November 13, 2004
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Roger, please.
Q. How are you feeling?
ROGER FEDERER: Feeling good. I've been practicing since Monday here in Houston. Before that, I haven't been playing for two weeks, so I'm feeling good. I had good preparation. No pain in my leg. I'm feeling good. So I'm really looking forward to this coming week.
Q. How does it feel, everybody wants to beat you?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, it's normal. I'm No. 1 in the world, so everybody wants to beat "that guy." Luckily for me, I already locked up my No. 1 position, which puts quite a bit of pressure away, you know. I can really just focus on my title defense.
Q. Can you win the Grand Slam? You seem to be the one, the only one, everybody seems to think can win it on the tour right now.
ROGER FEDERER: It's obvious they speak about me. I've won three out of four this year, but next year might be very different again. That's not something I'm aiming for. I'm making sure I'm defending my No. 1 position, and Wimbledon, for me, is more important than aiming for all four. That would mean if I don't win -- if I win three out of four, that would be a disappointment, and that's not how I look at it.
Q. You come into this tournament 14-1 against all of the other opponents here. By far, you have to be the overwhelming favorite here. How does that affect your strategy and playing? How does that impact on you as far as pressure?
ROGER FEDERER: For me, it's a great stat, you know, a great situation to be in really. I'd rather have it, you know, the whole pressure on my side and everybody expecting me to win than the opposite. You know, if I would have lost 14 times against all the other guys, I never won a match, so I'd rather know myself that I can beat all these guys. I think the opponents, they know that also, in the back of their minds, that they have to play great tennis to beat me. I think that is a big advantage for me.
Q. Quick question about injuries: A lot of injuries are being reported on the women's side on in tennis, a lot with the men. There are various organizations. Is there anything they can do to help minimize the injuries, or is it really your responsibility as a player?
ROGER FEDERER: I think it's our responsibilities, you know, to make sure we pick the right tournaments to play. Honestly, we all know that I cannot play a season like I played today - this year, sorry. For this reason, I was actually lucky to only be injured for two weeks. For me, this is not a big problem, you know. It could have been much, much worse. I hope just throughout my whole career I will stay healthy, because in tennis, we don't have a replacement, you know. You're injured, a guy jumps in for you and you're back after maybe a week or two. That's not how it works for tennis. When you're injured, everybody knows it. You're sitting on the sidelines and can only watch the other guys play. It has a big effect on the game when you're missing. Now on the men's tour, to me, it seems like we've been actually okay with injuries. Now, the end of the year, some players, they didn't want to take any more risk than to miss the Masters Cup because it's the biggest tournament after the Grand Slams. I think everybody's healthy now suddenly. I think they're all healthy and it's going to be interesting to see who's going to win this one.
Q. Have you had a chance to speak to Mattress Mack this year?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I met him.
Q. What did he say?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, he said he was happy to see me and that I had a fantastic year. He's happy to see me, that's all he said.
Q. I sat and watched your Wimbledon final this year. I just want to talk about the mental side of the game. You looked down-and-out in the first couple sets. In an interview afterwards you were quoted as saying the turning point in that match was after the second delay, you went into the locker room and changed tactics and decided to serve and volley more. That helped you win the title. Is the mental side of the game something you're getting better at?
ROGER FEDERER: Definitely. Because in the past, let's say in the past, a few years ago, this was almost a little bit my problem with my game. You know, it was working against me. And now that I've been able to actually handle that, knowing how to be on the court, knowing how to use it, it's been an advantage for me. I think this is one of the reasons why I ended up winning the Wimbledon title again.
Q. Isn't it funny that you won the Wimbledon title not on the court, you really won it not on the court but sitting in the locker room, getting your mind right?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, that's a little bit too extreme. I was down a break. You can serve and volley as much as you like, but you first have got to break your opponent. That's something that can't really serve. I think we don't have to forget that I was down a break and I came back and won the set 7-6. For me, important was knowing that I could break his serve. Because in the first set, he was just serving so big and in the second set, I was suddenly up 4-Love.
Q. Then he came back.
ROGER FEDERER: He came back. But at least, you know, I knew that if I played some good games on his serve, I could break him. That gave me really the belief I could actually turn this match around.
Q. Is the difference between you and the rest of the field at the moment your ability to play big on the bigger points? An example of that is when you played Nalbandian at the Australian Open this year. You were down...
ROGER FEDERER: 15-40.
Q. 15-40, exactly. You came out and served a bunch of aces and were quoted as saying that was the turning point of that match, even though it went three and a half hours long, four sets. Are you playing the bigger points better? If so, are you taking risks on those points? How are you winning more of those bigger points than the rest of these guys?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, it's tough to say. But it's true that this year, you know, has been -- just everything going my way, all the big points. When I didn't make it, like for instance at the Olympics, you know, I had 5-All in the third set. Had some breakpoints. I actually didn't make them. Down 6-5, then I got broken. That's just how it is. This year I've won many more matches which I could have lost, like this year on breakpoints, on big points, I've been always serving pretty well, especially against Andy. I came up also with some very important aces at important points. That's just how it is. You can't really work at it. You just have to believe strongly in it and believe that you can do it yourself.
Q. Is it a matter, what it all boils down to, when that big point comes along you must play to win rather than playing not to lose it and be afraid?
ROGER FEDERER: Obviously, there is respect, you know, the big points, because you don't just want to hand it over. So you've got to take maybe a little bit of pace off. But at the same time, you've got to stay aggressive, I think, because you want to make sure that the other guy has to play a good point to win that point, and that's usually what I do, and it's been working.
Q. What about a coach?
ROGER FEDERER: Nothing new, so... (laughing).
Q. No plans?
ROGER FEDERER: No plans.
Q. Don't need one?
ROGER FEDERER: No, it's not that. It's just I'm happy with the way it is right now really. I don't see a reason to change it.
Q. Based on your results, you don't think you need one at this point?
ROGER FEDERER: Exactly.
Q. How do you look at the tournament? Is it the end of 2004 or a start for 2005?
ROGER FEDERER: I think it's a transition. It's an interesting question. I think because the No. 1 position, we're not playing for that, you know, it's more, like I said before, trying to stay as long as possible next year that is going to be important for me. That's one of my main goals. Coming back from injury, it almost seems like the next year's season is already starting. I'm trying to keep the confidence and keep the momentum of 2004 within these tournaments.
Q. How do you feel coming in to this tournament compared to 12 months ago when you won it?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, totally different. Because I remember coming here from Paris on Wednesday, and I played a bad match, you know, against Henman in Paris and I was exhausted. I came here, practiced, and I was still so tired. Also had terrible practice sessions, you know, where I really didn't feel good. I was really worried about this tournament because looking ahead of the group I had, you know, was Agassi, Nalbandian and Ferrero, who were all very difficult opponents for me at the time. I really thought, well, I hope I'm going to go through to the semis. I think that match, that 7-6 in the third match against Agassi where I saved two matchpoints was the turning point. You know, maybe a turning point for many, many things. Also for the year 2004. This year, I come, No. 1 spot is locked up, and I'm very confident, happy to play again after an injury. So it's very, very different to 12 months ago.
Q. What do you think of the ATP's program for the testing of anabolic steroids? Is it sufficiently comprehensive?
ROGER FEDERER: Why this question? I don't understand.
Q. One of my readers asked. Do you feel the testing program is any good?
ROGER FEDERER: I've been tested 20 times last year.
Q. Is it too much?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think you have to test quite aggressively, you know, because you want to make sure that there's no players around using something, because you want it to be a fair sport. So I think the ATP is doing sufficiently enough to do that, yeah.
Q. You regret to have made Peter available for Safin this year or not?
ROGER FEDERER: No, no, no. For me, you know, I don't know if with or without Peter I would have had this great season, you know. So I cannot regret because for me it was a very hard decision to make and to take. It seems like it was maybe the right one, you know, looking at the season I had. But, you know, what he does with Safin, you know, I just follow it because he's one of my rivals. I'm happy if Safin plays well, but I'm not happy if Safin is going to beat me, of course. So we'll see when this first matchup will come our way.
Q. What is your opinion on the Argentine tennis players?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, there's many of them. There's many, many of them. Some very good ones as well. So we have one in the draw, right, and one alternate?
Q. Two in the draw.
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, Gaston Gaudio. Two in the draw and one alternate, sorry. It just shows how strong it really is. Tennis in Argentina right now, they have basically three or four Davis Cup teams. I know Coria and Nalbandian, these guys from Juniors still. There's a lot of players then when I came on tour. It's really amazing to see how well they can play on all the surfaces now. It's not only the clay that is their favorite surface, but especially on the hard courts they are starting to play better and better.
Q. Do you consider Argentina to be the powerhouse of tennis world-wide?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, to be the powerhouse of tennis, you have to have probably the No. 1 and No. 2 in the world, and they don't have that. They have many good players out of the top three, you know, this moment. This is why you cannot put them ahead of everybody else. But it's true that next to Spain, they have many, many great players as well. So, you know, time will tell if they can really dominate like maybe the Russians are a little bit on the women's side right now.
Q. Which of the Argentine players do you like the most?
ROGER FEDERER: Personal or playing?
ROGER FEDERER: Playing, I like Coria's game quite a lot. He's got a very nice technique, very nice touch on the ball. Yeah, I think he's a nice player on the Argentine side.
Q. I have a question about Tony Roche. You will be working with him to prepare for the Australian Open?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes.
Q. Why him?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it's just because we, as you maybe know, we just had a few days together after the Bangkok and I asked him if he had maybe just some more time at the end of the year. He said, "Yeah."
Q. Why did you choose to work with him a few days? Because he was an Australian?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, no, I just thought about who could maybe just help me out for, you know, the practice session at the end of the year. He came to my mind. I asked him, and, you know, he said it was okay. But that's all. That's probably also going to be the last practice session we're going to have together.
Q. Why do you need somebody to help you?
ROGER FEDERER: No, because I think it's important, you know, still to maybe get some new ideas or just to have a setup, you know. And not always have to rely on myself. I think that's the reason. I think it makes sense.
Q. You're in the championships in Houston. How does it feel?
ROGER FEDERER: Very good, thank you. I'm happy to be back.
Q. How are you feeling?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm feeling good, you know. I was injured on my leg a few weeks ago. Couldn't play for two weeks. So I got here on Monday and had my first practice session. Ever since, I haven't had any pain in my leg, which is very good to know for me. And knowing that mentally, I'm over that, I can really focus on the tournament and not think about my leg all the time.
Q. What do you think of Texas?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know it very well. I've only been here to Houston three times, and that's all I've been seeing. It's good experiences, you know. I had an exhibition tournament where I played finals one time. Then I came here last year and won the tournament. Hopefully, I can keep that great record going.
Q. Anything off the court you like to do here?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm here for tennis. I wish I could do more. But just time doesn't allow it, you know, because I want to stay professional and make sure that I'm 100 percent next Monday.
Q. You've gone the whole year without a coach. You've had incredible success. How have you managed to go the whole year without one?
ROGER FEDERER: You know, I'm surprised myself, of course. At the beginning of the season I didn't know if that was the right decision to make, you know. Looking ahead, it was difficult, because I had to make many choices myself suddenly, and suddenly the year started great, you know. I didn't feel any need for now to get a new coach or anything. I'm basically still in the same situation.
Q. When would a coach be important?
ROGER FEDERER: When?
Q. When would one be important?
ROGER FEDERER: It could be important if suddenly my game is not working as well as now, or if people start being very negative. Maybe I need, you know, a guy who protects me a little bit and is on my side. But so far I haven't had that problem. I don't know how it's going to be.
Q. So when you're winning, it's not important?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, right now, no. Because I'm happy. I'm basically my own coach a little bit. I'm very secure in my decisions, and I trust my team around me. It's not like I'm traveling on my own 12 months a year. So I have my team around me like my physio, my friend, my girlfriend, who make sure that everything is in place. Sometimes, you know, the coach is not the most important person in tennis life. Sometimes it's a condition trainer or a physio.
Q. Do you have a goal for 2005 you set already?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, my goal is definitely to maintain my No. 1 ranking, and also, you know, to maintain your No. 1 ranking, you've probably got to play well also at Grand Slams and most likely win one. But for me, most important also is Wimbledon, to maybe get three in a row. That would be fantastic.
Q. What do you eat before a match?
ROGER FEDERER: Pasta, usually.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah.
Q. How soon before?
ROGER FEDERER: A few hours. Two or three hours.
Q. Your mother is South African. We have a large South African community in Houston.
ROGER FEDERER: Uh-hmm.
Q. Any relatives here in Houston?
ROGER FEDERER: No relatives here in Houston. No, not that I know.
Q. A lot of people want to be your relative.
ROGER FEDERER: I guess so (smiling).
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