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June 2, 2019

Roger Federer

Paris, France


6-2, 6-3, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.

Q. Did you have to adapt a lot in your game coming back to the clay? Would you consider an underarm serve against a guy way back of the baseline or would it be disrespectful?
ROGER FEDERER: Totally possible, I don't think I would use it, but I have thought about it many times. Yeah, I don't think it's disrespectful. It's part of what you're allowed to do. Anything in the rules is okay (smiling).

Q. After answering a question about young guys on the tour, two days ago you talked about Ruud, about his style of game, and you talk about Zverev and Tsitsipas, all the other young players. Don't you think that when you will leave the tour, some of your shots you have in your book will go with you? Because, for example, the chip and charge, the use of your slice backhand, don't you think it's a legacy that no one will pick up when you leave?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I think other guys will come up with new tricks, you know. And I don't play that dissimilar, I believe, to the older generation, you know. It's hard to reinvent the wheel, you know. But of course maybe Rafa, Novak, and me, we have something special, whatever that is. It's maybe a combination of many things, you know.

But, yeah, sure, I think a lot of my fans or Novak's fans or Rafa's fans, when either one of us retires, we'll feel a bit of a void, you know, but I think it will just take a few years after that to fall in love with another player, you know. Because if you love tennis, you don't love the game because of one player. I think it's because of the sport and what it does to you and how you feel about it.

And I think tennis will only get better as time goes by, so I know I'll be watching.

Q. Yesterday, first, 10th anniversary of one of the most remarkable points in your career, you were playing against Tommy Haas here, and you were two sets down, 3-4 in the third, and you saved that break point with second serve with a inside out forehand at the line. My question is: Do you remember that set point? What are the memories you have in your mind about that because after that you won nine games in a row and ended up winning the match and the tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I remember it very vividly. You know, obviously I wasn't thinking of winning the French Open, being down in that score. But as I hit that forehand, you know, for the first time in the match I felt like, Well, finally, one has really hit the target I was looking for, and I know what saving break points can do, you know, to turn around matches, you know.

As I was fist pumping, going back to the, you know, whatever, to the deuce side, I told myself, Well, hopefully this is going to be a big moment one day, you know, today in this match, trying to come back. I didn't think I was obviously going to win nine games in a row because I was struggling so much. But I was just finally relieved that I made that shot more than anything.

I almost texted Tommy yesterday, just I knew it was a 10-year anniversary, but then I didn't do it. Just felt like it wasn't the right thing to do, but the thought was there (smiling).

Q. What do you feel about your game today?
ROGER FEDERER: It was good. Big serving, windy, it was tough conditions. We didn't have many baseline rallies, to be quite honest, that were, you know, sort of neutral. Either one was always pressing and the other guy was defending.

I think when it's this kind of conditions, it's fast, it's swirly, especially the one side, you have a lot of wind in your back. It's like you're serving from sort of a tree, from a mountain, you know, and from the other one you feel like you're playing up the hill.

Important, it's focused there and I did that well, and I'm very pleased with the game.

Q. I know that you first have to play a very tough match against Stan or Stefanos, but I want to know what will your strategy be against Nadal if you play in the semifinal?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm not gonna talk about that (smiling), just because I'm not there. But I will answer that question very happily if I'm there (smiling).

Q. Well played again today. One thing that you have said at the end of the last round is that you wanted to find out if you could return to play your best tennis again. And I was just wondering, what is the motivation for you after everything that you have achieved to take on that challenge of still wanting to be the best?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, you improve a lot as a kid, as a junior, as a teenager, and then all of a sudden progress is slow.

At one point you come to a place where you're trying to just get back to that good place time and time again, or as long as possible, or as often as possible. I guess that's what I have been seeking, chasing, you know, for the last whatever, however many years.

And as different players come, you realize you have to adjust a little bit, either with your serve, either you tinker with technology, with the racquet size or whatever string technology, and, you know, maybe take the ball earlier or later. Whatever you're trying to do, there's always going to be a plan behind it.

But I think tennis is a great sport, it never gets boring, because every day plays different, every opponent plays different, you know, every guy gives you different struggles. For that reason, I never got bored of the game. Anyway, so far not yet.

I don't know. That I see as a motivation, and then of course it's easy to be motivated playing at this kind of a stadium with full crowds, giving a standing ovation at the end. I would admit I would be struggling on court whatever, you know, 23, with impossible shades and no people watching, especially after living the big courts. So I'm definitely lucky to some extent but maybe also earned my way onto the big courts so it's easy to be motivated.

I think the big question for me is how do I handle travels and practice sessions when there is nobody. Am I happy to go on the treadmill, all that stuff? So far, so good, I hope I can keep that up, yeah.

Q. I'm not sure if you saw yesterday Dominic Thiem kind of taking a bit of exception to being kicked out of the interview room here kind of midway through. I don't know how much you have seen of that. I was curious actually whether you have ever been in that situation in your career, either when you were a younger guy coming up where kind of one of the superstars has come in, wanted to do her press and you've had to cut your conference short and go out, whether you have kind of knowingly come into press, wanting to get on with it really quickly and kicked someone else out? And what your general thoughts are on that situation happening to a world No. 4 who is...
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, a superstar. Male superstar. He is.

So, look, I mean, something must have happened, you know, that this situation happened. You know, I don't know what went wrong, but something went wrong for this to happen.

I think there is, with all the players, always a way to go that, you know, the one who is still in the tournament gets priority. Anyway, that's how I see it. If I would have lost today against Mayer, I would let Mayer go first or decide when he wants to go to press as he's got a next match. My next match is far, far away. So that's just the way you go about it.

Now, there must have sure been a misunderstanding or maybe they should have kept Serena still in the locker room, not waiting here in the press center. I don't know exactly what happened. I understand Dominic's frustration.

For him it's just about how in the world did this happen? I don't think he's mad at Serena or anybody. I just think it was an unfortunate situation that I thought was funny (laughter) and we joked about it just before. That's why I'm very much aware of what happened, and that's why we are laughing in the locker room about it now.

But in the moment I'm sure I understand his, like, What is going on? It's a joke. How he said it, it was great. I love his accent (laughter). In German, too, by the way, not just in English. And he knows that.

Q. You've got Stan and Stefanos playing quite a heated match at the moment, both single-handed backhands. Are you surprised that shot sort of survived through quite a few of the younger players now?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it's good to see. I'm happy, very happy. Dominic and then two guys, I wonder if there are other guys in the tournament still. But Mayer, for instance, yes. It's nice that it's not a dying breed, because Stefanos will be around for a long time. So will be Dominic. And that will inspire a new generation.

I think at the end of the day, how do you say, some people, it just feels better to hit one-handed. You feel more free by hitting with the one hand. I always felt locked up if I even nowadays try to hit a double-hander. It doesn't feel good, you know, in the chest, in the body, the arm, everything feels wrong about it.

It's nice that there are still guys doing it, and I think it will always be that way. But I think the majority will be double-handed backhands, just because I think it's, with the heavy racquets and all that stuff in the beginning, you start with two hands. Everybody does. And sometimes you just don't ever let it go, because it feels natural to keep your two hands on the grip.

Q. When you were speaking of French moments after the win, you said you'd envisioned the worst, which was a first-round loss in straight sets. Seeing the level you're playing at, that seems a bit hard to believe. Was that a case of taking the pressure off yourself, coming back on the clay? Is that a kind of strategy not to raise expectations and play in a much more relaxed way than you might do?
ROGER FEDERER: Maybe. Partially. I'm not sure. I do believe that I am a normal guy, and I have to know what is the worst-case scenario. I mean, just for me as a player, for me as a father, for me as a husband, I need to know schedules. So I have to plan both ways always.

Of course, it's not very long I talk about it, not every day, because otherwise you get into this negative spiral that you don't want to be in.

But I think it's the same with your game. You need to be brutally honest to yourself sometimes and just say, I don't know, my forehand is terrible right now. I'm not going to tell myself, It's great. That's why sometimes you go to the practice court and work on it.

Same thing with your body; you need to know the things that are working and not working. As the unknown on the clay and here in Paris, to some extent, was still high, you know, it was a scenario, you know. Like it was today a scenario to also lose in straight sets. Like for that matter, any match I play on the tour for the last 20 years, there is a chance I lose in straight sets.

But I take enough shirts on the court, I take enough racquets, strings, shoes, I'm ready for the battle. And I'm there to fight. I'm not going to go without trying.

But, yeah, I mean, of course the hope was to go deep, you know, and I'm in the quarters now, so I'm very, very happy at this point.

Q. If you play Tsitsipas next, have you already thought about how you would approach that and what maybe from Australia you might want to try differently? And separately, can you give us a little insight into the matchup with Stan if you end up playing him?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, the three matches we played against each other with Stefanos at Hopman Cup, Australia, and then Dubai, were, you know, obviously on a faster court, especially Dubai and Perth, I thought. There was a lot of domination by serving, you know. It was hard to get into the rallies and all that.

Australia was a little bit slower, and I think I played a few, you know, should have been more offensive overall especially as the match went on. I didn't do that enough.

So I was able to change that for Dubai and was able to control the match this way.

Now on clay it's very different, you know. I would definitely have to look back into how Stefanos plays on clay. Obviously he returns from further back, he's not so far in. But he moves very naturally on the clay surface. So he's coming in with tons of matches, as well, in the year but also on clay, with a great win against Rafa in Madrid.

So, you know, I'm expecting a tough match. He's got the options to serve and volley. I saw him doing that in Monte-Carlo against Medvedev, but then also he's happy to rally from the baseline. He can figure it out, depending on the conditions. I'm hearing it's going to be maybe raining, 20 degrees on Tuesday. That's going to anyway put some adjustments on to all the players playing on that day. Yeah, I'll still have to look into it.

Against Stan it's more straightforward. We know each other very well, we have played a ton of matches against each other. Also on clay, this is when it's been most tough for me against him. If I think back at Monaco finals, French Open here in '15 and then also he beat me in Monaco another time. So on clay it's been definitely more dangerous than on any other surface for me against him.

Look, it always starts by saying I'm just happy for the guy that he's back after his knee problems. They were severe, and that's why I think he's really happy he got sort of a second life on tour, because I think for a while there he wasn't sure if he was ever going to come back again. It's nice to see him pain-free and playing well.

I hope he's not at the level of '15, but we'll find out, because there he was crushing the ball. It was unbelievable.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. You talked about it in Swiss-German and also a little bit in English. Can you tell us how Stan is different on clay than on other surfaces? Why is he more dangerous?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think it's like anyone who likes to play from the baseline, Ruud, Sonego, Rafa, and Tsitsipas, to a certain point, as well. Those who return from afar avoid half-volleys and false rebounds. While when you play on the line, you have to do half-volleys, and if you want to avoid them you have to go up to the net.

And on clay, sometimes it's difficult to do it point after point, and on hard surface, you could have half-volleys all day. But on clay, you can't always do that, or you must have a lot of confidence, be on the right foot, and I don't know, I guess this helps them. This is a plus for them.

But on hard court, Stan must also return in the court. But I guess he has more possibilities for returning.

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