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March 28, 2002

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Roger, please.

Q. Must be nice to be hitting the ball as freely as that?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, definitely it was very enjoyable match today. I felt good right away. And, yeah... I don't know. Just clicked today somehow, and played the big points well and served consistent when I had to. So I'm very happy with my match today.

Q. Is it good to have a match like that at this stage of the tournament to show that your game is progressing the way you want it to?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, especially in this heat. The faster the matches, the better it is I think. You can always go on the practice courts and play more if you want. So, I mean, I really hit the ball well today. I felt good. Hardly mis-hit any balls. Hit the ball very focused. I mean, I really couldn't ask for more today. So I'm really looking forward for the semis.

Q. Do you feel you are in the process of stepping up your game a notch or two from last year?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I just feel much more comfortable in a quarterfinals now. Last year I was much nervous -- much more nervous. Of course, I mean, Andrei Pavel and Pat Rafter obviously are different players. For me, Rafter is obviously more a star than Andrei is. But still, I mean, the approach to this match today was much better, I think, because I knew I was the favorite. I knew I had a very good chance to make it far this week. And so, just the mentality was much better. I had more the winning edge than I had last year.

Q. It's a different kind of pressure, but it's often tougher playing a player who you think might (inaudible) not be the favorite.

ROGER FEDERER: I usually play well in the role of the favorite. So I quite like that.

Q. Have you set yourself any particular targets or marking points as the year goes by this year?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I really would like to reach the Top 10 as soon as possible. That's like something very special, I think, for any player. It's like reaching Top 100, then you reach the Top 50, Top 20, Top 10. I've been around 20 and 15 for quite some time now, and I'd like to make the next step now. This result here will only help me in the rankings. Tomorrow's going to be a very good match. I've played Marat and Lleyton.

Q. What, to you, looking back at the end of the year, would it mean stepping up?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, this year I really have the goal to go to Shanghai really. Last year I was just a bit unfortunate with the injury I had after Wimbledon. And who knows, I might have not made it anyway, but I was just disappointed at the end of the season the way I played. Okay, I played the finals in Basel, but that was the only highlight I had at the end of the year. This year I hope I can play injury-free and do my best. If I can keep playing the way I played today, I can really reach the goals.

Q. What will you be doing between Paris and Wimbledon this year?

ROGER FEDERER: Between Paris and Wimbledon? I'm going to play Halle and Wimbledon.

Q. How confident are you that you can do even better at Wimbledon this year than you did last year?

ROGER FEDERER: Last year was -- it was tough, I mean, physically for me, because I had a five-setter in the second round, had a tough third-round match, tough match against Pete. Then it's always -- I was probably quite tired already. But I was playing with painkillers because of my injury and all this. So I guess this year I really have to have easier matches in the early rounds, and I'm going to play one tournament less. So hopefully, I'll just be really fit for Wimbledon.

Q. Are you surprised in a way at how naturally you seem to play the moment you step on to a grass court? You don't seem to have to adapt like some people do. You obviously do, but it all comes naturally.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I don't know.

Q. When did you first get on a grass court?

ROGER FEDERER: I was in Queen's in '97 -- I think it was '97 or '98. It was an invitation tournament, you probably know it.

Q. A junior.

ROGER FEDERER: A junior thing, exactly. I won a round, lost the match next. I think it was '98, I won Wimbledon Junior; I'm not sure. But then I played Royal Hampton and Wimbledon. I don't know, I guess with the movements and everything quite suits the grass. Because, I mean, I move smoothly. I can just tell by the shoes I'm using. Guys use five pair of shoes a week; I use maybe one or two.

Q. It's about time a junior champion won it.

ROGER FEDERER: It would be nice, yeah.

Q. Do you feel more comfortable on a grass court or clay court?

ROGER FEDERER: On a grass court definitely. I mean, even though I grew up playing on clay the whole time, indoors I was playing on the balloon on clay all winter long until I was 14. So, it's weird because when I came on the ATP Tour, I had 0-11 on clay. So I was like, "This cannot be possible." It was just I guess mentally on big points, on clay, you can just see more the weakness of your game, because you can massage the weakness I would say. On grass, it's two shots and it can be a little bit lucky or this and that. You guess and it works, you know. On the clay, you can't really guess and you have to work the point. So I was very disappointed in my clay court game before. But now, as I had some very good results, it's gotten much better. On the grass, I won the Juniors and I was like, "Oh, finally grass court season again," and lost 0-3 against Byron Black, lost to Richard Fromberg in Nottingham, lost first round in Wimbledon the year after, lost everything again, Kafelnikov in Wimbledon. I was like, "This cannot be true." I was waiting for the grass court season all year, and then I lose. Then suddenly the big thing happened with Sampras. So now everybody suddenly considers me as a favorite. But, I mean, I have to say I feel really good on the grass. So I wasn't -- obviously I was surprised beating him, but I was not surprised playing well on grass.

Q. What is the main difference between the Roger Federer who won today very easily and the one who lost two years ago, I think, in the Grandstand, played a very bad match here with the wind, the heat.

ROGER FEDERER: Three years ago?

Q. Three years ago.

ROGER FEDERER: (Inaudible) that was -- I think that was 1 and 2.

Q. What is the main thing?

ROGER FEDERER: I think it has a lot to do mentally. I was getting, mentally, down very quickly on myself, very disappointed. And, yeah, I mean, the wind was tough just for me. Because I was shanking a lot, my footwork was not right. So I would shank balls and I would tell myself, "What am I doing? I'm playing terrible today." I would never realize that it might be the footwork. So now I worked and all these things, mentally I got much more relaxed. And suddenly you don't get upset anymore. It fits together and you start winning matches, you feel better, more confidence.

Q. Roger, you've had some good results at this venue going back to your junior years when you won the Orange Bowl, quarterfinals last year, semifinals now. The surface, the weather, or just the success that you've had here, is there a reason for your playing well here?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I'm not surprised I play better here than maybe Indian Wells, because Indian Wells is just much slower. Here, you can play serve and volley. If you hit a good first serve, it really bites, you know, the serve. Also the kick serves takes off. I just feel much more comfortable here than Indian Wells. I mean, okay, I must be maybe little lucky with the Orange Bowl, it was the first time that we played here the Orange Bowl. Before it was always at Flamingo Park on clay. I had a chance to win here in the Juniors already. So I have good memories, and probably that will help maybe little bit. But let's stop talking about Juniors (smiling).

Q. Compared to January when you won in Sydney, how do you assess your play now?

ROGER FEDERER: Today's match was really, I mean, comparable to the way I played in Sydney. Because in the semis and in the finals, that's how I felt today a little bit. I just felt like from the baseline I was not panicking at all, everything was under control, I was not getting, like, hectic towards the ball, I wanted to kill it right away. Just I was totally calm today. I was somehow -- must have slept good or must feel good. I don't know what it is. It's just today was good feeling on the court. Rarely you have that.

Q. When did you last hit the backhand like you did today?

ROGER FEDERER: Just the backhand worked really well. The passing shots were there. Even if I wouldn't hit the ball perfectly, it would still be in the court. A lot of things went my way today. But I think that comes through hard work also, and it's not just a lucky day, I think. Because I was not surprised the way I played today. I knew I could play this level and I'm very happy. So...

Q. Could you talk about your next round matchups.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, against Hewitt, I had many very good matches. I played him maybe five times, lost once -- lost four times, sorry, and beat him once. But, anyway, we always had good matches, tough matches, three sets or four sets. Somehow I feel I can really beat him. I've got the game. I know the tactics, strategy, how to play him. And Marat, I've played him twice and beat him twice. So, I mean, I feel good going to the semis really.

End of FastScripts….

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