March 15, 2004
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
THE MODERATOR: Roger has a doubles match coming up, so if we could make this brief, it would be great.
Q. Were you pretty pleased with that or is there something that didn't quite go your way?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I thought that was a good match. Obviously, totally different game compared to Pavel. He takes much more chances, hits the ball much harder. That already changes the whole game plan. Because it was my first time I played him, you know, I'm really happy the way the match turned out.
Q. People talk about the fluidity of your game, the grace of your game. When do you think you first had that movement in your strokes?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. I thought I started to, I don't know, feel this when I started to get 14, 16 years old. During that time I improved, my backhand especially, because I couldn't hit a backhand at the time. I thought I was too weak, so I was slicing all the time. I was working on my backhand drive. From then on, my whole game, my serve, started to get much better. My forehand was always dangerous. But I thought from 16 on, I really started to play the way I do now.
Q. Do you know when you're in a particularly good place, when you're in a particularly good zone and everything is coming together for you? Do you sense that?
ROGER FEDERER: In a tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I feel like this tournament can be a good one for me. Surface, I like it. I like the conditions. It's hot, but it's not killing me. Let's put it this way. I think, you know, if I can continue the way I did now the last two rounds, I think this could be a good place.
Q. What do you think about the balls? Hewitt came in here, complaining the balls are exceedingly heavy.
ROGER FEDERER: That's what he said? Well, I don't know. Conditions are heavy these days. I mean, if you look at his game and my game, I think it should be better for him because he tends more to go into longer rallies than I do. But I think the ball plays fair. You have to adapt anyway. You have to play with what you get. I look and I don't find excuses.
Q. How do you match up against Fish in the next round?
ROGER FEDERER: Dangerous. Similar to Gonzalez. He's got a better serve. He comes to the net more. He's got a great backhand, returns well. He's got a very all-around game. I think last year he started to play better, was maybe his breakthrough year. But I think he maybe needs a little more time to really make it to the front of the rankings. But it's definitely a dangerous round. He beat some good players along the way.
Q. You said it's hot, but it's not killing you. Does it matter one way or the another whether you play matches in the day when it is hotter versus the night?
ROGER FEDERER: Not here in these conditions. Maybe it will play more a factor in Miami because it's humid. I think humidity is worse than heat. That's the way I see it. Maybe different players feel differently. But for me this heat is no problem. The heat in Miami is much more dangerous, I think.
Q. Were you surprised at Lleyton's result?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, in a way, obviously, because I thought he was really coming back strong this year. I already felt last year when he bet me in Davis Cup that, "This guy is back." With so many titles, so many results he has in his career, it just takes him this (snapping fingers) and he's back. Really surprised, but the way Chela played, I think he totally deserved that match. That's the way I see it.
Q. In today's game, the serve obviously is such a huge weapon. If you could do it all over again, would you prefer to have the game of a big first serve, maybe a little weaker on the groundstrokes, or do you prefer your game?
ROGER FEDERER: You know, I don't know. I would prefer maybe this way. But, you know, I'm still dreaming of a serve at 240 or something. But I don't think that's possible anymore. It's too late now (smiling). You know, I just try to improve it with accuracy, you know, little by little, by speed.
Q. Do you think the serve is too much of a weapon in today's game?
ROGER FEDERER: No, because guys return much better than they used to. It always equals out.
Q. The way you've started off the year, obviously extremely well, if you had to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, where would you say you are at the moment?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, right on top, 9 or 10, because I really feel like I'm playing really well. You know, I'm as good ranked as I have ever been before. I've won as many titles as never before. It's the best start to the season. Defended my title in Dubai, playing well here. I think I couldn't wish for more right now.
Q. So 11 is within reach?
ROGER FEDERER: You didn't mention 11, so.
Q. Now I am.
ROGER FEDERER: Now you are (smiling)? For this, I have to wait a few more rounds.
Q. If the tennis gods said, "You've been a good guy, you can use a 240 serve regularly," what would you say to them?
ROGER FEDERER: Thanks very much.
Q. That's all you would say?
ROGER FEDERER: That's all I would say. "Do you want anything in return?"
Q. You'd do anything?
ROGER FEDERER: (Nodding head.)
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.