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November 17, 2018

Roger Federer

London, England, United Kingdom

A. ZVEREV/R. Federer

7-5, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. The hot topic to start with. Clearly the crowd weren't happy with the events of the eighth point of the tiebreak. Did it bother or affect you at all, what happened on that point?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, what do you mean, 'it affected me'? Of course it did. It got replayed. I got aced. So, yes, it did affect me.

What are you trying to say?

Q. Do you think it was handled correctly? Were you upset by it?
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, this. I don't know what's rules are. I just think I was trying to think what would I have done in his position, you know. It's bold to stop the rally because I don't know if it's an umpire's decision or not. While you're hitting, that might go through your head. So I would have probably said, Whew, I'll probably keep on playing, unless the ball really rolls into the court quick.

I don't know what happened actually. Was it a bounce and it rolled, or a bounce and he picked it up?

Q. It rolled a couple meters.
ROGER FEDERER: It did roll, okay. Well, I mean, it's a very difficult call. I didn't see it. The umpire didn't see it. But, you know, once the ball boy said that's what happened, linesman confirmed, the umpire believes them, which is obviously true, what is there to be done? It's normal to replay the point from that point on.

It was obviously a big call. Instead of being in the rally in a decent position, you get aced, yes, it makes a difference. It could have made a difference. That's all hypothetically speaking now at this point.

Q. How do you assess your performance today? Do you feel you were where you wanted to be? Something was lacking or...
ROGER FEDERER: I didn't think I was hitting my spots very well for the majority of the match. I think it came towards the end, which helped me to make it competitive and close at the very end.

I think I could have done better on returning Sascha's first serves, as well, in spells. I thought especially on his first serve in the beginning I struggled. I got into a better rhythm after that.

Obviously having the break and giving it back again, that was disappointing. Reminded me a little bit of the Nishikori situation.

Yeah, I mean, I feel like I can play better. But did that have anything to do with Sascha's game? Maybe, as well. But, yes, I just think it was one of those indoor matches. You can always look back and dig, what didn't go well.

Sometimes margins are slim, opportunities are rare. It's a point here and there that maybe didn't go my way. Maybe also I didn't push enough or I didn't have enough today to make the difference, to be honest. I was always running after the score most of the time. Over time it catches you, obviously.

Q. From the first question, it's in the rules what Sascha did. But is it in the spirit of the game? Would you have done the same had you been in that situation, if you'd seen it in your eyeline? Would you have stopped playing?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I'm not questioning Sascha's sportsmanship in any way. I think, like I said before, it's a bold move by Sascha to stop the rally because the umpire can just say, Sorry, buddy, you're in the rally. I don't care. You lost the point. I didn't see it.

That's where I just wanted to double-check with the umpire, what is the situation. But not for a second there was a sportsmanship situation there. It was just totally an umpire's decision with the ball kid and the lines person, as well, just making sure they got the facts right.

I don't know what the rule says. I always thought it was an umpire's decision, not a player's decision. In practice we stop rallies all the time when balls come flying from the second court. Like this, in that kind of a circumstance, it was a tough one for everybody involved, also for Sascha.

Q. You've always been supportive of Sascha, particularly going back to the Australian Open when you consoled him after his defeat. What did you say to him after the match? Do you think after his performance today he can go on and win it tomorrow?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, of course. I mean, he's obviously a good player, so clearly there's all the chances there to win. There's only one match left. He's a top-five player. There you go. He's got what it takes to win against anybody.

I think you make a bigger deal of the situation after the Australian Open than it actually was. It was a tap on the shoulder, just a little cheering up rather than like a full-on session of me getting into his head and telling him, It's all good.

Maybe it was a bigger deal for him. But for me it was something very short. Just trying to cheer him up a little bit after a tough loss.

What was the other thing?

Q. The chance of him winning it tomorrow, can he beat Novak?
ROGER FEDERER: Novak is not in the finals yet. Even if he is, I think I answered the question, yeah. But anything is possible, for sure.

Q. Clarify the incident in the tiebreak. What did you say to the ball boy? Did you get the chance to speak to him afterwards by any chance?
ROGER FEDERER: No. Maybe he's coming to dinner, I don't know (laughter). Give me a smile, don't be too serious, please. It was a joke.

I just asked him, Did you drop the ball? I didn't understand what he said. I said, Did you drop the ball?

He said, Yes, I did drop the ball.

From that standpoint, it's, Okay, no problem, that happens.

It's all good. It's all good. I hope he doesn't have a sleepless night. It's not a big deal at the end of the day. It could have been if maybe I win the next point.

Whatever happened, this is life, this is sports. I'm definitely not mad at him. It's all good, you know, from my side.

Q. I think you left the court by the time Sascha was booed by some sections of the crowd for apologizing for what happened. What do you make of all that?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, no, I mean, look, I understand the frustration. It's just unfortunate circumstances. These things happen. Booing, I never like it. We see it in other sports all the time, but in tennis it's rare. So when it happens, it gets very personal and we take it very direct.

I think it's unfortunate that this happened. Sascha doesn't deserve it. He apologized to me at the net.

I was like, Buddy, shut up. You don't need to apologize to me here. Congratulations on a great match and a great tournament so far. All the best for the finals. And you move on.

He shouldn't be apologizing. He didn't do anything about it. He just called it how it was. He felt it affected play. There is a rule that if something like this happens, obviously you replay points.

Should the umpire have explained his case more in that very moment? I mean, rules are rules. Replay the point. Everybody deal with it. You know, I did. We move on.

But, yeah, you don't like to see it. But, look, it happens. I'm sure he won't be booed coming out for the finals, or at least I hope so. It's not his mistake. I think people will be happy to see a good finals tomorrow.

Q. The season is obviously over for you now. If you have to look back on 2018, how would you evaluate things for yourself? As you look ahead to 2019, your thoughts there?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, Sampras once upon a time said, If you win a slam, it's a good season.

So started great. I played super well in Australia again. So obviously I can't wait to go back there in a couple of months.

The second half of the season could have been better maybe. I also have high hopes to always do well. So I'm happy I gave myself opportunities again in that second half of the season. I maybe lost a couple too close matches that could have changed things around for me a little bit. I don't know, Paris or Wimbledon, whatever happened.

I'm here now. So I'm a little bit disappointed there because I believe I was close. Being close makes me believe I can keep going, I can win again. That's uplifting in some ways.

But because I know I could have won, I'm also disappointed because I aim high. From that standpoint, I'm a little bit disappointed now, which is normal.

Overall I'm happy how the season went. There's many positives, to be quite honest. So I'm excited for next season, yeah.

Q. This defeat, you need 100 titles, you have won so many.
ROGER FEDERER: I don't need it, but go ahead. I will breathe air also if I don't (smiling).

Q. But that means that next year we have you in the courts and we'll have you with the same spirit since Houston 2003?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. I mean, look, I can't wait to go on vacation with the family. I don't want to say I can't wait for the buildup. It's something that doesn't bother me, you know, to work hard in the off-season.

But I don't know, with the experience I have, and my team, I think we're eager to see what we're going to work on exactly. Also what's the decision on the clay, seeing what's going to transpire through the vacation, what is my thoughts, all that, then taking the decision at some point in next few weeks on that.

Yeah, so definitely the plan is to play again next year, and come up with a good schedule that suits my family, suits Mirka, me. That's why it's good that we have time now. Also that suits fitness coach, physio, coaches, and everybody.

Yeah, looking forward to that process. I like taking decisions, so it's all good.

Q. As a ball boy, you never lost the ball?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't remember. I probably did (laughter).

Q. Five years ago you would have signed to be No. 3 in the world being 37 years old or not?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I probably would have. I must tell you I'm very proud that at 37 I'm still so competitive and so happy playing tennis. From that standpoint, I mean, as disappointed as I might be about this match, if I take a step back, I'm actually very happy about the season.

It's been an historic season in some ways. Got back to world No. 1. For me, that was a huge moment in my life, to be honest, in my career because I never thought I would get there again.

Like you said, five years ago, where was I? I was probably fighting with back pain in '13, not sure if I was ever going to figure that back pain out again because I had it for almost probably four or five months of the season. It really rocked my tennis for a bit.

Here I am having actually a pretty good season physically, as well, won another slam, got back to world No. 1. So, yes, you can see it as a very, very positive season. That's probably how I will look back on it, as well, once on vacation.

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