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June 30, 2004

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Could I have the first question in English for Roger.

Q. Is this one of the matches you said on TV yesterday you don't like to talk to the press because there's nothing to talk about.

ROGER FEDERER: This is rather a match where we can talk about, so let's start. You know, very difficult match. You know, like I predicted before the match, it's going to be difficult. It's going to be a hard battle where I really have to run a lot. Of course, you know, the first and the third set don't really show how hard actually the battle was because in both sets I had to face early breakpoints. Who knows what's going to happen on those. Other than that, you know, I'm very happy the way I played. You know, good start to the match and difficult conditions for the second set because, I mean, rain two or three times, and that's never nice. And he came out, you know, as a strong guy at 5-All. That gave him the second set. But, you know, I really had to try to hang in there. Third and fourth were as difficult.

Q. Is it very difficult for you to not think about things like when you had him two sets and a break in the Davis Cup, and he comes back? He's just one of these guys that doesn't go away. In the back of your mind, do you have a hard time putting that out and saying, "Let me finish him off"?

ROGER FEDERER: You know, I never really got the chance really to think too much of what happened in Davis Cup because now we've played two times again. You know, twice I beat him. You know, the match in Australia, I was serving for the match and he almost came back on that occasion, too. And when I served for the match in Hamburg, you know, he broke me there, too. But I was up I think a double break, but I broke him to win. And this time, you know, I was down, I came back and I took the first chance. So I never really got into that scary moment, I would say.

Q. How important was it to get the match out of the way tonight to give yourself a free day tomorrow?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, this I wasn't too concerned about, darkness or rain or whatever. I was just hoping I would win really. If I would have to continue tomorrow, you know, that's fine. But all I really wanted was to beat him and not to go out as a loser, so...

Q. He won here of course two years ago. Today he played well; you played superb. How would you rate him compared to two years ago to now? Is he back to his best?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I definitely think, you know, it was a very high standard of play today. You know, it's unfortunate we already face each other in the quarters. I mean, he lost in Queen's to Andy. Now this week against me. It's a tough grass court season for him, you know, to accept. But I've already felt since a long time that he's where he belongs, and that's at least in the Top 10 if not the Top 5 or Top 3. I mean, he didn't play many tournaments at the end of last year. He really focused on Davis Cup. And this is when he showed still how good he is. So just because his ranking dropped, doesn't matter, he'll not fight the same.

Q. So he's not a player you like to see in the draw to come up against?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I wish he would be in the other sections, of course, so he would play other guys. But I've always enjoyed playing against him because since actually the first time we played each other in Juniors, you know, we were 16. I faced match point and I won. You know, that was in Switzerland. I remember Darren was on their chair. We had the Swiss coach. Ever since then, we really had some nice matches from the start. In the beginning, he was winning a lot of them, because they were all very close. And now the last three, I won them, so I'm quite happy obviously.

Q. 18 aces today. Is this your best serving effort against a player this quick? Is this your best serving effort of the tournament?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, you know, the serve alone is not enough against Lleyton because he brings back too many balls. Against Karlovic, it's a totally different match. It was important there to have good starts to the game, you know, because then you can go for more and, you know, he loses also a little bit of interest. When you're up 30-Love against Lleyton, 30-Love doesn't mean too much really. I felt like I really had to go for a lot on my serve today, I had to really hit the ball very hard to actually get an ace. Luckily for me, I served well in the important moments because I think that saved me today.

Q. What stats do you look at to gauge how well you're serving, and are aces important?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, aces are just for really for the stats. That doesn't sometimes always show the truth. I think first serve points won, I think that's an important stat. If I look at it, if I compare it with his first serve, and this is where I dominated him really, and that gave me a lot of free points. That allowed me to actually take more chances on the return games.

Q. If you were the journalists, how would you describe Mario Ancic as a player?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, he's a youngster. You know, I've experienced him on Centre Court. I lost. So it's nice to see him finally doing well. I was a little bit disappointed, you know, that he didn't make that breakthrough earlier. But great effort today. I thought he had a chance, but that he will beat Henman in straight sets also came for me as a surprise.

Q. How affected were you by the first error on the second point of the third set tiebreak and can you take us through what happened?

ROGER FEDERER: In the tiebreaker?

Q. Yes. The second point, you hit it long.

ROGER FEDERER: I hit it long on the forehand, very hard and long (smiling). What happened? Well, I already felt the pressure going into the breaker because he was playing better. You know, he actually deserved to win the set 7-5. But, you know, I got out of it once more because I served well. Well, what happened is I wanted to play to the backhand side. He just wouldn't move away. He just stands still. So I thought, "Well, if I just place it there, it's not going to be enough." So I overhit it. That obviously gave him a lot of confidence for the rest. But, you know, I was playing against the sun, and that wasn't comfortable because that didn't happen until that moment in the match. But he was the better player in the end of the second set, for sure, so he deserved it.

Q. Did you think that the rain helped him? Because the first set, the way it was going, you were just steamrolling. Did you think that the break helped him more than you, and you took a little longer to come back?

ROGER FEDERER: It's difficult. You know, we were very even, I thought, up until 5-All. Then when he came back, you know, I wouldn't say he changed some things, but I couldn't play at the same level like I was playing before. I was maybe not going for enough, especially from the baseline. I got into these long backhand cross-court rallies where, you know, he's more consistent, I feel. And that, you know, kind of broke my confidence. And he really started to get into it. Instead of me hitting the forehand winners up the line, he was doing it. So the whole momentum changed really, and he took advantage of it. But the important thing was I showed a reaction in the beginning of the third where I was lucky enough to be down a break again, and then it was a great point actually to make that break, you know, kind of gave the momentum back to me and I really took advantage of it.

Q. Next up an extremely fast, very clever young Frenchman. How do you deal with him?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I'm really looking forward to that match because we've played very seldom on the tour, maybe twice or so. Once only? Three?

Q. Three.

ROGER FEDERER: In Sydney I remember I lost to him in three sets. Where else did I play him? I don't remember. Well, actually I was supposed to play him twice in Davis Cup and he was injured. So it's nice to play him. I think he's been going through the draw quite comfortable. And he's, like you said, a very tricky player to player against. He returns well. His first serve is very good and he moves well. And this is a dangerous combination. He has a lot of weapons. He was already here in the past and he won in Nottingham once on grass, so he really knows and plays well on grass, so it will be a difficult match.

Q. Lleyton was saying in terms of competing, it's one of the holes in your game that you've really filled in over the last two years or so, that in the past maybe you would have gone away in certain matches, but that really mentally you're competing much better. Is that something you consciously did or is it just a matter of experience and time?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, a lot of things together really. I also feel, you know, what Lleyton says, I also feel the same thing. You know, matches before, like if I take an example, I think in 2000 when I played him in Davis Cup, it was one set all, he won the third set tiebreaker, I lost 6-1 in the fourth. Those are the kind of matches I wouldn't say happen to me regularly, because knowing he was so strong, I knew it was very difficult to come back. I would completely change my game, and it would backfire. So now, because I have, you know, much more experience, I'm more confident, I know that I'm -- I have a solid base now also on the conditioning side and mental side. So for me things have really changed, and I look at tennis very different now than I used to. And I think what Lleyton is saying is correct because I also feel this way.

Q. Pete Sampras was on TV the other day and he was saying that when he looked very calm and cool, actually he was very nervous inside, and nobody really knew. Is it the same for you? To us you look very calm, serene. Inside are you boiling?

ROGER FEDERER: You know, breakpoints, the pulse always goes up, that is a fact. Obviously on some, you know, you feel like very good. If you get broken, you know, that happens. But I have to say all in all I'm very quiet, very calm also from the inside. Already before the match, you know, I was not -- I was always almost worried about myself because I was so calm already going into the match. I was surprised. You know, even after rain breaks I was not, "Okay, it's 1-All, it's 5-All." I really hadn't -- didn't have a problem of being very nervous out there today. You know, pulse does go up when you have long rallies and then you have to face tough moments in the game. But I feel like obviously now the way it's going, you know, I don't have any reason to be too nervous.

Q. It was sort of like a hard court match almost. You were both staying back so much. Would you have liked to have gone in more? Is that out of respect for Lleyton?

ROGER FEDERER: I would like to, but then I think I would lose because he's just too consistent on the return. His passing shots are just incredible. I don't remember having any easy volleys today, doesn't matter what position. He always makes you play a volley underneath the net. Just unbelievable effort from his side. Every time I play him I'm amazed actually how he gets the ball back. It's not just he gets the ball back, maybe he plays it high, keeps it low. I think that is the secret to his game. Now I also understand a little bit why, you know, Henman loses against him, because he's such a great returner and great passing shot player.

Q. This is an international, global game. The inevitability is that you and Andy are going to be around for quite some number of years. That means to sell tennis, Andy needs to become better known in Europe and you in the United States. Can you see yourself during the hard court season going on the Jay Leno or David Letterman show? Would you be amusing and entertaining or not?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I guess we have to help each other out, you know, by playing each other more often, playing well, and consistent. Yeah, you know, I could imagine going to certain shows. But, you know, my English is not as good as Americans or English, so I would have to maybe face tougher questions, I don't know. It would be more difficult to show my humor. But, you know, I think it would also be interesting to see how that feels for a change.

End of FastScripts….

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