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July 1, 2018
Wimbledon, London, England
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You're going to play for the eighth time tomorrow the first match on Centre Court. Can you elaborate on how special this moment is, the memories you have.
ROGER FEDERER: The first one, I'm not sure how much I remember of it. If I think of tomorrow now, I think it remains a little bit nerve-wracking, you know, in all honesty. It's a big deal. I mean, besides the history and the mythical place that it is, you cannot also practice on it. When you come out, there's a bit of uncertainty for both players, from a very quiet week and site that we've seen this week, it's just packed everywhere. The entire atmosphere changes at Wimbledon, and you realize the eyes are on you. That naturally makes you a bit nervous, you know, I believe.
Plus it's not the second day or something, or a Wednesday sometimes like it used to be at the US Open when you started the tournament, you're basically the first one on the show court. It's always a lot to ask for from the players, but I love it. It's a massive honor. You try to do your best.
I'm looking forward to it. It's exciting.
Q. Speaking of memories, it's 10 years since you played the epic final with Rafa. What motivation did that give you to stay at the top of your game as you look to defend your title here?
ROGER FEDERER: For this year, nothing, to be honest.
Q. Over time.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think it was one of the hardest losses I ever had, no doubt about it. I was so close to making it six in a row. The initial reaction was, Okay, got to win it again next year, '09, and I did, in an epic one against Roddick. That was beautiful after the heartbreak in '08.
It was a great match for many reasons. It also made me more human potentially, the loss under the circumstances. But it was a great match to be part of.
We go back in time with Rafa. I'm sure that we'll talk about it when we're older in the rocking chair, you know (smiling). We'll talk about how it all was. I'm sure I took something away from it, but mostly positive, even though the moment was pretty hard naturally.
Q. You're playing on a completely virgin court tomorrow. Arthur Ashe said you can use the wide serve because it's juicy and slick. Do you think you have an advantage having played eight times before and your opponent won't have that advantage?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm not sure, you know. I think experience helps me that I've played a lot of matches, a lot of big matches. It feels like walking out for a finals, it really does. It's maybe more nerve-wracking because you're not acclimatized to the court yet. I think that might help me, the big-time match play that I've had over the course of my career.
I don't remember how it played exactly last year. I'm sure when I was defending champion last time, maybe after six games or so or something, you'll all of a sudden get the feel for it, how it used to be. That might calm the nerves down.
I remember I've had matches where nerves really never went down, I played nervous the entire match. I think the beginning of the match will be quite crucial to settle the nerves for my opponent and myself as well.
Q. Serena was in here earlier, talked about being tested outside of competition five times this year, and that started a conversation about what is excessive. How many times have you been tested out of competition? In your view, is there ever too much testing that can be done in this sport?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, if they rock up 10 times a day, it gets rough. No doubt about it. Because they can. Obviously probably the maximum they will come within that hour is two. It will be the Swiss Olympics and the International Federation that will show up in the same time slot.
I've had a lot of testing the last month. I think I've had seven tests. It's been quite heavy. Also blood and urine. Two in Stuttgart, in Halle. In the village I live in in Switzerland, the tester lives in the same village, so it's very convenient (smiling). It's very convenient. If he's bored at home, he probably just says, Let me check in on Roger to see if he's having a good time (laughter). Anyway, it's only going to take 10 minutes, whatever.
I've been tested quite a bit, quite frequently out of competition. I mentioned many times in Dubai I've hardly ever been tested, which has been quite disappointing. To honest, in the 15 years I've been there, it's been one test.
I think it varies from place to place that you spend your time in. Maybe that's the part I don't like so much: the inconsistency of the places where they test. I understand it probably also has something to do with the budget of WADA, like flying somebody there just for that one test, I understand. Yet that should not be an excuse. That's why I think after all we still need more funding. I hope that's going to happen.
I don't believe there's ever going to be enough testing. What's important is these people are professional, they know what they're doing, they treat you like humans, not like criminals. Then it's okay. But I understand the frustration sometimes. I have it, too.
Q. You've called Serena Williams the greatest tennis player of all time. What do you make of her attempt at a comeback after becoming a mother?
ROGER FEDERER: Great, exciting. I'm happy she chose to take that route and not walk away from the game, which would have been totally fine. Why not? After everything she's done, it would have been the perfect excuse and exit to say, I've had it.
I'm very excited to see her attempting an amazing comeback, this time with a baby. It's a different life. Massive challenge for her, but I'm sure one she's up for it.
Q. You look even more handsome than last year.
ROGER FEDERER: Okay, thank you (smiling).
Q. How do you feel?
ROGER FEDERER: I feel great now (laughter). I feel red.
Q. How do you feel physically this year, this time?
ROGER FEDERER: Incredibly sexy (laughter).
Q. I still remember last year, you told me you feel tired, more tired.
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, yeah.
Q. During the Australian Open, because the long and hard match, yeah. But when you came to Wimbledon, you feel much better, much more relaxed. How about this year?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I look good, I feel good, so it's all good (smiling).
Honestly, I'm feeling good. I was tired at the beginning of the week because of the nine matches I played in 12 days in Stuttgart and Halle. I think the three months did me again a world of good, that I didn't play during the clay court season. We had a great time, vacation, family time, practice, fitness, tennis. Everything worked very well.
This week was very much for me just to recover, come in fresh for tomorrow. I think tomorrow is a very important match for me. I'm happy that in practice everything is going well. I'm hitting the ball well. I'm hopeful for tomorrow. I'm confident, I guess, to some extent because I played all the grass court matches I was hoping to play.
Thank you for the compliment. I feel even better now. Thank you.
Q. There is a World Cup. Everybody was talking about Ronaldo, Messi. Do you think Federer and Nadal are in a way the Ronaldo and Messi of the tennis? Do you see any comparison?
ROGER FEDERER: Sure, yeah. They have a long-standing rivalry. I have the same with Rafa. They're very different from one another. I guess there's some similarities there as well. As similar as we are, Rafa and myself, we're still very different on many levels. I think it's pretty much the same for them.
I never met them, so I can't really talk about how different or how similar they are to our rivalry. Obviously in football, it's different because you're only as good as your team. The pitch is huge, with 11 of them running around. With us, we're a little more in control, let's be honest. I hope I can control it a bit better than they could. We'll see how it goes.
Q. I notice you were practicing the other day with a young Scottish junior Aidan McHugh. Did he make an impression on you?
ROGER FEDERER: I wanted to hit a bit of two-on-ones this week, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I had my coaches check out who is available, who is around. Then, yeah, hit with I think three Scottish juniors potentially throughout those three days.
I'm not sure exactly which one you're talking about. Is it the one with the one-handed backhand?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, no, very good. Didn't I play with him in Glasgow, too?
ROGER FEDERER: He played better than in Glasgow. He only got two points there. I was impressed.
They're all really nice people. I like the Scottish. It was great fun. I love hitting with juniors because I feel it's exciting for me, it's exciting for them usually. I don't know, it's a good vibe. Especially when there's three on the court, there's more conversations. It's a bit more laid back than intense when you start playing rallies.
I liked what I saw. I wish him well.
Q. It's going back a bit, but can you talk more about your trip to Zambia. Muhammad Ali went to Africa, had a big change on the way he saw the world. Did you have that type of experience, changed you as a person?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I'm sure it did a long time ago when I used to go there on vacation with my parents. Africa, the continent, South Africa, for that matter, is very different to Switzerland. It's why I also started my foundation, because I felt like there was a need. There is a way to help.
For me, it was something that inspired me, to do work through education. In Switzerland we all have it. In Africa, not everybody has it. We moan sometimes about it. Ah, I have to go to school, I'm tired, I didn't sleep enough, and all that stuff. In Africa, they wish they could go to school.
I think doing a trip and seeing firsthand to see where the help goes, speak to the partner organizations we work with to meet maybe governments, maybe chiefs, there's a lot of protocol. But I can open doors for the foundation and the partners.
It was a wonderful trip. It inspires me and motivates me to come back and raise more money. It also is a way to thank the people who have donated money, sponsors and individuals alike, who trust in my work. It's a way to show also how serious I am about it.
I love the trip. Clearly it has some very poor corners of the country. When you come back, you just want to do much more. So I'm looking forward to that challenge.
Q. Neither you nor Rafa dwell a great deal on 2008. Is it because you talk about it too much? Is it because it's too much in the past? You're forward-looking? What is your thinking on that?
ROGER FEDERER: You have the feeling we don't talk about it very much?
Q. You both seem to downplay it.
ROGER FEDERER: Really? Okay.
I'm not sure. I feel like there was definitely a spell where you have other things to talk about. There has been another match we played against and all that. Now it's come up again because it's been the 10 years.
For me, funny enough, when I did an interview with the Tennis Channel, I talked about it, they mentioned certain things about the match, and I had no clue any more.
Honestly, I think for me it was one of the matches I tried to sort of forget a little bit. I remember it being dark. I remember the passing shot down the line. I remember the things I said pretty much vaguely. I hardly remember there were rain delays, to be honest.
Funny enough, I think once that match was over, all you remember is certain things, and you sort of need to move on. You can't look back and think back, fourth set, 30-All, what happened in that third game?
In tennis. It's very fast-paced. You have something else to look forward to. The US Open is coming up, Cincinnati, I need to bounce back now, I need to shake it off.
For me maybe it's harder to talk about because I lost it. For him maybe, because he won it, it was such a big match, it was less about him winning, but just the match itself. Maybe he also feels uncomfortable digging into it, which I think shouldn't be a problem, because that's how you want to win your first Wimbledon, in my opinion, to be honest.
I don't know. I disagree with you that we don't like to talk about it. I'm happy to always answer all the questions. I also haven't been asked for some time about it. Thankfully there were more highlights since then for both of us, which I guess also helps.
Q. You spoke about practicing with the juniors. How do you go about deciding who to practice with, whether it's a highly ranked pro, a junior, a lefty, a tall guy, a big server? Explain a little bit about that process, if it's solely your decision, coaching?
ROGER FEDERER: Little bit. Yeah, we talk about it beforehand, what are we looking forward to in the week, what should I be working on, so forth. Depending on if you're seeking rhythm, you might look more for a rhythm player clearly. If you're playing points, maybe it doesn't matter so much. Maybe you can also play with a bigger server maybe more often.
Occasionally I like to play with lefties again, because sometimes you go through spells where you don't play against lefties, don't hit with lefties. Next thing you know three months have gone by. It's just good to, again, see that lefty slider. Everything is different. It's a big challenge.
Sometimes, like this week, two-on-ones are fun again because you can hit the ball wherever you want. You don't have to hold back ever. That's a good thing, I believe.
But about who to practice with, they usually ask me, What about this guy?
I'm like, Sure, that's fine.
Very seldom do I reject anybody they offer. Sometimes it happens that I walk to the courts, Who am I practicing with today?
I'm like, Great.
I like to delegate. They know how to manage it by now. That's why it's a well-oiled machine. That's why I think it's fun the way we work together, because we know. That's helpful because we don't have to always communicate about everything, so... It's good.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports