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November 16, 2003

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.

Q. Perfect end to the year for you?

ROGER FEDERER: I think so (smiling). Really, I'm very happy, you know, how this whole year went, especially this tournament. What a great finish, you know. Really overachieved everything, you know, I set for myself. Seven titles, four on different surfaces, my first Grand Slam, No. 2 in the world. It's really been an unbelievable year for me; I'm very happy.

Q. So what next?

ROGER FEDERER: Holidays, and then practice and then the Australian Open. It's still far away, next season. I really worked very hard this year. I'm very happy it paid off, you know, because you always have the ups and downs, but I really felt this season has been complete, you know. Really looking forward for my holidays.

Q. What went through your mind when you heard Andre say out there during the presentation that you were an inspiration to him, to watch move and play?

ROGER FEDERER: It's nice to hear, you know, from such a great champion like he is, you know. He wasn't my favorite player, I had different -- I have a different style than he has, but it's nice to hear it from a different style, especially like he's playing. You know, I think he's a real example, also, for the fans. He's so professional, you know. He's very fair play. It's really nice to play him. I feel like the two matches we've played here, you know, were very nice, you know, from the human side. You know, hopefully I can play him again next year.

Q. He just said that the first set of the match was one of the best of the year for you. Do you agree? What do you think of the whole match?

ROGER FEDERER: I think I agree with him. It's really been a great match from beginning to start. I felt much better, you know, today than I did on Monday playing him, obviously, because of the conditions. I'm used to them now. My forehand was really working well, my first and second serves, my backhand was working well. The only thing I didn't have to do was to volley because I was finishing the points too early, you know. So it's just been an unbelievable match for me. It's definitely one of my best of this season, of my career.

Q. Is it possible to think back to Wimbledon and perhaps it the release of winning that and what it's meant now, you can go on and be yourself, be the best player you could be possibly be?

ROGER FEDERER: Definitely, you know, Wimbledon has taken a lot of pressure off my back, you know. I really start to feel that I should do better in Grand Slams, you know. But then to end up winning it the way I did there, you know, really kind of just relieved me big-time. I'm happy to have, you know, one title since because it's not so easy to go through all these new things I'm going through. To end the year like this, it's great.

Q. How does your popularity in the United States compare to your popularity in Europe outside of Switzerland?

ROGER FEDERER: Okay, you know. I'm very famous in Switzerland. Everywhere I go, people know me. That's obvious, you know. We're not such a big country, but I'm very, very famous over there. In America, it's tough for me to say. I don't read the papers too much, you know. It's also a little bit in your power, how much you guys are gonna write, how famous I get here. But I think, you know, the longer the tournament gets, the better I play, the more famous I get. But, you know, that's secondary.

Q. Do you get a sense that people here, in the States, in general know who you are when you're out and about and away from the tennis courts? Or is it not as much as in Europe?

ROGER FEDERER: I feel like in Switzerland I feel people know me but they don't approach me. Here, the people that know me approach me. I almost feel as famous here as in Switzerland, but that's how it goes (smiling).

Q. Leaving here, do you feel like you're the best player in the world, despite the fact you have a No. 2 ranking?

ROGER FEDERER: That's a tough question. I think Andy deserves his No. 1 spot. I think he should walk away from here and feel the best. I would feel the same way if I would be No. 1 in the world. I'd maybe feel the best of this week, because I really have played unbelievable tennis. And I'll try to reach what he achieved this year, next year.

Q. Do you think this is a group of young players who can really develop the sport: Yourself, Juan Carlos, Andy?

ROGER FEDERER: I believe so, yes.

Q. You're in your early 20s. You can take the sport to a better level?

ROGER FEDERER: I've spoken about this a few years ago already, two or three years already. I saw a lot of guys coming up when already Hewitt and Safin were dominating the game. I already said that there's a few good young players around and I think they can give kind of a new wave, you know, into tennis and hopefully more popularity again. You know, because it seems like tennis has been going down. But I feel like we're trying to keep it alive and make it even better.

Q. Although Andy starts the year as No. 1, I'm sure he's going to be looking over his shoulder from the word "go." Is that good for you in a sense that you've got that target to aim for?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, we're far away from each other in the draws; I'm all the way in the bottom, he's all the way to the top. It's a long way to always meet each other. But I think every time we play, we have great matches. Yeah, we'll see how the beginning of the year goes. I don't know what it takes, again, to become No. 1. But if he plays well, then he deserves to be. But I'll try to have a good start to the season because this season has been very long and very tough for me.

Q. If you take the last set against him and the first two today, three sets in a row, when was the last time you played three sets of tennis quite as well as that?

ROGER FEDERER: I don't know, you know. I played well in Wimbledon. I've played well at the US Open one time (laughter). I played well, actually, against Safin one time in Hamburg when I beat him in straight sets. I thought that was also quite incredible. To win this is even more special.

Q. Many great champions got the title of Masters: Stefan Edberg, Pete Sampras. Are you proud of this title?

ROGER FEDERER: I said the same thing, you know, after Wimbledon. It's nice to be on the board with so many great champions. The same as here. You know, here, it's not some, I would say, "lucky loser" can win this tournament. It's really just one of the Top 10. I think the nice part about this is that it's an ATP event also, and it makes it more special because I couldn't win a Masters Series this year. And to win the big one over the 10, I would say is really special to me.

Q. You talked about growing the popularity of tennis. Do you feel like you have to do stuff off the court to make that happen, and, if so, how tough is the responsibility of doing the stuff off the court as well as the tennis itself?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think, you know, we young players, we grew into it to do a lot of stars programs, activities, for the ATP, you know. Of course they have the power to tell us, "You have to do this and that," but I think we are also willing to do it and make this game work again. Obviously, sometimes it's difficult to, during a tournament or between two matches, to do something. But we know it's for the good of the game. I think that's what we should all aim for. You know, I think the other thing is that we all really get well along with each other. That's, I think, good for the future.

Q. Have you been able to visit your cow?

ROGER FEDERER: Not yet, no. I've got to go back next year.

Q. In Paris, you were a little bit flat, not only physically but also mentally. How did you get back?

ROGER FEDERER: Few days off, good preparation and, you know, I'm back, I guess. I don't know, it's tough to answer. I think that the first match against Agassi, you know, was kind of the key for this whole tournament, for me and for myself. I didn't use as much energy, but still, you know, I thought I really started to play unbelievable. Because in the practice sessions, I was feeling terrible, you know. I was losing every practice set. I really didn't get the rhythm. Then suddenly the matches started and there I am, playing well, you know. So it's been kind of -- a little bit surprising to me, actually.

Q. You lost in Bercy on the Friday, wasn't it? Did you go back to Switzerland for a few days?


Q. When did you arrive in Houston?

ROGER FEDERER: I left Wednesday. So I had a few -- four days, that's all.

Q. Did you see a racquet in that time?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. One time. With my girlfriend, 45 minutes (smiling). We hit some balls together, just so you don't lose the touch. I guess she gave it to me. I'm happy about that.

Q. Andre said that he thinks you can even play better. If so, how are you -- what can you improve?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, if he says that, you have to ask him. I thought, you know, I played already pretty good. No, but was very good, you know. It's nice to hear that, but there needs to be a lot of work done to achieve better than this today. So that's what's coming up for me in December; I'm ready to do it.

Q. You hit 39 winners today. When you hit some of those great shots, does it become routine after a while, or do you surprise yourself sometimes?

ROGER FEDERER: Oh, well, I don't know (smiling). I wouldn't say you get used to it, you know. But you expect it from yourself so much at one point that when you miss it, then you disappointed. But I'm really, I think, in a stage now where I can accept, you know, winners and errors. That's what makes me play well in such matches, because these are the matches that count, you know. If you don't win this tournament, you're not on the board. I think to be on the board, that's what counts. Yeah, I hit a lot of good shots today. They always make me very happy, you know, when I can play so well like I did today.

End of FastScripts….

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