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August 28, 2004

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Roger comes into the US Open seeded, for the first time here, No. 1. He's won eight titles this season, which leads the ATP circuit. He comes in with a 58-6 match record on the season and will take on Albert Costa in the first round. Questions for Roger.

Q. Do you feel comfortable here? You've had three fourth round finishes. The time has come for you to go farther. Do you feel comfortable enough at the US Open with all the noise and distractions going on?

ROGER FEDERER: I feel like I've played good here, but not great, you know. I never played bad. So it's, like you said, three times fourth round, it's not bad. But now I think it's time for me to step it up because I've played so well in the last few Grand Slams. I know the surface, you know. I have no problems with New York or - how do you say - the crowd or the busy, big life. It's a nice change for me. I really hope I can play better this year.

Q. Have you thought about what's missing when you get to the fourth round?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, the last couple years I always felt I played against players who played really well. The year I played against Max (Mirnyi), I thought he played great. Agassi gave me a lesson the one year. Nalbandian was not a good -- I didn't have a good record against him. So, I mean, there's no excuses, but I really hope that I can go a few steps further this year.

Q. Why do you think you feel good, but not great here?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I never really gave myself, you know, the real chance or occasion to get to quarters or semis and then really, you know, present myself in a way. So I've always been knocked out too early, I would say. That's the reason. I mean, you know, a few years ago fourth round was not too bad. Looking back now, everybody thinks, "Well, you only reached the fourth round." So that's how quick things go when you play so well. That's how it is.

Q. You have said you would like a rivalry with Andy. Why would you like a rivalry, and why do you think it's been so one-sided so far?

ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, well, I think rivalries are good, you know. Especially since Wimbledon, you know, there's been a lot of talk, him facing me and us two maybe dominating tennis a little bit for the moment. So I've been asked many times, you know, what I think about this rivalry. I think it's definitely something good for tennis, again, to have some. That's sometimes what sports lives from. Obviously, we have to -- you know, if we stay 1 and 2, we have to come very far to face each other. That's something special to do, especially on a regular basis. After the 7-1 record against him, also there the rivalry has not quite started yet, let's put it this way. The one time he beat me it was 7-6 in the third. I still feel like we've had great matches. I think time will tell if it's really going to start.

Q. What do you think, what is your impression about what Nicolas Massu and Fernando Gonzalez did in the Olympics, playing singles and doubles at the same time, winning the medals?

ROGER FEDERER: Great achievement, you know. Obviously, it came a little bit as a surprise for everybody that Massu won singles and doubles and Gonzalez was bronze and gold. I think it's great for the country, you know. I know them since a long time. I played Juniors with them a little bit. It was nice to see them win it. Such countries, it's unbelievable, you know. The crowd gets so into it. I like to see that.

Q. Do you think that when you come to the US it's more like Andy's territory, when you think that the Australian and Wimbledon are sort of neutral ground; that maybe here, you know, having won it...

ROGER FEDERER: Well, maybe, since he won last year a little bit maybe, but he hasn't played here since he won. So what's for sure, he's got a very good record playing in America. So everybody knows that, I guess. You know, I think the first tournaments he won were all in America. Then he started to prove himself also at different tournaments around the world. So he's definitely got the whole crowd behind himself and the confidence. That's going to make him very difficult to beat here. You know, he should use that to his advantage.

Q. Do you feel as if maybe -- you've said that if Americans knew you, it would be better if they knew more about you, that you would gather more support?

ROGER FEDERER: No, the fans that come out, they either like a player or they don't. I think the more you play on center, the more you can present yourself, the more fans will know you around the world. For. Me, I've played on many center courts around the world. I think I've gained some fans. Obviously, would like to play some big-occasion matches here at the US Open night sessions or, you know, like last year against Blake. That was a thrill for me as well because it's the biggest stadium in the world. Don't get a chance to play in this stadium every day.

Q. How far down the draw have you looked?

ROGER FEDERER: Not too far.

Q. You know you play Albert first round.

ROGER FEDERER: This I know, yeah.

Q. Can you look to your road and talk about your upcoming opponents.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, Albert, he's one of the players I lost to against this year. You could say that was on clay but, still, he has beaten me in Miami as well, you know, last year. So tough opening round for me. He's got a lot of experience, a French Open win. I think on big occasions he can definitely come up with a great game, five sets, a tough match. I'm not trying to look far ahead but I guess you guys have done that (smiling).

Q. One of your underrated skills is your ability to take Andy's big serve and block it back very, very deep in his court, forcing him to have not an easy second shot.


Q. Is that a skill you recently developed, or have you always just been naturally able to do that?

ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. It probably came along when I kind of really served very well at the Wimbledon semifinals last year. I really felt like, you know, I can return his serve quite comfortably - not easily, but comfortably - and get it back and make him hit not such an easy second shot, like you say. But I guess it's just luck to have it, really, because I never worked on returning a 150-mile serve. Not many guys you can work on that with, you know (smiling).

Q. When Andy goes to hit that first serve, what are your keys, what are you looking for?

ROGER FEDERER: I start to -- I wondered one time how it's possible that I get his serve back so easily - or not easily, but I get it back. I don't know why it is. I really can't tell you. I thought it was maybe, you know -- I don't know whether it was the ball toss or maybe it was his technique or whatever (inaudible). I play a lot with feel and natural abilities.

Q. You're intuitive?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I guess that's the right word.

Q. The season has been very long. How do you feel physically and mentally, fresh enough?

ROGER FEDERER: I'm feeling all right, yeah. I think, I hope - how you say - like the tough times are past me, the bad experience at the Olympics and Cincinnati, where I didn't -- Cincinnati was just too short of a time to get ready. But the Olympics I had enough time and I felt maybe a little bit, you know, nervous out on the court, not as calm as usual. So I hope that's behind me and I've learned out of it. I'm more calm and more sure about my game again this week. It's a long two weeks ahead hopefully.

Q. Do you think that Andy poses the biggest threat on the American side, or do you think that someone like Andre is feared among top players like yourself?

ROGER FEDERER: Obviously. Come on, he just won a big tournament. Everybody knows how well he can play. He's the one guy in the draw who's got, you know, the most titles under his belt. He knows how to win titles. And there's many guys out there, you know, who are very dangerous. But I guess, you know, with Andre and Andy you know you have two very, very solid and consistent guys in your box. Now that Mardy played the finals of the Olympics, it's good to see him back and doing well because he had problems with injuries lately. I mean, you have a lot of guys now again, so...

Q. Who did you practice with this week here?

ROGER FEDERER: Some players (smiling).

Q. Like?

ROGER FEDERER: Who did I hit with? Few Swiss guys. Hit with Haas.

Yeah, we'll be here tomorrow until I remember all of them (smiling).

Q. You staying in Manhattan?


Q. As you know, the Republican party is coming in on Monday and the security is everywhere. Can you feel how much more security there is and the sense of concern that everybody has in this country right now, this week particularly, and are you affected by it?

ROGER FEDERER: So far, no. But, you know, I came in today and I saw there was quite some security coming into the grounds today. You know, I think it's better to prevent than in the end say, "Oh, we should have done this and that." So I'd rather have this situation. I came back very late yesterday, but I heard, you know, there was helicopters and stuff around Manhattan. You know, I'm just staying far away from the tunnel, so I don't see the traffic too much. It takes me only 20 minutes to get here actually, so it's not too bad.

Q. Do you take the subway (laughter)?

ROGER FEDERER: I take the transport, a car (smiling).

Q. Easier on the subway.

ROGER FEDERER: Official transport, you know.

Q. Do you take the subways?

ROGER FEDERER: Subways are good here?

Q. No, no subways.

ROGER FEDERER: No, no subways. I took it a few years ago.

Q. Could you talk about the difficulty of playing serve-and-volley tennis in the men's game these days and whether you'll do a bit of that out here at the Open?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I'm willing to play more aggressive, you know, keep the rallies short because it seems still on a first serve, you know, very possible to do that. Guys these days return very well, you know, especially on the second shot, you know, the passing shot. So you have to (inaudible) your volleys; it's not enough to just place them. That puts pressure on yourself, but I feel like I have the ability to do that. Because I'm not spending enough time at the net, sometimes I lack confidence, so...

Q. Has everything about not having a coach been positive? Is there anything that you miss?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, there's always an advantage and a disadvantage in every situation you're in, you know. But so far I like the situation I've been in, you know. There's all the results, I can't complain. Everybody who's around me helps me as much as they can, you know, to make it as easy as possible. You know, now that I don't only have on-court activities with matches and practice sessions, I also have a lot of media and sponsor appearances, life has changed in the last two years (inaudible). We have to be very well organized. But so far, so good. I enjoy it.

Q. Do you feel like during the rain delay at Wimbledon, where you were able to think through the adjustments you had to make by yourself, with some advice from friends, did that reinforce in your mind you can be your own best coach?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, it gave me confidence again that I was actually able to really almost take a step back, analyze the game, what happened, then actually, you know, react. The nice thing about it is, obviously, it worked out for me. It could have backfired as well because Andy was in the better position after the rain break. But, no, I'm happy it worked out for me. It definitely gave me confidence knowing that if I can do it in a finals against Andy, usually it should also work against other players as well (smiling).

End of FastScripts….

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