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September 10, 2005
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. A big match with Andre tomorrow. It's bound to be an energetic day out there. What are your thoughts on the match?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, looking forward, obviously. What better final could I wish for? An American in a US Open final. So it's great. I'm looking forward to it.
Q. Interesting match today. A little tougher than the last year against Hewitt. Are you completely satisfied with your serving in this tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: It's been all right, you know. I've been winning my matches, and against good players. So when I needed it, it was there. But I think overall, definitely wasn't my best serving. But, you know, you cannot expect to serve aces and service winners all the time. But today, definitely had to survive more tougher moments than in the past against him.
Q. A lot of breakpoint opportunities you had to face this year. Does that concern you at all?
ROGER FEDERER: No, it doesn't.
Q. You win the first set, break him immediately, you're 40-Love up and then he comes back. It seems like he got a lot of life from breaking you back straightaway.
ROGER FEDERER: Which set was that again?
Q. Beginning of the second set.
ROGER FEDERER: Beginning of the second.
Q. So you break him and then you're 40-Love up.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, yeah, I remember that.
Q. He comes back, is fist-pumping, "C' mon". Did you think to yourself at some point, "I don't want to keep playing this guy for three or four hours"?
ROGER FEDERER: No, that wasn't in my mind. I was just a little disappointed, you know, to give away a service game leading 40-Love. I mean, that rarely ever happens, you know. So maybe I went into that game at 40-Love a little bit too casual, who knows. But he had to still hit some good shots to come back. And, you know, he did, so that's his quality. But I wish I could have stayed ahead. I think I had the break twice in that set, didn't I? So that was, for me, in a way a tough one to accept, you know, being up I think 4-3 and being up 2-1, then being down 5-4. Suddenly then, well, we all know how many things I had to save then. But in the end I'm basically also quite lucky to have won the set. I wish I could have played more consistent throughout the match, but, you know, today was tough. I thought he played better than in the past.
Q. Do you think it's much of a disadvantage to play the second match on Saturday versus the first match on Saturday going into a Sunday final?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I would say so.
Q. How surprised are you that a guy that's 35 can win three five-set matches in a row to make a final in a Grand Slam?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm not really surprised. All the matches he went into, he was the favorite in my eyes. Obviously, five-setters, you know, it's down to the wire in the fifth and you better be playing your best right then. I mean, he was very close against Blake and the other ones I thought he was pretty much in control. So, I mean, it's always, I think, you have to pay a lot of respect to do that. You back it up one after the other. He deserves to be in the finals, absolutely. But I know when he enters, if he plays against lower-ranked players than him, normally he's take going to walk out as a winner.
Q. Were you given the option to play first? I would assume you would have taken it if you had.
ROGER FEDERER: That was the plan in the first place.
Q. So what happened?
ROGER FEDERER: Phone call, I don't know (smiling).
Q. I mean, I don't know, what do you feel by that? Are you bothered by that?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm through to the final, you know. We both have to win, but something like that happens. But what have we got, three more hours of rest? So, I mean, could be crucial, I don't know. I don't think so, but... Well, I mean, it's not also the TV that should decide on things like that. So you can ask the players or just the tournament should not even ask anybody and just put up who they think is the prime-time match. It's always hard, you know, two Americans, you get the No. 1 and No. 3 in the one section. It's their call. I'm not really angry.
Q. Do you think Lleyton played at a higher level today than in his last, say, eight matches he played against you?
ROGER FEDERER: Maybe his last match, yeah, but the not the last eight. He played, I think, a good match today. It was close. This match could have gone either way, I had the feeling, especially in the first, in the second, in the third and in the fourth, really. So I'm happy I came through on top because this was a difficult match.
Q. Did you feel any less comfortable today than the last few?
ROGER FEDERER: Just had to save more breakpoints, you know. I had to go through some tougher moments. That's obviously hard, you know, on your mental part because you always got to focus and focus and focus. That's not so easy, and especially against Lleyton, you know, he's going to get the balls back. Physically, it wasn't a problem, but just it's hard after a while, obviously.
Q. You're known for your beautiful shot-making. Do you get a particular joy when you score an extraordinary winner, or a graceful shot?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I like that (smiling). But if I hit it ugly, too, and I shank it and it goes up for a lob winner, I take that too, you know. For me, it's the result that counts. Maybe if it looks graceful; that's nice.
Q. Do you feel something special when there's like a running crosscourt forehand?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it's a little bit -- you're always a little proud about yourself, but maybe for two seconds and not much longer than that.
Q. Are you feeling better with each match or Nalbandian was better than this one?
ROGER FEDERER: It was different. Doesn't really matter how I feel right now, to be honest. There's just one more match to go. Same for Andre, you know. We give everything we have left, and we both hope we gonna play good, I think. I hope I can play better than him, obviously. But interesting match, for sure, you know. He's got the crowd behind him and the biggest center court in the world. I expect myself to play a good match if I want to have a chance.
Q. How does last year help you going in against him? You played him obviously against the strangest conditions last year and prevailed. You're going in this year, the crowd will be huge, but you're used to playing Andre here. Does that help?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think it's the third time we'll play here, on the same court. Last year we played during the day, during the night, in the wind, no wind. So basically we had it all. I think the weather forecast should be all right. It's been fantastic all the time. I expect a tough match, you know. He always makes the opponent run. I'm ready to run, so (smiling)... And defend myself and play aggressive when I have the chance.
Q. You won something like 22 straight finals. Is there something special you do to prepare for a championship?
ROGER FEDERER: You mean for the entire tournament or just for the final?
Q. The last 22 finals you've been in in a tournament, you've won that match.
ROGER FEDERER: I'll play the same way as I play today, no change.
Q. The occasion tomorrow, Andre Agassi, 35, you being the world No. 1, it's probably going to be as one-sided a crowd as you can probably get in this sort of arena. Do you expect that to have any bearing on your own attitude out there? Do you think you're going to be able to cope with that?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. No problem (smiling). I'm not feared at all from that. Davis Cup is tough. I've experienced a lot throughout my career, I have the feeling. So it shouldn't be a problem (smiling).
Q. Do you think today's match adds to your sort of mental supremacy over Lleyton, or should it encourage him perhaps?
ROGER FEDERER: You got to ask him. For me, it's hard to answer, but I think, you know, he was awfully close today, much closer than he was in the last few matches. I think it should give him some confidence. Every time I beat a quality player, a top player or a former No. 1, it's for me always still something special even though it's maybe the eighth or ninth time I've beaten him. But for me, those matches are huge, you know. They keep me -- they give me shots at winning Grand Slams, staying No. 1 in the world for maybe some longer time. So for me, this match was today extremely big. Especially I survived some really tough moments.
Q. Technically, did he surprise you?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really, no. We know each other's games.
Q. Thinking about not a wonderful tennis player, but a normal human being, sentimental human being, which do you think would be the best for the end of this tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: I didn't understand. I'm sorry.
Q. Like a human being, thinking like a human being, not like a tennis player.
ROGER FEDERER: Yes.
Q. Which do you think is the best end for this tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: Tomorrow?
ROGER FEDERER: (Smiling). Well, depends how you look at it, huh? Where you're from. Well, it's hard to say, huh. I mean, it's a very different setup, right. Young against older. A guy whose career is towards the end, another guy's been dominant. So depends if you like dominance or not, so (smiling)...
Q. For many people who watch this match tomorrow, there are going to be a lot of emotional elements involved: Sentimentality, nostalgia, watching Andre Agassi play for so long. Do you care about that from a personal sense or is it another match?
ROGER FEDERER: No, it's not another match, obviously. It's very special. I mean, last year was already incredible, I thought, to play Lleyton in the finals. Now it's Andre. I think it's even more emotional, more -- there's more in it, you know, especially in the finals. It's not like the quarterfinals last year. So already that was special, I thought night session against him. So this is, I guess, one of my biggest matches in my career. So I better be playing well.
Q. Houston, two years ago when you beat Andre, just judging by the crowd and the reaction of the tournament that day, you'd be forgiven for thinking Andre won the tournament. But that in mind, where do you think you've come in terms of respect, using that day as a starting post, to here? How has it moved?
ROGER FEDERER: Sorry?
Q. Just in terms of the respect that you've developed in this country, that you feel that you've got personally since Houston 2003?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, that was big. I was in this horrible group, I thought, for me. Came through the first match against Andre saving matchpoint. That was for me extremely big. That maybe also was a turning point in my career. I've got an incredible record right now in the States, I've hardly lost a match in the last two years. So this is fantastic, you know. I think, you know, the fans here, they enjoy watching me. Obviously always depends on the occasion, how much they're into it, what kind of match was before, what kind of match is after, what time of the day it is. But honestly, I feel I have great support here in this country, and I'm happy to see the reactions after last year's US Open. I was always looking forward very much to how will they react to, you know, Swiss winning the US Open and me coming back, and will anything change, will they recognize me more, will they back me up more. I really have the feeling they do. So I don't expect that at all tomorrow, so they should be on Andre's side so... I hope it's not only Americans in the stadium, though (smiling).
Q. Just walk me through a little bit. You've got five set points against you in the second set. You save them. 7-0 in the tiebreak.
ROGER FEDERER: That's how it goes, huh.
Q. How do you do that?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. That was luck, I think.
Q. Just pure luck?
ROGER FEDERER: Not pure luck, but there was a lot of luck involved, I think. Because five set points normally don't come out. I was in some rough situations there, and obviously I was serving all right, but in the end I think he should have deserved that set. But tennis can be tough sometimes.
Q. Stefan Edberg, when he first came here, hated the US Open, didn't like the conditions, the smells, everything. Then of course after he started playing and once he won, once he defended, he ended up loving it and it proved to be the most important to him in some ways of all the Slams. I'm just curious, has your attitude changed? Have you always liked the Open? How have you felt about it?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I pretty much enjoyed it. It's always a dream for somebody to come to New York somehow, you know, because the city is so great. I came here as a junior first time in '98. I loved it, you know. I thought, you know, I achieved everything I wanted; I made it to New York. I always played well, too, so I never really had this bad memories of playing bad here. I've always, I think, won a couple of rounds. I always got a sense for -- a feel for the city as well. So I never really disliked this event or this city, so I'm happy I'm spending some time here again this year.
Q. Just taking that a little bit further, you've obviously been coming to America two, three times a year for a few years now. What quality of America do you like the best and what quality of Switzerland do you miss the most when you're here?
ROGER FEDERER: Maybe some history would be nice in this country. For me, you know, in Europe, we have such great, let's say, cities with incredible history that I know much more about. Obviously, you know, you have an incredible amount of space here, so you never feel cramped - except New York. Okay, this is now a special city. But I think the people are very friendly, you know, open to tourists and everything. So I think that is very nice. Europe, obviously, it's quite different. Like it's different to Asia again, you know. I think that's nice, the changes we have in the world. It's in a way a big place, but now with the traveling it makes it quite easy to go and visit them all. I enjoy that.
Q. Do you find you have more anonymity here than in Europe?
ROGER FEDERER: What is that?
Q. More anonymity.
ROGER FEDERER: Which means...?
Q. You can walk the streets without people ogling at you and asking for autographs?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, sort of depends where you go. Go in the countryside, I don't think nobody would think Roger Federer would be walking around in the countryside right now, so they wouldn't make the connection. But now that they know I'm in New York, obviously maybe more people have a look if there's tennis players or whatever. But, I mean, it's getting rough now all over the world, I have the feeling more and more, with the success. But so far it hasn't been bothering me, which I'm happy about.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.