? What kind of treatment you're receiving? Was there any consideration as to maybe you might not make it here?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, like, look, two weeks after the finals is a long time, so because you've got two weeks you can take your time, you know.

So the first week was really just, you know, trying to feel better, get better, get back on the court at some stage. I have been on the practice courts since last week. There you have it.

I have been playing sets the last few days, and I'm really happy how I'm feeling, you know, few days out of the first round here now.

Q. Was there a point in time this year after you got to Australia, maybe a practice, maybe a match, in which you said, you know, this could be a really special year?
ROGER FEDERER: When did you mean?

Q. You know, after, when you got to Australia, from then on.
ROGER FEDERER: In Australia itself? I actually struggled in practice in the week prior to the Australian, because I thought I played very well at the Hopman Cup, which surprised me a little bit, and then I expected myself to have a really good preparation week to the Australian Open but conditions were really fast and I struggled to find the rhythm.

When expectations go up from yourself, it's tougher to make you happy, you know, because you always expect to play better and better and better.

Hopman Cup went so easy that I just after that wasn't so simple. I had to reset the whole thing and realize actually things are not so easy, not so simple all the time. I also struggled in the early rounds in Australia. And it's really only after the Berdych round maybe in the third round that I thought, who knows, after this now.

Q. I wanted to ask you, Switzerland is really cool, right?
ROGER FEDERER: Not always, most of the time.

Q. There isn't too much livestock. Why do they call you The Goat? (Laughter.)
A. I don't know. Some fans call me that. I don't call myself that.

Yeah, we have a lot of animals in Switzerland, and goats are part of the livestock we have over there, yes.

Q. You have been the most consistent player of all time. Can you please continue to play for eight, nine years so that I can play you when I go pro?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, sure. If you make it on tour, I'll make sure maybe I come back for you, okay (smiling)?

Q. Is that a promise?
ROGER FEDERER: Almost. Pinky promise (smiling).

Q. Can you address, are you surprised at all or should we be surprised that here we are at the US Open in 2017 and we are talking about Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the favorites, No. 1s and all that? Did you ever foresee this?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, well, I didn't foresee that the defending champ and the finalist wouldn't be here. And that Andy was going to struggle this year. You could foresee that maybe, you know, Rafa and me would be back in some stage in some shape or form but maybe not quite like this, you know. So I think we're all a bit surprised. I think all the players, all the media, all the experts and fans.

Yeah, but, you know, when somebody is injured, somebody else wins. We saw that last year, you know, when Rafa and me weren't around, somebody else stepped up. Always seems somebody takes advantage of the fact, and that some players are not around. Yeah, then you have got to be in the right place at the right time and be healthy and fresh and all that.

So, I mean, Rafa's year has been exceptional, winning the 10th French Open. I mean, even people didn't think he was going to win the French Open again. For me, only once he retires I believe he won't win anymore. He's that good of a player.

I'm not too surprised he's back to this magnitude and being back at world No. 1 after all these years is really exceptional, really nice for him.

Q. You mentioned that Stan and Novak are missing, Andy's been dealing with an injury, other players, Raonic, Nishikori. Do you think there is a larger problem in the sport and one that needs to be or even can be addressed by people in charge of tennis?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, look, yeah, you can cut down the season by half, and then, if then there is an injury, we cut it down half again, and at the end we play two months of the year eventually at some stage, and we'll still be injured because now we're not playing enough.

I believe it's just that the guys who are hurt lately, it's mostly because they are 30-plus. Wear and tear just takes its toll. Maybe some players have just had enough of playing hurt and told just themselves, When I come back I just want to be 100%. Not always playing be at 85, 90, 95%. It's just not fun this way.

Now, Nishikori and Raonic have had some injuries as of late. It's always been a bit of come and go with them. So I guess they just really want to figure it out now, and they also both have been hurt, so I hope they will be back strong again.

But for the most part I think it's the age more than anything. I don't think there needs to be that much addressing, because the players, they have the option not to play as much as sometimes they have to or want to.

I don't think the tour is doing much wrong, to be quite honest.

Q. Withdrawals and... How will it shape this tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: Opens the draws, like we saw in Montreal and Cincinnati. There will be certain sections that if the seed loses anything can happen and you can have a deep run at a slam, semis and beyond.

So I think it's a huge opportunity for guys ranked outside of the Top 10. Because there is less guys to beat, getting to quarters or semis, potentially, depending on your section.

Q. Are you hoping to face Rafa finally at the Open, or would you rather have an easier draw?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I'd be happy to play him here. Like you said, we never played here in New York, so I think that would be fun for everybody involved. I mean, there is, like, I don't know, 60-plus players in between us that don't agree in our section that we should make it to the semis. We have our work cut out there.

But, you know, I'd love to play Rafa here in New York. Hopefully it will be a night session. Hopefully that would be a great atmosphere and one again where we play great like at the Australian Open.

So, yeah, I don't think we are both thinking that far ahead. I'm sure it will be a nice prospect.

Q. Your backhand has obviously been much more effective and dangerous this year, especially down the line. Can you talk a little bit about how much more confident you are and sort of what led to the change? Was it time off you had last year to work on it more?
ROGER FEDERER: I think so. I think this is where practice goes a long way. Having had six weeks where I only play tennis. Normally I add a lot of fitness to it, and sometimes there is more fitness than tennis and eventually 50/50 and in the end it's only tennis but that's usually only two to three weeks.

Here I had six straight weeks where I only played tennis. I think it just played off hitting a lot of balls, like you say, backhand down the line, taking it early, figuring out in my head, going through the motions time and time again and understanding what I'm doing right and wrong and speaking to my coaches, and then readjusting the forehand practice. It was a great offseason, didn't have any setbacks, and I was really inspired and motivated to come back strong one more time on to the tour.

Then when I got into the matches, that's the next step, you know, can you step up to the baseline and drive the ball? Because playing aggressive is not easy every single day. It's almost easier just to make shots rather than just always being creative.

It's been a great year, and I hope we can keep playing like this.

Q. You mentioned playing with pain. How often in a regular year would you play a tournament 100%, playing 100%?
ROGER FEDERER: 50% maybe. I have no idea. Then what's 100%?

Q. No niggles or not carrying anything.
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. It's a tough one. Depends on what a niggle is for you. Some things just hurt and some things just don't, but some things you maybe are carrying, you know, maybe like a wrist problem or Achilles thing. You know, sometimes just lingers for like three to six months sometimes. If you don't address it or it doesn't go away you just play with that pain for some time.

It's easily acceptable, but you're feeling it, especially the first few steps when you get out of bed, all these things. For the most part, yeah, you do feel your body.

Q. When you step on to the grounds here, what are the moments from your past at this tournament that stay with you as most inspirational?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, winning here for the first time was big, you know. 2004 was a great year for me. World No. 1 for the first time and trying to win the US Open for the first time. So that was like a big deal, of course.

Defending it the following year against Agassi. You look back at those first couple of years where I got on the run of the 5 here. I fell in love with New York, I always loved coming back here as a junior back in '98 and every year after that. I think 2004 and '05 were the big years for me.

Q. You play Frances Tiafoe. What are your impressions of his game this year? What are your thoughts on his game?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think it's an interesting first round, you know. Clearly he has nothing to lose but everything to gain. It's a tough one, plus like you said, he's playing well, you know. He's aggressive baseliner like so many of the Americans. Thankfully I played him in Miami this year so I have a little bit of an idea of how he plays, and his patterns and what he prefers to do and whatnot.

At the end I'm going to try to focus on my own game like I usually do, play with him myself that first round and make sure I make it tough for Frances to get through me, and, you know, hopefully get off a good start in the match.

Excited to play on center court for the first time with the proper structure and roof now. I missed it last year. I'm very excited playing here again.

Q. What do you expect from Zverev in the next couple weeks? Winning the title even?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, look, anything is possible. I haven't seen his draw. It's unfair for me to say he's going to run through the first three rounds and I like all those players and I think they have chances. Let's say if he plays up to his potential like he has this year, and he gets going, I definitely see him going very deep, you know.

The problem for him is just the mental and physical consistency, you know, to bring it every single day. Because we have seen him do very well, you know, in Montreal and also in Rome, but then he struggled a little bit in Paris and maybe in other places where he lost early, like in Cincinnati, but it's normal. As a young guy you go through ups and downs a little bit. I think he's ready for him and it's going to be tough to beat him.

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