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March 13, 2005

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Mr. Federer.

Q. Seemed to have more trouble with the conditions today than Mardy.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it was strong winds out there, you know, especially in the second set. That made it more difficult to play because we started actually with just a slight breeze. It was actually nice to play in. It was easy to serve from the one end. You know, the other end was against the wind, against the sun, so that was tough. But then the real wind really picked up and it was tough from then on to really get some good rallies going. But I was always ahead. Made it easy. So I'm happy with that first-round match.

Q. Not as windy as the US Open, though?

ROGER FEDERER: No, not quite.

Q. Do you feel well-rested after the layoff?

ROGER FEDERER: Yes, of course. No, I feel good. I'm here with my conditioner trainer. We've been working out. I feel absolutely ready for this American trip. So that's good to know prior to these events. Now that I'm through to the second round, it kind of gives you time to think about how your game was and you can improve from here.

Q. How do you feel your game was today?

ROGER FEDERER: I thought it was good, you know. Consistent. Always ahead of things, and that's exactly what I wanted because Mardy can be a dangerous player. I think if you give him the lead, you know, he can serve his way through sets. I didn't allow that. I returned well, kept him on the back foot. Passed well on a few occasions. I had a feeling, you know, on the defensive side, as on the offensive, there were some good things.

Q. In general this year, are you playing as well as you want to play?

ROGER FEDERER: Oh, yeah, definitely. Definitely, yeah. I mean, I've won many, many matches this season. I mean, some closer, some very easily, you know, like the first week of the year where I didn't lose a service game. I'm playing well. So that's good.

Q. How often do you speak to Rochey? Have you called him during this week? Will you call him every couple of days or anything during this tournament and Miami?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, totally depends on how I feel, you know. If there's anything I need to talk to him about, I'll call him. You know, it was good and interesting to spend time with him during the Australian Open. Now I know, you know, how he works, how the feel is. You know, if there's anything, I can always call him. That's good to know in the back of my mind, maybe at times where I'm maybe not feeling so good or maybe lost confidence. So far, I don't have these problems, so it's okay.

Q. A couple days ago you kissed Kim Clijsters on the cheek.

ROGER FEDERER: Happy you saw that right (smiling).

Q. A couple of words about Kim Clijsters. She was really great that night when you had the exhibition. Who actually initiated to bring the girls on the stage? Who brought the idea up?

ROGER FEDERER: I was told they would like to also include the women's into the night. I said it's okay for me. They did that. You know, it's good to see her back. I haven't seen her for such a long time, you know. I guess that's why the kiss on the cheek, you know. It's what you do.

Q. How do you feel the event went? It allowed the public to see you guys in a different light.

ROGER FEDERER: Oh, definitely. I had a blast out there that night. I really had the feeling you got to see everyone's personality stronger than ever, you know. Because during a match, you get kind of ideas, but, you know, he has to act right so he doesn't get warnings. So he doesn't - how should I say - towards the opponent and everything, he's all right and fair. But, you know, that night, you know, you can do whatever you like. You know, you can joke around with your opponent. You can really play with the crowd. That was very nice and interesting to see. It was fun especially not to be sidelined to the other great players, joke around. No, it was extremely fun.

Q. You have so many titles to defend now. Is it more motivating for you to come to tournaments where you have to defend a title or to a tournament that you haven't won? What's more of a challenge?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, in a way I go into tournaments with pressure anyway because the weeks where I have nothing to defend, I feel like, "Oh, this is a big chance, you know, to kind of get some points." Then I win it, like let's say in Rotterdam. I arrive in Dubai, I'm like, "Oh, here I've got to defend." It's always kind of the same story in the end. You prepare well and try your best. Winning so many titles the last let's say two years, it just helps when you come back to a place where you've played well - for instance here. I felt right away when I got on the courts, you know, on the practice courts, and also today on the match court, you know, I felt good right away. Movement was good. Just get the feel quicker than at other places.

Q. What are going to be the one or two things you're going to have to do to win the French?

ROGER FEDERER: I thought the preparation the last few years was good, you know. I'm not going to change much about that. This year is just different that Tony is going to help me out, you know, in the clay court season, where, you know, I had let's say no one or Peter. Maybe that might change some things. Last year was already better than the two years before that. And I have the feeling once I really get underway in that tournament, I know I can play well. Maybe there's more players out there that are a threat to me, where at other events, you know, I would maybe be considered the big, big favorite. You know, at the French maybe that's not the case. But I've won plenty of matches also the last few years on that surface. I feel totally natural. You know, so far it hasn't got into my head yet, you know, luckily. So I go into that event feeling good, for sure.

Q. You're looking forward to that challenge which has different problems than at other tournaments?

ROGER FEDERER: It's no problems, no.

Q. It has different problems.

ROGER FEDERER: What kind of problems? Is "different problems" not a problem? It's the only one I haven't won. Is that a problem? I don't think so. It's a big challenge for me. It's definitely one of my still, you know, dreams in my career to maybe complete, you know, the Slam. I still prefer to win Wimbledon. That will always stay this way. Maybe that's going to take pressure off me. That won't change.

Q. You said you feel like you're moving quick on the court. What aspects of your game are you working on right now?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I haven't had hardly any time to practice really except this four days prior to this tournament. The last time I practiced was with Tony in Sydney, let's say. Other than that, I was just playing tournaments and taking a rest and preparing, you know. Preparing is certainly not practice weeks. You need at least five days in a row, I would say, and that's what I got before this event. So this is maybe a reason why I feel better again, because especially in Dubai I was really struggling with my rhythm, you know, all over my game. I have the feeling it's more precise again, so that's good.

Q. You raise an interesting point. Winning as much as you do, how difficult is it to plan a schedule? Is there a danger of playing too much?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I plan very, very carefully. It's very clear because of injuries. You've got to be confident, you know, especially in my position, to plan and do your scheduling because if you end up losing first round every week, it would look like you would never see me on TV ever again, you know. But if I keep on winning, you know, then the whole schedule is totally different again. I learned that, let's say, in 2002 at the end of the year where at times I was maybe fighting for the Masters and I would play five events in a row, which now I would never do, except if I would be in the situation again. Luckily I'm not. Still, it's just too much. I try to always cut it down for two in a row, max three in a row. And that's been working for me. In the end, you know, I've got to concentrate the most on the big tournaments, you know, like here, the Grand Slams, the other Masters Series, and that's what I try to do. When I arrive at an event, I'm not just there just to show up, you know. I'm really there to try to give my best, to let's say entertain the fans, please the tournament director, everybody who is involved, the sponsors. For this reason. In the end, I'm after titles now, I'm not after semifinals and second rounds. This has changed in my life. I think I've understood that very clearly over the last few years.

Q. That was a nice gesture of you to stay on the court today and hit with the guys in the wheelchairs. Why did you do it?

ROGER FEDERER: Why? There's no - how do you say - 'you got to do it, otherwise we'll fine you' or anything. It was just that I'd been asked. They said, "It will be after your match. If you want to stay, you can do that?" I said, "Yeah, it's no problem to play another tiebreaker."

That was fun. You get to show yourself, you know, another side, than when you're playing and concentrating during the match. Maybe it's, you know -- I hope it's kind of a dream come true for the players in the wheelchair. And for the fans, you know, it's also interesting to see how we can also actually play tennis together. It's a lot of fun.

Q. Learn a few new shots?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, he passed me on a few occasions. The one backhand over-the-head there. It was quite interesting. I'll have to go and ask him how he did that.

Q. Back to the tournaments for this year, do you think at all about dominating the tour as you did last year?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, the start is -- yeah, I have high hopes. It looks very good. I've only lost one match, won three tournaments, including Kooyong, since the semis of the Australian Open. So this start to the season is kind of more than I expected. Of course, I hoped to maybe win the Australian Open. But, you know, under the circumstances I think I did very well. You know, I think we'll really see after these two events, you know, Indian Wells and Miami, how I'm really shaping up, if I'm still No. 1 in the race and all those sort of things. But so far I have the feeling that the chances are there, you know, to repeat the season like I did last year.

Q. Why did you pass up Davis Cup this year?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, the week was not in my favor. I was not really, let's say, in the mood too much also to go from indoor to outdoor to indoor to outdoor. It's a lot of traveling. I've put in a lot of energy in Davis Cup over the last few years. My goal for this year is to stay No. 1 in the world and, you know, try to defend Wimbledon again. For this reason, I just had the feeling that if I skip Davis Cup, I can play my schedule all the way through till after Wimbledon without any, you know, bad experiences, no risk from injuries, from playing too much. So this was the reason.

Q. Were you criticized for passing up Davis Cup?

ROGER FEDERER: There's reactions, which I totally understand. I mean, I would say almost everybody, they do understand. But there's for sure a few who say, "Well, now he's No. 1 in the world, he should play." And I understand. But it was a very professional decision. It's not that I'm never going to play Davis Cup again. So I'll be back. The people, they should know that.

Q. Back to relegation later this year?

ROGER FEDERER: I haven't decided on that yet. I'm hoping to, so.

Q. With all the demands on your time, who do you look to most to help you figure out your schedule and practice, all that?

ROGER FEDERER: With who I decide all that?

Q. Who gives you the best advice? Who do you look to for that advice?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, myself, my condition trainer, basically us two. If Tony is around, with him. If my friend's around, I talk to him as well. I mean, I know what I need to be well-prepared for the event. It's not like something out of this planet where you need an absolute expert.

Q. What is Mirka's role?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, definitely scheduled also around her sometimes, you know, so that we can get time together. I don't want to just put it maybe at 2 in the afternoon. I know the morning is gone and the afternoon is gone. So we can actually do something else than just hit around the tennis courts. So that's her role.

Q. It seems like you give your opponent so few opportunities to win. The match today, first set, Fish is serving 3-5. Are you conscious of when you think the opponent has one of the few opportunities, seems to get back into the match?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, for me that was not a real opportunity he had there. If he ends up winning that game, I'm serving with the wind 5-4. I'm very confident at this point. I always just try to make the opponents play tough games, even if it's on their own serves, make them work hard, make them feel that, as well. An average shot is not just good enough. I'll punish it and take advantage of it. That's maybe something I haven't always been doing three years ago, I would say.

Q. Can you talk about Ljubicic, the level he's playing at this year compared to past years? Can you talk about how difficult it is to maintain that level for an entire year?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, everyone is different. He's got a big serve. It's going to save him energy at times. That's very clear. He's played very much already this year, you know. I'm not going to give him any advice. You know what I mean. We'll see. I mean, he's played four finals in four - how do you say? - international series. That's not Grand Slams and that's not Masters Cup or Masters Series. He's been playing well, you know, but he hasn't been winning any titles either. I don't want to take away anything from him. But I think if he really wants to be, you know, where the best are, of course, you know, consistency is one thing, but you also got to be able to go all the way. Maybe it's better to win one, lose first round, you know, than play finals and semis. That's one thing that's very important. And, of course, I think why we're all talking about him especially is also because he beat single-handedly the Americans. That is an unbelievable effort, especially with the team they had. I mean, I consider him a very dangerous player for this season, but the next month will show if he's going to stick around.

Q. How was it for you to single-handedly bring down the Americans in Davis Cup?

ROGER FEDERER: That was a different team. It wasn't Agassi and Roddick. I mean, I was at home. He was away. I think his effort was better.

End of FastScripts….

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