September 11, 2004
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: First question.
Q. I know you've beaten Lleyton three times in a row. He seems to take a lot of encouragement from the Davis Cup tie last year when he did come back and beat you in five.
ROGER FEDERER: Hmm.
Q. Is that the sort of thing you want to avoid with him, getting into five sets?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, what else should he look at? He shouldn't look at the match he played in Hamburg, you know. You look at the match which he won where he thought, you know, he played good tennis. I think that is the match which I think he played outstanding, and also myself I played good match. I was just empty, empty tank in the fifth, you know. So obviously, you know, the matches we had at the Australian Open was tough. I thought in Wimbledon it was tough as well. Hamburg was an exception. I'm definitely looking forward to a tough one and hope things, like at the Davis Cup, don't repeat themselves. But you never know. I'm definitely looking forward because in the past we've always had good matches.
Q. I suppose what I'm getting at is do you think you're a different player? He had a good record against you earlier. Do you think you are now a different player?
ROGER FEDERER: I think I am, yeah. I think especially mentally and physically I'm more stronger to handle him. In the past I wasn't. I think that makes a big difference now.
Q. Is there a time where you remember you got down on yourself in any way playing him, where you thought you should have done better?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, there was quite a few matches, you know, which were close, and three-setters and so on which I thought I was supposed to win that. Like in Davis Cup back in Switzerland one time we had a tiebreaker in the third. He ended up winning 6-1 in the fourth. I thought I should have won that match, but at the time he was jusst too strong, too confident. He was better than me earlier, which there he had the advantage of playing me and beating me. Now the last years I had, I have to build on this.
Q. Were you just too strong and too confident today?
ROGER FEDERER: I felt good, you know, going into today's match. At the beginning against him is always very important, you know, not to be down a break. I don't know. I always have the feeling he puts you under on a lot of pressure. It's always been like this when I played him and, you know, the bad record against him always is in the back of my mind. So it's like one of these matches where I know, "Look, if it goes well, I'm gonna win it. If it goes well, there's a chance I'm going to win." But still, you know, Tim can always turn it around.
Q. When you lost that break back in the third, was there a moment where you started to doubt a little bit?
ROGER FEDERER: Obviously. I thought, "I hope this is not going to be a fourth set or a tiebreak," because then the crowd's going to get into it. Him, he will start to play better, maybe take off a little bit of my shots and so on. But, you know, that was the good thing to break twice, you know, in the fourth -- in the third, sorry. That made the difference.
Q. Nothing's, of course, certain here tomorrow; anything can happen out there. But have you had a chance, even in your quiet moments, to reflect on what could be of historical significance of winning a third Grand Slam? It hasn't been done in a number of years.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, now that I'm in the finals, I start thinking about it, all the records. I think nobody's ever won four, their first four Grand Slam finals they've played. I have a chance for that tomorrow. There's a lot on the line for me - you know, my final record, which is very good. Then, obviously, it's another Grand Slam. You know, for me to move to four, that would be fantastic, and three of the year. I hope I can cope with all those things. Plus there's a very tough opponent, so...
Q. How will you cope with those things? What will you do tomorrow morning?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. Just keep the same routine, you know, and prepare well like I did for all the matches. Hopefully it's gonna do it.
Q. What is your morning routine? You got a match at 4:30, for example, what would be your normal routine tomorrow? What time would you get up?
ROGER FEDERER: I would sleep as long as I can, you know, just have breakfast, come over, warm up for half an hour, have lunch and then get ready. It's quite simple, you know. But, indeed, I mean, the whole preparation starts in the evening when I start thinking about the match, you know, what's going to come my way. That's how it is.
Q. Are you a person that likes to eat by himself before the match or you like being surrounded by your people, do you talk to anyone?
ROGER FEDERER: No, no problem. I spoke to Tim before the match today. It's not like I want to be in my corner.
Q. Clearly, you've improved tremendously since you started playing Tim all those years ago. Do you see signs that he is still up there, he's a contender, improvements in his game as well?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I think he's really proven himself, you know, even more than he has in the past, you know, especially on the Grand Slam tournaments - twice semis, quarters. I don't remember how he played in Australia. I have the feeling he's definitely going to be -- improved his game. He's a level better than in the past. So, obviously, I have moved up a few levels since we've played each other the first time in Basel. So, I mean, unfortunately for him, you know, he's always played against tough opponents in the semis. He told me he's been in the semis five or six times. I mean, that's tough to play the players he lost to. I always say you give yourself more chances and suddenly you're going to make a breakthrough.
Q. You obviously are playing so beautifully now. What is the one thing that you would like to improve in your own game?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, right now there's not too much, you know (smiling). It's been working fine for me, the way I'm playing. Maybe if I improve on a thing, my whole game might change. Then it's not the same anymore. Right now I have a very solid base, you know. I feel very confident out on the court. It's important that every day I wake up, I'm 100 percent, you know, into tennis and ready to go.
Q. Are you sort of saying, "If it isn't broke, don't fix it"?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, that's how I look at it for the moment because I'm my own coach, you know. I tell myself like, "As long as I keep on winning, and especially playing at this high level that I am basically every week now, I don't see a point changing anything."
Q. You're doing so well as your own coach. Do you think that's a threat to teaching pros around the world? Do you think that will lead to great unemployment?
ROGER FEDERER: No, no, that's not what I want. They're important people - especially, I think, in a career when you're a Junior or when you're very young. You know, you're going to have to have the right people at the right time. Once you make it on the circuit, then it depends what you need most - the coach, a condition trainer, a massage therapist, whatever. I'm not trying to be a trend-setter in this direction.
Q. During the break at Wimbledon, you came out so strong. In a way, do you think you outcoached your opponent's coach at that point?
ROGER FEDERER: You mean Brad (smiling)? I don't know. I took a chance, and it worked, you know. I'm very happy about it because it was the Wimbledon final.
Q. So that's a yes?
ROGER FEDERER: (Smiling) probably.
Q. What did you and Tim talk about in the locker room before the match? Did you talk at all afterwards?
ROGER FEDERER: We didn't speak after because he went to press right away. Before, we just chat, you know, like friends, buddies.
Q. Like what you had for lunch?
ROGER FEDERER: No, not really. Just maybe about the match, about Lleyton and so on. Nothing really.
Q. Is there any shot you like to play more than others, that gives you more satisfaction? Topspin lob, dropshot, some kind of humiliation for the opponent or no?
ROGER FEDERER: No, no. Obviously, the nicer the point, the more -- the better I feel, the more excited I get. But I never play that my opponent looks stupid. I think that is wrong. I have too much respect for every opponent I play. Tim, he hit some great shots today. I think we had some great points, actually, all in all. It's always this way, you know, when somebody is at the net, and you keep on passing, you always come up with some reflex and some nice points. I sometimes surprised myself today what shots I pulled off, you know, because some were at very important moments, and these are the ones that count the most.
Q. Is it especially true of the point when he had just broken you back in the first set, you played a lob at 15-Love. It landed on the line. You felt that was an important point for you. Got back into that first set.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, you never know what's going to happen, you know. So I always just tell myself I have to make him work hard on their own service games, you know. Like this, they lose energy on their service games, it maybe gives me an easier service game myself. Then obviously, you know, like against Agassi, also I had a lob winner which got me back in the one game. These kind of things, you know, sometimes make the difference; you never know.
Q. Did you see Lleyton in the last days? Do you think the best improvement is in serve or what department?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, it's not always just improvement once he does well at a tournament. He's got a very consistent base since he's basically 17 years old. You know, he's been the same player, but he's just gotten stronger, more experienced and so on. He knows how to win this tournament, so it's going to be difficult for me. He's been in the US Open finals; me, never. For me, I want to say I'm the huge favorite, but I think it's quite even, you know. Not much that struck me where he was better at. I'm always surprised how well his defense is because it's probably the best in the world.
Q. How different do you feel this US Open getting further than you ever had? I know you've been in New York three weeks. Are you more relaxed? What do you attribute your success here?
ROGER FEDERER: It's difficult to say. I always come here hoping I will play well. It's a Grand Slam, where the focus is the most. Didn't really -- maybe the biggest change I did this year is I came very early to New York instead of coming maybe on Thursday or so. I came already on Monday to give myself time to prepare, try to forget the Olympic Games and so on. Obviously, you know, with the whole confidence, the whole Grand Slam record I have this year gives me huge confidence. I took advantage of it, you know, of my draws. Looking back, it was good to have those days off before the Agassi match, and now I took advantage of it by beating Agassi and Henman. So I don't know. I hope I can keep it up also next few years.
Q. Will tomorrow erase the disappointment from the Olympics?
ROGER FEDERER: It already did. With the result I had here, it kind of really pushed it aside. I mean, the good memory I have is carrying the flag. I was very proud about that, you know; you can imagine. But, obviously, the result is not what I was hoping for. But I got over it fairly quickly, so...
Q. What thoughts went through your head when you carried the flag?
ROGER FEDERER: I was very proud. I mean, I'm a big idol, you know, or a star in Switzerland. All the other athletes look up to me as well. I can feel it, they want to take pictures with me and the flag. It was a very special moment when I walked in. To the right I had the fans; to the left I had the athletes. Both were applauding. This, for me, was a very new situation. I felt I had a lot of pride doing that, and I was surprised, you know, being named actually the person to carry the flag.
Q. Why do you love this game? Can you be philosophic about that?
ROGER FEDERER: It's always the game I probably love the most, definitely, next to soccer. But I've always loved actually controlling, you know, winning or losing myself. In soccer I didn't feel this way.
Q. Something in the game itself?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think it's very artistic, you know. I mean, I like my game, you know, the way I play it, because this is how the seniors now used to play, and this is how I used to look - watch tennis and learn the game. Now that I can play it on the modern basis, it's very special for me.
Q. Is there any soccer player that reminds you of you?
ROGER FEDERER: It's not up to me to say who I play like.
Q. Or you admire.
ROGER FEDERER: Who I admire the most?
Q. Yes, someone you really like to watch play?
ROGER FEDERER: Zidane.
Q. What is there, if anything, that scares you about playing Lleyton? What's the fear you have with him?
ROGER FEDERER: I've beaten him. There's no more fear, really, just respect towards the great player he is and a great competitor. So I'm going out there to have a good match tomorrow. I know it's going to be tough. For me, him and Agassi are the ones you always know you will have to run a lot and you're gonna have your long rallies, especially Lleyton gets back a lot of balls. It's not fear, you know...
Q. I don't mean fear as in you're going to lose.
ROGER FEDERER: I'm looking forward to it. It's a big occasion for both of us. It's going to be interesting to see.
Q. What in his game do you not want to allow him to do?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't want him to put me left and right, you know, for five hours (laughter). Try to avoid that, you know. It's the same as every opponent, so...
Q. Since you invited the media two years ago in Hamburg after your win, you had many more wins of course. Do we have another chance maybe tomorrow, champagne?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. If you guys are ready to just party, I'm fine with that (laughter). But first I have a lot of points to win tomorrow, you know, a lot of forehand winners and serves and so on. We'll see what happens.
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