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March 19, 2005

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Roger.

Q. Is there any part of your game that you're not happy with right now, that you're uncomfortable with?

ROGER FEDERER: No, I'm very happy the way I'm playing. You know, I had to actually fight to actually really play well today. He was giving me a hard time. I had a few tough couple of games. You know, once I got through that, my rhythm really started to pick up and I started to play better. So very happy the way the match ended. That's very promising for tomorrow.

Q. You have been compared to many of the great players, both in the recent and distant past. Which comparison means the most to you or is the most accurate to you?

ROGER FEDERER: Oh, there were so many. If I'm compared with, you know, players who have done great things or great attitude or something like that, that is nice for me, you know. But I'm who I am. I'm not trying to be like somebody else. I think every individual should have their own careers, you know. I think nobody has got the same character, you know, so I'll be remembered as myself, not that I've been compared to somebody else.

Q. You went through when you were younger. You looked across the net and there was Pete Sampras. Now you look across the net, do you sense these guys are intimidated, "This is Roger Federer"?

ROGER FEDERER: No, not yet. Still too young for that (smiling). Pete was 29 or 30 when I looked over to the net. That's intimidating. But 23-year-old, you know, maybe not quite yet.

Q. People talk about your game, how creative it is, how easily and graceful you play. It almost seems sometimes that the mental aspect of your game doesn't get accolades or attention. You seem to never lose control. You always seem to be on.

ROGER FEDERER: If you don't talk about it, you know, it's always a good sign for me. Because it's the same with my footwork or my mental part of the game, we don't talk about it much. But the players I face, they know that they don't just have to watch out for my forehand or my serve on big points. I think in the end, you've got to feel comfortable with yourself. I have a strong belief that I'm doing the things right, you know, working the right way. I think just this, you know, by itself makes me a better player. I can rely on so many strengths, you know, because if something doesn't go right, maybe a shot, I can compensate with different strengths in my game. I think that's what makes me extremely tough to beat, at the moment especially.

Q. You made a conscious decision at the start of the year not to play Davis Cup; to concentrate on the No. 1 ranking, Wimbledon. Do you feel that's worked in your favor? Do you feel everything is in place exactly as you want it to be?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, yeah, I mean, the results have been perfect, you know, before and after Davis Cup. But I don't want to say it's still the right or the wrong decision. It's just a decision I took for professional reasons. I mean, I've tried to stay and maintain my No. 1 position. It was clear that up until here, I'm defended anyway, no matter almost what happens, through the beginning of the season. But it's really going to start maybe paying off at the end of the season, and not quite yet right now. I was disappointed to see that they lost because they really put in a great fight. I mean, most likely I will back them up to hopefully stay in the World Group.

Q. For those of us who weren't familiar with what you went through in Switzerland with the Davis Cup decision, especially in a fairly small country, it must have been a difficult decision to take because of public pressure presumably.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I just don't like that idea that, "Oh, you didn't play Davis Cup. How did the press react?" It's always the same story. I think the ones that really know about sport or know about the game, they do understand. Others, it's always clear that there will be reactions. For me, it was just a battle within myself. You know, whatever the reactions might be from other people and from media side, you know, I couldn't care less. I have to do and have my own good career. I want to play without injury. If I can help the guys by playing, sometimes without playing, you know, that's good for me. But I just cannot always just also make decisions based on the reactions there will be. That's the way it is. I'm actually happy the way the reactions were because they can always go the other way also.

Q. Are you especially happy with your backhand right now?

ROGER FEDERER: No, backhand's good.

Q. Did you feel it improved during the last weeks or months?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I wasn't quite happy with my backhand in Dubai, I would say, because, you know, I get many serves served to my backhand. There, I was just not happy the way I was returning. I mean, I get the ball back, you know, but today especially I really had the feeling I was driving the ball on the return. I think that already makes quite a considerable difference for me, the way the point actually starts. Like I said before, I'm pleased and looking really forward to tomorrow. If I can maintain the level of play, I mean, chances are good. But it's going to be a tough match, no matter what.

Q. Roger, historically people in your position have raised the level of tennis with opponents who are working really hard to beat you and unseat you. Have you seen some indication that players are getting better playing you and forcing you to stay up?

ROGER FEDERER: I get a sense that maybe some players have changed a little bit their games playing against me, or the way they're entering the matches, they might just not play the way you expect them to play. So I see that sometimes. But most of the times when it gets tough, the matches, you know, they return to their basic game, and this is when I can still play my own game. For them I think it's tough to switch sometimes. But that's just a feeling I have. I might be wrong. I wouldn't be surprised if, you know, players work harder than ever just to try to catch up.

Q. Can you be more specific? How are they changing their games to play you?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I'm not quite sure. It's just a feeling I have. I cannot be that precise. But maybe they would serve and volley more, they would play more aggressive, more safe, you know. Totally depends on the day. Example, with Roddick, the way he played at the Wimbledon finals, I haven't ever seen him play that aggressive. Then the same actually in Toronto. Then when I played him in Bangkok, it was already very different. He's tried to change things up, but they didn't work. They can always in the future.

Q. Andre Agassi has 25 employees. Maria Sharapova has 15 people working for her. In your case, we have just Mirka.

ROGER FEDERER: 125 I have (smiling). You just don't know them.

Q. In the future, considering your charitable events growing, how is that going to work, the business part? Is Mirka still going to be the major player?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, she's just helping me out to get my life very organized. She handles the media, media side, coordination for hotel and flight reservations, those kind of things. But she doesn't do the deal with, you know, sponsors and tournaments. Somebody else do it, with my parents and some experts. So I'm happy the way it is right now. If I feel like I need more people around me, I'll do it. But for the moment, I'm very happy the way it's running. Maybe sometimes the less people you have, you know, the less problems you have as well because instead of having to have to call maybe many people, you just have to call one. It's a very easy system we have right now, and it's working. It makes me feel also comfortable on the court because that's very important.

Q. Can you talk about your potential opponents tomorrow, Lleyton and Andy.

ROGER FEDERER: What can I say? They're playing right now. That's another exciting match. It's going to be an exciting final no matter who wins. But for me, this is a 50/50 match, even though they play so different. It's quite amazing. I give a little edge here to Andy here in America. He's playing on home soil. You never underestimate that. But might be wrong. It seems like they're playing well. We have been consistent the last couple of months. So, again, this tournament, Marat's maybe the only one missing or so that he messed up, so they're here. That really shows how consistent they are.

Q. Would you like to see all the Masters Series finals be best-of-five sets to give it that different situation to other tournaments? Some are, some aren't, some change.

ROGER FEDERER: I'm just not a big fan of being controlled by TV. They say, "We've got three hours. Best-of-five." "We have two hours, best-of-three." I just believe it should be the same in all Masters Series finals, no matter if it's best-of-five or best-of-three.

Q. To make it special, it should be best-of-five in the finals?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. I mean, it definitely makes it more special. Look how tough it is to bounce back from a final in Rome and go play Hamburg two days later. I mean, you're traveling the following day. So that just makes it very hard to say. The same thing, in my eyes, Grand Slams. It's an open five-setter at the end of all Grand Slams except at the US Open, where it's a tiebreaker. I don't understand those rules either.

Q. No one does.

ROGER FEDERER: No one does. Even the No. 1 player in the world. Let's see.

Q. What would you prefer?

ROGER FEDERER: For me it doesn't matter. I think best-of-five would make it most special, yes.

Q. You talked about not liking to be controlled by TV. You were twice this week. That's what the late-night match was all about. International television had purchased the rights.

ROGER FEDERER: This is okay. I'm just saying, I meant to the finals, not that they're being played at 9 in the morning, you know, best-of-one set or something like that. Just be at reasonable times and keep it simple, you know, like all the tournaments the same. That's what I meant.

Q. The night stuff for you, that was all right?

ROGER FEDERER: Yes, of course.

Q. When you look at Marat and Andy and Lleyton, do you feel you have more variety in your game than they do in theirs?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, yes, I do, yeah. Because I have to change up my game, mix it up, because, I mean, Lleyton and Marat are famous for their rhythm, Andy famous for his serve, and I'm famous for mixing it up. I definitely feel like I have more options. But it doesn't mean it's always going to carry me through because it can also be confusing for myself sometimes. They can play a very simple game and I always have to be very creative. So that's how I feel.

Q. A lot of players in the past had some problems playing in the US, something about the culture, the noise, the food, a lot of different things. You completely seem to have avoided that sensibility or mentality. Why would that be?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I was struggling, too, in the beginning in the States, to be honest. My first result I would say came in Miami when I played the finals against Andre, and a couple years later when I won Houston in 2003. I think that was my first victory on American soil. That also shows that it's only been since, you know, a little bit of time. My feeling tells me that I've always arrived maybe a little bit not too late but not early enough, to the American tournaments. I maybe couldn't get over the jetlag, was out straightaway. That's a thing I've changed over the last couple months and years, you know, to arrive in advance because it's just not to underestimate the 10 hours we have here or the seven in Miami. It's just a long, long trip, you know. This time I even came from South Africa, so that's even -- I mean, the time difference is still the same, but the trip was unbelievably long. I'd rather be here in time and take it easy here instead of just sitting at home and just arriving late. I think that has turned it around for me.

Q. Are you interested in seeing the game between Andy and Lleyton?

ROGER FEDERER: Once we finish here (smiling). I'll probably watch a few points, yeah.

End of FastScripts….

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