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August 18, 2018

Roger Federer

Cincinnati, Ohio

R. FEDERER/D. Goffin

7-6, 1-1 [Ret.]

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. The last time you played with Novak I believe was in 2016 in Australia. It's been almost two-and-a-half years since you played Novak.
ROGER FEDERER: I don't remember. Okay.

Q. Is this something that you believe maybe is advantage, disadvantage?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, if that's the match -- are you sure about it?

Q. Semifinal of Australia.
ROGER FEDERER: Before my injury, then, I guess?

Q. Yeah.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think what's nice about this, it's like fresh, you know. It's not like we have played in the last few weeks and everybody knows what to expect.

I mean, we know how we could look like, but we're not quite sure, the fans, you guys, us, as well, to be honest. A lot has happened since, you know, with injuries both of us have been fighting, and we both came back strong again. So I think that's what's nice about this time around with Novak in the match.

Q. You won the first-set breaker tonight. Last night you lost it. Talk about the best of three either being on winning or losing side of a breaker going into the next set.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I just think in general here in Cincinnati you've got to win the big points, you know. There is not that many opportunities, especially if you protect your serve well. Everything goes very quickly.

You can't play the rallies like you normally would like to. You're playing very reactive on the return and active on your own serve. Of course it helps when you win that first-set tiebreaker, because it's an emotional boost, as well, besides getting extra confidence, you know.

So I was just happy how I was able to lift my game up, you know, throughout the set, and then also in the breaker, I played a good breaker, so I was actually very happy.

Q. Novak has been hitting some really good down-the-line backhands again. I think that was something he was missing during his slump. I wonder if you watch him play closely enough to see if he's doing something different or if you leave that up to your team?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I didn't pay that much attention to exactly know he's not been hitting his backhand very well. When they asked me in Indian Wells and Miami to judge Novak, I was, like, It's not real Novak, then.

He was just coming back, and he came back too soon. Same at the Australian Open. That one wasn't quite the 100% Novak we know he can be.

So I don't look at that kind of match like what could he be struggling with, because if you give him time, he'll fix that. Same with Stan. If he's got time, they will fix that. They will be very different players three months down the road. And look what happened after the French. Everything turned. He could have won Queen's, should have won Queen's, maybe. Ends up winning Wimbledon and he's back in another finals. It looks like he hasn't missed any tennis at all over the last few years.

No, but I think it gives him a lot of confidence, as well, winning all those three-setters now, because in Indian Wells and Miami, what I saw there was a tired Novak, which was very rare to see that, you know. But that's why it wasn't real. He hadn't had enough practice yet. Still coming fresh off his injury.

So, yeah, I think he's playing much better tennis now, much more solid off the baseline. I mean, I still think he's got room to improve. Will be interesting to see how he finishes the year.

Q. Where would he have to improve?
ROGER FEDERER: Just everything, like, a little bit of everything. I don't know what it is exactly, but it could start with the serve, could start with whatever it may be. Transition game, I don't know.

Q. You both did interviews on Tennis Channel this week and both were asked what you would change about tennis. And you said you'd like more best of five in finals, and he said he'd like less best of five. He'd wants Grand Slams to possibly go to best of three for the men, as well. Has that been a debate that's been going on among players, or what would you think of the idea of Grand Slams shifting away from best of five for the men?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, it won't happen. So why the debate? (Smiling.) What are we, the players, to say anything? We know what happens when we say anything. It doesn't happen. (Smiling.)

I just think it's a fun debate to have, but there was no purpose behind it. I was asked, What would you change? And I just find it a pity that the World Tour Finals is not the best of five. And I do believe there is some key moments in the year where you could throw in the odd best of five. I'm not saying we should add, like, 25 finals to make those best of five. Maybe talking about maybe five to seven, eight. I have no idea. So just really a few.

And I think it will also help the young guys maybe a little bit to get maybe a chance play a few more best-of-five- set matches before going to the slam level, because I don't think the slams are going to ever change to best of three unless -- in 20 years, we don't know what's going on, and people are getting so sick and tired of watching five-hour battles, but before that happens, I think we will cut back on the long sets in the fifth, and there are other ways to cut back on time than probably cutting the best of five at the slams.

Q. I want to ask you a question that we asked everyone in Toronto last week, but obviously you weren't there, so I will ask you now. Daniel Nestor is retiring after hopefully playing Davis Cup in September. Wondering what kind of relationship you had with Daniel over the years and your thoughts on the legacy he's going to leave on the game?
ROGER FEDERER: That's a dangerous question, because a lot of guys will say different things about Danny. He ain't just a normal guy.

Q. We have heard a lot.
ROGER FEDERER: Exactly. I get along very well with Danny. I think we're one of the loudest guys in the locker room, believe it or not, so we always had a lot of fun for the last 20 years, you know, commentating on matches or having banter in the locker room.

So I'm happy to see him go, not in a good way or a bad way. I'm just happy for him to take that next step because it should be an exciting one for him, and he should be very proud of everything he's achieved throughout his career.

Q. You were having a great time hitting the balls out. You showed some sense of humor. Going back to the Match For Africa video, promo with you and Rafa, are you that big of a cutup? Is that normal for you? Are you that funny of a guy?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. I think I am a fun guy to be with, yes (smiling). I don't know. Maybe other guys will say differently. But I'm very positive always, you know. I don't wake up and I'm never grumpy, to be honest. So I hope that makes me a pretty good husband and a pretty good person to be around and a good teammate and all that stuff.

Of course there is days I'm also a bit more tired, but I like to have a good time, and I'm happy I'm getting along very well with all the players, you know. I'm looking forward to the Laver Cup where we're going to be all on the same team, spend some time with Novak, as well, which I haven't spent that much time with, so I'm looking forward to that, for instance. Spending a week last year at the Laver Cup with Rafa was very cool, because we spent so much time in the locker room together and sometimes also facing each other.

I think that's what's kept a lot of guys on tour is the good camaraderie we showed to one another, and I think maybe Rafa and myself have maybe led the way a little bit, you know, from the times when I came in the locker room. There was fun moments but there was also serious moments, you know. But I had the generation before me, the likes of Moya and Henman and other, Rafter and Kuerten. They were wonderful for the game and they would make you feel extremely welcome on the tour, and I'm extremely grateful to those guys.

Like we spoke about Nestor, having guys like that in the locker room I think is really important for shaping your character, as well. So I think there is a lot of great guys, actually, maybe more than you think.

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