March 18, 2004
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
THE MODERATOR: Roger advances to his first semifinal here. He's dropped 15 games in his four matches. He's improved his match record to 20-1 on the season. Questions for Roger.
Q. Was it easier than you expected? If so, why?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it was -- I had to -- I know I needed a few games to figure out how the match will go. I feel like he's got two options in his game: either he plays aggressive or he plays more on defense. I thought he was playing quite aggressive in the beginning, and I have to get used to that. Even though I was up a break, he came back, and I got broken for the first time in this tournament, I think. Then I had to save breakpoint after that, I think, which was tough. At that point I didn't think, you know, it was going to be 6-2, 6-1. But I think I changed a few things, hung in there, and I broke him at the right time. Then I could hit much more easier, freely, started hitting winners. This is when the first set suddenly went very fast.
Q. Did getting broken get you more focused on the match?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I just knew the danger, no, because it was a little more windy today than the other few days. He's a totally different player, again. I have the feeling I got to move him not only sideways but also, you know, back and forth because he's very good running on the baseline. That, you know, changes my game a little bit. I feel also at the same time I have to come in more against him than against other players. So it was a dangerous match today, but I handled it well.
Q. Can you tell us how you developed your style of play in Switzerland? It's a little bit different than some of the coaches there.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I don't know. I guess -- I know, I've always had very good coaching. I think that is definitely one of the things where I'm lucky at, you know, in my career. Where I'm also happy is that my parent had a lot of faith in all my coaches and they let them do the work, you know, and just looked at the things which were happening just from far away. You know, everybody always taught me a one-handed backhand. I couldn't hit a drive backhand until I was 12 or 14 years old. I was only slicing the backhand. I think that was a big improvement. Over the last few years on tours, I hit so many backhands because everybody was going to my weakness. Now that also has become a strength.
Q. Are you feeling like you're near invincible out there every time you walk on the court?
ROGER FEDERER: No, because I know there's very dangerous players out there. Just because I have -- you know, I won a lot of matches this year and I only lost one, you know, that doesn't make me feel like I'm unbeatable. I go out there every match with the same attitude. That this will be a difficult match, try your best, fight hard, and hopefully you can win. Handle yourself correctly out there, kind of enjoy it. That's what I'm doing. When I can play like I did today, you know, that is a lot of pleasure for me.
Q. How much confidence are you playing with right now?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, a lot. I can, you know, even sometimes try a few things which, you know, I don't know, that's what I explained on TV with ESPN. I said that I changed a few things with my game today against Chela because the way he was playing. But at the same time that can be also a factor which could work against me if I'm not playing well. But right now I'm so confident that I have no problem switching, you know, from defense to offense, to play, you know, serve and volley or just, you know, wait for a mistake of the opponents. Right now I'm so confident, I can do that. But I know that in bad times, this might not work anymore.
Q. Looking ahead, you have Agassi or Coria. You never played Coria. What do you know about his game?
ROGER FEDERER: I played Juniors with him. I beat him in the finals of the Orange Bowl in '98. That was the only time I think we played. He's a very tough player. He doesn't miss hardly any shots. Good backhand, good forehand. So if you want to beat him, you got to play aggressive. You got a chance on this surface. So I think first he has to pass the test with Agassi, which is very difficult. But he has beaten Agassi in the past, at the French Open. But it will be nice to play Coria because I never played him.
Q. Sort of young players coming up, where does he fit into the mix? Is he right there?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think, you know, he missed his chance at the French Open obviously in the semifinal. But for me, him and Nalbandian are very good and dangerous players in the future. I think both had a big chance to do well at Slams last year. I think it's just a matter of time until they will also break through.
Q. You played the Spanish Davis Cup team of Nadal and Robredo the other day. What do you think of their abilities on court? What do you think of Nadal in particular?
ROGER FEDERER: I thought it was an entertaining doubles, first of all. I really enjoyed it because I don't play doubles very often. I played with my Davis Cup and friend Yves, I've shared apartments with him for two years. It's fun to help him on the tour and at the same time try to do as well as we can. What concerns Nadal and Robredo, I think they're good players. I was a little surprised how well they played. But you saw they played more often together than me and my partner. You know, we had many, many chances. But, you know, I wouldn't say they were lucky, but they were just more consistent on the day. It's great for Spain that they have so many good new players. I think Nadal, especially, he's got a lot of energy. It's tough to see in a doubles match what he can do. But already at his age to play such good doubles, and he's a singles player actually, it's good to see.
Q. Being that you have no coach, will you go out and watch Coria-Agassi tonight?
ROGER FEDERER: If it's on TV, I'll watch it on TV. Otherwise, no.
Q. Is the difference between your game in 2001 and today better shots, better ability, or is it confidence?
ROGER FEDERER: No, it's not only confidence. Just more knowledge about the game. I think more power physically and mentally stronger. It's a lot of things which I've changed. I think overall just more consistent in every aspect of the game. And I think that -- if I'm winning, it makes me even more confident than it could have -- gave me confidence, like after the match against Sampras. I was mentally much more weak because if I was playing bad, why I was not playing like I was against Sampras. That's not how it works in tennis. I think now I've learned that lesson, and now I'm just enjoying it, playing well.
Q. Do you ever think there will be a pure serve-and-volley player again, because people are passing so well from the baseline?
ROGER FEDERER: It's tough. It's tough. That player, you know, you almost got to have a serve like, let's say, Roddick, and have volleys of Henman. It's tough to get (smiling).
Q. Could you compare the first and second serves of Andy and of Sampras.
ROGER FEDERER: Different serve. I think Pete was serving the lines much more. Andy, he's got just much more power. His second serve is more of a kick serve. Pete, the power and the confidence on that serve which, you know, goes to the line. You doubt one second, and the point is over. Totally different serves, but similar effect.
Q. On a medium hard court, which would you fear more?
ROGER FEDERER: It's a totally different game, also. Andy doesn't come in behind his serve. Pete did all the time. That already makes you hit different returns. I think if Pete would have stayed back, you know, people would have returned him totally different, as well. But I think the conditions were faster before than they are now. So I don't know.
Q. Sounds like Pete has a more effective package ultimately. Am I right?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. Andy's only 22. I don't know. Maybe he'll serve 160 in a year, 170 in two years. I don't know. You've got to give him time (smiling).
Q. Presumably, in view of the success you had last year, you'll be doing the same buildup to Wimbledon that you did?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I'm going to play Halle, then come early to London, to Wimbledon, and prepare.
Q. Do you have overtures from Queen's Club?
ROGER FEDERER: They were interested, yes. But I prefer to keep it the same way.
Q. Can you talk about the prospects of playing Andre, if he wins tonight?
ROGER FEDERER: That would be a great match again. Especially now, these last two years, I enjoy playing Agassi because I thought, you know, I can finally compete with him. Because before he was just, you know, too good. Gave me a hiding at the US Open one time, and also before when I just came on tour. So now that I also beat him, you know, I think also he would like to have that rematch, you know, get a chance for revenge. So it will be a nice match for the fans and for everybody - also for us especially.
Q. Aside from tennis, what is your one favorite thing about the desert?
ROGER FEDERER: It's just waking up in the morning and seeing the blue skies every time. It's really, really nice here. Like I've said many times, the heat doesn't affect me here. I've got a convertible, I'm driving around in that all day long. That's for me unbelievable. I really enjoy it. We've been shopping a little bit, you know, nice dinners. Just spending time with my girlfriend. It's nice.
Q. Have you been recognized a lot when you've been out on the town?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I feel like, you know, here the people who are here, they come to the tennis. A lot of people recognize me here. It's different here than somehow in Switzerland, the reactions. So much louder.
Q. Shopping on El Paseo or the mall?
ROGER FEDERER: At the outlet, at the mall. Just where my girlfriend wants to go really. She's also got some words to say because she has to wait for me all the time while I'm sitting here with you guys. No, I'm enjoying it, going shopping, don't worry.
Q. Yesterday you signed autographs for 40 minutes instead of 20 minutes.
ROGER FEDERER: Was I?
Q. You were supposed to sign for 20 minutes and you stayed double the time. That's unusual for a No. 1 player.
ROGER FEDERER: Is it? I don't know. I told them I'm ready to do half an hour. I saw how long the line was. I said, "I'll do it 10 minutes more if not everybody has their autograph," because I think those things are very important for tennis. Here they almost prefer to do photos than take the autograph. But I have to say it was nice, nice because people are nice here. They're patient. I like to do it, especially when it's well-organized. If it's hectic, then I cannot sign properly.
Q. Did you ask for autographs when you were younger?
ROGER FEDERER: As a ball boy at the Swiss Indoors, yeah. I was chasing them. Then, somehow I stopped. It was only for like two years. I have the book at home. Rosset was tough to get at the time, but I got it (smiling).
Q. Is he still?
ROGER FEDERER: Tough to get for autographs? I don't know. He's better now. I'm surprised how many he signs now.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.