May 4, 2004
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. What has been your schedule since the Davis Cup tie?
ROGER FEDERER: Since Davis Cup, well, been in Switzerland for three weeks. Had to take time off, that's why I missed Monte-Carlo. Just didn't have enough time at all to prepare for Monte-Carlo, so that was the reason for pulling out there. Then I started in the middle of the week of Monte-Carlo to practice again.
Q. What is your feeling on clay now at the beginning of the season?
ROGER FEDERER: So-so. I played well in Romania on clay, but that was indoors so it's different. Haven't felt great yet on the practice courts, and today also wasn't so good. I thought, you know, obviously the conditions were very difficult, and, you know, I got to improve very much for the next round. Otherwise, it will be very difficult.
Q. In recent seasons, people were always saying, "Why don't you take a break? Why don't you take a break," when you were playing and playing. You obviously needed the break that you just had. But at the same time, we had people like Roddick and Agassi and Fish that didn't come to Monte-Carlo and it wasn't a case of injuries; they just didn't come.
ROGER FEDERER: Hmm.
Q. So one of the top ATP tournaments was without big stars. Is that inevitable nowadays with so many tournaments and so many commitments?
ROGER FEDERER: No, also here, this tournament also is missing some guys, you know. But anyway, you know, you have to understand the American players, too, that Monte-Carlo is very early in the season so, you know... I think it was maybe little bit of just bad luck also for Monte-Carlo that at the same time so many guys pulled out and for -- especially maybe with less of a reason than injury. But I think, you know -- because I think the schedule is a little tighter this year than it was the last past years because of Olympics, people maybe, you know, want to save that energy for the American hard court season with the Olympics involved. Everybody will have to do that trip back and forth, so I guess that's maybe an explanation; I don't know.
Q. As you were saying, very windy conditions today, very tight first set. I mean, you're up against an opponent who always fights anyway. It was a difficult first round for you.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I thought it was a pretty good, actually, draw for me, not to play a clay courter in the first round. But you never know what's gonna happen in the first round anyway, so it doesn't really matter who you play. You know, I had the chance early to break and I didn't. That kind of just made me play more defensive. I didn't believe too much in my shots. You could see I was shanking a lot of balls and getting worried and upset. You know, that's what happens - especially on clay. You can get very quickly frustrated, and that's what happened. I'm very happy I won the first set, because the second set at least I could take some chances because in the beginning I was just playing safe.
Q. Now you've got very much a clay court player next in Albert Costa.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. So we'll see what happens. No, looking forward to this match. I'm really going to try to get a revenge on him - the match he beat me last year in Miami where I had few matchpoints. That's definitely one of the players I'm happy to play against. I haven't seen him around too much lately, so I guess he still plays pretty much the same when he won the French Open. So I've got to be ready and hopefully play better.
Q. You've not played him on clay before?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I don't think so. Only indoors and hard courts.
Q. Because of the kind of player you are, the way you play your strokes, you move and etc., when you have to take a break, do you find it quite hard to come back and get into a rhythm straightaway?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really. Actually, I find the rhythm very quickly, but it's more, you know, the danger of the first round. You know, you can hit freely during maybe two weeks in practice, then you get to the match and this is actually what it's all about, this is what you been working for. Suddenly, maybe you think twice if you should really go for that shot or not. That's maybe what happened today. I always play more safe in the early rounds of a tournament, and I hope I get through them and then I can start to hit harder and, you know, go for the lines a little bit more. Automatically, the serve also follows. So these are all the things where you don't quite know where they at. Now that I've won my first round, I know what I want to improve for next match. So in a way, it's good.
Q. Is it right that you use natural gut on the main string and synthetic on the...
ROGER FEDERER: Since two years.
Q. Because in talking with some stringer, they said it's not so logic to play on this way.
ROGER FEDERER: Actually, you know, I played the first time with this kind of string here two years ago against Gaudenzi. I wasn't happy (smiling). And then I won Hamburg the week after, so it was a big surprise for me. But I tested all kinds of different strings and weights of string. I thought that was what was best for my game.
Q. It was someone suggest to you or your own feel?
ROGER FEDERER: No, my own feel. Peter Carter, actually, also gave me the advice to test it the other way because usually the players use the synthetic on the main.
Q. Do you know the last time you threw your racquet on the tennis court?
ROGER FEDERER: Against Henman in Rotterdam. It was hard in Rotterdam so... Not so far, not so long ago (smiling).
Q. Roger, can you explain technically what it does for you, the stringing? What does it do for your game?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think it's important that you know what you're going to do with the strings, how you use it, and how hard you will string it on different conditions and opponents. It's kind of very complex, everything, because it can get to your mental game very quickly. So even though at one point also today I thought the strings were too loose, but you kind of got to block it out and say that, "Well, I have nothing else in the bag, and these racquets, I've got to be able to win with this." Yeah, it's complicated, you know. Yeah, some weeks they string better, some they don't, so...
Q. You're asked this every time you appear, but you've had the three weeks' break. Have you thought any more about a new coach?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really, no. Still the same. I'm happy really in the way it is now. I'm not actually even thinking about it too much because I like it the way it is and, yeah... So I don't see a reason why to change.
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