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March 12, 2018

Roger Federer

Indian Wells, California

R. FEDERER/F. Krajinovic

6-2, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Talk a little bit about that match. He gets it to 2-all and seemed to be playing pretty well.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think the beginning of the matches are always important, get off to a good start. I did that. Unfortunately, you know, he broke back. You know, at least after four games you sort of get an idea what to expect, especially if you haven't played somebody before.

But I thought I was much more calm today in the match. You know, obviously it was more straightforward with a right-hander, someone who plays more on the flatter side, not lefty standing way back, playing with a lot of spin. It's not something I do see nowadays every day. Usually everybody stands on the baseline.

You know, I was playing aggressive and feeling like he was not loving my slice, you know, and then also mixing in with dropshots eventually. I think really I was able to mix up my game nicely, make it difficult for him there.

At the same time, have fun with my game, play variation, but for the most part try to stay on the offensive, as well. I think it was a good match.

I still think he can play much better than he did today. Maybe it was because it was the first time he ever played against me. Who knows why his level wasn't able go higher than today.

Q. You have been asked a couple of times about Novak and the physical side of things. But there is also a consensus that maybe recently he's going through a little more like a spiritual journey, a little more kind of soul-searching. Is that something you agree with, and, if so, is that something you have ever been through or can relate with?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know what he's going through, to be honest, other than his injury. The rest, I don't know. I don't know him well enough. I haven't seen him at all, you know, that much, to be honest, in recent times.

But, you know, I think the Novak we saw in Australia, he wasn't at 100%. He still gave it all he had and actually did okay. I thought he was actually playing all right.

Same here. This is now second version of Novak. Still not at 100%, because this one was after surgery. I still think Novak needs just more time, you know. He tried to -- I liked the route where he didn't try to do surgery early on. That's what I was trying to do with my knee after having already had a surgery. I think surgery is always a last resort, you know. So I hope he recovers fully from it, like Murray, like Stan, like Kei, as well.

So for me, you know, I think this is just a rough patch in Novak's career in terms of injuries, and I hope he enjoyed his time away from tennis. Because if he comes back fully fit again, it's gonna be intense and busy enough as it is. But this wasn't the real Novak we saw here. Not in Australia either yet. I think every week that goes by we will see a stronger version of Novak we know.

Q. Because of the rainout or the rain postponement, you lost the day off yesterday. Does it really make that much of a difference? How does it affect your rhythm at this point of the tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: No. I mean, look, in Rotterdam I played five matches in a row. Back in the day, I used to play six matches in a row. At the Masters 1000s, when the format was different, it was the best-of-five-set finals in the finals. Playing three matches in a row, I think I'm okay.

Yeah, you've got to be ready for it. Tennis players are -- it's what we do. We wait, we play, we wait again, we play again. In juniors we play three matches a day, and then eventually you play one a day. It actually gets easier as you almost get older.

Q. It has to.
ROGER FEDERER: It has to, yeah (smiling).

No, I'm very happy how I managed it. I was a little bit tired this morning just because the turnaround is always pretty quick. And this morning, I mean, playing at 1:00 is somewhat on the earlier side for me, too.

But I'm happy that I actually was explosive out there today and I felt good. So I'm very happy how things are turning out to be.

Q. Amongst the legends of tennis, there are some players who are known for their dominance, like Sampras, Laver, Borg, and others known for the length of their time at the top. González, Agassi, Connors. You are a rare player who would be in both categories. What's it require to be in that second category? What do you think it took to get into that second category?
ROGER FEDERER: And the second one being?

Q. Just the length of time.
ROGER FEDERER: The length of time?

Well, I think you need to win a lot, and you have to be around for a lot and you have to -- you know, dominate even at some point. Yeah, every situation is a difficult one, you know.

I thought that the longevity part, you know, you can attain it just been playing a long time, staying injury-free, enjoying yourself and so forth. The domination one, that's not one thing you can plan ever.

That's where you have to reach, you know, heights of winning over 90% throughout a season and doing that over multiple years and showing that winning two slams a year is not just a one-year wonder, you can do it again and back it up again. Yeah, there is only a few players who did it. But still, if you look at the length of tennis history, there is a lot of guys actually who were able to do it.

Yeah, we'll see what's left for me. But, no, I'm very proud of my career, very happy. Look, I don't wake up every day and think, like, Oh, I'm so happy just because of what I have done. You're only really as good as your last match. Now we're in Indian Wells and that's my focus and not what I have achieved in the past, really.

Q. Obviously in your own family life you see the wonderful dynamic of two young girls. In our sport, we have seen this incredible story of Venus and Serena emerging out of the same bedroom, really inner city of LA and coming on to have this incredible impact, dominance, skill sets. What strikes you the most about the two of them? Can you just talk a little bit about what they have done?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, we go right back to my last question. Longevity and dominance. They showed that. They had a massive arrival on the scene, a lot of buzz around them, and they lived up to the hype. Came out and crushed it.

From the very beginning, they were very interesting to follow. I think they hardly played any juniors, really, which made it more of a mystery, because you just didn't know exactly what to expect from them. And coming, you know, from being coached by their dad. I mean, it's an incredible fascinating story, like you said.

And then for many years we were worried that they were going to check out early with sickness or injuries. We weren't sure if they're going to play as long as we hoped them to play. And here we are. They are both over 35, 36, and still basically playing at the top. Serena being a mom now, Venus overcame a lot of also difficult situations and still playing.

Being older again than Serena, myself, it's wonderful to see and I'm very happy for them, you know, especially now watching Serena's comeback since the baby. I think that's going to be a huge story, maybe the story of the year. Hopefully she decides to play a lot and enjoy herself in the process and get back to who knows how high? It almost doesn't matter, but it would just be amazing to see her do it now.

And then now they are facing off here tonight. I think it's great for the sport and they have done so much already. This is like, you know, the extra lap they are doing and the fans can enjoy it. So I'm very happy for them.

Q. When you look at the draw and Novak's gone and Andy isn't here, Rafa isn't here, are you at the stage where you look at that and you say, Gee, that's good, or do you say, Gee, I wish they were around?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, a bit of both, I guess. Many times I have looked at the draw and, Oh, God, Rafa, is my second round or something. So I prefer if Rafa is not in my second round (smiling).

At the same time, I enjoy playing the guy, just because it's one of the ultimate challenges to play Novak, Andy, Rafa, Stan, you name it, all these guys.

But of course there is a different vibe when all these guys are not around. It's not in your control. You can only beat the guy who's opposite to you. When I look at the matches from last night or yesterday, they're all in the other section, so I can watch it more as a fan, you know, which I enjoy a lot, to be honest.

Yeah, I haven't really checked out my draw entirely. I really do go day by day. I wasn't playing that good in my first round. So when you play that way and you feel that way, you can't right away think, Oh, who would I be playing in the semis or in the finals? I think that would be a major mistake by myself. There is still plenty of good enough players around me to cause an upset.

So I'm on a good run right now, and I try to maintain that, and you only maintain that if you respect every opponent, to be quite honest.

Q. You switched racquets a few years ago, and then when you came back from injury you had a very improved backhand. I know you haven't decided on clay yet, but what is your confidence level right now that you can beat anybody, including Nadal, on clay, especially in five sets?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. I haven't thought about it, to be honest. I'm not sure how much "improved backhand" that you say it is, is going to help me against Rafa on clay.

He still remains the best mover on clay, you know. So I'm not sure if my movement is better on clay. I haven't played on clay for I don't know how long.

Yeah, my mind hasn't gone there, to be honest. And if I play the clay or not does not depend on Rafa or Novak or if they play or they don't play. It really depends on what do I want to do, how do I keep myself injury-free, how do I keep the fire burning, what is my head telling to myself. What am I in the mood to do, basically? It's pretty simple.

But, yeah, sure, I'd love to play Rafa on clay, best of five-set match, don't get me wrong. I'd like to see what would happen now. But there is absolutely no guarantee that I would have a better chance now than before. I still think he's the guy to beat on clay and he forever will be maybe the greatest player of all time on clay, hands down. So, yeah, I don't know.

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