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May 9, 2019

Roger Federer

Madrid, Spain

R. FEDERER/G. Monfils

6-0, 4-6, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. The first set, too easy. Then what happened? The wind, or Monfils?
ROGER FEDERER: It cannot go on like this. You can dream about 6-Love, 6-Love (smiling) but they never happen. I think that's the beauty of the scoring system that if you win the first set, everything's back to scratch in the second set.

And I don't remember the break in the first game, but I think Gael showed great intensity in the beginning of the second set to make sure that he somehow gets a rhythm going and he starts playing better and he did.

And I guess even though I got back and had my chances and it was a pity I couldn't get the break in the second set when he served and volleyed on second serve to go up 5-4. That would have been a nice break to get.

I had a tough five games in a row where I lost, I am down 3-1 and eventually 4-1 in the third.

I think it was a combination of Gael really able to maybe be better from the baseline. It was swirly, so it was harder to hit winners. I believe as the wind picks up, you play safer and he is such a fast mover so it's harder to get past him at some stage. If you don't serve well, it is extra hard.

And I just kept on believing, fighting, hoping that something could maybe go my way, and it did. So, I also needed a bit of luck at the end and a bit of inspired tennis, I guess, to some extent, and it all worked out and I played a good breaker, so that was nice. So, I'm very happy.

Q. You said the other day that playing Nadal was sort of the yardstick for knowing how good you are on clay this year. But next up you have Dominic Thiem who beat Rafa last week in Barcelona. And he is, arguably, many might consider him as the man to beat here given his form recently. What do you expect from that match? And how much of an indicator it will be for your own level going forward?
ROGER FEDERER: No doubt about it, it would show that -- the match regardless gives me a lot of information. I think this Monfils match as well. These are guys you have to close out. Thiem the same thing. He plays with a lot of topspin, a lot of kick. He is not just going to go through a match on clay where he is not going to hit a ball into the court. That might happen sometimes on a really fast court and he might struggle a bit more if you are able to press and put him under pressure all the time.

On clay, you would think that that is not going to happen so I have to come up with the goods there so he's definitely a great test, like Monfils was early in the clay court season for me, still knowing that Madrid plays very different to the French Open.

But Thiem has been playing great. Recently, winning Barcelona and also Indian Wells. I also saw what he could do on the slower, harder courts, not that I needed him to prove his point. But I think beating Rafa in Barcelona is a feat in itself. I still believe that Rafa is the measuring stick and not Dominic. But we will see how it all plays out.

Q. Having saved two match points, does that make you feel extra confident right now or nothing because you had to face that situation?
ROGER FEDERER: It makes me feel extra relieved (smiling). It gives me some confidence because winning always solves a lot of problems that you might have. Instead of seeing a things bit more cloudy and rainy, you see it more on the sunny side you know. And you don't win matches every day saving match points, so they are unique in many ways and it makes you feel good, but it is more relief I feel right now.

Q. Do you think it is still possible to win a Grand Slam before the age of 20?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes. Why not? It's going to be tough, but it can definitely happen because a man's body is ready to win I think Slams at 18, 19. It is all a question of the body and where your game is at.

The mind will follow and especially when you are young, you can start dreaming big and make it happen, so it is definitely possible. It is not impossible. But it's tough.

Q. You came to the net a lot today. Is that a benefit of altitude? Could you imagine doing that at Roland Garros? What was going through your mind doing it on a second serve down match point?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think it is an option to be used on a hot and sunny day in Paris, too. I always thought that serve and volleying on a hot day on clay almost has more reward than on a grass court sometimes because the ball jumps out of the strike zone a little bit more and it's harder to press it down again into the feet of the attacking net player, so I think serve and volley can work very well on the clay.

Even more so here in Madrid and on match point, I just felt like not so confident to win the point from the baseline, so I said panic mode is switched on and we are coming in (smiling). Regardless of how and what and when, there was no more tactics except to serve it to the forehand to mix it up and you go to the net as quick as possible so you are as close as possible and I framed the first volley, which ended up being perfect (laughing).

Q. I spoke to Dominic Thiem this afternoon. He says a lot of people are underestimating your ability this week. Do you feel that in any way?
ROGER FEDERER: I want to make sure I understood correctly.

Q. I spoke to Dominic Thiem this afternoon. He says a lot of people are underestimating your ability this week. Do you feel that in any way?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm not sure. I think, like myself, anything is sort of possible, you know. The very good, the very bad, you know. But it's tough to just come out and play fantastic tennis. I also have to come to terms with how to play on clay again, what's normal, which points to lose and which points to win again.

There's always these natural things that you go through for weeks on the clay usually, so I don't have that much time, so I have to accept errors that maybe I wouldn't do normally and just move on with it.

I don't think anybody's really underestimating me because I'm not coming back from an injury. I've had a good start to the season this year. And it is pretty fast here in Madrid and I've won here in the past, so I guess players maybe know I don't have that much clay court tennis in me in the last few years, but that doesn't make me less dangerous to be quite honest.

Q. Today has been the day where you heard for the 1,200th time that of 'game, set and match for Roger Federer'. I would like to ask you if you could pick your two or three most special victories in your life, and say why they are so special?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I only heard it after the match that I reached 1,200. I didn't know about it going in to be honest. So, most special, I'm not sure. Maybe beating Ferrero in Australia to get world No. 1 for the first time, February '04. That gave me the chance to be world No. 1 for the first time. And maybe Safin as well in Hamburg 2002 when I won. That match made me, put me top ten for the first time. I think it put me into No. 8 in the world. And of course Wimbledon, 2003 against Philipoussis.

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