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May 7, 2019

Roger Federer

Madrid, Spain

R. FEDERER/R. Gasquet

6-2, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Clay is a more tiring surface, but you played quite well on clay for the year, so are you happy in Madrid, or was it a change that you improvised?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't think we're going to get very tired in Madrid because conditions don't play fast here. You can really use the bounce to the court to shorten points if you really want to.

The question is like is the risk going to pay off sometimes? Of course, it is clay at the end of the day. There are bad bounces. It also is not always simple to take the ball on.

But, look, I'm very happy to be back on clay. Super happy to be back here in Madrid. The crowds and the ovation I got before and after the game were great. It really makes you feel like that was the right choice to come to Madrid, so that felt good.

The first game went well. I didn't think Richard was at his best, far off. But from my side, it was a good match.

Q. How much have you missed the sensation of playing on clay, the sliding and all the technical challenges it throws up to a player?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, look, not too much, to be quite honest with you. I'd love to tell you, I miss it so much. Once you take a decision -- I mean, I missed it in '16 because I was in Paris. I was really trying everything to get in shape and that was a very frustrating period for me. When I came here I had to pull out because my knee was swollen and I played Rome because I had a bad back and a bad knee because I broke my back here on top of all things, so that's maybe when I missed playing Paris the most.

The following year, it was a decision for my longevity, for my health, for my family.

Last year, I just felt like, you know what, it worked so well in '17, let's do the same thing again in '18. And I didn't really miss it because I was enjoying myself at home and having a good time and again, looking at the longevity.

Once the decision was upon me again for this year, if I would have skipped the clay again, I think I would have felt like that's not the right decision. I would have always felt regrets not being on the clay in 2019 because my knee problem is far enough away now because that was still playing a little bit part of our decision in '17 to be quite honest, not from my side but more from the team.

So, it feels good to be back on the clay now and I enjoy it to be honest. Some of these rallies where you get pushed to the side, you slide, you hit the ball, you slide, you hit the ball, you come back into it, then you can defend in a different manner than you do on the hard courts, or on the grass.

Q. Now, it's been ten years since your last big tournament against Rafa on clay here. Would you like to play against him in the final?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, that means I'm in the finals. And I didn't have many chances to beat him the last three years on clay (laughing), so years go by quickly.

Sure I remember back to the finals here in Madrid as one of my good matches on clay, no doubt about it. I think he was pretty tired as well. I played solid. Yeah, of course, I would love to play on clay against him again, even though I know it's a tough challenge and all that.

But again it would be nice to have played him at the beginning of his the career on clay and also at the very end and see how it all plays out. And if I said I don't want to play him on clay, I think then I would have made a mistake to be on the clay in the first place because he is the measuring stick for all us players.

Q. We think of clay as being long points and very physical. Tonight was nothing like that. It was gone in a flash. You were saying Madrid is different.
ROGER FEDERER: It is different.

Q. Do you think you can play like that throughout this swing?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I think Paris is going to be very different. Of course, you add maybe some colder conditions and rain to it, you know. You'll have to play differently, have a different approach, different mindset. But I think here in Madrid you can definitely come in with a hard court mindset, to some extent.

Take the ball on and it's easier to stay in the sets just because you can serve your way out of trouble which maybe you cannot do time and time again on other clay court events like Monaco, maybe Barcelona. I haven't been there in so long, but everything at sea-level plays different, you know. So that's why I know Madrid is not Paris, you know, and then of course I don't know how the conditions are going to be exactly, I haven't played with the balls over there. There's going to be a switch in ball manufacturers as well, so we have to see.

This is definitely not traditional clay courts in the sense because you can play and this is altitude for us players.

Q. You said that you took the decision of playing on clay in the last season and I would like to know what kind of work that you did with Paganini in order to prevent your knee being swollen again?
ROGER FEDERER: This was not about the knee. This was more about preparing for extended rallies which I knew I wanted to work on because of the problems I had at the US Open with the heat.

I just think a lot of things led to that problem at the US Open. I had a stiff back, I guess, from sort of post-Wimbledon until I end up pre-season as well a little bit and because I have been on the hard and grass courts for so long, rallies were always on the shorter side, I'd say, especially since Cincinnati anyway and it was mild and I had a desire to work again especially in fitness because the matches didn't allow me to extend the rallies as much, you know, to work on playing longer points and that, obviously, is what you need on clay maybe.

We'll see. Maybe it will be just one game in Paris and it was all for nothing. Still, I think it helps for any surface, you know, to be really tough when the rallies go long. And I feel very strong right now. And obviously we worked on that in December already.

So the knee has been long gone, to be honest. That was all done by mid-'17 I'd say after I won Wimbledon.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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