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March 28, 2005

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Roger.

Q. Sensational F'ing lob to set up the breakpoint. How did it feel?

ROGER FEDERER: It felt good, you know. It was against the wind, you know, which made it easier so you can actually hit it quite hard. It dropped in the corner like that, was perfect, you know. But he got back, actually, in the point unbelievably. It's tough to smash in the night. Always the winds, gusty winds, it's always tough. But, yeah, it was good to win that point. Especially the match, this is more important, because today was tough.

Q. How did you let it get away when you were serving for the match?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I started to realize in the third that really the wind started to pick up. I didn't remember it being so windy in the beginning of the match, you know, so I guess that would have been something that might have bothered me maybe just for a couple of games, but then maybe didn't quite realize it early enough. I thought he played a pretty good game to break me. Maybe I wasn't serving my best anymore, you know, at the end of that second set. But he did well, you know, to stay in the match and then to break me a second time. Obviously that's a good effort. But I was not playing very well at that point, but he took advantage of it and pushed me to three.

Q. You had a little bit of a struggle holding on to your serve in the third set.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, of course. Then you start to think about everything. Yeah, so, you know, the wind comes into play. He's getting more pumped. The rallies are going his way, not your way anymore. You have the feeling you're forcing some issues. That's just the way I felt. But still, you know, to be on top in the end, I'm really, really satisfied because, yeah, it wasn't easy tonight. But I'm happy.

Q. I looked in the record books. In fact you've played Zabaleta on this court in Miami in 2000, you lost that match 6-4, 7-6. I don't know if you remember that match. It was a second-round match.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I do remember. It was on an outside court. It was quick as hell. You know, it was during the day, and the outside courts play much quicker just because they're much smaller.

Q. So that wasn't a factor coming into this match?

ROGER FEDERER: No, not today. It was more a factor, I think, thinking about the night session of last year, which I lost against Nadal. I think more knowing that, there I had the feeling I was also kind of trying, you know, but I couldn't really get it going. It sometimes felt like this tonight, you know. But I thought the first part of the match was really good, you know. I pushed him hard. I played good. I served well. Then I let it slip. But I caught myself in time.

Q. Do you like tough matches going into the quarters?

ROGER FEDERER: No, I prefer it easy, you know, to save energy. Playing again tomorrow, you know, and I'm finishing very late. This would have been great to finish off in two. In the end you have to be happy to be through at all.

Q. Every time you win a close match that you're not playing your best at, like the Ljubicic match in Indian Wells, you come through and win and win another tough one like this, do they build upon each other in your mind emotionally, telling you that you can win even when you don't bring your best stuff to the match?

ROGER FEDERER: I think, you know, the last whatever matches I've played, I haven't played great, you know, 40 times in a row, let's say. I had my off days as well but maybe covered, you know, my fatigue or whatever it was, you know, by playing, just being consistent, you know. That's what I've been doing. This is my key to success, to be so consistent. In the past, it would show very quickly and very easily, you know, if I'm feeling good or not. Now these days, there's hardly an off day. But today wasn't great always, you know, but I came through, fought hard and these are also important matches, you know. I lived through them, a few of them in Dubai, where I won 7-6 in the third a couple of times. You're very relieved when you come through tough matches.

Q. Was it difficult to get any rhythm off of his serve because of the weird motion that he has in the beginning of the set?

ROGER FEDERER: No, he hits it quite hard, you know, so that makes it tough to return. He's got a good second serve as well, you know, which, yeah, which is tough, you know. So I thought I was returning well, you know, up until the point where it got really windy. I was just struggling a little bit with my backhand at one point. Yeah, I think that was tough.

Q. You did appear to shank a couple of backhands quite badly. Obviously, you weren't really aware that the wind was affecting your rhythm. That would explain why you were missing quite a lot.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think so. I think the problem was that I actually didn't realize it was so windy because I was so focused on the match, where in the past I would go, "Oh, my God, it's windy. I don't really like it too much." By now it really shows that I didn't even realize that it got so windy, and I also maybe I didn't adjust my game to it, and straightaway I lost two service games, and I was in the third struggling to hold, you know.

Q. Seventh game in your final set, you're up 15-Love, miss a dropshot into the net, up 30-15, you don't get a good half-volley and pop it up, is that a wind factor or just a little bit of an off-timing on your part?

ROGER FEDERER: Off timing, I think, really. Maybe trying to force it too much, you know. You know, I don't play many dropshots, you know, but I thought it was still the right shot to do, to play it. Because he gets very far behind the baseline, you know, and he doesn't like to come to the net. Occasionally you have to throw one in. Unfortunately, I missed them. That kind of -- then you're like, "What are you doing? Just play it in." Of course after you're always smarter. But at the time I thought it was the right shot. I tried to stay positive even though I knew that was not the right shot right then.

Q. Looking forward to tomorrow's match against Mario, how much does it help your confidence that you played him a few weeks ago in Rotterdam?

ROGER FEDERER: Oh, I think it was good, you know, that I played him since the Wimbledon loss. I played really good in Rotterdam against him. It was a semifinal match. He's got a big game, you know. So I have to adapt again from night to day and, you know, don't have much recovery time. So it will be interesting how we play tomorrow, because it's going to be very different. He's playing very aggressive and he's a good player.

Q. Who would have thought with all the weapons in your arsenal, this match would ultimately turn on a topspin lob?

ROGER FEDERER: That's how it goes sometimes. It turns around very quickly. When the wind turns, the match turns.

Q. You're both former junior world No. 1s.

ROGER FEDERER: Who, Zabaleta?

Q. Yeah.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. He was, yeah.

Q. Like yourself.


Q. Obviously, you have some history there. You're about the same age?

ROGER FEDERER: No, he's three years older, I think.

Q. You never played him in the Juniors?

ROGER FEDERER: No, no. But I remember, he had a great record in Juniors. I think he won like 10 out of 11 tournaments, so yeah...

End of FastScripts….

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