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July 3, 2004

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: First question for Roger.

Q. How important was it to get your temper under control, as a kid, to your successes now? When you were younger, you had a bad temper. Now you've cooled down. I'm wondering how important that was?

ROGER FEDERER: It was very important for me to realize, you know, that I have to focus more on the game instead of, you know, losing energy, throwing the racquets, screaming, getting angry at mistakes, you know. Took me a while, but finally I figured it out, and now I feel very good on the court. I feel very relaxed. Makes me play better tennis.

Q. There's a lot of interesting points in the short finish of this match. One of them was at 6-6 in the tiebreak where you had to hit a reflex volley. Had you missed that, he would have been serving for the set. Was that a difficult shot for you to make or not?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, after not really. But if you miss it, yes (smiling). It is always one of those points where you don't have much time. You just hope, you know, you put the racquet in the right angle, so it just drops over to the other net. Really, that's the way I felt. After I hit it, I said, "That wasn't too difficult," even though I was hoping he would miss the passing shot. After I made it, it was not that difficult.

Q. Do you consider yourself sometimes unbeatable on the court?

ROGER FEDERER: No, I always feel like, you know, my opponent has a chance. Of course, this year has been fantastic for me. You know, it's still very difficult for me to understand, you know, why and how come that I'm so dominant this year. But, you know, every match I go with the same attitude out on the court. I know my opponent will try everything to beat me. If there are days where I'm not going to play well, you know, I might lose. I know that this can happen any day.

Q. Second Wimbledon finals. How does that hit you?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, it's very nice. You know, I don't know if everybody realizes actually that this is only my third, you know, Grand Slam final. And I'm very thrilled. You know, I have to say I'm very happy, even though my matches have been rather easy, so I couldn't make summersaults because of, you know, the matches. But, you know, I'm very happy to be again in the finals and to actually do have the chance now, finally, to defend my title. I'm really looking forward to this, this next match.

Q. Can you size up a match against Mario or Andy?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, you know, finally Mario's doing well, because he beat me here two years ago. He lost in the next round in straight sets against Vacek. Yeah, and I was very surprised. And it took him, you know, a while to maybe get his game together a little bit. But, you know, I'm happy to see he's doing well. Against Andy I've played many more times. You know, it will be as difficult. You know, they have different games. Mario follows his serve; Andy doesn't. But I don't have a favorite player I would like to play in the finals.

Q. Does Centre Court feel like your home now?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, I'm still very young and I still need some time to call it "home." But I feel welcome, very welcome in this place - as a member now. The chairman always says hello, we always speak a little bit. We always like to chat. You know, I feel very warm here.

Q. Does everybody consider you so much better than every other player in the world. Don't you think you're in a risky situation, that if you win, you're just doing your job, and you have just something to lose?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, this is maybe -- I felt this way before. But now that I'm always in contention of, you know, winning big tournaments, it changes, you know, because once you won the tournament, then you're such a happy person. You know, the people realize actually, you know, what a great job you did. I know also for sometimes the second and third round, it's not made to become famous. You know, I am already famous enough in tennis. These matches, I look at them like, you know, these are the matches I have to win and this is also where I push myself almost the hardest. Because once the tournament gets underway, everything comes very natural for me. Now that I'm again, you know, have this opportunity to win this tournament or any big tournament, is a very special feeling. And I also get very nervous before finals. And these are the moments, you know, I work hard and live for. This is going to be a great match, I hope.

Q. There was some speculation on the television the other night that you might be doing some damage to your wrist with that amazing action you have on your forehand. Is that a problem at all?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I haven't had too many wrist problems so far. But I don't know. Who said that?

Q. I think they had a viewer contacting them saying you might need an operation (laughter).

ROGER FEDERER: It's not flexible enough (smiling)?

Q. I thought it was very weird, but that's what they said.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I feel also I can give the ball an unbelievable amount of racquet speed. You know, That saves me a lot of points. You know, when the ball comes very fast to me, I still have enough time, you know, to get the racquet around the ball, to actually be able to control it and play back with spin. I don't know where that comes from. You know, I love hitting half volleys. Maybe it was because I was lazy before, I had to hit too many, but now I enjoy playing them.

Q. You spoke about your calm on court, how that helps you. Could you detail that? Does it just give you less pressure at big moments? Does it let you focus on execution? How does that calm inter-play with your success?

ROGER FEDERER: Oh, to me it just feels, also in between matches and on the court, I feel like I'm not losing too much energy. Before maybe there also was more of an unsecure (sic) feeling I had on the court, which made me become maybe more nervous, not sure of what I'm actually going to do. You know, if I would panic a few years ago, I would just start to serve and volley because I would feel like, well, my backhand's not working, so how does it work that I don't have to a backhand? Well, I come to net, so I have to hit volleys. So then I would get upset. This also wouldn't work. So I had to just -- it's got a lot also to do with self-confidence for me, just be able to understand the game itself.

Q. Did that happen during your Ancic loss?

ROGER FEDERER: What happened there? I lost first round French, Wimbledon back to back. I think that was in the year 2002. It made me wonder, yeah, what's going on. But I have to say the big step, I did it actually in 2001. Before the French Open, I played quarterfinals of French Open, quarterfinals Wimbledon. These were the tournaments where I realized actually I'm playing better when I'm more calm. But then I had the problems where I was too calm for about a year or so. And that was a problem, too. So I had to get the fire, you know, back in my game, and I could work it out step by step. But, you know, it took a while.

Q. Your improvement on backhand, are you still working on something technically or do you consider yourself almost perfect technically?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I still feel, you know, room for improvement on my backhand side. I would like to hit the backhand, you know, which comes higher to my backhand better. But I think a lot had to do with my backhand was my footwork. Now I'm in better position. Before, you know, I would be really lazy. I would be happy just to play a slice. But now I know if I can hit a drive backhand, you know, it's better for my game. This has been the big improvement for me.

Q. How do you consider your open-mindedness to change? You split with Peter after winning Wimbledon. Early in your career you had a psychologist. How important is that to your success?

ROGER FEDERER: What is important, excuse me?

Q. The fact that you're open-minded.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think it's important, you know, to listen to people you trust. But, I mean, listen to everybody is not the right thing either, you know, because a lot of people have different opinions. For me at the moment, you know, it's definitely the situation where a lot of people would like to tell me, "Well, shouldn't you do this or that," because they don't think I have a coach. But I have to say people start to understand. Because in the beginning of the year, a lot of people came up to me and said, "You know, you need help. Can I do this for you?" A lot of people were writing me e-mails that they think I'm doing this wrong and that wrong. I don't listen to everybody; I just listen to the people, you know, I really trust and believe in. This is why also I'm taking my time with a coach, because I just don't want to take a coach to travel with me. If I want to start working again with a coach, it's to improve my game. Anything else would be wrong, I think.

Q. What do you like about Ancic's game? Do you think he's got the makeup to be a Top 5, Top 10 type player?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, difficult to say. But, I mean, he's beaten Henman here which, you know, is a very good effort. I think he needs a little bit more, you know, to prove to the top guys at the big events, you know, that he belongs in the Top 10. Top 5 is a big step. Again, you know, I know how hard it was for me to actually get there. I don't know what his ranking is now. But I still think he won't jump from right away into the Top 5, unless of course he wins this tournament, then he's not too far away. The way he's playing now, for grass it's very suited. I've always thought he's a great player. Finally he's making his moves. But we'll see how long it will take him to really go to the top.

Q. How do you feel about this incredible winning streak on grass? I think you're level with Sampras now, 23 successive victories.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I don't even think about it sometimes. People told me, you know, that he had 23. I knew I was at 22. But I don't know, it's funny. Now I have a chance actually to win my second Wimbledon, and that would also, you know, pass that winning streak from Sampras. I mean, last year's grass season was just incredible. I thought, "Well, I've got so many points to defend, I hope I can just at least play well at Wimbledon. Hopefully Halle will work okay for me." I started. Hardly lost a serve, hardly lost a set. For me it's very difficult to explain why and how it comes. Because, like I've said before, I just try to focus for every match. And it seems like it's really working out for me. The grass suits my game. So these are the reasons.

Q. Do you have specific targets? Obviously you want to win Wimbledon. Do you have long-term goals?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, the goals for this year are clearly to stay at the No. 1 position, to defend this title, and to play well at the Olympics. These are for me the three main goals. You know, after tomorrow, one goal is gone, either positive or negative. But long-term, I don't say I have a big plan or so to win I don't know how many Grand Slams or win so many tournaments. I will, you know, rethink my goals for the next year at the end of the year.

Q. Are you a better player this year than you were going into last year's final?

ROGER FEDERER: I didn't hear the beginning.

Q. Are you a better player going into this final than you were a year ago?

ROGER FEDERER: Am I a better player?

Q. This year than you were last year.

ROGER FEDERER: Oh, difficult to say because last year's semifinal was so incredible. You know, I thought it was one of the most exciting matches for me last year to play. This year's semis was different - you know, a lot of rain delays, a lot of very hard conditions to play in, you know, with the wind. But, you know, what counts I think is to be, again, in the same position, to be able to win the tournament. I think I'm a more complete player, you know, more, like I said, secure. You know, I know what I have to do that maybe last year wasn't quite there because I never won a Grand Slam. So these are the main changes.

Q. What will you do this evening to pass the time?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, not much. You know, I will just have treatment again, you know, and relax really because, I mean, luckily for me the match went very quickly today. Luckily I didn't have to play four or five sets. That is an advantage. I have a little bit more time than the other guys. I don't know how long they will keep waiting if it rains. But I hope we can play tomorrow. I'm looking forward to that match. But tonight will be similar night to all the other nights.

End of FastScripts….

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