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January 18, 2020

Roger Federer

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Because of the bushfires, I want a word from you about the climate crisis on how tennis players can help on this topic.
ROGER FEDERER: This one's, whew, I don't know. Could be any kind of answer, to be honest. What can we do about it? Not that much, to be honest. With a situation this big right here now, of course, we can talk to the tournament and see what the situation is.

I think they gave their informations back to us now when it's safe to play, all these things. I mean, I don't think it's going to be throughout the entire tournament bad air quality and all that. I think we should be fine.

But the problem is the animals, the forest, the bushes, the people, the firefighters. That's the difficult part. Every country has problems of their own. You need to tackle them differently.

Of course, raising awareness, raising money is one thing. Preventing is another. There's a lot of different ways to figure these problems out.

Q. Regarding air quality. For you personally, how concerned are you about the air quality going forward? If it gets worse, are you happy to continue? Generally, do you think tournaments should think about having these tournaments elsewhere because of general air quality?
ROGER FEDERER: Go in the streets, ask the people if they want it to move from Melbourne or from Australia.

No, I don't worry. From what we were told yesterday in the player meeting, the Olympic Games and other competitions have the numbers set at 300. Ours is set at 200. From that standpoint, I think we're moving in a very safe range. We're not here for six months straight at over 200, 300, you know. That's when maybe effects really become bad.

No, I don't worry too much, to be honest. I worry more for everybody else who is in the fire, in the smoke. Also we can stay indoors all day, quickly go out and play, go back in again. It's not like we're stuck outside at all times.

Maybe that message comes a bit late after the ATP Cup is over, after qualifying is over.

I think communication is key from the tournament to the people, to the media, to the fans, to the players, because you do hear it's not safe to be outside, keep your pets inside, close your windows. You have court calls, then you look at the haze and everything, it doesn't look good.

I think we're going to get through it and it should be fine. It shouldn't move, no.

Q. You're 38 years of age, have four kids, still at the top, remarkable. There is someone from Belgium you know well who is 36 years old, three kids, Kim Clijsters. She's going to make a comeback. Do you think after seven years without playing competitive tennis she can be successful and be a contender for the big titles?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, it's hard to answer that question because I haven't seen her play in over seven years.

Knowing what she could do before, seeing her and her personality, if she is coming back, it's because she's really in the mood to. She wants to see what else is left to do.

I think the age doesn't matter, to be honest. I think it's the fitness and the mind that matters. So I think a lot is possible, to be honest, even though there should be no expectations from her side and from anybody else. It's just let's go out there and see what can be done.

If you've attained a level like this, it's like it takes seven years off her life, she comes back in her late 20s in some ways. I think she's going to be fresh.

Does she have to play 30 tournaments a year? No, not really. She plays when she's in the mood to, when it suits her family.

I think it's going to be very exciting to follow.

Q. Tennis Australia said they're going to recognize but not celebrate Margaret Court's Grand Slam anniversary at this tournament. As someone knowledgeable about tennis history, are you comfortable with that?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, it's a tricky one. I don't know what to tell you. She's obviously an incredible tennis champion, one of the most successful ever. I know this subject also tears apart a lot of opinions and minds.

So I think Tennis Australia, they got to do what they got to do. I honestly really have no opinion on that.

Q. On the air quality issue again. Do you think the top players such as yourself do enough for players playing the qualifying rounds to represent their views when those issues arise?
ROGER FEDERER: I didn't understand the end, sorry.

Q. The qualifiers obviously struggled in the conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday. Some of the players suggested that you and Rafael Nadal should do more to represent their interests. Do you think you do enough?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, and the statement after? Didn't you have a statement after?

Q. I didn't.
ROGER FEDERER: I was in the office that day to ask what's the situation. Like I explained to you guys, everybody is told to be inside, and we're having court calls. How far are we from that threshold of playing, not playing?

I said, I think we're all confused. Is it super unsafe or is it totally safe to play? The problem on top of it, it was actually quite hot, too. You always go back into the same thing: some players are not used to playing at 35, 33 degree heat, especially if you've practiced on the indoor season. I'm not saying they're not ready or whatever it is, but it can always hit you.

Of course, everything gets put down on it was the smoke. For sure, it can be nothing else.

So what can I do? I can go to the office, speak to them. I went to them the first day when it was bad on Tuesday, the next day on Wednesday when it was still bad. I told them, Look, I just think communication is key for all of us, for everybody. We just need to do more because I feel like I hadn't gotten enough information.

Can I go on court and say, Everybody stop play? I can try. I don't think that's going to do much. So some media are happy to hammer home with that subject because it's a new one. Maybe it was all a bit late.

But I don't think I can do more than what I did. I'm on the council. I've been on the tour for so long. I came through the lower ranks, the juniors.

At the end of the day we all care for one another. We cross paths in the locker room. We're all cool, you know.

I understand some frustration always because this tour, this calendar, this schedule, whatever it may be, is never perfect. Some guys are always going to complain.

But at the end of the day, you know, this is also something new with the smoke. Everybody's got to figure it out, to be honest, yeah.

And I'm playing Steve Johnson, by the way, for those who care (smiling). I don't know, I figured that's why I'm in Australia, but that's okay.

Q. Do you play tennis with your kids? And do they listen to your advice?
ROGER FEDERER: They don't always listen to me. I play with them sometimes. I do like to play with them, yeah. But I am not the biggest fan of the dad giving them all the advice. For that I think they got to listen to the coach. I've had that problem before, where I told them some things, and they said, Well, my coach told me differently.

I told them, There you go. Listen to the coach. Don't listen to me. But at least listen to one of us.

I'm happy they play a bit of tennis, yeah.

Q. How do you have so much energy at the age of 38?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. I sleep enough. I have a good schedule. I have a good team around me.

I think important is that you are excited in what you do. If you're excited, you have extra energy. Like in school, if you have a subject and you don't love it so much, then you lie on the table, I don't love it. But if there's a subject, your favorite one, you're more excited. Tennis is that subject for me, I love it. I have good energy.

But it's true, I don't have the same energy like I did have at your age or 15 or 25. It is different nowadays. I just got to pace myself a bit more.

Q. Can you talk about your first-round match against Steve Johnson?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm not in the mood now (laughter).

I'm happy to be back in Australia. I'm happy to be playing here, of course, I love it. Look, it's exactly the tricky situation right now playing somebody who has just played a lot this week. He's ready to go. He's match-ready and I'm not.

I got to really make sure I get out of the gates quick. Practice has been going well. Had plenty of time to pace myself and do all the things I had to do to get ready. I hope it's enough.

I know it's a super long road to victory. That's why I got to take it one match at a time. My expectations are quite low.

No, I'm excited to play Steve. He's a good guy. I think with his old-school playing - big forehand, slice backhand, good serve - I think it's going to be a nice match for me, as well.

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