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March 24, 2005

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Roger Federer in English first, please.

Q. What have you done with all the trophies?

ROGER FEDERER: They're standing in my hotel room so far, so... I have to wrap them up and take them home.

Q. What do you think it is that has separated you so much from the other Top 10? It seems sort of amazing to see one guy so much better than the other top players in the world. What do you think it is that has separated you from the rest?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, maybe the difference is big, you know, in the rankings, you know. But I feel they're right there to beat me when I'm maybe just a little bit off, if they're playing really well, you know. But somehow I've always been able to win the important matches, you know - the finals, against the Top 10ers. The record speaks for itself. I don't see myself that far away, you know. I know that right now I'm winning those matches, but it can turn around very quickly.

Q. It seems the greats, McEnroe, Laver, are saying you're the best. Sampras is saying your biggest opponent is the record books. Most people are calling you a "tennis genius." What is it exactly do you think that puts you at this level?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think now the consistency, you know, over the last, I would say, two years really have proven to everybody, also especially to myself, that I can do it. The important moments, like I said, finals and against the other Top 10 players, this is the moment when I actually play my best. That's what usually the all-time greats do, I guess. Because I play the style I play, the one-handed backhand, I vary my game very much, I get a lot of attention also from the former players. So it's nice to hear, you know, but like you also said, we'll see maybe in 10 years how good I'm really going to be. So far it's been terrific, the career I've had so far. I hope I can keep it up this week.

Q. Is that a motivation for you being among the greats? What keeps you motivated week after week?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, it's no problem. I'm enjoying myself, winning many matches. I'm always looking for the match where I'm playing great again in front of a full stadium against another great player. That's been happening for me over the last couple of years now. For me, there is no problem to maintain the motivation very high.

Q. Your encounters with Safin have been taken to a different level recently. Quite possibly you might be able to play him in the final in this tournament. Is that something you look forward to, to get your revenge?

ROGER FEDERER: No. We're too far apart in the draw, you know, to be honest, to think about that. He didn't play great last week. I think he's not focused on playing me in the finals. I think that would be a mistake of his and a mistake of mine, too, if he would be thinking so far. I go one match at a time. I play Rochus, who has had actually a good start to the season. Maybe people underestimate him because he's so small, you know. But I'm looking forward to a tough match. I used to play doubles with him, so he's a good friend of mine as well, and in the Juniors. I've known him for a long time. That's what I'm concerned about, not the rivalry with Safin right now.

Q. It's been 11 years since a top seed has won here. Is there any more pressure on you?

ROGER FEDERER: I didn't know that statistic. But at least a No. 1 seed has won here, so that's good (smiling).

Q. There was talk about you and Andy Roddick being 1 and 2, going back for the ages. What has happened to him, or is it that you were able to lift your game and he hasn't? Has his game dropped off?

ROGER FEDERER: I wouldn't say that. I just think he lost a couple of crucial matches, maybe, which maybe would have put him in a contention to really maybe, you know, maybe take the title in the end, you know. I think losses like Johansson at the US Open and the Hewitt matches at the Masters Cup and the Australian Open, you know, that kind of loss disappointed him, even though it's nothing to take away from Hewitt. I think that would have given him opportunities again to win the tournament. He missed those, and maybe before he was taking them. But that's also a reason why, maybe less players knew him, knew how to play him. Over the years it also gets tougher to always play the same game. He has had coaches change, and maybe that's had an influence on him as well. But, again, he's still No. 3 in the world. It's not like he's No. 500. He's still right there. I don't see that he's been playing much worse. He just maybe hasn't won that big match.

Q. Do you think he'll have to add another dimension? Is his game too monodimensional to play someone like you?

ROGER FEDERER: No, I don't think so. He's doing good. He's doing great. He's a very tough player. He beats lower-ranked players very consistently. That is also something we forget sometimes. To play good against a great, that's something special. But you have to actually get the opportunity to play them and for this you need to beat the lower-ranked players, and he does that quite comfortably. I expect him to be around for a long time at the top.

Q. Talking about coaching, you decided a while ago to coach yourself, and you got better and better by coaching yourself, and also keeping your staff all in the family and friends. You don't travel like other players, with such a big staff. You get better and better. Is that proof that you really don't need a coach once you reach a certain class of tennis?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I always answer the same way, so (smiling)... Every player needs to know for themselves what they need, you know. For some, maybe a condition trainer or a physio or just a girlfriend or a friend is more important than actually the coach itself, you know. I think coaching is very important in the beginning of your career, anyway for myself, because this is when they teach you the technique, how to behave on court, how to get through the tennis life, you know, because it's not something you're really ready for at a young age. So I was lucky to have great coaches then. But I felt like I needed a coach change with Peter. I didn't expect myself to be alone for a year. That just came about. After winning the Australian Open, you know, I got unbelievable confidence, and I just felt like I was not in a hurry at all. I played the whole season through without a coach. Now I'm with Tony Roche. That's very good. He gives me new advice. I'm really looking forward to see him again next time.

Q. Can you describe what you experience when you're playing your very best. Is it an experience of being relaxed and at ease, or is it intensity and focus? Is there an emotional experience when you're playing as good as you can play?

ROGER FEDERER: I'm very focused at this moment when I'm really playing well. Of course very confident, because you have the feeling on the important points, you know, you can -- you're always going to come out on top, you know. Just with that feeling inside of yourself, you actually become very relaxed but very focused. So it's a combination of a few things, yeah.

Q. When you look at Andre's career, what sticks out in your mind most?

ROGER FEDERER: To be honest, I don't remember much of his, you know, beginning. But, you know, I guess his dip, you know, out of the Top 100, and to come back and to become No. 1, that is what sticks out most. Plus his consistency, you know, just over the years. Because what is it, 20 years old, his career, now, because he started also very young; we shouldn't forget that. He's one of the few who's won four Grand Slams on all surfaces.

Q. When you were putting together your foundation, did you talk to him about his foundation? How much of an influence was his charitable work on your endeavors?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, you hear much about it, of course. He does a terrific job at it, you know. I wish I could talk to him about it to get some advice and to hear what he has to say about this. I think if I would ask him and call him up, I think he would take time. That's maybe something I would like to do in the future. But, you know, we'll see. He's got many things also going on, so... But he's definitely, I think, a role model for all tennis players in that aspect.

Q. Looking ahead a little bit to Roland Garros, which is a tournament that's conquered a lot of top players in the past - some have had a chance like McEnroe and Edberg, whatever - do you think you have to adjust your game? Do you worry a bit that maybe you might fall into that same trap?

ROGER FEDERER: I might, you know, but I'm not thinking about it too much, you know. It's more talk, you know, because you only get a chance once every year. So it's also not that many opportunities. But I think why we talk about it is because I won the other three so quickly, you know. It seems like I'm almost in a -- pushed into something where I need to just perform because everybody expects me to. But I have to look at the long run and, you know, Agassi won his French Open also, you know, when he was getting older. Maybe that's going to happen for me, too, and maybe I'll never win it; we'll see. I have the feeling I'm very natural on clay. I've grown up on the clay, even played in the wintertime on clay in a balloon. My feeling tells me that I'll have good shots at the French in the next few years. I thought my preparations have been good every time, and I've played great in either Hamburg or Rome, then I arrived at the French the last couple years and never really felt comfortable. Maybe now, with Tony to my side, that may change. So I can't answer you now (smiling).

Q. Much is made of your lack of an entourage. How many people are here with you now?

ROGER FEDERER: Here now is my girlfriend, of course. She travels to all the tournaments. Then my physio, he travels to about 80%. A friend of mine is here, too. So we're four.

Q. When you come to a tournament that you haven't won, which becomes fewer and fewer, how do you approach it? Do you approach it differently than tournaments that you have had more success at?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I've been in the finals here, so I've stayed, you know, till the very end. It's always nice when you can stay till the very end and you get a real feel for the tournament. It starts to get much more relaxed. In the beginning here now it's so many players here, so much going on, you can't really enjoy -- you run to the courts and run off. At the end when it's less and less matches, it's much more enjoyable. So I've experienced that. But I don't know, same approach really. I have a good feeling about this tournament. The surface and everything suits me well here. I won the Juniors. Last year, I had the sun stroke, but I played Nadal who played great. I don't know what it was, but he just got me, you know. Yeah, I thought I was unlucky the year before, against Agassi. It was already a breakthrough for me to get so far. I hope to win this tournament one time because it's a beautiful tournament.

Q. Do you think you can keep winning like this in tennis? Do you think it's possible, or that people will catch up to you, or do you think you can keep what's going?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, it's tough to back it up every week, you know, every day. Because you don't wake up and you're at 100% every single time. Doesn't need much until you're just a little off. But I try, you know, my best to be well-prepared and, you know, back-to-back Masters Series are tough. You're very happy to win one of the two, so it kind of takes a lot of pressure off me.

Q. Do you think you could approach playing professionally at 15 years of age?


Q. There's a young guy here who they've been giving wildcards to the last few tournaments and he's losing matches. How much do you think that would affect him long-term? If you were advising him, would you say, Go back and learn the trade rather than playing these events?

ROGER FEDERER: I have never seen him play. I don't know how he looks like. Let me think... At 15, I was - where was I? - yeah, this is when I was actually just getting good, you know. I was growing. My game started to get more powerful. I had very quickly success suddenly. Within 15 to 16, I became a very different player. So I guess same for him, even though he probably got better earlier than me. But I think it's an experience for him. I think as long as he copes well with it, you know, that's fine. If he gets pushed into everything too early, you know, and he's not really wanting to do It... But I guess every player's dream is to be able to play the best. He gets his opportunity. As long as he's okay with it, I think that's fine. On the women's tour we see it all the time. One case on the men's tour, why not? It's a good story.

Q. You were at an event last night with James Lipton. You were describing a night you went out to Elaine's Restaurant. What celebrities did you see there? Who have you seen there? What do you like to order?

ROGER FEDERER: Okay (smiling)...

Q. None of the hard questions.

ROGER FEDERER: It's a little different. He knew more people who were sitting there. To be honest, I didn't recognize anybody at Elaine's. It's more, you know, the movie business. I only know the famous actors, that's all I know. (Inaudible) were great fans of mine, I was surprised. I also didn't know her, she came up to the table. That's what happens, you know. We had a good time with James Lipton last night, you know. We did an event for my watch company. It's nice to be with him. We met at the US Open before, so...

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