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August 24, 2018

Roger Federer

New York, NY, USA

THE MODERATOR: Tennis fans, earlier this year, this champion regained the world No. 1 ranking for the first time in five years, becoming the oldest man in tennis history to ascend to the top of the game. He started the year by winning a record 20th Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open.

Please welcome to the podium, five-time US Open Champion, Roger Federer.

Q. New York is obviously a special place for you. Wondered if you could reflect on that five-year run here, what was going so well for you and what is it about this place that works for you and your game?
ROGER FEDERER: I just got on a roll, I guess. Well, I was also world No. 1 at the time. For a long period I think I was not losing much, and when I came to the Open, I had all the answers for all the guys, all my opponents, all conditions, wind, you know, night, day. I really embraced everything about New York.

I think that's why I rarely had bad tournaments here in New York, because I like playing here. I think the court speed is good for me. I'm happy in this country. I'm happy in New York.

Yeah, it was a pity I couldn't win '09. I still wish I could have played that match again. But Juan Martin came and showed the great champion he was. And then the last 10 years have been a bit more difficult. Still, I came close. I had chances. Some regrets maybe along the way.

But my personal experience with the five in a row was an unbelievable one. So I'm very proud of that accomplishment.

Q. I know you're not one to look ahead too far, but what would it mean for you to get back and raise the trophy here again after 10 years?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, it would mean the world to me. It would mean a lot to me, of course.

It's even a bigger priority this year, the US Open, than it has been last year. Not that it wasn't last year, but Wimbledon was key for me last year. That was where -- you know, I wasn't well the year before that, so last year we wanted to be ready for Wimbledon. Even skipped the French for that.

And then obviously not feeling 100% last year was hard. I knew from the get-go it was not going to be possible for me to win. Everything would have had to fall into place. Guys would have had to retire against me or played the worst match of their life against me, and and maybe then I would have had a chance, but later stages of a tournament is not feasible anymore.

So also because that fact, because the last two years especially, two years ago when I couldn't play at all, have just been difficult. I'm really excited and happy to be back here healthy again and feeling good and, you know, take it one match at a time and see what happens.

Q. I know you're probably not looking too far ahead in the draw, but what was your reaction to Novak being put in, you know, in the same quarter as you? And also, what do you think about guys like Shapovalov and Tsitsipas and their chances of making a run here?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, look, it looks like the next generation has broken through even more so now. They still need the win of a slam, the win of a Masters 1000, whatever you want to call it, they still need to make that step, but they're definitely knocking on that door, and there is some exciting talent around.

US Open, I'm sure, is going to bring some energy to them, as well, wanting to really make the breakthrough here. That's anyway how I felt way back when, coming to New York. I wanted to break through here or at Wimbledon, but here was maybe the cooler place, I don't know, especially when you're young and fearless.

But in terms of the draw, I mean, we have so many draws that happened throughout my career that you just take it on your chin and you're, like, Okay, fine, that's what it is.

We can't control it. I'm not in a quarterfinal match yet. I'm not in a second-round match yet. You just go back to -- just the next few days are important. How am I feeling by my first-round match? That's what the focus needs to be, and then the draw is what it is.

Sure, you sometimes wonder, like, is it easier to play guys with not such a résumé like a Novak so early in the tournament? But because he won Cincinnati, I could have also played Novak in the fourth round if he wouldn't have made a move in the rankings.

So I think we are all happier that he's higher ranked so we don't have to face him already in the first round, like Stan is playing Dimitrov back to back. From that standpoint, the quarterfinals is already quite deep in a tournament. I know, in terms of points compared to the winner, it's a bit of a joke, 360 to 2,000 points, but I don't think Novak and myself are playing for ATP points, per se. Either it's No. 1 or nothing.

So the draw, it is what it is, and I've got enough stuff to worry about anyway in the earlier rounds. My focus is the first round. Nothing else. Yeah.

Q. How puzzling has it been just to go 10 years without winning here, considering how you had dominated this place and you've won everywhere else? How puzzling and how do you analyze it?
ROGER FEDERER: Not puzzling, because I feel like -- I don't remember the years anymore, but the two semis with match points were tough against Novak. The finals was rough here. I have won some and lost some close ones here in New York. And then, you know, some years I just lost against a better guy. And some years it just didn't work out.

I think there are explanations for everything, especially the last two years, and the other ones were just close, which is unfortunate, I guess. But for me it's not puzzling. I won the US Open five times. So I stand here pretty happy, to be quite honest. It's not like, God, the US Open never worked out for me. It hasn't the last couple years, but it's all good.

Q. It's been okay?
ROGER FEDERER: It's been all right. Absolutely.

Q. As you have trimmed your schedule for health reasons, does it ever creep into your mind, have I played enough matches to be as sharp as I want to be? Like in Cincinnati when you had some shots we normally expect you to make that you didn't make, do you ever wonder, maybe I should have played another week or two and get more ready? Or is that just not a concern anymore?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really. I just have to -- when these moments happen when I spray shots, you just try to understand why that happened, and you know that later on, you know, like at the US Open hopefully that won't happen as much anymore. It will still always happen a little bit.

But what is my option? To play Toronto before and then have, again, a lot of matches potentially going into the Open and actually not feeling well and being hurt more than I want to be? Or should I play Washington and skip Toronto? But then I have no break at all after Wimbledon.

So I think what I did was the right thing. I truly believe it. I think not even close playing my absolute best in Cincinnati and still making a finals is still a really good result, actually, if I take a step away. The finals was not good. I was not happy with how I played, but I think there was some tiredness that led into that. And Novak was good, you know. So it was just a match, one you want to forget, no problem, but in the big scheme of things actually was a good tournament for me, get all the matches under the belt, get match-tough again so when I do show up here I actually feel I'm ready, and I am ready, and that's what counts for me.

So the scheduling is always going to be key, and sometimes we are going to do right decisions, wrong decisions, and I know I will be judged harsher because I don't play so much, but I can handle it. It's no problem for me.

Q. You pretty much you just answered my question, but I was going to say coming off of Cincinnati, just talk about what you've done since then. More rest? A lot of preparation? Talk about your thoughts and your form coming into the tournament.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I was tired, I must say. You know, the rain and the two matches on Friday, I think it was, was a lot, you know. And then, you know, it was a lot of tennis. Plus I hadn't played beforehand. So maybe you feel the effect of the body you feel a bit more.

I was very tired Monday, Tuesday, but I took a couple of days off and started practicing very well again Wednesday/Thursday. Yesterday I had a great practice with Cilic. I'm excited to practice later on with Stan at 1:30 on center.

No, I'm exactly where I want to be, and I still have enough days to get ready, to be honest. I'm very pleased about my progress here. I've gotten used to the conditions here. It's a bit slower, it's easier to control, and that also is one part of Cincinnati that I think probably if you ask most players, like, How do you feel in Cincinnati, a lot of guys will always say it's not easy to play there.

The ball flies. Especially this year the ball was extremely bouncy. So it was just hard to control the balls at all times. And I think that also didn't help the feeling.

So I think coming to New York, I think you get a better feel. The balls are easier to control. The surface is a touch slower. So I think in overall theme maybe we will see better tennis here in New York.

Q. Your thoughts on the recent Davis Cup decision? And also the fact that now basically you have Davis Cup at the end of November and a very similar event by the ATP and Tennis Australia just a few weeks later to start the year.
ROGER FEDERER: So what exactly do you want to know?

Q. Well, what you think about the decision, changing Davis Cup, or are you pleased with it? You have some concerns? And then it seems like two similar events will be so close together.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. I don't know what to tell you. I answered the question in Cincinnati in depth. I think we've still got a long way to go until we got all the facts on the table from the ITF, what their exact thoughts are about the Davis Cup. I'm only hearing rumors, but nothing has really been set in stone yet.

ATP, from their side, with Tennis Australia, what exactly it's gonna look like, where is it gonna be played exactly in Australia? All these things I'm also not quite up to date yet. So I think we will know much more in the coming months.

I was pretty quiet about the Davis Cup beforehand just because I didn't know how to fix it, but I always knew that the ITF was never going to change it from every-year event to every-second-year event. Why would the ITF just give up something that they have? It's not what the business asks for.

So I think that was never an option for them, anyways, so they had to do something different. So this is their proposal or their idea now. So they've got their hands full.

I understand that there is players unhappy, sad, angry, and relieved. I don't know what it is going to be yet.

I'm in between. I'm, like, I don't know what to think. It's just what it is right now.

Q. Sascha Zverev just hired Ivan Lendl to add him to his team. What do you think are Sascha's greatest upsides, downsides, maybe what Lendl can do for him?
ROGER FEDERER: Hard to -- I'm not, I mean, I know them, but what shall I say?

I mean, I feel like he's right there, anyway. So I think adding or not adding anybody can make or not make a difference, you know. He knows what it takes to beat the best. He knows what it takes to win tournaments, to win titles. It's not like he's had a block at some stage. He's been struggling at slams maybe a little bit, sure, but he's still young, so time is on his side.

Maybe Ivan can inject some wisdom and knowledge to pass that hurdle, you know. Maybe it's an outside voice that the team needs, I'm not sure. So I think it's going to be interesting to just see how they work.

I don't know Ivan, to be honest, very well myself. But he seemed to have good success, yeah, with Andy exactly, and time will tell.

But, you know, I'm a big believer in Sascha, and I know him very well. I think he's going to be incredibly successful regardless if Ivan is there or not.

Q. I wanted to ask you about Novak. You obviously had a great match against him in Cincinnati.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, not so much, but... Yeah, it sounds good (smiling). Thank you.

Q. You have had the comeback he's trying to do. How much mental strength does that take to come back? Where do you get the sense he is now mentally? Is he back where he once was?
ROGER FEDERER: I think he probably still has some more, what do you call it, like more left in him. I think he's playing well, but I think he can even play better, which is even more encouraging for him.

I think it depends what kind of injury you have had or what kind of process and road you have had to the comeback. If you have an injury that always keeps on hurting and, you know, you're always playing with fear of your next step or your next match, it can really rob you with your confidence in terms of movement, and then you will never be the same player again.

I think Stan had a little bit of that. I think Murray also had a little bit of that. So with Novak it's not been the movement. It's been more the arm. And I think we could see some of it early on in the season when he came back when he wasn't quite ready yet, his serve wasn't really working, he wasn't hitting his spots, he wasn't really serving as well as he was in the past.

So I don't know if it's a mental thing there or actually the arm doesn't allow you to do it. So it really depends on where you come from.

But then of course the mind is fresh and really eager and wanting to show the world and yourself that you can come back again really strong. So that's always a good thing, I believe, on a comeback. Sure, mentally you have to fight through adversity. I think he's shown how good he is and how great he is by winning Wimbledon.

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