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August 14, 2018

Roger Federer

Cincinnati, Ohio

R. FEDERER/P. Gojowczyk

6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Your first match here in Cincinnati since the 2015 final, which you won for your seventh title. After so many years away, do you find it easy to come back to a tournament that you won so many times to kind of get that positive magic back quickly?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, look, it doesn't feel like I have been away for so long here from Cincinnati. I guess the wheel keeps turning. It's not like I missed two years of tennis.

I feel like I have been here -- and I was here last year briefly, but I was here, so, you know, as much as I want to say I was not here, I actually was, even on-site.

So, look, I felt good in that first match, to be honest, walking out, hardly any nerves. I think I knew what I wanted to do, what I had to do. Game plan is very simple. It's straightforward. It's fast-court tennis. I think center court plays much faster than the outside courts, so you don't have much time. Plus I knew Peter, my opponent, was going to go for it and take big cuts at the ball, so there is only so much you can really do. That's why you want to play aggressive yourself.

It was a great pleasure to be back. I enjoy playing here because of my success, even more so, but I have always enjoyed coming here to Cincinnati, and now we do it as a family. That adds a different twist to it. Feels almost like I have had two careers, the one before and the one after. I'm having a great time and I'm very happy to be back.

Q. You have recently signed a fairly long-term endorsement contract with a Japanese company, and...
ROGER FEDERER: Which one? Maybe I have signed more. I don't know. (Smiling.) I get you.

Q. Okay. In two years the Olympics will be in Japan. Now, competitively you're having a good season, and chances are you may still be competitive in two years. However, given your decision not to take part to the Davis Cup, as it stands, you would be ineligible to play in the Olympics. Regardless of what's going to happen in Orlando in a couple of days or maybe because of what's going to happen in Orlando in a couple of days, would you reconsider your decision, with respect to Davis Cup, to keep the options open and maybe enter into Tokyo?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, what can I say? Well, No. 1, they never mentioned the Olympics, it being the No. 1 decision for them to sign with me, which has been great. It was more the person than the player, actually, which I thought was a major compliment to me, you know. I think it was also my team, my wife, my parents were extremely proud that it was more the person than the player, and they never mentioned the Olympics.

I don't exactly know the rules about the Olympics, to be honest. So that's how far away I have been, because I just don't know if I'm still going to be playing. But you're right; I should be more informed about it, but I just haven't.

I don't know what it takes. I don't know what the ramifications are. I have to figure it out. I don't think I will change my schedule regardless of what happens in Orlando. My career, my body is too important, you know. If I play Tokyo, great. If I don't, I don't. It's not like the first Olympics you want to really be part of. I just haven't thought that far.

But you're right. There is a process, I guess, to qualify, which is odd, but that's just how it goes in tennis these days, or always has been.

Q. How much of the culture of a place like Mason, Ohio, do you feel you absorb when you come here? I don't mean like weather or court conditions but really the way of life here, the people, the way the fans may be different here than other places? Do you think that plays a role in the success you have had here?
ROGER FEDERER: Hmm. I don't know. I mean, I guess it starts first with the playing conditions, you know. As much as I would like to say like I have won Wimbledon only because of the fans but not because of the grass courts, you know, I'm not sure if that's fair to say.

Same here. So I think it starts with the conditions, the playing conditions. I think they suit my game very well.

But I definitely think events are a reflection of the place you're playing at. I'm not sure exactly how many locals are in the stadium, but I have a feeling they are from around here or nearby.

So there is definitely a different charm, different vibe to this tournament than others. Definitely the big cities, you know, where you're playing right next to London or Paris or New York or Shanghai, you know, you feel like people really come to watch tennis here. It's not like, like I explained in an interview the other day, Oh, there is a tennis tournament? I didn't know. Let's just quickly go check it out because there are so many Broadway shows and so many other events happening at the same time and you're competing with music and other things.

So this is maybe not so much the case here this week. It's about the tennis. And you, as a player, feel that. I feel they are knowledgeable about the game, you know, which I always enjoy.

That's why I like to play in places that know the game, especially for the bigger events, but of course it's always nice if you can grow a market like Shanghai or other places in Asia, you know, Dubai, for that matter, that have not seen so much tennis, so their excitement level may be even higher because they don't get to see tennis as often.

Q. After Wimbledon, how important emotionally is this victory for you to return to the ATP World Tour?
ROGER FEDERER: To winning ways? Look, it's good, but not more than that. I feel good at practice. I feel like I'm in a good rhythm. You know, regardless if I win or I lost, you know, I felt like I'm doing the right things. I couldn't have worked harder, you know, in the practice, on the practice court. I couldn't have done more in the gym. Didn't have any setbacks. I'm only feeling better every day that has gone by after Wimbledon.

So it's nice to have played a match so my last match is not the Anderson match, so you've kind of turned the page, I guess, in that regard. It's a good thing.

But, you know, the goal is now to recover from this match, take the positives with me, and it's just nice to have sort of a day and a half where you can prepare for the next one, and you're really in the tennis tournament again and away from the practice sessions. And then of course the big goal is the US Open. That's got to be the goal now after not having perfect, you know, situations the last couple of years there.

You know, I wasn't 100% there. I couldn't even play the year before that. That's why I would really like to be at 100% for the US Open this year.

Q. Could you contrast the first and the second sets today? So the first set, as you say, he was taking big cuts at the ball, playing quite close to the baseline, couple of games where he had several break points? Second set it felt like you were a bit more in control on your own serve, pushing him on his service games? Can you talk about the way the two sets played out?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I think you analyzed it well. I think he had some chances in that first set. I could have been broken, because, look, it's the first round. If I don't maybe get service winners or he gets one chance to kind of go for a forehand or a backhand, you know, maybe you can't just dig your way out of trouble here so easily in Cincy.

It's a dangerous situation to be facing break point early in a tournament when you just don't know the conditions quite that well yet, you know, and you're maybe a bit afraid to go super close to the lines because you're not having got five matches under your belt yet.

So for that reason I was happy to get out of those games and sort of protect my lead. I think the second set maybe I started the games a bit better, had less, you know, little unforced errors and, you know, maybe also start to feel little better rhythm on my serve. But I think what I could be very happy about is I kept on pressing myself as well even on the return games when it was frustrating at times for him and me.

There is a lot of games where you feel like, oh, which side should I pick on the return, and bang, there is another ace or another service winner. That can frustrate you and then you start to play safe over time.

I didn't allow that to happen. I kept going forward, and I think that's why I ended up also feeling good at the end to also serve it out really nicely with a couple of aces in the last service game.

Q. First match since Wimbledon, obviously, and you've practiced with tour players between then and now, but how long does it take you to get match play under your belt like tonight? How far in the match do you say, Yeah, this is a real match, I now feel this is a big match, big stadium full of people versus practicing?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, it just feels different. I don't know what it is. I guess it's the, you know, seeing 10,000 people in a stadium and double faulting and go, like, Oh, I hope it's not going to happen again.

Whereas in practice you hit a double fault, like, Well, it's not going to happen again, or if it does, fine, you know. It's not the end of the world. Whereas in a match situation, you're like, If I double fault again, this means I'll be broken. Am I going to be able to turn the tide or not?

All of a sudden, these thoughts go through your head in a match situation, which in a practice really doesn't happen because you don't worry as much. That can make you play better or much worse. I do believe usually it takes two or three matches to get going, like what I explained, like, aiming for the lines, finding the rhythm on the serve, you know, being able to serve very accurate, you know, time and time again, getting used to the balls, how the ball flies.

That's why changing from day to night sessions sometimes can be tricky alone just because the ball travels differently and further in the daytime than in the nighttime. So that's why I'm always happy when I clear the first hurdle of any event, because it gives me an opportunity to actually play better the next time around.

Q. You have spoken about your rivalry and even friendship with Rafa and really how you made each other better over the course of time you have played. It appears that there is a new group kind of forming with Medvedev and Shapovalov and Zverev, Tsitsipas, several others. Do you sort of see that, as well, and that there is a similar dynamic of that group possibly coming up together and sort of having another magical era?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, look, Rafa's era was extremely strong. You know, the amount of tournaments -- did he win like 20 events by the time he was 19? So just give you a little bit something to think about there, how good he was, you know. Probably the best teenager we have ever seen in the game besides Björn Borg.

We are talking extremely high level. These guys unfortunately or fortunately are not; otherwise maybe I would not be ranked where I would be ranked right now.

But what's nice about this generation that's coming up right now is that there is a bunch of them, and I think that's, when I came up, also we had a lot of good players with Safin, Hewitt, Roddick, Ferrer, myself, Kiefer, Haas, Kiefer, you name it, Guga, there was a bunch of sort of very strong players, and you didn't want to be the last guy, you know. Okay, preferably first but not the tenth guy.

And I think that helps that group of guys to not want to be that guy. So I think on that weekly basis they push each other. That's what you see now. They make maybe faster improvements than if there was only three, because then three is, like, well, I'm the third best. Even though you're the last, I'm still the third best, which is not bad.

I think it fuels the hunger to succeed, and that's why it's nice to see Tsitsipas or Shapo or other guys doing, you know, great, very big moves in the rankings, great results, slowly winning titles, going deep in 1000s, going deeper in hopefully slams, as well, because we need that on the tour. We cannot just have older guys on tour all the time.

We need that new story time and time again. I love seeing especially teenagers break through, because, I don't know, it's like the dream coming true, and I like to see how they react to that and what they say about it, because I saw a lot of guys come through and it was always super exciting, seeing them doing it.

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