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January 15, 2006

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Your preparation, how has it been?

ROGER FEDERER: Good. I'm feeling good now. I was a little tired halfway through Kooyong and right after, too. Now the last couple days have been good for me. I could relax a little bit. Had only one-hour hits, you know, today, and yesterday, sort of intense. Going to also try to relax before a Slam again, because it's been an intense beginning of the year for me. Sydney with Tony, going back to Doha, then coming back for Kooyong. I'm feeling like I'm hitting the ball well now. I was not quite convinced in the beginning in Kooyong, even though I thought I played all right. Now the practice has been really going better. Gotten used to Rod Laver Arena, which is good, too. I feel good.

Q. The loss at Kooyong, is that a bit of an aberration?

ROGER FEDERER: Which means?

Q. The loss at Kooyong.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, it happens if you don't play your best, right? It's nothing new. I'm very surprised, you know, I keep on winning all those matches, but it's hard to keep it up, you know, especially an exhibition for me. For me, it doesn't mean anything, you know. I'm looking ahead, not back, so it doesn't really matter.

Q. Are you getting used to coming into Grand Slams being the favorite and being such a clear favorite? Is that something you're getting used to or do you still have to make sure you're right on your game, to not just take it for granted?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I enjoy being the big favorite, you know, not just the favorite but the big one. I always said, you know, I prefer the situation to be the favorite than the contender, you know, because I always feel the contender needs to do their work and all this, where, yeah, the favorite, he can sort of see what the other guys do. I obviously have to make sure that I win my matches, but mentally I'm that tough that I don't have a problem with that.

Q. Are you happy with your side of the draw?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, it's as usual. It could always be better, it could be worse. I always really care about the first couple of rounds, you know. With my first round, I'm pretty happy, yeah.

Q. And meeting Lleyton Hewitt if you do go through and Lleyton does?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, we're both here to win the tournament. If we want to win, we got to beat each other. It doesn't really matter if it's semis or finals. No, I think it's okay, you know. Last year he was in the other draw. This time he's in my half. Keeps on changing, which is good.

Q. You say you've enjoyed the last couple days, having time to acclimatize to the court. Has the loss to Tommy Haas actually been a blessing in disguise to give you that time?

ROGER FEDERER: Why should it give me more time?

Q. Not having to play in the final at Kooyong.

ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I played also three matches, so it didn't change anything win or lose against Tommy. I would have played three also by winning against Tommy. That didn't matter at all. Like I said, that loss for me, I don't really care about. It was more about how I hit the ball, not getting injured, coming back from Doha, getting over the jetlag, but still at the same time getting -- instead of practicing, getting some matches, you know, in the beginning of the season. Like I said, you know, I enjoyed playing Kooyong. The crowds are good. Now I'm really ready for the Aussie Open.

Q. You said you didn't know anything about your opponent on Friday. Have you found anything out in the last couple of days?

ROGER FEDERER: I know he's a righty by now. He's got a double-handed backhand apparently. Yeah, I know more than a couple days ago. I have still two more days left. I'll find out if he plays -- I think he plays from the baseline, too, maybe aggressive. Yeah, but I just read into some results of his. He played well in the futures and stuff. He obviously started to play on the big stages as his ranking was going up. Yeah, definitely nobody to underestimate because we all know also guys ranked outside of the top 150, 200, they are dangerous opponents. I beat Moya when I was 300 and he was No. 4 in the world. Everything is possible.

Q. Can you think back to what it was like coming to a Grand Slam without having won one, the kind of psychological barriers those players in that position will face in the next couple weeks?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think it's hard because you don't know how to win a Slam, so you sort of got to create a way to do it. You got to keep a great intensity level up for a long time. I'm the guy who is going to give advice (smiling). They're all tough enough to play against. Many of them are dangerous on the day, you know. But over five sets, seven matches, it's just hard to keep it up. Sometimes like the fitness really comes into play, night session, day session, it's really hard to adapt. You got to be mentally, it seems, very tough.

Q. When you think of your main challengers, do you think the guys who have won Slams in the past, they're a step ahead?

ROGER FEDERER: Absolutely, I really do think, yeah.

Q. A few weeks ago, would you have thought that Safin and Nadal would have been your biggest obstacles to winning here?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, we all knew it wasn't sure if they were going to show up. Sort of expect them to maybe be here or not, so you're open about it. But I thought actually both will make it in the end. But now it really shows how serious their injury was back in Shanghai. You know, it's a pity. Obviously, Andre, too. He showed up in Shanghai but couldn't play with his foot, you know. I hope he's getting over that soon. I think it's obviously a big blow. But still, you know, the draw is tough. What, we have 17 of the top 20 anyhow. We have Lleyton playing, myself. I think that's more than having Rafa and Marat, you know, because of me No. 1 and him being the Aussie. I think that would be an even bigger blow for the tournament.

Q. What does the home-court advantage mean to Lleyton Hewitt in terms of crowd support?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, we saw it last year. He came through some incredibly tough matches, definitely because of his fitness and his fighting spirit, but also for sure because of the crowd. He can be very thankful, I think. They've been very nice to him. I played him in a match where I should have beaten him here in Davis Cup, and he got an incredible crowd support, and that carried him through till he beat me in five. I think, like I said, he's tough to beat here. As he always plays on the big courts, he always gets the big crowds behind him. Obviously, if players are not so experienced, that is a tough thing to upset Lleyton Hewitt.

End of FastScripts….

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