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May 14, 2019

Roger Federer

Rome, Italy

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. In your many experiences, you have the experience of the old players of the Italian school, Seppi, and the new one of Piatti school, the same school but two different generations. What do you think about them?
ROGER FEDERER: You're talking about Sinner now?

Q. Yes.
ROGER FEDERER: I practiced with him yesterday, Seppi today. So it's true, I practiced with both generations.

Yeah, I think Sinner is a good player. I practiced with him outside of Monaco after the Laureus Awards last year in February. I saw him when he was young. He made some nice improvements, obviously gotten stronger.

He seems like a good guy. In terms of maybe technique, it's a similar approach to a strong baseline game. I mean, from Sinner we have still so much more to come, whereas Andreas, we know him so very well, we know what to expect. He's super tough.

But both come from similar places. Both are really nice. I think also Riccardo does a nice job of educating the person, not only the player.

Q. You have gotten off to some quick starts in your matches of late. Is that something since you were a junior you've been good at? Why do you think you've been able to do that so well, especially of late?
ROGER FEDERER: You always try to get off to a good start, but you can't always do it. Sometimes your opponent is stronger. I think everybody knows how important a good start is for the remainder of the match. I don't think it's something you can necessarily practice. I think a good warmup helps, a good focus, and also being able I think to settle the nerves early helps to play good tennis. I don't remember going back to my junior days and thinking, I have to start well.

It's what your coach tells you before you walk out: Remember, try to start well.

You're like: Yeah, I'll try to do that.

There's never a guarantee.

Q. There's an ATP board election tonight, the council voting for the new board member to replace Justin. As someone with experience in that, what qualities would you look for in making that decision? Then, when you announced you're playing, they doubled ticket prices for tomorrow. I'm curious if you think you should get a cut of that.
ROGER FEDERER: No. No. But I heard about it. I heard some fans clearly were not happy about it. That's obviously disappointing to hear. They made it in a way like they rewarded the fans who bought tickets earlier, which is sort of strange, but okay.

Look, I just really hope it doesn't take away the fact I'm really happy to be here. There's going to be good crowds hopefully, good atmosphere. Personally I'm very happy to be here. I'm pumped up to play well. I mean, my excitement couldn't be bigger.

The moment I landed in Rome yesterday, I was so happy to be here. I love this city. Always enjoyed playing in Italy. It's probably the country I've played the most junior tennis in. Coming down from Switzerland to the clay courts was always a logical junior trip. They have very strong junior tournaments here. I love being here, especially in this city as well.

In terms of the board decision, you know, I think what we need is somebody who can definitely also communicate well with players and then also with the other board members on the tournament side. It's been at times quite divided. I'm not sure if that's good.

I understand that you have to fight for the players, and they fight for the tournaments. In some stages you also have to find consensus between one another. Yeah, I'm curious to find out who it's going to be.

I just hope that person's going to be hard-working, excited, and understands it's a very important role. I'm hoping it's not going to be a role he sort of does on the side and he has another priority. That would be nice.

Q. What went into the decision to come here? You obviously had those three matches in Madrid, a couple dramatic matches.

Q. The Madrid conditions lent to your tennis well. Why did you feel like you wanted to come here to Rome?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I don't know if it lends itself that well. Madrid is a tough place to play. Ball bounces extremely high. There was wind, nice weather. There were shadows. Conditions were tough for all players. I know people think, Oh, it's faster, so it's better. But conditions are tough in Madrid.

I felt like playing somewhat maybe more sea level conditions would be good for me. In Switzerland we have somewhat of an altitude everywhere you go, everywhere you look. The weather this week in Switzerland is also not great. Yesterday when I left it was like five degrees in the morning when I woke up. It's just not ideal to practice this way as well I believe.

Then I was in the mood to play. Would I rather practice or play matches? I've just come from practicing for five weeks after Miami. I think I was playing well in Madrid, so I just said, again, Let's come to Rome, a city I like so much as well. There would be excitement, more excitement than me coming to a practice court in Switzerland (smiling). I thought that would be nice.

Honestly, I love to play matches. Regardless of what happens here, I just think it's good for me to play matches at this stage.

Q. Having skipped the clay season for a few years, now having come back, you played Madrid, do you feel like your clay game came right back or did it feel you've been away for a while on this surface?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I got that question a lot last week. I felt I actually came back fairly quickly. Especially now with having played Madrid, I think the decision making also came back quite natural.

I think it always goes back to the fact that I did grow up on this surface. Sliding is something I actually enjoy doing. The problem is, like, the more time I spend on clay, maybe sometimes the more excited I get playing on the surface, start sliding around too much instead of actually moving sometimes like on the hard courts and only sliding when really required.

I think this week, then next week in Paris, it's going to be interesting to see how I play the points, how I do it all. In Madrid, like we said, conditions were extremely fast, so you could play serve and volley, you could come to the net. Here maybe it's easier to play dropshots, easier maybe to go backhands up the line. On fast courts it's maybe not so simple to do that at will.

I must say also in practice in Switzerland I felt good right away. Very happy where I'm at, to be quite honest. I was a bit surprised that it went as easy as it did, yeah.

Q. Dominic Thiem said a lot of guys with one-handed backhands are beating Rafa more than in the past. Do you feel you have a chance maybe here?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I'm so far away in the draw, I don't even know where he is, if I'm in his section or not. But I have other problems first getting there.

But, yeah, it's true. I thought Stefanos was very impressive against him last week. I saw the end of the game. Then also obviously Dominic in, what is it, Barcelona played great. Stan has also played him tough in the past. This time it didn't work out in Madrid.

Yeah, I mean, possibly. There is a bit of a new wave coming through with the one-handed backhand that can counter some of Rafa's spins and lefty play. But, again, this is maybe also just a moment in time. We'll see what happens for the rest of the year.

Q. Venus and Serena are playing against each other tomorrow for the first time here in 21 years. They played here in 1998 when they were teenagers.

Q. Do you ever see them and wonder what it would be like to have the same opponent or rival for that long? I'm not sure you overlapped with anybody that hovered around your level for more than two decades. What would that journey be like with an opponent, regardless if they're in your family or not?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, look, family, it's even extra tough. At least it's not a contact sport, so that's okay. The Klitschko brothers, they didn't want to do it, I understand.

Yeah, I mean, the only one that comes close I guess is Rafa to some extent, then Lleyton Hewitt. It is interesting, especially coming through the juniors, seeing somebody evolve and grow like this. Eventually they become the champion, but you still always see the kid in them. That will never go away. For that reason, I think when you have the same age, exact same age, the rivalries are different. I won't say they're more exciting, but they are exciting.

You know so much, learn so much, promoted so many tournaments and places, maybe sponsorship, who knows what. They've done a lot of things together.

So, yeah, this rivalry is definitely highly unique in all of sports.

Q. What do you think about this year, there are so many different winners? All tournaments different except you, and in clay more. All the big tournaments a different winner. What do you think about this? The level is very high or what?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I guess it's also a bit of a normal evolution. I think it's not always possible for everybody to win everything. You might maybe think that it has stabilized a little bit with Thiem winning Indian Wells and Barcelona, with Novak winning last week, and in Australia, me winning Dubai and Miami. There's a few multiple champions now.

It's true, the young guys are pushing through nicely the last year. You look at the move that Tsitsipas has done, or Medvedev or Khachanov, Felix, Denis, so forth. It's announcing to be a very exciting season, even a more complicated one for the top guys next year, I believe, because this is the year where they truly are breaking through, truly are gaining a lot of experience.

I think it's going to be a good season. It's going to be interesting to see who is going to make the World Tour Finals, especially if so many guys have won especially big titles, like Fabio in Monaco. That's going to give him a chance to stay in the hunt, in the race for a long time. If he stays healthy, he has a lot to play for, like a few other guys, by the way. I think it's going to be cool.

Especially for the clay-courters, this is a huge swing here, what's left for Rome and Paris. Then maybe after Wimbledon again.

Yeah, I think it's going to be good. I'm happy to see that it is the way it is, to be quite honest.

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