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August 17, 2005

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, Roger Federer. Questions, please.

Q. How would you assess the way you played today?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I was struggling in the beginning, obvious. I thought it was a pity, you know, I didn't get the first break, you know, at Love-40 in the first game. Right away, you know, I served bad. I think he jumped on top of me. So being down 2-Love, you know, was tough. And I was looking for the rhythm then and it was hard, you know, especially in the hot conditions. I had the feeling really the ball flies. So I was, yeah, I was a little disappointed, you know, about the start. And, yeah, he keeps coming at you, you know, and he didn't really allow me to get the rhythm either. But that I knew from the start. So the start of the match was crucial, and I couldn't get on top of him there. But still, you know, in the end, to turn it around, and not playing my best, is always a good feeling.

Q. Are you still struggling to find the rhythm that you talked about a few days ago?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, it was totally different conditions. I played a night session on Monday, then I played -- I was practicing last night late, too, you know. Of course before that I was practicing in the heat very much, you know, in Dubai, but also here. But, again, you know, it's so different, the conditions. So took me a while to get used to it; that's for sure.

Q. What's the most difficult thing after a long break to get back?

ROGER FEDERER: Hand-eye coordination. The explosiveness of your legs, you know. The way you read the game; I have the feeling that's missing most, you know. Then doubt suddenly creeps to your mind, you know, where you're not sure, "Should I go for the shot, or should I rather play it safe one more time?" When you're playing well, when you're confident, you don't think about those kind of things. So occasionally they come back to me, those moments. But that's always the case in the early rounds of a tournament, because conditions are new.

Q. Can you talk about returning his serve. You broke him three times in a row at the beginning of the third set. What you were doing, what you saw.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I really wanted to make sure I get back as many returns as I could to, first, you know, to get the rhythm of the baseline; second, you know, to at least make him also hit more shots, and especially on the second serve. I think I started to do that really well from the second on. I didn't give him many easy points any more in the second serve. That's really what I wanted to do, and I'm happy that worked. He's not the biggest serve on the first serve either, so I always had the feeling I could get looks on his serve. But to break him three in a row is good.

Q. Just in general, returning serve, it's probably something people don't talk about a lot about your game because people focus on serving and ground strokes. Is that one of your strengths, something you obviously try to focus on, the ability to break anybody?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I try to give myself chances, you know. The more chances you give yourself, eventually either they collapse or you hit a good shot so you get a little lucky, you know, whatever happens. But it's all about giving yourself chances. Obviously, they don't talk about my return because I'm not the returner who goes for it, you know, on the return. I go more for placement, and that doesn't look so impressive, you know. If you take for instance Marat, you know, who hits the ball, you know, the second serve, it's really different sort of return. But sometimes the results, they vary for both of us.

Q. Yet your quickness is so good that you can handle pretty much anything. Do you ever feel especially in the early rounds of a tournament that maybe that's just one of the big things you try to work on?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I feel like now physically I can turn around matches where before I couldn't, you know. Either I didn't believe I could turn it around or I didn't know the importance of my footwork, you know, that when I really move well what a difference it makes to my game. I have the feeling here it's tough, you know, to play defense too much, you know, because once you're on the offense, you're in a pretty good position because the courts are quite quick. And especially in the heat, you know, it's tough. But, again, you know, it's about being focused, especially in the early points of the game, especially on your own serve, not to give your opponent too many looks at breakpoints and things.

Q. What do you have now that the other players don't have? What makes you No. 1?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think the opportunity, you know, to play on all surfaces. I've had a good clay court season. Grass has been fantastic over the last three years, you know. The hard courts, definitely improved on that, especially, you know, in the States where before I was struggling there, too. Indoors was always my favorite surface. So I've definitely shown that no matter what surface, you know, I can beat the best - or I am the best.

Q. Skills-wise, if we matched your forehand with everyone else's...

ROGER FEDERER: It's got nothing to do with that.

Q. What's the extra thing that you have?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think it's just the combination of everything. I mean, let's say my backhand or my forehand or my serve doesn't really stand out as much in my game like when you look at other players, you know? I think that's the dangerous part of my game, that I can adapt. If one thing doesn't work, I can switch to something else. That's what not many players can do today.

Q. Are you impressed with the young players who are coming through? We've got three 19-year-olds. One had a spectacular win last night. Did you see any of that match last night?

ROGER FEDERER: I left when Berdych was up a break 5-4.

Q. He played very well. We've got Berdych, we've got Nadal.

ROGER FEDERER: Yep. There's many, yeah. Absolutely.

Q. Monfils now, Gasquet.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, as well. Yeah, well, I have the feeling not only are they knocking on the door, you know, to make the break, but they're also causing upsets. Sometimes, you know, you hear of them. Like with Gasquet, you know, in the beginning you heard much about him, you know. But then suddenly they come about very strong, you know. That's normally what happens to really big -- the good players, you know. They make the break and they can upset, you know. I did the same thing; Ferrero did the same; Roddick did the same; Marat. You know, you just see what potential they have, if they can, you know, consistently play well. I don't know how they gonna continue, like Murray and Monfils. They still haven't done that step like Nadal has made, you know, winning tournaments. Same with Berdych. We're waiting for his big break as well, you know. I was disappointed that he didn't play better after he beat me at the Olympics because I thought he's a - and I still think he is - good player. But I think you will always find new players in the game, but I think especially these times are very strong from the youngsters.

Q. You mentioned something about doubt sometimes if you're not playing well. The doubt now can't be the same as when you first started; you know that you're good enough to win.


Q. Is that the difference? When you doubt yourself now, it's not a deep doubt, is it?

ROGER FEDERER: No, exactly. You're right. Before, you know, I would fall apart. After a first set like this, I would go, "It's impossible to play here," I would try to force the issue, you know, either panic and just run to the net and try to avoid playing baseline rallies. But now, you know, I force the issue that I better get that rhythm from the baseline; otherwise, I know I'll lose. I look at things very different. Like I said, physically, I have the feeling I can tell myself, "Look, do more, be more explosive." Physically it's not a problem to hang in there for three sets, you know. And it's a good challenge also because, I mean, how often do I lose the first set? For me, these are big matches, too, to get through because I know what could happen in the next round. It could be that I play fantastic and suddenly I'm through to the finals and there I've been unbeatable. So it's all about staying in the tournament for me.

Q. So you weren't worried when you lost the first set?

ROGER FEDERER: A little bit (smiling).

End of FastScripts….

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