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March 14, 2006

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Roger.
Q. Was that tougher than you expected?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, not really. You're always ready for the tough matches, aren't you? You can't be ready to win in straight sets, otherwise you're badly prepared I would say. So, no, I always expect tough ones. This one was.
I got unfortunately off too a bad start. Never really got my game going. You know, once you're down a set, you're not allowed to make any more mistakes. Yeah, I'm relieved I'm through.
Q. Is he the kind of player that gives you trouble? Kind of annoying to play?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really. You know, I've had some good wins against him without too much trouble sometimes. Sometimes we had some closer matches. But I think till now, I never really lost a set.
But I knew he was a dangerous player. His ranking shows it, too. He's upset some good players in the past. I've known him since a long time. He used to beat me easily in Juniors. So, I'm happy the tide has turned for me (smiling).
Q. You played since you were kids?
ROGER FEDERER: 14 almost, yeah. He was a fantastic Junior under-14s. He played the same way, wouldn't miss, so steady. I was, back then, a little more radical. Couldn't stay with him.
I'm really happy to see that we both made it through to the top rankings.
Q. How tall was he at 14?
ROGER FEDERER: I cannot say he is the same. He was way smaller (smiling).
Q. I know it sounds ridiculous, but does playing someone that small pose you different problems? You're kick serving him a couple times. Do you have to try to vary your game to counteract the fact he is a small player?
ROGER FEDERER: It gives you the feeling like he would probably struggle with high balls, all this stuff. As he's almost always been this height, he's gotten used to the high balls, the kick serves, all this. He knows how to counter-punch that.
Sometimes then you want to hit through him because you think he's, well, lacking power and everything, but also there he's very good. Because his technique is so good, he can counter-punch anything. No matter if it's spin or pace or anything, but sometimes he just lacks reach. I think that's what you have to exploit against him.
Q. You struggled with the backhand a fair bit. Any explanation for that?
ROGER FEDERER: I didn't feel quite right in the beginning off the baseline, like I said. Took me really a set to really sort of settle down. He was the more steady player, I think, throughout maybe one and a half sets. Finally I got it going a little more. I ran around my backhand a little more to use my forehand. That made a big difference. I didn't allow him to get too aggressive on the rallies.
It's not really an explanation. I hope it's going to be better tomorrow.
Q. I think he's just a wonderful player. Do you sometimes say too yourself, "How the hell did he hit that shot"?
ROGER FEDERER: He's got a great one-hander. He covers a lot of ground. Because of his slice, it always gets him back in the rallies. On top of that, he's very, very fast. He reads the game extremely well. I think that's what makes him such a dangerous player, because he reads the game well, he counterpunches well. On top of that, he likes to play aggressive. He's got really the whole game.
Unfortunately, you know, he just doesn't have that big serve. But still, his basic game is so good that it keeps him always in shot of breaking you, winning his service games sometimes comfortably even.
He really gets into your head. He's a player like that.
Q. You had a tough match in Gasquet in the Monte-Carlo final, but came back strong, Hamburg. Your thoughts about him in general and facing him the next round.
ROGER FEDERER: We just played the doubles against each other. That was probably good for both to see a little bit how we're playing. He has not the best start of the year so far. I hope this is not his tournament where he really wants to show how good he is, but we'll see about that.
Like you said, we have had some good matches, Monte-Carlo and Hamburg I thought were both good matches. Now we're on hard court. I would favor myself there. Again, he's got potential to play good on all surfaces. It's going to be an interesting match I think with good shots.
Q. What do you think about this group of young players, Gasquet, Baghdatis, Monfils?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it's like when Lleyton, me, Marat and Andy, all of us were coming up, you know. I think it's always nice to not just see only one coming up, but a whole group of guys.
Also really came out of nowhere a little bit because only one came about, then all of a sudden there was a group of like four or five guys. Nadal, Murray, all these guys came about. Berdych also.
I like that, the challenge of younger players. They're very dangerous, too. They play very different. All of them have a different character, once again, which is great for the game. I hope they can make their move, because at the Australian Open it was a little disappointing, except maybe Baghdatis.
Q. Out of that group, which one would you think could turn out to be the absolute stand-out?
ROGER FEDERER: Probably Nadal (smiling).
Q. Do you think?
ROGER FEDERER: He's younger than a few.
Q. I'm talking about Murray, Baghdatis, Monfils, Gasquet.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I thought Gasquet first, you know. Now he's been struggling a little bit. He had a little bit of an injury, so he couldn't quite see it. But I probably would go still with Gasquet.
Q. How impressed have you been with what Martina Hingis has done, coming back the way she has, beating another top 10 player here today? How impressive is that to you as a fellow Swiss and fellow professional?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm very happy, really. To be honest, I didn't think it's going to go that fast for her, to climb up the rankings and all this. I thought she might crack top 30 at the end of the year. Here we are probably thinking she has a shot at winning a Slam. It's quite incredible.
She surprises us all over and over again throughout her whole career, you know, by, I don't know, winning French Open Juniors at 12, winning Wimbledon at 16. All those things are just incredible. She keeps on breaking records.
I'm very happy to see her back because I always enjoyed watching her the most. I hope really she gives herself a chance to win a Slam, like at the Australian Open.
Q. Did you catch any of the match today?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, well, I was right after, so I saw some, yeah. She's an incredible player. Great touch. Great feel for the game, as she did when she retired. Also, you know, she just doesn't miss. That's just unbelievable.
Q. Does it surprise you about the women's game, that somebody who has been out of it for three years...
ROGER FEDERER: Yes and no. You have to remember, there's not many players that steady today. Many players use that power game. Obviously, when you use power games, you're not that steady. She's, again, a different player maybe that some players haven't seen for a while. So That surprises.
I could imagine that also creates a little panic, you know, for some of the players because they realize they can't hit through her. They thought she doesn't serve good, she's maybe not that fast. Still Martina Hingis, and she's got the tools to take you apart.
Q. What would happen on the streets of Zurich if there were a Swiss No. 1 man and woman?
ROGER FEDERER: What would happen? I don't know. No clue. It's not the case at the moment. We were No. 1 at different times. But it's definitely good for Swiss, absolutely to have such great players the last few years.
Q. What are your thoughts on Bjorn's situation with the trophies? Do you have any thoughts about his possibly selling them?
ROGER FEDERER: We don't know. I heard so many things. What I'm going to say about this whole thing? I think if it happens, it's not good. I would never sell my trophies, I know that.
I don't know his situation. I would really need to know the facts. As long as I don't know these, it's better I don't comment about it.

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