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April 15, 2005

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.

Q. It was exciting to watch, but how frustrating was it for you?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, of course it's rather frustrating, you know, after having matchpoint and ending up losing. So of course frustration is high and disappointment is there, too. But, you know, he played good, you know, when it mattered. He could have closed it out earlier. He missed it, though. That gave me a chance, I came back. I should have won it. But it was a close match. I thought it was good, quality tennis.

Q. What is it about his game that worried you most?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I couldn't quite understand the way he was playing. You know, in the beginning he was rather pushing the ball. In the second, he was just hitting clean winners all the time. And to do that on a regular basis, I find it very hard, you know. But you don't get those players very much anymore, you know. You would consider Gonzalez a dangerous player, you know, but he tees off of both sides on the run. On the return, it doesn't matter. You just don't face opponents like this these days. I guess this was a little unusual for me. You know, he played great in the second set, in the beginning of the third. Really played into this zone where you had the feeling there was no more you could do, you know. And that's a little bit how I felt, too. I would have to play him, you know, more often to really get a sense of, you know, how consistent he is, you know. But he's definitely played a great match today.

Q. It seemed you had some problems to return his serve, especially the second serve. Did you feel you did not return as well as you usually do?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I don't want to say I played a bad match or a great match. It was just a match where I was hanging in there, you know. For this reason, I missed maybe forehands I don't miss, I missed backhands I don't miss. I played good forehands, too. It was just a very okay performance, you know, by my side. You know, of course with my experience and with all I have, you know, I can hang into these matches, you know, and when it matters, usually I could raise the bar. Today it almost happened again. But you can't get it out of every match like this, of course. I mean, I thought, you know, the unfortunate was that I couldn't hang on with him in the second set when he started to really, you know, change his game. Because this is when I would get him frustrated. I think then the match could really turn my way very quickly, you know. But I wouldn't say, you know, my return was bad today. It was just all right, you know. Same as the rest of my game.

Q. How good is Gasquet now, and how good can he become from what you've seen today?

ROGER FEDERER: I've hardly seen him play on other surfaces than clay. He stands very far back and he's got a great backhand, you know. I feel he can really hit it extremely hard, you know, both ways - up the line and crosscourt. I have the feeling he returns well, especially off the second serve, you know. But how that's gonna do on the hard courts and everything, you know, I don't know. But he also showed that, you know, like in the second set, in the beginning of the third, when he was taking his chances also, taking the return early, he's a very dangerous player. He's definitely got the tools, you know. It's a matter of consistency. That's what I was struggling with in the beginning. I think that's what he was doing, too. I think a result like here at Monte-Carlo, at least the semis, will boost his motivation to really go at it.

Q. When you have such a long winning run, does that actually create a tension of its own? Does it weigh on you at all?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, in a way, it does. It's tough to wake up every morning knowing you have to defend your streak or defend your, let's say, Top 10 record, or the finals streak, the streaks I'm having, you know. I have the feeling at the moment I'm playing against history, against the other players. So it's not so easy also. I'm happy the way I'm coping with it. So far it's been doing me good and not harm, so that's a good sign.

Q. Is it more difficult for you on clay to find your timing? You missed a few shots that you don't miss usually. You can't take the ball as early as you do.

ROGER FEDERER: It always depends on who you play. We're still very early in the season. I'm happy with the way I played this week, you know, to be honest. Of course I always hope to play well, to keep the streak alive, and all those things. But still, you know, to win three matches here and play, you know, be so close to make it to the semis again of the Masters Series, it's just not some bunny event we're playing here, we're playing the real deal. So this is still a pretty good result for a first tournament on clay. On this, I can build. I know what I have to kind of work on. I know where I can still improve. I know what has been going well. For the season, I think it was the right choice to come to Monaco.

Q. In terms of the French Open, is this a setback or do you feel you have plenty of time between now and Roland Garros to prepare?

ROGER FEDERER: No, this is not a setback at all. It's still too early. Also if I would have won it, it wouldn't help me much, you know, because, you know, the French is the French; it's the best-of-five. Only there we will see really how good I'm playing. But I think this is a good start to the clay court season.

Q. I think you never even practiced against Gasquet. You obviously don't know from experience how to play against him. Does it create that problem itself, that you haven't practiced against him?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I feel like it's an advantage for him, you know, because he's seen me play thousands of times, you know. I never get to see him. I mean, it's a little advantage. But on the other hand, you know, I have all the experience. But then again he's got nothing to lose. It kind of makes it tough to play players like this. I've lost to a few youngsters now over the last couple of years, but they played good matches, they took chances, they played well when it mattered, and that's why they beat me. As long as I keep on losing, you know, losing so tight, it's okay. If I lose Love and 1 against these guys, then I have a problem, you know. So I can walk away with these matches pretty all right.

Q. He said yesterday he might be a bit intimidated against you on court. He didn't seem very intimidated.

ROGER FEDERER: Nothing I could say about that.

Q. What would you say his chances are at the French Open?

ROGER FEDERER: Still so far away. He's got the home crowd, you know. The French, they are huge supporters for their own players. For this reason, he's going to be tough, you know. He's still young, you know, so don't expect him to win it right away.

Q. You almost lost with Nadal, and you lost with Gasquet. The new generation coming up, is it more dangerous for you because maybe you don't know them, they have nothing to lose? What is your opinion?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, Nadal is -- of course they are the same age, but Nadal, it seems like he's been around. I don't want to say he looks more mature, but he's played more big matches, you know, for instance the Davis Cup finals. Has Gasquet played a 27,000-seater? No, he hasn't. He's just got that little bit of advance, you know, over Gasquet. But they definitely got both a great game. We've been talking about them for a long time, so... It's nice to see also Monfils getting all the wildcards and making it, you know, come along, you know. So not only we have our generation, and Agassi is still playing, but we also have the youngsters coming. So it's great for the game. This is going to be interesting for the future, you know, to see how the youngsters can play against our generation, and then our generation, how we go with Agassi and Henman, let's say, and maybe Moya you almost got to put in there. I think it's a very interesting time in tennis right now.

Q. The only two matches you lost, you had matchpoints.


Q. What that means?

ROGER FEDERER: I choke badly (laughing). I don't know. It's a tough one, you know. Of course it crosses your mind at times - the last match you lost was a matchpoint, you know you saved them already, suddenly you miss your first, you're like, "Oh, my God, if I lose this now again..." It's just in the heat of the moment you've got to take the right choices. I thought on the one forehand I had matchpoint on I should have gone to his forehand. But I also just missed it by a little bit, you know. So, I mean, what can I say, you know? He played well. He deserved to win so...

Q. Did you try to keep away from his backhand as much as possible?

ROGER FEDERER: No, I just had the feeling, you know, for me it was better to go to his forehand. He hit some terrific forehands as well. Both did. Maybe his backhand is more consistent.

Q. Would you say his backhand is one of the best you've faced?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, there's a few. There's a few good ones around.

Q. He is French. French answer.

ROGER FEDERER: (Smiling). What is the title going to be? No, it's always tough to tell who's got the best, especially backhand, because we got one-handeds, we got two-handeds. But one-handed backhands, definitely one of the best, yes.

Q. Can you remember anybody going so deep into the court to return your second serve?

ROGER FEDERER: Deep into the court, you mean coming close?

Q. Yeah.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, that's his -- how the way he plays. He commits to take a chance. And if he wants, he can half-volley my serve. It's not going to mean anything extraordinary, I feel, you know. If he returns the way he did, you know, by playing inconsistent, that is a great effort, you know. He mixed it up sometimes. You can see when he commits, but it's still tough to get away from it because he stays back 90%, and then he comes in on a few. So I don't really feel like this is what decides the match.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French, please.

Q. It's the second time in this season that you lost a match. How do you cope with it?

ROGER FEDERER: I'm really disappointed because I had matchpoints. It's never simple to lose a match like that. But in the third set, I was down, and I was able to come back again. He played well. I started well on the clay. I'm happy that I came to Monte-Carlo; it's just a pity that I lost this match.

Q. Were you surprised by his level?

ROGER FEDERER: No, I knew it was going to be a difficult match. In the beginning already he showed he was able to play good shots. I already saw him before play extraordinary shots. I knew I was supposed to be the favorite, but not as much as people thought. I know he said about me that I was his idol, but that didn't change anything for me. I approached that match like any other match. I saw during that match that he was able to remain for a long time at the same high level.

Q. He certainly played the best match of his career, there's no doubt about that. But you, on your side, you never gave up, so he really had to have a considerable performance.

ROGER FEDERER: Sure. Against the No. 1 player, it's very good to win a match after saving matchpoints. I suppose it's good for him and for the French press. For me, it's average. I'm not going to say I'm happy for him, but I know these things happen. I also lost already against other young players this season, and I know they can be very dangerous because they have nothing to lose.

Q. Did you enjoy your match all the same?

ROGER FEDERER: Average. I had not only to fight against him, but also to struggle with my game. It was not a bad match on my part, but it was not the best match of my life either. In the beginning, he was remaining very passive; then he became more aggressive. Now it still remains to be seen whether he can maintain this during a whole tournament or during a whole season. That was the next obstacle I had to fight against when I came up. I know he has the means to do so.

Q. What do you think about the next match against Nadal and Gasquet?

ROGER FEDERER: I would give the advantage to Nadal. Last time they played was in Estoril, and after that Nadal got injured. It will be an interesting match. Whatever happens, there will be a young player in the final, which is good for the tournament. I also believe that in tennis nowadays we have the generation of Agassi, my generation, and the young players, so it's an interesting time for tennis.

End of FastScripts….

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