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July 4, 2003

Roger Federer


MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we'll start off with English questions, please. First question to Roger.

Q. This match seemed to turn on three games, or two games and the last three points of the tiebreak, when Roddick started by missing that forehand at 6-5. Then you had to work your way out of the first game of the second set, which you did. Then you broke in the second. Can you, with as much detail as you can remember, take us through that period from the end of the tiebreak through the break in the second set.

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, have the first set was definitely, you know, very important. So I was feeling good, you know, serving well and felt like everything was under control, you know. Even in the tiebreaker I was up mini breaks. But, you know, he got back and played well to get back. So, no, I was happy that he missed that forehand, you know. Maybe it would have changed the match. But even though, you know, I felt I was playing well, you know, it was just important to stay focused. Also the beginning of the second -- of every set, not to give him the lead. So it was important to get out of these situations.

Q. Did you have a letdown at the start of the second set?

ROGER FEDERER: I didn't maybe serve as well. Andy got a few good returns. I didn't even remember, so...

Q. Were you aware of the immediate reaction of the crowd afterwards? There are very few semifinals that get standing ovations.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I guess you don't get very often standing ovations after three sets, you know. Yeah, it means a lot to me. I got a standing ovation when I beat Sampras as well. And you kind of look in the crowd and they actually don't really realize, but somehow you don't see any seats anymore, everything is just people. So it's a real special feeling, you know. You work so hard for this, you know. It's just a real nice payback.

Q. Can you remember when you last played three, and I understand the point about the forehand by Roddick, but when you last played three sets when you felt so much in control?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, talking about control, it's tough against a player like him. You have to basically really focus on your own serve and hope not to give him too many chances. There's always a threat out there, especially in such a important match, you know. You might get nervous or whatever, so... For me, was just important to stay focused, you know. I felt the danger anyway, I was up maybe two sets to love or one set to love. I knew it could -- it was only little things. Even though I felt I was dominating the match, you know, but I just had to make sure this is not gonna happen, that it's gonna come back.

Q. Everybody was talking about how special your performance was. Are you feeling or were you feeling that this is a special occasion for you, this match?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I felt I hit some unbelievable shots today, you know. And it's just nice to do that in such a big match, you know. Really, last time I maybe felt this was when I beat Safin in Hamburg. I beat him in straight sets. It's just some -- you get a different feeling about the match when you can do this, pull this off in such big matches, you know. More people are watching, it's on a center court, it's a better atmosphere. You know, it kind of carries you. I really felt, you know, that, and also a lot of people, "Well done, well done, well done," of course. "Great match." I mean, it was. So, I mean, I really feel quite good about myself now (laughter).

Q. A lot of people have said and written that it's about time, really. We felt this was coming at some stage. You were bound to play a match like this in a Grand Slam. Is that your feeling, too, that one day this had to happen?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, you know, you got only so much talent and you need so much work to do on the side, you know. I knew it was in me, but I didn't know what it takes, you know. If it only needs time or if it needs work or it needs whatever, you know, because people are telling too quickly it's gonna happen. Especially after the Sampras match, we already spoke about that. But now, being in a final, you know, it's -- it is tough. It's long, you know. I've been here now for two and a half weeks, you know. It's a long time. I'm not used to staying at one place for so long, really. You come and go, so... And it's just totally different, you know. You get more days off. I mean, for me, the matches haven't been that tough. I've only lost one set so far. So physically I'm fine, you know. And I really hope I can take this into the final.

Q. People talk about getting into this zone, playing in the zone, where you sort of reach a level of peak performance, where your confidence, your skill and kind of chemistry all come together and you sort of go beyond. Were you in the zone today? Could you talk about that. Did you feel it was all flowing?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I really feel like my good serving made me be able to play well on the -- on his service games, you know. I was -- especially in the first set, I was always close to break him. I played some really good shots. Basically my serve, you know, helped me out there to almost only focus on his service games. I could almost relax on my service games because my serve was working so well. This is really when I can play well, when my serve is behind me, you know. I've hit -- I saw the stats, you know. I was hitting the fewest aces, you know, of all in the semis, you know. So when my serve works, I know I can return any serve and do this and that, you know. But it's just a backup of the serve. So I really look at this as a very important thing.

Q. Over the years was there any particular player that inspired you or whom you would wish to have emulated?

ROGER FEDERER: I definitely don't try, you know, technique-wise to copy somebody. I always think it's wrong. In the hitting zone, it's almost for everybody the same. But it's more the technique around it that makes you look good or bad. But my favorite players were Becker, you know, in the beginning. Then Edberg, I don't know why, you know, but people said Edberg is better maybe, I don't know. Then Sampras. It was not my idol like they were, but he was just my favorite player to watch, you know? And so I don't know if you see any comparison, but...

Q. Nobody's handled Andy's first serve like you did today, although his first serve was not as efficient as it has been in his previous five matches. Do you feel like you read his serve better than other players?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, obviously, I feel I can return his serve, you know? That's what I said yesterday in the press conference. I'm not scared of his serve. Because every time I played him, I read it well. I don't want to say it breaks down, but he gets kind of frustrated because I read it. So, yeah, it was -- was good performance again, the returns. I always make sure I get a lot of balls back, you know. Then he has to adjust.

Q. Do you feel that might be one of the reasons why his first percentage was off, perhaps he was going for a little too much?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, that's definitely why.

Q. It looked to us from the box that at the end of the second set, you just played that magnificent forehand to win it, that as he walked back, he might have said something. He was smiling. He might have said something like, "Stop, or leave me alone."


Q. Yeah.

ROGER FEDERER: No, I just -- you know, he's a good guy. So we're both young, you know, we having fun out there. I think that was ridiculous point, so... (Laughter). So I think kind of enjoyed it, both. But I don't think he said something bad, you know.

Q. I don't think it was bad.

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, often when I play him, he praises my game. Somehow, I guess he enjoys watching me play against him, I don't know (laughter). But we always have -- always once in the match we laugh at each other, because something ridiculous happens, so...

Q. Could we assume your back problem is not a factor anymore? Could we have the number of the person who dealt with it this morning?

ROGER FEDERER: My back is terrible (smiling). No, it's fine, you know. I still put hot cream on it, the patch on the back just to keep it warm. But today it didn't affect me at all and I was not scared it's gonna happen again, so...

Q. Can you compare the feeling you have today to what you felt when you beat Sampras? And also, at that time, did you think you'd be at this stage, maybe sooner?

ROGER FEDERER: For me, it's always very difficult to compare a match to the Sampras match because I -- somehow I believe this match will not be able to top - somehow. Because it was in my young career, you know, it was my favorite player, my first appearance on Centre Court, five sets. You know, the match had everything. In the end, I won. So, I mean, the emotions were so high for me and I couldn't believe it, you know, it was just a joke, you know. Now I've played, you know, basically on all the center courts. I've been around, and I'm more used to this big situations, you know. So I guess you take it differently as well, you know. But after winning, you know, against Pete, I didn't believe I could be in the finals two years later, even though people were predicting that. But I don't know, it's really tough, you know, in the Slams so... And I'm happy also to put all this kind of negative talkers, you know, that I don't perform in Slams, little bit in the corners, you know. Because I really felt that I could prove how good I can play today, you know.

Q. Will you feel this confident dealing with the Philippoussis serve as you did with the Roddick serve today?

ROGER FEDERER: It's a different serve. He goes for it more, you know, I feel. He's got less margin than maybe Andy has, especially on the second. You know, I'm not thinking -- I don't want to talk too much about the Philippoussis match because I'm kind of enjoying this moment now. And I've got a day off tomorrow so this is when I really start to focus for the finals.

Q. Do you feel you've ever played at a higher level in a match than you did today? And I know you don't want to talk about the next match, but perhaps is there a feeling that you've got to sustain that level, which will take some doing?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I've had good matches . As I said the Safin match on clay for me was also very, very high-quality, you know, throughout five sets, you know. But I've had Grand Slam -- sorry, Davis Cup matches where I also played outstanding, you know. Sometimes people forget because we're not in the finals or in the semis. But I've played there some really nice matches. You know, I know it's gonna be difficult, you know, to keep the same level. But I have enough time now to get ready and mentally prepared, and physically, I'm fine. So, you know, just really looking forward to this moment because it's a dream, I think, for anybody to be in his first Grand Slam final.

Q. How will the Swiss react to this situation? It doesn't happen every day, does it? Have you heard anything from back home already?

ROGER FEDERER: I got a few messages. No, I think, especially my friends are really happy for me, you know. Family. Everybody who is here with me this week, who could enjoy this with me, you know, is happy. You know, of course I get a lot of requests now, you know, for interviews. But for me, I don't know how it is in Switzerland, you know. People have to call me up and speak a little bit. But when I beat Sampras, you know, I remember there was a lot going on. And next week I have a Swiss tournament, so I think there's going to be a lot going on there too - I hope so, at least.

Q. For the last two years the media in general was appointing you as a strong candidate to win a Slam. Now that the moment is so close, do you think things will become much better for you? Perhaps it was like something you were obliged to accomplish, no?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, a little bit, you know. But I'm not at the end yet, you know. I have still one match to go. And if I don't win, you know, I try again to come back, you know, and win, you know. But now at least I really know deep inside of myself that I can win such big tournaments, you know. I was not quite sure because I never been further than a quarterfinals. So I knew I could perform well in the Davis Cup and all these five-set matches, but you don't play them too often, you know, especially if you lose early in the Slams. So now I think I take a big experience to the next Slams and the next tournaments. And, you know, I've been winning so many matches this year, so I have so much confidence right now also, which makes me play great.

End of FastScripts….

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