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January 16, 2005

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. How confident are you going into the Australian Open?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, very much. I'm feeling great. You know, I played fantastic at the end of the year. Now in the beginning again. See no reason why not to be confident.

Q. In your practice, is there any particular area through Kooyong and in the lead-in into the tournament that you wanted to work on and that you've worked on successfully?

ROGER FEDERER: No. I think it was all just coming down to getting used to the conditions because they were different to Doha. You know, in Doha I only played at night every time. Now during Kooyong, I could play during the day. And when the court gets hot, the conditions are very different, so I had to get used to them. But, you know, it's an exhibition, so you can try some things. But I think tomorrow when I start the match, it will be usual Roger Federer you will see. So nothing extraordinary, new will be there. So we'll see what happens.

Q. Can you tell us what sort of things you tried yesterday, the little variation that you worked on?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think I had a very high first-serve percentage, came to the net quite often also. I played great from the baseline. It was a really good match, I thought. And, you know, I was always in control of my own service games most of the times. Had the feeling I was returning also good. I have to say I'm very, very happy the way I played because, you know, exhibitions is not a thing I was very strong at in the past. You know, like last year I played Hong Kong. I lost to Ferrero. I came to Kooyong and also didn't play great. But this year seems different. So I'm happy.

Q. Was it trying to get a feel for perhaps how well you could serve and volley?

ROGER FEDERER: Also. But just at the same time trying some things out because how often do we get a chance to play exhibition matches, you know? In practice I serve and volley, you know, also more than in the match. But so now this time, it's just taped on TV. So you always try out some things. You know, it's all about confidence, I guess, you know, what you want to do in the match.

Q. It's a very different lead-in into this Australian Open compared to last year given there's so much focus and attention on you. Has that affected you at all?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I'm feeling better this year than last year really, because last year I had to fight, you know, with the expectations and the comments of people, you know, telling me that I don't have a coach, that that was a totally wrong decision, and those things put the pressure on me. You know, now one year without a coach, I feel very confident. I know that I can handle it myself. I know I can do it. Plus now with the help of Tony, you know, the group is still the same around me. Couldn't be any better. Of course, the pressure's here to defend the title. But that is for me almost now a normal thing, so we'll see.

Q. How much impact has Tony had on you in this short period of time?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, not too much, you know, to be honest, because we only had a chance to maybe work two weeks at the most together. And, you know, you don't change your game within two weeks. So it was I think more getting used to each other, getting to know each other. Yeah, just talking to each other. I think that's what we've been doing.

Q. What will you say (inaudible) getting involved, getting his advice?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, I thought about who would be the right person for me as a character, as a coach, because, you know, with coaches sometimes you travel, you know, all the time, you spend the whole time with him. So I have to get along well with him. So in the first step was actually to get to know him better and see if we actually get along together, and then second, you know, I knew about his success as a player and then his success as a coach. So really, you know, I was hoping that he would find time for me. In the beginning, he didn't, which I was disappointed. But, you know, I totally understand. He's also not the youngest man anymore. And then he changed his mind, so I was very happy.

Q. Did he tell you the reason why he changed his mind?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, not really. I mean, it was more he just didn't want to travel much. And I think he didn't want to start something where he had the feeling he's not going to be able to do it for a longer period of time. You know, if he does it, he does it at a hundred percent or he doesn't do it. And I think in the beginning he felt maybe a little bit too much the pressure, I'm being No. 1, there was the media. I think he was just not sure if he should go through all that again, you know. But then with time, you know, he thought about it and said maybe it's not that bad.

Q. Before when Jim Courier was pressing you to nominate a single player that would be the most likely rival, you finally said Hewitt. Why Lleyton?

ROGER FEDERER: Why not (laughter)? No, I said the three guys are very equal to me right now. Every one played a Grand Slam final last year. It's hard to pick one of them. But, you know, because it's in Australia, I would have to pick Lleyton.

Q. You mean more a rival for this tournament?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, for this tournament I picked Lleyton, and for the rest of the season the three of them, depending on who played best here. Does that make sense (smiling)?

Q. Kind of. I just wanted to know if there's anything about Lleyton, either his game or his particular temperament, that you saw that he'd be more likely to really stick his hand up and challenge you over the course of the year than the other guys?

ROGER FEDERER: You know, Marat hasn't really played much this season yet, you know. Andy, same thing. Me and Lleyton, we've both won tournaments already. So I think, you know, we can definitely say that our form is perfect heading into The Open. For this reason, you know, I would probably have to go with Lleyton. But the season's long, you know. But I think Lleyton has showed how consistent he can be. You know, especially last year and the two years when he was No. 1. So I don't see any reason for him to drop down in the rankings.

Q. Why do you think you match up well against Roddick? You obviously match up well against everyone these days, but you have a particularly impressive record against him?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, you shouldn't overrate the win against him yesterday. But it's true that the past matches, you know, we've played I won. Of course, it's always important that you have a good -- I think a good record against the guys just ranked below you, so when you play them you're very confident because they're right now the best after me. Yeah, he's a good player, great serve, you know. But it seems like I cope well with it.

Q. On the television program, they also mentioned the possibility of winning the Grand Slam. Is that sort of talk distracting for you?

ROGER FEDERER: No. You know, in a way I understand it because I won three out of four last year. So, well, if you want to improve on that, you've got to win four out of four. But that's not what I'm aiming for. I'm really focused on this tournament right now. I don't like to talk too much ahead now because, I mean, the last few hours of actually stepping out on the court, trying to defend my title here. I think it would be totally wrong to start now talking, "Yeah, I want to win the French." I'm here to win the Australian Open, not the French Open.

Q. Given your extraordinary record last year when you were without a coach, do you think you've given Tony Roche one of the hardest jobs in sport to improve that?

ROGER FEDERER: In a way yes, and in a way no. It's a hard thing to say. But overall, I think we found a good agreement. You know, it's very comfortable, I think, to work with him and to work with me. We have enough time off from each other. It's a very open deal we have. Because if I would like to work with him, you know, he comes there where I am or we meet somewhere on the way. I think that's relaxing for both of us, and it doesn't put pressure on us. I think also, because the media is so interested, I think also speaking to the media about Tony, it's much more comfortable than it would be if I would sign a 40-week contract with him. That's not the case.

Q. With three Grand Slam titles this year, perhaps some people would say you're better off without a coach?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, people will say that. But I think the experts, and me and Tony, we all know it's not his mistake if my ranking drops, you know. Eventually it will drop. I can't stay No. 1 for 50 years, you know, so. We'll see what happens. But I'm not worried that he will be blamed. I'm not thinking this way.

End of FastScripts….

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