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March 16, 2006

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. These results today would suggest you are widening your advantage over Ivan.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, looks like it. Yeah, it was an excellent match. We have played many times throughout our career. I'm happy now to have won the last ones against him. Those were all very important victories I had.
Played him here last year. It was much tougher. So this was an excellent match for me - maybe the best of the season.
Q. He suggested he would rather play you at night when the sun is not so much a factor. Did you welcome playing him in the afternoon?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, looking back now, yeah (smiling). To be honest, I also prefer the night. I have a fantastic record playing at night. Obviously, playing during the night, it's more like playing indoors. I think that's where also he plays his best.
But, again, at first I though it might favor him because the conditions might be a little faster. Maybe it's tougher to return. But I returned excellent today. I think that made the difference.
Q. Did the Rochus match rather kind of concentrate your mind a bit? After that, did you think that was the not-so-good one out of the way?
ROGER FEDERER: I didn't think it was that bad. It was a tough start to the match I had with Olivier. He took advantage of it. Before I knew it, I was down a set and wasn't allowed to make any more errors really.
I was really pleased to come out of it. He had many chances in the third with a few breakpoints and so on. I think I just told myself I've got to start better than in the match against Rochus. That's what I've been able to do.
Q. When you look at the ATP statistics, you're ahead of Ljubicic. Why are you beating him?
ROGER FEDERER: We maybe play a little similar, all around, try to be aggressive. He obviously relies more on his serve than I do. I guess I maybe just have a little more variety in my game. Maybe athletic, too, because I'm a little smaller, I'm a little quicker around the court. That allows me to move him around maybe easier than other guys can.
I always believe against big servers I'm very good at returning also. I think maybe I get many balls back, don't give him much easy points. That's maybe what the difference is at the moment.
Q. When you lobbed him, played the forehand volley to win the point in the 5-2 game, as you walked back, you stopped. Looked as though he might have said something to you.
ROGER FEDERER: Might have said something, yeah (smiling).
Q. Curious to know what it was. I can think of what it might have been.
ROGER FEDERER: What do you think it was?
Q. I think it was a compliment. I'd like to think it was.
ROGER FEDERER: It wasn't (laughter).
Q. What did it start with? Was it in Croatian?
ROGER FEDERER: No, it was Italian. No, it's something between him and me. We get along well. His girlfriend, my girlfriend, we hang out a lot. Yeah, so it was good (smiling).
Q. Lleyton Hewitt is married. Andre. Is something coming in your corner? Will you be tying the knot?
ROGER FEDERER: Haven't tied it yet, no. Yeah, I don't know, we'll see about that.
Q. (Question regarding Mirka)?
ROGER FEDERER: I have no clue. Let me talk to her before talking to you guys. It's not so easy to talk about your private life like this. No, it's all good. We like the situation we're in. We like our life. I don't know if we're going to do that step quite yet.
Q. There is one aspect of that life. Pete Sampras talked often about how he was able to do what he needed. His ability to surround himself with his people, shut things out. Do you think maybe that's the way to go?
ROGER FEDERER: Not at all, to be honest. I never knew how he was going at his tennis really because it was more or less a secret for us players. We hardly ever saw him in the locker room. I didn't speak to him too much because we were too far apart I guess in age. I wasn't playing well enough deep into the tournaments so we could even hang out together.
I now see why he's not hanging out in the locker room. He wasn't. It just gets too much sometimes. You don't want to share everything with all the other players sometimes. When you are there, then you want to have a good time, but only for a short period of time.
That's what I've realized over the years. You know, maybe that's what Pete was doing also. Andre was the same. Everybody wants something from you, wants you at the grounds. You always try to stay away as much as possible.
Q. Ivan was asked what would be the couple of things that made the difference between yourself and the rest. He said there were plenty of things, but things raised in particular was your movement and return. What would you say makes the difference between yourself and the rest?
ROGER FEDERER: Maybe right now it's momentum, too. I've gotten my game, my own game figured out so well, so I know what shots to hit at what time. I think that's a very important part of playing, is knowing your strength and your sort of weaknesses, when to play what.
I definitely believe also my movement has improved really tremendously over the last few years. That's allowed me to maybe come up with shots maybe I wasn't able to before. I always thought my serve and my forehand always kept improving. My backhand, obviously, because everybody plays to it. I think it's just your overall game that has improved.
In the end I guess it's the mental aspect really. Growing up, I wasn't so tough. Now all of a sudden it's a great strength of mine.
Q. At times do you sort of surprise yourself with what you do on court?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. I don't expect those passing shots and those scrambles and those serves when I need them. No, I expect the worst, the double-faults, the shanks, all this crazy stuff.
Q. Do you think now your position does expect it, and that's almost the greatest thing that you have, is that the opposition is expecting you to hit the shots that you might not be expecting to hit? That puts them on the back foot.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, but I feel the same. When I face Ivan's serve on breakpoint, I expect him to hit an ace. I think that's the way it is. Maybe with me even more. Maybe you're right.
Q. If you could play an imaginary match against one of the legends of tennis at their peak, who would you like to play against?
ROGER FEDERER: I would have liked to maybe play Bjorn Borg when he was at his peak because he would be a very different player than me. He was so great on clay and on grass. Maybe play against him.
Q. Do you think you're as fast and have the quickness of Bjorn?
ROGER FEDERER: To be honest, I don't know him well enough. He was past my time when I came along. It was Becker and Edberg, Courier, so on. To be honest, I didn't see that much of him to answer.
Q. Did the Dubai final have a notable impact on you?
ROGER FEDERER: No. I mean, I was happy with my game. I thought it was a very open match. We both played well. We both wanted to win. He broke me both times at the crucial moments, at 4-All in the second and third set.
Anyhow, I was happy with the way I played. I think that's most important, leaving not disappointed, worried, anything. I was more surprised actually by the reactions when I got here, that everybody was so - I don't know - into it. For me it was gone the next day.
Q. You mentioned earlier most of the players play to your backhand. Most of your unforced errors came to the forehand. How do you explain that?
ROGER FEDERER: I go for more on the forehand. You tend to miss when you go for too much.
Q. You did say you thought this was your best performance of the year so far.
ROGER FEDERER: Hmm. I just think from beginning to end. I've had some good matches this year, too, but this was against a top-quality player. Really, I thought everything I really wanted to work really worked. I also had a great feeling out there. You don't always get that, even though maybe if you win 6-4, 6-2, you walk off the court, you feel like the opponent maybe gave it to you a little bit.
Today I had to earn it. I think this against a top player is a great result for me.

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