March 29, 2002
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Roger?
Q. You were pretty happy after the previous victory. You must be ecstatic now, aren't you?
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, yeah. I mean, it's nice to play again so well like I did the previous match against Pavel. So I'm really happy. I played a consistent match again and got it through all the way. So this is why I'm working hard for.
Q. Different level of player, though, so it must be particularly --?
ROGER FEDERER: Exactly. It's something special. I've never beaten a No. 1 player before. I've beaten players who were No. 1, but not exactly the time. Plus, I've broken his winning streak and all this. So it's quite a special moment for me, obviously. First Masters Series final, gives me a chance of winning it. So, I mean, it's very nice (smiling).
Q. This stage of a major tournament, how important is it -- how much of a significance is it that one player has had a fairly quick match, the previous match, and the others had a long match which is very arduous?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think we both have a day off tomorrow. So that already reduces the - how do you say - the difference for long or short matches. I mean, also this event is played over nine days or eight days more, I don't know, ten. It's best-of-three. Grand Slams are best-of-five so it's different story. I think now in the finals, physically nobody has an advantage.
Q. I was thinking more of whether you thought you might have an advantage after playing Pavel, and Lleyton had to play Marat.
ROGER FEDERER: Okay. Wow... I also played a three-set of doubles after. So, I also had a late finish last night.
Q. How do you go from the excitedness of having gotten to this point and now you have to actually concentrate and now you're trying to win it against a player like Agassi?
ROGER FEDERER: You hull. Well, first of all, I'm just happy to give myself a chance to win the tournament. Andre, I've never beaten him, I played him twice, once when I was a junior back in my hometown. Last year at the US Open. So I'm very excited. He's, for me, one of the best hardcourt players around next to Lleyton. And I'm just really looking forward. I'm happy I have a day off tomorrow just to get my mind free again of this victory, to forget a little bit and focus on Sunday.
Q. Your volleying, you work around the net, it got so much better in the second set. Did you make some adjustments in your game?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, in the beginning was tough just in the dark with all the lights. It's strange to come to net, obviously you're already a little bit more nervous coming to the net than against other players. You know it's going to be a tough volley. Sometimes you get an easy one and you get overexcited. The second set, I really picked the shots to come into the net. As I told you already, I worked on my volleys. They got better. I'm more disciplined. It's paying off. It's great.
Q. What are you doing especially well at the moment, do you think?
ROGER FEDERER: I think I'm -- I found my rhythm again on my serve. I was somehow missing it the last few weeks. I just felt like I didn't get enough free points or maybe also my baseline game was not as it is now. I didn't really panic from the baseline, I could stay with him when I wanted. I just mixed my game up really well. I think I really found the good tactics in the last few matches against different players I played, and, yeah, I just have to find the right one I guess against Andre, otherwise it's going to be tough.
Q. What is the right tactic against Hewitt?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't think I should tell too much, because, I don't know. It's never good. I better keep this as a secret (smiling).
Q. What did you learn from the last meeting with Andre at the US Open? Was that at all a -- kind of show you what you needed to do to make the next step?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I really thought I had a chance beating him because I had my first three matches, all won them in straight sets to come to the fourth round. But then the problem was I started the match pretty badly. He started off very well. He was up 6-1, 5-1 in 30 minutes. So, obviously, I had the back against the wall straightaway. And I tried to fight back in the third, but it was just not enough that day. I felt like from the baseline he was really dominating me, and this has to change for Sunday. Because otherwise, I hope not be the same, but similar.
Q. On a personal note, you played football when you were younger. Were you good? Could you have had a professional career?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I quit football or soccer very -- quite early, when I was 12. So it's tough to say. Still had a long way to go. I always had a lot of feel for any ball; doesn't matter if it's... Whatever.
Q. Why did you choose tennis?
ROGER FEDERER: Because in tennis, okay, first of all I had more success just -- I was playing, I was traveling international already. Then soccer just takes longer that you can play big events. And I -- in tennis, I felt like everything was in my control. On soccer I could blame it on the goalkeeper, I could blame it on whatever. In tennis I didn't have that problem. It was only myself to blame.
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