March 31, 2002
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
Q. Did you think at 4-2 in the fourth set it was right there for the taking? You were very close.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, because I really started to feel good after that third set. The points were getting shorter, and I felt like I was serving much better also. So, yeah, I really felt I could really go to a fifth set. But then, suddenly, he picked it up and I didn't serve as well anymore. Suddenly, the whole thing was over quickly.
Q. The double-fault, what happened there?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, that happens. I told myself after, "Just take a chance." I thought I was a little unlucky there. The wind took it. Suddenly that moment, or that couple games, really the wind picked up from the side. But afterwards it was... (inaudible).
Q. Were you surprised at the suddenness that he suddenly surged?
ROGER FEDERER: That he suddenly...?
Q. Surged. He really raised his game.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I just felt like I was not serving as well as before, so I gave him the chance to play better. And, obviously, I mean, Andre's not going to miss any chances. I mean, that game could have gone either way at 4-2, I think. And then he was back in the match. He played a good game to close the match. So... You know, everything happened very quickly at the end.
Q. You actually served very well on the point that he broke back on. Managed to get that defensive return back. What happened there? Did you get into the sun or...? Do remember the point?
ROGER FEDERER: I remember I hit a good serve and he had a good return, backhand long. And then I missed or...?
Q. He hit a forehand.
ROGER FEDERER: At the net?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, don't know. I just -- I had to stay aggressive in the point or he can dominate. So I took the chance and it didn't work. Yeah, was a pity because, you're right, I hit a pretty good first serve but Andre's an excellent returner, so...
Q. Your backhand went off in the second set. What happened there?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, second set was tough. I always had the feeling that I was running around a lot, I was -- my pulse was high, you know. I felt like I rushed the whole time. And so, yeah, I was struggling in the second set definitely. My serve was not helping me either. So, yeah... But Andre was playing well, I had the feeling. That's why I suddenly, in the third and the fourth, I was very happy with the way it went. The points were much shorter and it was actually what I hoped to be already in the beginning. (Inaudible).
Q. Andre said that he didn't see experience as a factor in the match. Did you see his experience maybe helping him out where maybe at times you were struggling?
ROGER FEDERER: Occasionally, maybe. But, I mean, I have also played a lot of matches on the tour. Okay, obviously, he has much more finals and all this. But I think every player knows when it comes down to the crunch you have to play your best. And he just played it better in the end. It was a pity. So I agree with Andre - it was not really for experience.
Q. How would you look back on this fortnight or this ten-day tournament in the bigger picture of the progress you're making?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I'm very happy I've played well again. It's been a great start of the year. I won my second title in Sydney. So here, to play well again on the outdoors, I'm just really happy because I was -- last year I was struggling a lot still in the beginning of the season outdoors. Then finally, I really managed to play well outdoors. So, it's been really fun. It's been a nice week.
Q. You sound as if you might have a cold. Is that true?
ROGER FEDERER: I got a cold like two days ago, before the match of Lleyton. So I don't know. Blocked nose, I have a sore throat.
Q. You haven't mentioned it. Was it restricting your mobility?
ROGER FEDERER: Maybe the breathing a little bit, but not much (smiling). Don't blame it on that, please.
Q. Are you happy with the way things are progressing? You're up to No. 11. The stepping stones seem even.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. I mean, yeah. I'm disappointed I didn't make it to Top 10 this week because I had a chance. But I feel progress in my game again. This week from the baseline I was actually playing really well. Like, I mean, I beat Lleyton from the baseline. So I think that says a lot already. And I was, you know, for a while dominating Andre a little bit today in the third and in the beginning of the fourth. Yeah, I mean this week has been great tennis. I really hope to take it over to the clay court season, because I know also there I have the potential to play well.
Q. Back in the first set, if you can remember back that far, you were serving at 3-3 and it was breakpoint and you got an opportunity to hit it - looked like you had an opportunity to hit an inside-out forehand to his backhand side. Decided to go down the line, and net it. Why did you make that choice?
ROGER FEDERER: Because I thought he might run more if I play to his forehand. Because if I go to his backhand, I don't play perfect, he has the option to go up the line and back to my backhand, and that's not what I want. So I prefer to play to his forehand.
Q. Can you sometimes out-think yourself on the court?
ROGER FEDERER: "Out-think" yourself?
Q. Think too much maybe, sometimes.
ROGER FEDERER: No, no. I mean... Everything happens so quickly. It's not enough time.
Q. You played Lleyton in the semis, and it was a great win for you. Your game was really solid. He might have just been slightly tired towards the end of the match. You now played Agassi three times, first time when you were still a junior. Is there any sort of similarity really between Lleyton and Andre? Or is it that they're two distinct players?
ROGER FEDERER: For me, I mean, they're different players. Because you just feel more heat from Andre. He just takes the ball earlier, he makes you run more. But I see that Lleyton can really bother Andre because he runs down a lot of balls, he passes well, so Andre can come to the net. Yeah, so, I mean, it's a nice match between these guys. But to me, it's a totally different players anyway, so...
Q. Did the noise interfere with your concentration, the crowd?
ROGER FEDERER: Sometimes the crowd, I mean, I think on 15-30, the guy screamed while I'm tossing the ball, second serve on a double-fault. So that's not something you want at that stage. But it's nothing you can do now. I mean, it's too late. The umpire's not going to say save first serve. You have to deal with it.
Q. In your opinion, how much of winning is knowing your opponent versus playing your game?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, obviously often when you're a favorite, you can play your game because your opponent's weaker. If you play guys which are better or just most likely the favorite, you have to turn around the game and hopefully can play your game. Because, I mean, obviously you're going to play better if you can play your game and you don't have to react. You want to act. So today, in the first two sets it was tough for me because I always had the feeling I had to react to everything Andre did, and that changed the ground rules. (Inaudible).
Q. Is playing Andre similar to playing Pete in a sense you almost have to forget you're playing one of the best players in history?
ROGER FEDERER: No, not really. I mean, for me, Pete and Andre are different players. Just when I was young, Pete was my favorite; Andre was never really my favorite player. Just, I don't know, more special in Wimbledon anyway than here in Miami, even though I like this place a lot. It's just got more tradition back in Wimbledon. So you can never, ever compare the match to anything, so...
Q. You gave up a number of service breaks. How did that affect you mentally today after being so successful?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I really expected to be maybe broken against Lleyton or also today. You have to expect that against the best returner. So it was the first time I could win -- play a match against Lleyton and not be broken. So I think that's what maybe won the match yesterday. But the thing against Andre, you got to get broken at any stage except if you really have a serve like Goran when he's on, or Pete. But I play differently, so it's normal that I will break him and he's going to break me. I was mentally fine with that.
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