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April 16, 2001

Roger Federer

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.

Q. Well, that's your first win in Monte Carlo. Is that right?

ROGER FEDERER: Yes, that's correct. First win in three years.

Q. And you freely admit that clay is not your best surface. But is it a surface, do you think, you'll grow to be more accustomed to as you become more experienced?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean let's put it that way, my results are way better on other surfaces, but my best Grand Slam result came at the French last year. So I was and I still think am a good clay courter, too. So I'm not that worried about my career on the clay. I mean, today was a tough opening first set for me. There was a lot of fighting, because I really didn't feel good on the court. So that's a match I have to go through. It's really good to win matches like this on clay. I'm really happy to be through to the second round, because I can win confidence very quickly on clay. It's good to start off the clay court season with a win, definitely.

Q. Did you actually learn to play on clay when you were growing up in the outdoor season?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I used to -- in the winter, I used to even practice indoors on clay in a balloon. I used to play more on clay than anything else. In the summer, on clay. In the winter, on clay. And I was 14 when I went to the Swiss National Tennis Center, and in the winter I used to play on fast indoors. So I don't know why my clay court career started so badly.

Q. Roger, how much did Neuchatel take out of you?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, next couple of days after Sunday was tough because I screamed so much for George and was tough, tough weekend. I mean, I felt little bit sick after next few days, but I think that's normal. I think the screaming for George took more energy out of me than my --.

Q. Your match?

ROGER FEDERER: -- My own match. So, yeah.

Q. Tough one to lose in the circumstances as well.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. I mean, such a disappointment for him. I mean, he fought so hard and he really deserved that win against Escude. He was so close against Australia against Philippoussis. After in the locker room, he was down. It's normal. I just hope it's not going to affect his career.

Q. Your progression has been very impressive and very steady over the last couple of years. What do you now view as your next step?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think my next step, already this year started well with my first career win in Milan, then Davis Cup against the States. I kept playing well like over the months, that's why I won my February award there for best player. That's, I think, is already the next step. But now, I finished pretty well on the clay court season last year. I lost twice to Corretja, once in the fourth round of the French and first round of Gstaad. But I felt I was playing better and better. So for me this year, it's important that I get going straightaway on the clay court season, not let it go to the French Open again. Also for me a little bit disappointment was the grass court season last year.

Q. Which in your game should hold a lot for you?

ROGER FEDERER: Definitely. After winning the junior Wimbledons, I really think I can play really well on grass. I still have to improve my serve and volley game, then I should be fine. In the summer, I really want to continue playing well like I did in the beginning of the year.

Q. Have you played more tennis at the start of this year than you have in any other year so far, with Davis Cup experience?

ROGER FEDERER: Maybe once in the Juniors when I won a tournament, played semis the next one, then played semis at the Australian Open. So there I did. But on the ATP, nothing like this.

Q. Do you feel a lot better for it, to have more experience?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, the more matches you play, the more experience you get. So the more matches you win, the more matches you can get to play. For me, this year really started off well. I think the Hopman Cup was also very important to play alongside Martina, to see how she is doing and how she's acting. So I don't know, I'm getting quite some experience.

Q. What was the turning point for you in today's match?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, as I said, I started off badly today and way too many errors, I don't know. I felt like I couldn't finish the point, I don't know. I was probably not playing the right way. I was playing too flat. I should have played maybe more the angles and made him run more, then come in, win it on the run and stuff. But that started to come at the end of the first, beginning of the second. I don't know, from -- I like this challenge, when you have the long rallies. You get great points on clay. So in the end, I was really enjoying this match. You could see it. I was playing drop shots. Normally I don't really play drop shots. But I tried great things on the court, but of course you have to be aware of not letting the match slip away like this. So... But I'm happy I got through, and I'm looking forward now.

Q. Since Neuchatel, how did you prepare for your clay court season?

ROGER FEDERER: I stayed home until Thursday, then I travelled to come here. And since then I've been practicing on clay. I didn't do anything special to play and to recuperate. That's it.

Q. Is it difficult to become accustomed to clay courts?

ROGER FEDERER: No, I was surprised. I felt well immediately when I started on clay. Normally, I never win when I play in practice, but here I won a few matches against other players. That happens rarely, and it really gave me confidence. I was hitting well, and I was sliding well on clay.

Q. Last year you had won a tournament on an invitation.

ROGER FEDERER: It was the finals.

Q. You should have felt better at that time than now coming from hardcourts?

ROGER FEDERER: In Neuchatel I hit the ball well. I felt well. Last year I prepared differently. I stayed in Miami and I played the final on clay courts. But it was a very fast clay, but at least you can get to slide. After, I didn't pursue the same thing. I lost 7-5 in the third here, 7-5 in the third in Rome. I could have won because I was up 3-love, 4-1. Last year, the matches were difficult. This year, it seems that I'm winning those matches.

Q. Physically do you still feel in your body the effects of the efforts you made in Switzerland?

ROGER FEDERER: When the rallies are long in the beginning of the clay court season it's never easy. Next week I will work physically with Peter. I think I'm going to improve a lot. For the French Open, I'll be at the top.

Q. Did you change something in your clay court game now compared with last year?

ROGER FEDERER: Last year, I don't know, it's too far away. I don't remember anymore. Let's say that I have to change my game on clay, it's clear. It's a good point that I'm able to slide well and move on clay. I don't know, I put more effort in my shots and I stay maybe more on the baseline. My serve in practice wasn't going very well. I have to concentrate on this because it's not so easy to make winners on this surface. I think I should be more consistent. I made too many easy unforced errors. I have to improve on that.

Q. Is Peter here with you?

ROGER FEDERER: No, he'll come on Saturday.

End of FastScripts....

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