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ROLAND GARROS


May 24, 2019


Roger Federer


Paris, France

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.

Q. How does it feel compared to four years ago? Did you come with different mindset or is it all new? How is it? What are your first impressions?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, look, a lot of things have changed. This is the first time I think I'm in this room, for instance. Center court looks very different. There has been a lot of upgrades and investments made. So you can feel it, you know. It's definitely growing and it's nice to see.

Now, I feel still it is the old Roland Garros, it's kept its flair and everything, you know, and of course I'm excited to see how it is when it's all going to be filled up with the fans and the crowds and the people.

Personally, for me, I'm again very happy to be back. Maybe a tiny bit more, you know, because I have missed the last three editions, and when you miss something in life, you're happy to be back there again for me, and this is the case this year. I'm really happy to be back in Paris.

Q. It seems like Paris is back in your good books. You came back to the Paris Masters at the end of last year. I'm curious, how much do you feel the end of last season helped you where you played more and it seemed like you played yourself more into form going into this season?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, being healthy solves so many issues. Of course, winning solves everything. But being healthy is really key at this stage of my career, and, you know, the last time I have been really badly injured has been basically Montreal two years ago almost. I'm very happy how my body has been.

You know, there has always been little things going on, like in Rome, as well. But that was also precautionary. I wanted to make sure I was 100% going to be able to play the French Open. I just had that doubt like if I did I couldn't. And I didn't like that feeling. That's why I had to take the tough decision.

It's true, I didn't have to, you know, second-guess myself too many times. I could just say, like, do I really want to play Paris indoors? Do I want to play the clay? Because the body always said yes. It was just a question if it was good for my schedule, it's the right thing to do. Is the family okay with it? Do the coaches agree? But from the body I always got the green light, and that's a luxury at this age (smiling).

Q. How did Roland Garros inspire you when you were growing up? What does it mean to you now to be able to play here with everything you have achieved in your career?
ROGER FEDERER: Look, I've always enjoyed playing here. It's definitely the Grand Slam that's been closest to my home in Basel. It's not that far to take the car or train to come here.

You know, I played the juniors here back in '98. I got a wildcard in '99, 20 years ago. I played Pat Rafter on Suzanne Lenglen. My memories go way back. Of course, I remember vividly the Martina Hingis-Steffi Graf match because Martina was basically my age and she was doing things, didn't know how she did it, but at a young age while I was still in diapers basically but the same age as her she was No. 1 in the world. My memories go to that or Jim Courier winning the French Open.

Those were the times I was playing junior tournaments in Switzerland at this time of the year on clay, and we would follow the French Open on TV, and then one day I was part of the fabric and of course 10 years ago being able to win it, that was a dream come true. So that was nice.

Q. It sounds as if you trust your fitness quite a bit more than you have in the last couple years. Is there an asset and a liability to playing long matches here early on, as you continue to get your feet under you on clay?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I don't think so. I think I have been able to train hard enough and also got the necessary tough matches in Madrid and Rome, more than I would have liked to, but I guess we like saving match points or trying to lose with match points. But no, I really feel like playing under the pressure and playing with the nerves was important for me so I feel totally ready.

I feel like before every Grand Slam of course if you can avoid tough, long matches in the beginning, it's going to increase your chances for the tournament later on. But in some ways I'm happy to be here and I just want to get through that first round to get the campaign going. That's my focus right now, not think too far ahead.

Q. Not that you're getting old or anything, but I just want to talk to you about the condition of your body, playing on the clay. As you get older, what is the toughest part to get up for matches? What is the part of the body that hurts the most or is the hardest to recover from?
ROGER FEDERER: I think probably the biggest difference I feel is just sometimes recovery from an injury or from a certain pain you feel takes longer. You know, like when you have maybe a blocked back as a teenager, it's really going to hurt you for the rest of the day and maybe the next day, and after that it's kind of gone. Whereas maybe if you have that at my age it might linger and stay around for a week, maybe a month. Depends, you know, what your issue is.

I feel like it's mostly there. Otherwise, whatever the surface is for me, thankfully I don't have an issue with grass, clay, or hard, it seems like anyway. I pulled up on the clay totally fine after Madrid. Of course I had some muscle pain in different places that maybe I wouldn't have had on the grass or the hard courts. That's normal and I will feel those muscle pains as well when I go on the grass, maybe lower back or hips and all that stuff. Maybe you feel more pressure on it.

But overall, I think it's all in how are you able to train, you know. And the problem is when you have niggling injuries, sometimes you're not able to train as much as you would like to, and that's when you start losing conditioning and you are starting to lose power, and one thing leads to another. That's why I'm just really happy that I have been as healthy as I have been. I think the results show that I have been able to play at a top level.

Q. Do you think you can win this tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: Don't know. A bit of a question mark for me. Some ways I feel similar to maybe the Australian Open in '17. A bit of the unknown. I feel like I'm playing good tennis, but is it enough or is it enough against the absolute top guys when it really comes to the crunch? I'm not sure if it's in my racquet, you know. But I hope I can get myself in that position deep down in the tournament against the top guys, you know.

But first I need to get there and I know that's a challenge in itself. Yeah, it's definitely going to be an exciting tournament mentally to go through.

Q. I'm working for a portrait of Dustin Brown. I was wondering if you could tell me a word about him.
ROGER FEDERER: Unfortunately, I never played him. Look, I'm a big fan of guys who play untraditional way and don't -- he's not the grinder that puts you into the ground and tries to beat you that way. He's gonna try to win every point in a different fashion and if he plays two shots the same it's a bit of a surprise. I like that about him. He's got all the shots in the book; has great return, great serve, great volley. He can be fast and explosive. He has a little bit of problem with his lower back that keeps coming back for him, which is tough. He has a great feel around the net and I have seen him play some incredible matches in the past, especially at Wimbledon on the grass and Halle. I have practiced with him once, I believe, in Dubai, and it was quite funny playing with him (smiling).

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. Everybody's expecting you here, and in particular, the audience, the organization. What do you expect from this Roland Garros?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I would like to say, first of all, that I'm very happy to be back here in Paris. Obviously I have missed the public of Roland Garros.

I played here for many years. I started here at 20. I won here 10 years ago. It has been one of the greatest moments in my life, so I don't know what to expect as far as the results are concerned.

It's a bit like in Australia in 2017. I had no expectations. I'm just happy to be back in good health. It's more or less the same, and I know that I will play -- that my first opponent will be someone who knows how to play on the clay, and match after match you see what he does.

Up till now I would say my preparation has gone well. In Madrid, my body reacted well to a surface I haven't played for many years. So today I took a day off, because my team felt I didn't have anything more to prove in training.

I will play 45 minutes tomorrow, and it seems I'm playing on Sunday, so I'm ready to start.

Q. You're celebrating the 10 years of your victory in 2009. 20 years ago your first Grand Slam tournament was here when you were 17. What memory do you have of this tournament when you were 17, where everything started? What was your mindset at the time?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I was doing well. I was really happy to play against Rafter, who was one of the most popular players on the tour. He had this aura, being nice, fair play.

So it was great being able to play him on the Suzanne Lenglen Court rather than on Court 23. So I played a good match. I wanted to play on a big court. I remember at the time you still had bonus points. I don't know if you remember that in a Grand Slam. The No. 1, you had 50 points if you beat him in Bercy, and Rafter was around No. 5, so it was 90 points if you beat him. So you were playing him and trying to get a lot of points knowing that you would never get them like the donkey and the carrot, you know.

So I don't know if I got to 120 points, but you knew that if you managed this feat or if he twisted his ankle, you would get the points. But it didn't happen. Nevertheless, it was a great experience for me.

Q. I'm working presently on an article on your title in 2009. Do you feel this is the tournament where you felt most pressure at the time?
ROGER FEDERER: Possible. It's difficult to compare to Wimbledon in 2007, 2003 or 2009, especially after Rafa lost. This is where these expectations started when the journalists started saying it's this year or never.

From then on, the next nine or ten days felt like forever. I had matches against Gaƫl. Soderling had beaten Rafa. In fact, he beat me the year after. But I knew that instead of the tournament becoming easier, it was going to become more difficult because of the pressure.

But it was nevertheless interesting and I felt better, and I feel proud that I was able to manage the pressure.

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