June 6, 2021
R. FEDERER/D. Koepfer
7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-5
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How worried were you?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I wasn't sure after the second set how much was left in the tank, so, you know, it was a good battle until then. I feel like I needed to maybe pace myself ever so slightly at that moment, especially emotionally, of not pressing too hard and wanting it too badly. So maybe just get a bit more mellow and relaxed about things and just go with the flow a little bit, let the experience take over.
And then see how I feel later, as I know in best-of-five set matches you always have moments where you feel better and worse. Yeah, that's not the question really. The question is how do I feel after about winning and not if I was worried, to be honest.
Q. How important a match is that for you or was that for you in this return?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I thought it was very important for me. I clearly hadn't practiced 3 hours 35, because that's obviously always pushing it. I pushed as much as I could, as we thought reasonable. But this today was I think a huge step forward for the team, and for all of us.
I didn't expect to be able to win three matches here, and, you know, sort of back up a good performance of Cilic as well in completely different circumstances tonight. So I'm very happy. I think we have a lot to go through with the team about tonight.
Q. (question about no fans.)
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, playing with no fans it's something clearly hadn't done in a long time thankfully. I knew it was going to probably hit me at some point in my return, knowing that things are not over yet with the pandemic. Halle is going to be like this too.
I think it benefits the players like myself or other players that are very focused when they go practice nowadays, because I probably would have struggled a great deal when I was a teenager or a young player, because for me, practice was really not what I loved doing at all. I actually really disliked it, and for me it was all about the matches and atmosphere and playing for something, you know.
So for me to go out tonight, sure, it wasn't easy. It was a lot of premiers for me: Playing against Koep for first night session here in Paris, first time no fans in a long, long time, or ever in my career. That was definitely very unique in many ways, and I'm happy I found a way.
Also especially emotionally, how do you handle losing that second set, how do you handle to keep pushing yourself on and try to feed off the energy of the team and thinking of all the people watching on TV. You know, I was really picturing a lot of people on a Saturday night maybe checking in on the game and watching some tennis, you know. So in many ways, I was also playing for them and trying to let that inspire me.
Q. I'm wondering, since you're still gathering information about your knee and you haven't played that many matches, is it difficult for you mentally stepping on the court and not necessarily knowing how much you want to push yourself or do you already know that? How much do you want to push yourself through the whole tournament because you're in second week now?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, I mean, it's fun in some ways not knowing, like in '17 when I came back or when nobody really knows even myself doesn't know what is possible, you know. So that's got a fun angle but I would prefer it differently. I'd prefer to be in Rafa's or Novak's shoes right now where they're like, I'm feeling good. If I'm playing well, I'm winning.
I don't have that feeling right now, so for me these are all stepping stones, right, to something that is really important to me. It's the season, and it's the comeback. I need matches like these, you know.
We go through these matches, you know, we analyze them highly and look on what's next and will do the same tonight and tomorrow latest, because I need to decide if I keep on playing or not or is it not too much risk at this moment to keep on pushing or is this just a perfect way to just take a rest. Because I don't have the week in between here and Halle, like normal, to see, like, what's best now if you count back from Wimbledon and so forth.
It's just a lot going on, but having a match like this, knowing I could have probably played a fifth set but not knowing how I will wake up tomorrow is interesting, to say the least. Yeah, it's definitely a different time right now for me.
Q. You clearly fought very hard tonight. Is there a way to describe how much you enjoy the battle and trying to find a way to win and competing?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, yeah, it goes in swings. When you're down you don't like it; when you're leading it's actually quite fun.
It goes with the territory, right? I mean, it was, in a way, very nice conditions. There was absolutely no wind. Okay, he was a tough nut to crack really. Took me many different, I tried different attempts to break him down.
I thought, you know, my fighting spirit for once got me over the line as well. I tried really hard, and you've got to love what you do; I do. I tried to be really motivated, and see what could be done. I knew it was a big match for me to back it up after Cilic. And still, you are on center court in Paris, it's where you always wanted to be as a little boy and you try to remind yourself many, many times.
I appreciate battles like these, you know. Especially on clay you rarely have so many tight sets, you know. At some point you do break and run away with it, or the opponent does the same.
I appreciated that battle, and I thought Dominik played a great match and I hope he does well the rest of the year.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the start time of the match. You're talking to us now at 5 to 2:00. Do you think it's reasonable that men are asked to play a five-set match from 9:00? And can I just clarify you said you're actually contemplating pulling out of the French Open because of the length of tonight's match with Wimbledon in mind?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, every match here or Geneva I have to reassess the situation after the match and see in the morning how I wake up and how does the knee, you know, feel the next morning.
So from that standpoint for me it always goes like that. There is no difference after a match like this, but maybe even more so after a match like this that has been long. Like I explained before, I have not been two-, three-and-a-half-hour battles in practice either.
And then, sorry, I forgot the first question.
It's so late that I forget. That was the question (smiling). Well, I mean, look at the US Open and other places, I feel like I have had later finishes, as well. It comes with the business. I mean, you know how it is finishing Lleyton Hewitt/Baghdatis style 4:30 in the morning, clearly that's not ideal for anybody, or going to bed at 3:00 in the morning is not ideal if you're a professional athlete, but at the same time that's what it is.
I think the spectators matter. I don't know. I guess business needs to keep on moving. But one thing that's for sure is that day and nights on clay make a huge difference, you know. You cannot compare the two. Whereas on hard courts you feel at least it's quite similar. But I think on clay there is even a bigger difference, which is a big challenge for the players.
But, you know, all good. I'm happy I played. I'm happy I won. So it's all good.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports