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June 4, 2019

Roger Federer

Paris, France

R. FEDERER/S. Wawrinka

7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You say that you came to Roland Garros just to see what happen or without pressure. Now you are in the semifinal. What are your feelings about that?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I'm very happy, you know, number one, to be back in another semifinals of a Grand Slam. It hasn't happened, you know, in the last year or so. I had some tough losses in fourth rounds or quarters.

So from that standpoint, I exceeded my expectations here. You know, after missing the French for so many years, it's nice to be back in the semis, so that's a great feeling.

And the match was obviously particular in many levels against Stan, who I know so, so well, and he knows me, too. So it was always going to be tough. And then with the rain delay, you add that into it, it was super interesting, but I was able to hold my nerve.

And now I have the match with Rafa, and I'm clearly excited. I hope I can recover well in the next couple days, which I'm sure I will, and I'll give it my best shot on Friday.

Q. You finished the match with a volley, and you said earlier this week that to play the volley well, you have to play like a panther. I wanted to ask you, can you tell us what animal you think you play like for your serve and your other shots? And also, have you got the eye of the tiger right now?
ROGER FEDERER: I think it's always in the attitude. You maybe look towards the animal for inspiration. I'm not sure, but I don't think you can think of a shot and think of an animal. It's really just either the point-for-point mentality.

It's, you know, how do you get best effort in practice. You know, how do you inspire yourself to travel the world. And then when it comes to the crunch like this, when you do come to the net, you have to do it with a purpose. You can't just do it because somebody told you to do it and you think it's the right thing. You have to come in there believing.

And I think the last two points of the match ended up in volleys. So it's even more gratifying when you win that way; for me, anyway.

Q. As you mentioned, you're obviously pleased in making it to the semis at Roland Garros. You're in the semis against Rafa. This is perhaps one of the greatest rivalries in all of sport, not just tennis. How do you approach this rivalry? Do you get up for it more so than any other opponent, or do you just treat it like another semifinal opponent?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, there is always two ways to look at it. Of course I follow my schedule, I follow my game plan, what does my game allow me to do, what are the conditions like.

But then of course I think with Rafa's, particularly on clay, his strengths, what he brings to the table, you have to be aware, you know, who you're playing against. I mean, always, but even more so against Rafa. And on top of it, because he's a left-hander, it just changes everything.

I have two days, which I guess is a good thing. It's better than one. It's better than none. So from that standpoint, I get more left-handed practice, more serves and all that stuff.

Because I guess I have played five guys now, you know, that are righties, so for me it's a complete switch-around. Just the way the ball goes out of your strings with the different spins, it's just different. So you have to get used to that quickly. Don't have much time to waste.

That's why you have to be fearless to some extent to take on the spinny balls, the sliding balls, the kicking balls, and that's what I will do on Friday.

Q. Before, he was told in Spanish what you had said on court when you said that you were happy to be in the semifinals and happy to play Rafa. And he said, I believe the first part. I'm not so sure about the second part. Because, I mean, you know that the last time you beat Rafa on clay was 2009 Madrid and 2007 in Hamburg. So after all these years, what can be changed so that you are more optimistic before you play him?
ROGER FEDERER: Like against any player, there is always a chance. Otherwise nobody will be in the stadium to watch because everybody already knows the result in advance. And I think sport does that to you, that every match needs to be played before it's decided.

And that's exactly what everybody believes by facing Rafa. They know it's going to be tough. But you just never know. He might have a problem. He might be sick. You never know. You might be playing great or for some reason he's struggling. Maybe there's incredible wind, rain, 10 rain delays. You just don't know. That's why you need to put yourself in that position.

For me to get to Rafa is not simple. It took five matches here for me to win to get there. That's why I'm very happy to play Rafa, because if you want to do or achieve something on the clay, inevitably, at some stage, you will go through Rafa, because he's that strong and he will be there.

I knew that when I signed up for the clay that hopefully that's gonna happen. If I would have had a different mindset to avoid him, then I should not have played the clay. So I think by that mindset, I think it helped me to play so well so far this tournament.

Q. At times in your career you have mentioned that Rafa is the only player you changed your game to try to beat, especially on clay. Do you think now, playing him now, you'll be playing your natural game instead of -- has it changed from the way it was when you did change your game?
ROGER FEDERER: It's never natural against any lefty, Rafa or another lefty. It's just everything changes. We play 80% of the time against righties. And when we play a lefty, it's just a different match. It's interesting match.

I used to hate it. Now I love it, you know, because it's a huge challenge against those guys, and he's the best one that I ever faced against.

I'm looking forward to the test, you know. Yeah.

Q. A slight change of topic. You guys, Rafa and Novak and yourself, kind of retired Andy Murray in a way on court at the Australian Open. There was, like, a big video where you were saying you're sad for him to leave the sport. Wondering your reaction to him coming to Queen's and playing professional tennis in a couple weeks' time. Are you surprised he's made it back so quickly?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really. Australian Open was early in the year, and he's coming back for doubles. So from that standpoint, you know -- I mean, he knows. Only he knows.

And we were more told that, from what I heard in the press conference, that this could be it, so can you please make a message? Okay, fine, we'll do a message. But we were hoping that this message is not actually real.

And I think for Andy, as well, I think when I saw him after his match against Bautista Agut, I also had just won my match. I saw him in the locker room, and I was, like, So what's up? Are you really retiring? He didn't know.

I was, like, Okay, clearly, there is misunderstandings or he's not sure yet.

I just think it was an emotional moment, as you were probably all there. And I think he just was at a breaking point where he just realized, like this, I cannot keep playing anymore.

I have been there. Like at Wimbledon, for instance, that year in '16, I realized I cannot keep doing what I'm doing like this. It's just not healthy anymore.

He was in that moment and it just hit him. I think after we realized he wasn't sure, we were all hoping he would come back. And from what I'm hearing, there is two ways to look at it. It's number one for his health, and we want Andy to be healthy, more so than being a tennis player. But if he can play tennis on top of it, that's a super bonus.

And I think all of us top guys would be thrilled to see him back on the tour.

Q. You had a lot of breakpoints, kind of difficult to convert on today, and closing out was pretty difficult. I think you had a couple double faults in the last game. Mats Wilander says as you get older in your career, the pressure does become more difficult to manage. I wonder for you whether closing things out now is becoming a little tougher.
ROGER FEDERER: No, it's not (laughter). And send Mats best. I'm not taking it personal, but still send him my best regards.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in native language.

Q. Would you say that Stan's physical ability to resist surprised you?
ROGER FEDERER: No, not at all. Unless he's injured, he's okay. Maybe I would have felt him not as quick if he had been hurt, maybe you can think that he's not as quick as he could have been, but I didn't feel it. I was expecting a difficult match.

It wasn't super explosive on clay, especially if he plays from far behind, and I also decided to play from far back.

So we found a rhythm which may be okay for both of us. I don't know if it would have been better for me to play more to the front and take the ball sooner?

But it worked, and I'm happy about that. But I'm not surprised he reached that level, because we know how strong he is both mentally and physically.

Q. Were you able to watch Rafa's matches over these two weeks, thinking that you might eventually play him, or have you preferred not to think about such an opportunity?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I watched him play. I don't remember when, but I didn't watch these matches thinking of what would I do against him. I followed the matches like any other fan would watch a match.

Honestly, I didn't see many. I mostly saw him playing in Rome and Madrid. But he's the same guy. He's been the same guy for all these years.

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