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March 16, 2005

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Please go ahead for Roger Federer.

Q. Are you as sleepy as we are?

ROGER FEDERER: Were you tired or what (smiling)? I wasn't. Not allowed. Tomorrow morning I'll be tired.

Q. Did you enjoy the match? What do you think of the quality of the match?

ROGER FEDERER: Hmm, what can I say? I think this was definitely one of the best matches I've played against him this year, very clear. I felt good off the baseline, solid on the serve. Just only got one chance really to break him. Missed a few, maybe to get a few more breakpoints. He kept the pressure on. Definitely won the crucial points in the end in the breaker. That made the difference today. But, you know, it's kind of a very different match today. It was kind of cold, in a huge stadium. Even though people are there, it feels kind of empty. It was kind of a quiet atmosphere. But you have to be top of your game, especially against him. You know it's such an important match, if you're looking ahead of this summer, you don't want to lose suddenly after winning three times against him. I'm very happy and relieved that I won in two.

Q. People talk about your tremendous gifts with the racquet. You seem to bring so much mental toughness to the court these days.

ROGER FEDERER: These days, yeah (smiling). Just tonight.

Q. Are you sensing you made a really big change somewhere mentally, came to a point of maturity or realization?

ROGER FEDERER: Very clear, yes. And I think the ones, you know, who followed me for enough time, they see the difference, and when it happened about, how it came along. I just have the feeling that I dig much deeper than I used to. Especially also being a set down, you know, doesn't bother me any more. I know, you know, you need here now two sets to win, that's what I'm aiming for. Where before I would get frustrated and totally change up my game, wouldn't stick to my game plan, and everything would be kind of in a panic mode. You know, that doesn't happen any more. It really needs very much to make me not be concentrated any more, and that is a very good thing. Plus I think because I've improved physically, I can, you know, fight through tough matches where before I would have to changed my game maybe because I wasn't physically fit enough.

Q. Talk about psychologically in tiebreakers against Ljubicic, the last two times you play him very close. Tonight, two tiebreakers. It's very apparent who the more mentally tough player is. Is that because you're been winning close matches against him before?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, it's always tough to say. If it's that that made a difference that I beat him three times, I just always believe once you get in a breaker, you know, anything can happen. I just tried to play the points as tough as I can. I try to serve as good as I can and not to give many cheap points. I think for him it's the same. It just turned out that I won these two tonight. He won the last one in Dubai in the second set, which really made me get quite nervous, to be honest. I think it has a lot to do with the choices you make at the right time. In Dubai I didn't. I serve and volleyed way too much. I maybe pushed the luck maybe a little bit just too far. And tonight I was more tough, you know. That counted today, so I'm happy, you know, to win in two tough breakers. It's always good, especially looking ahead.

Q. How do you practice these days? Are you playing sets? Are you playing tiebreak? Are you practicing something special?

ROGER FEDERER: Only breakers, yeah (smiling). Well, now, I'm in the tournament rhythm. What you do now is if you go and hit, maybe an hour tomorrow, you know, just warm up, play a few games. In the end, you probably finish with a breaker. Before that, you know, you just play sets prior to the tournament so you really get the sense of a match situation. And then in between here and Miami, I will definitely not really playing points too much, I would say. Maybe work more on my game, maybe what I can still improve, what didn't work so well this week. But for this we have to wait till the end of this one first.

Q. What makes him a tough player? He's pretty serious, pretty calm on the court?

ROGER FEDERER: He's very secure, you know, he seems. Doesn't really look like he's going to panic at all. That is definitely a sign of a good poker face, you know. He's got a great first serve. He can serve all four sides, you know, which makes it hard to return. You know, for some I would say his second serve also is tough. You know, he gets up very high. Just seems like he's not missing as much as he used to, you know. He's playing tougher points. That makes him a good player now. I think he will be a tough guy to beat, you know, this year and hopefully for the future as well for him.

Q. The two guys who have given you the most trouble this year are out of the tournament now, Ljubicic and Safin. You go into your next three matches, you've beaten the players routinely. How do you get to the point tonight where you were yelling c'mon to get the inner fire going?

ROGER FEDERER: I'll be struggling for tomorrow's motivation, that's for sure (smiling). No, really, I'm so motivated for this tournament; I really like it very much. I want to defend this title, you know, to play good on the big points like tonight, that really makes me feel great. So I'll fall asleep nice and easily tonight. Just have to make sure I'm ready for tomorrow. He's been playing great, you know, my opponent I'm facing. Just because maybe I've beaten them in the past doesn't mean tomorrow's going to be the same way. If Ljubicic and Safin are out, for me it doesn't change anything for me in the draw. There's still so many great players. The best are through. That's just the way it is. If the draw would have been different, you know, maybe just a few otherr ones would have been there. It's the way it is. I'm looking forward because now it's getting really interesting.

Q. Have you been paying attention to Kiefer's results in this tournament. Steamrolled some pretty good players.

ROGER FEDERER: I'm surprised in a way, yeah, because it's so consistent and, like you said, against good players. I've only seen the results. I've seen him in the locker, but I haven't seen one serve. I don't even know how he plays any more (smiling). We'll see tomorrow.

Q. What is the most satisfying aspect of playing at the level you're playing at now?

ROGER FEDERER: Say that again, please.

Q. What is the most satisfying aspect about playing and dominating the way you're doing now?

ROGER FEDERER: You win more often, so that's a lot of fun. Get a lot of fans around the world. Seem to please many people. That's nice. But also that finally maybe the hard work is paying off. I think that's what every other great player says once he gets to the top. It's the same for me. And now it's about maintaining that. I love being No. 1 in the world, being in these big-occasion matches, playing center court basically every match I play now. That's just unbelievable fun. You cannot imagine.

End of FastScripts….

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