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September 8, 2005

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Roger, you were quoted in a tennis article this morning, "You have to work on your forearm, your footwork and mental part." My question to you is what do you do to work on your footwork?

ROGER FEDERER: Oh, I think it's about keeping it up, you know. If you don't work on it, you're going to start losing it.

Q. How do you work on it?

ROGER FEDERER: On my footwork?

Q. Yeah, what do you do?

ROGER FEDERER: You mean specific? Anything. I do a lot of stuff on the court, say movements with let's say a medicine ball or put hats around the court, you know.

Q. Then what do you do?

ROGER FEDERER: You should call up my conditioning trainer. He knows better than me. I work on everything. I think you can see it on the body of the tennis players, we're not like sprinters or marathon men. We're sort of in between, you know. So you need to be strong, we need to lift weights, we need to do -- be good in endurance, we need to be good in -- we need to be explosive as well. We have to work on all sort of things.

Q. That looked tonight like another one of those matches which emphasizes how much of a hold you have on some of your nearest rivals. Does it feel like that to you on court winning as comfortably as you did tonight?

ROGER FEDERER: No. I was more just particularly happy that I really played well, you know. Because the first round here was great, you know. The next three were close matches, you know. I wasn't happy to see that, you know. I mean "close," still straight sets some of them, but still I had the feeling they were tricky players. Especially against Kiefer, I think I was really under pressure. To come out and play a match again quite dominant is a great feeling, especially heading into the semis.

Q. You're 183-17. What happened after the first-round defeat in Roland Garros that made you decide to change your career from the way you've been playing?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, you're talking about the Horna match, right?

Q. Yeah, first round of Roland Garros. Since then you're 183-17.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I was rather angry with myself after losing in the first round at the French because people were putting me as one of the big favorites for the tournament. I was overconfident, to be honest, on that particular match. I lost the first set, was in shock, and tried to react and lost in a tiebreaker second set. After that, it was too late, you know, to react. I remember when I lost the first set, I told myself, for me it would be impossible to come back in this match, and if I do, I still have six matches to play. I totally broke down mentally. After that, I got a lot of criticism also, especially from Swiss press, you know, because they're the closest to me. They were saying, "Will he ever win a Grand Slam or anything?" That, for me, was hard. So I just ignored everybody and went back to business and won Wimbledon after that. That really got it underway. But for me, that was quite a shock lost there against Horna. I'm happy I reacted.

Q. Would you say that was the most important loss of your career?

ROGER FEDERER: Could be, yeah. I would say so.

Q. You've obviously got this record against Lleyton in the last 18 months that's quite impressive. Do you expect that he will come and play as he has been playing you, which is mainly defensive, and hope that you make some mistakes, or are you expecting him to do something very different? Have you been watching him in this tournament where he's trying to hit more winners and be more aggressive? Are you expecting something different from him?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, a little bit. But not totally different. I don't think we can also afford to do that, to totally change our games just because of a particular opponent you play. He's good enough with his base, you know, to beat me on a day when I'm not on. But the thing is, I've always been playing so well against him over the last few years now. So I don't think he'll change much. If he does, I would feel it, that he would play maybe little bit more aggressive. But again, you know, that's also maybe a hard thing to do. So I expect him playing the same way like he did the last few times.

Q. When you play someone like Nalbandian, who gave you so much trouble in the earlier years of your career, does that give you an extra incentive to come to the court with your A game?

ROGER FEDERER: In a way it does, yeah. I mean, I felt that early in the match, obviously, when I got broken. I felt I was a little tense going into the match because I knew the record I had against him, but it's more just getting him -- giving him a taste of what he gave me, you know, in the beginning when we played (smiling). I kind of like that.

Q. You said you stayed up late and watched the Agassi-Blake match last night. Do you try to avoid dramatic matches like that when you take the court yourself?

ROGER FEDERER: It's nice to be in them, but you learn a lot about what kind of player you are, what kind of person you are, because you go through so many - how you say - emotional moments. You're winning, you're losing, it's just back and forth. Watching this, I was -- my pulse was just like (pounding his chest). I couldn't believe it, how the match turned out, because it was looking so one-sided. It's definitely nice to play them, but I almost prefer to watch them, to be honest.

Q. Is that one of the best matches you've watched? What was your feeling? Obviously, you didn't turn it off until 1:30 in the morning?

ROGER FEDERER: It's not that late for me. I always go to bed around 2 or 3 in the morning. So for me, that was perfect timing, you know (smiling). No, I've seen some great ones, you know, but this was great because it was, you know, I would say so late in the night, you know, night session, two great players, two Americans in America, you know. It's just many things that need to be in place. And the way they pushed each other, the quality of the tennis stayed great till the end, where there was hardly any errors anymore. The quality of the game, I thought, was extraordinary as well.

Q. How about the spirit of the match?


Q. The spirit in which it was played, the way they treated each other.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, it's the normal thing, isn't it? I mean, they both have a respect for each other, and I think you saw that during the match and after the match. I didn't expect anything else, you know, because they're two class players and I would be in shock if it would have been different.

Q. Why do you think Agassi won? What did he do to come back like that?

ROGER FEDERER: In my eyes, James gave it away, so... James should have locked it up many times. But happens, you know. It's for him also first time he's in this position, and obviously against Andre it doesn't make it easier. But Andre did incredibly well to come back, that's for sure. And staying cool, you know, all the way through, that was incredible. But I thought James had him and let it go.

Q. Lleyton has a losing streak against you. What effect do you think that has had on him mentally?

ROGER FEDERER: I hope it has a big effect (smiling). I know he's so tough. And maybe now that he's a married man and getting a baby, maybe that's going to help him to be a little bit more relaxed and maybe it's not everything just to beat me. I think he's definitely put himself into positions all the time. If he beats me, right away he's in contention for No. 1 in the world or he can win a big tournament again. I've been standing in his way and I think he knows that. The more chances he'll get, the more chances there are that he's also going to beat me. That we'll see on Saturday again.

Q. I have an impression that a significance difference between you and other players is when they hit bad shots they tend to get down on themselves. That perpetuates bad playing. When you hit a bad shot, it doesn't seem to bother you at all. Am I right about that? Doesn't seem to bother you.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, so-so, huh (smiling)? I'm not happy when I miss a shot, let's put it that way.

Q. Doesn't last. Seems to go away.

ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I remember how I used to be, so I changed that up, thank God, you know. I see things much more different now. So when I miss a shot, for me, it's not the end of the world. I try not to miss, but, after all, belongs to tennis to miss shots. I don't try to put myself down after I miss the shot, but it can get frustrating at times as well for me.

Q. How important is it to you personally or how important has it been over the last couple years to show the guys who used to beat you regularly - Nalbandian, Agassi, Hewitt - that you're an improved player and someone that can dominate them?

ROGER FEDERER: For me it was I think most important to just beat them once, so at least I could look at the draw a little bit more relaxed. Where before I would look at the draw and go, "I hope this guy's not in my section and this guy's not there, and I hope they lose," you know, these sort of things. Now I look at it very relaxed. I go like, you know, "No matter who's in the draw, I just want to win my matches," you know. Because you can have a very mental effect on you if you know that let's say Nalbandian is coming your way. If you have a horrible record against him, you might even lose earlier, trying not to play him, or you want to play so well to be ready for that match because you know he's not going to lose. For me, that was just important. I think a big turnaround was the Aussie Open one and a half years ago, and also the Masters just before that when I was in the group with Agassi, Ferrero and Nalbandian. I had bad records against all of them and I beat all of them. That gave me really a lot of confidence.

Q. Were you in touch with Tony Roche at all? You struggled a couple times in this tournament. You weren't too happy.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, we've been in touch, yeah. Not much, but we've been in touch, yeah.

Q. Anything that he sort of helped you with or suggested?

ROGER FEDERER: No, not really, because the one time I called him, I asked him if he saw the match, he said he didn't see the match so (laughter)... It was more about how do you feel, I told him how I felt. He said try this and that. Just little details. But I'll definitely call him now.

Q. You said you would look at the draw. Players come in here all the time, say, "I never look at the draw, I look at my next match." When you hear that, do you believe it? Does everybody look ahead in the draw? Does everybody actually really look around?

ROGER FEDERER: My feeling tells me you can almost not avoid looking at the draw, you run down the draw and it gets stuck in your mind, doesn't it, who's in your section. I think that's bluffing yourself a little bit, in a way. I always have the feeling I look maybe just a bracket of the next three matches, at the most, whoever. I know maybe that Hewitt will be in the semis, let's say, but that for me is so far away for him and for me that I don't even think about that. I just go, "Let's say, okay, I see Olivier Rochus is my first seed." This is the section I look at. I don't even know that maybe Moya is there in the beginning, I would start to realize that later on.

Q. When you say you don't expect Lleyton to change something up, he's lost eight straight times playing this way. He must surely not want it to be number nine, make number nine here. Do you think if you were him, you would change something?

ROGER FEDERER: He could, you know. But then again he could even run into the knife more brutally (laughter). I don't know. I don't know.

Q. There's blood everywhere either way, huh?

ROGER FEDERER: Might be if he changes it up (smiling). I don't know. He's got Roger Rasheed in his corner. They'll make up their mind how they think they should play me. He knows he's not far away. I know if I'm not on top of my game, I'm losing to Lleyton, and he knows that. I expect a tough match.

Q. It was pretty brutal here 12 months ago when you played. Looking back on that final, what was the one real key to winning that match so convincingly in your mind?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, ridiculous first set. After that, I knew that there was going to be the time where I got a battle to win, and the key was obviously the second set. I was up a break and he came back, and I stayed calm all the way through. And I knew if I get through that second set, he might get a little down on himself. I didn't -- I had the feeling I wasn't playing all that great the beginning of the third, but I was just so consistent, so focused, suddenly I was up 3-Love, 4-Love and everything was just going too quick, even for me. I don't know how in the world I did it, you know, because I was really nervous before the finals. I was expecting like, "Oh, no, Hewitt, he won here before, I never have. Night session, he'll love this." So it was, I don't know how in the world I did it, but it happened, and I'm happy about it.

Q. I know you said that you felt Blake gave that match away. But when you were watching last night, Agassi, were you thinking at all, "Here's a guy who's 35, playing in front of a crowd, and if I happen to play him in the final, maybe he does have some type of special level where he could really push me and possibly beat me"?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, well, it's still quite far away in my eyes, you know. For me, I expected him being in the semis after looking at the draw now. Okay, it's incredible what he achieved now in the last match coming back from two sets to love because that's not the ordinary results. But still I'm concerned about Lleyton right now. Especially if I'm in the semis, I don't look further than the semis. Beforehand, okay, maybe one or two rounds. But this, here, I cannot. For me, Agassi is the favorite, you know, heading into the Ginepri match, so I expect him to be in the finals. But, again, Robby has been playing great. I had a rough one with him in Cincinnati, so I give him a chance. So far the draw was good for Agassi. He took advantage of it. He's a good enough player. I'm not surprised he's there. Obviously, with the crowd, that's always going to help in your home country. Even against an American, he has the backup from the fans, which I think is normal, because he's been around for so long. Obviously, if we are playing, you're not only playing him, but the fans as well.

Q. You'll probably play the first semifinal on Saturday. Would you prefer it that way? Agassi is the big draw, plays the later match. Would you feel good about that?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I would be happy about that. Last year I played second, after Lleyton, and obviously, you know, if things go bad or -- bad, I mean, bad is out, but not so good and you win in a tough match, you obviously will be maybe hard to recuperate. I think we're fit enough to bounce back.

Q. How does it figure into your thinking that last year at this tournament the only player who really gave you a match was Agassi, you went five sets. It was close. How does that figure into your thinking given that you think that Agassi is probably going to be a final-round opponent if you reach the final?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, for me, when he enters a tournament, he's on top of his game; otherwise, he's not going to enter it, right? So I think, he, again, showed that here. It was a pity to see him play the way he did at the French Open, in pain. Obviously, if he enters the US Open or Montreal or LA, you know he's going to be on top of the game, and he's showed it. And especially in the States, he's even harder to beat. He gave me a rough match last year. For me, that was no surprise. I mean, obviously we had to stop and come back, and the conditions were a joke, you know, the next day in the wind. So it was pure luck. So thank God I was up two sets to one, otherwise I think I would have lost, because I consider him one of the best players in the wind we've ever seen maybe.

Q. I guess what my question really is, how do you think your games have changed relatively since last year? Do you think he's better and you're better?

ROGER FEDERER: No, we're the same still, I think. I don't feel a big difference.

End of FastScripts….

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