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March 18, 2006

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How would you rate your level of play?
ROGER FEDERER: It was good, solid, consistent really, what I was hoping for. Obviously the result was easier than I was expecting.
I felt early on today might be another good day for me. I was feeling good. Also in practice, I'm in the tournament now, confident. I think it showed today during the match.
Q. Did you ever feel under threat at all?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think early on in the first set, you know, was a little close. First game, you know, was a deuce game. I thought it might be a tough one obviously.
I think his chance came beginning of the second really when he was up a break. I was hoping to come back in. The wind picked up, I thought, mid through the match. I thought this could be a little tricky one. If it's really more windy, it's going to be hard to break, so on.
But I got back quickly and finished it out well, so I'm happy.
Q. Not the sort of player that gives you much of a rhythm. It's a hard match to get into a groove.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, he definitely goes for his shots, especially on the forehand. If you don't place it well, he's going to definitely go for the winner. It puts pressure on yourself, especially on the returns not just to only make them but to place them well, too.
You know, he's got a good first serve, too, which puts on a lot of pressure and sets his game up well. I thought he had quite a good first serve percentage which didn't really allow me to get too many looks at his second serve.
But I was feeling good, scrambling well, just really trying to keep as many balls in as possible, use the short balls, then make the decision on my shots.
Q. He had a tough game in his quarterfinals. Do you think that was a factor in how easy the win was today for you?
ROGER FEDERER: You mean the Rochus match?
Q. Nieminen.
ROGER FEDERER: His match, sorry. Well, he had a day off, didn't he? I guess he got over that (smiling). No factor, I hope so, for him.
Q. That last flurry of lobs, was he saying to you, "I give up, you're too good." That is how you took it?
ROGER FEDERER: Usually match points are always the most boring points, you want to get over and done with it, especially the guy who's leading. I guess as I was serving 40-15, 5-3 up, you know, he didn't believe too much. Plus it was already with an overhead, so that's two shots he might have gotten back into the rally, but still would have been out of position.
I guess he decided to do a couple lobs. Who knows, if I miss one, all of a sudden I get nervous. But I didn't go for too much on the overhead.
Q. Asking you about a potential match-up tomorrow with Rafael, do you think your chances are better now since you just got done playing him a couple weeks ago, you've seen his game recently?
ROGER FEDERER: I thought my chance was better back in Dubai because he was just coming back. I thought the surface was there quite quick, so it would have suited me. Yeah, he did well to beat me obviously.
I think this is, like it was in Miami, an open match, 50/50.
Q. How badly do you want to face him?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm relaxed, you know. I hope for him that he wins, but I hope for Blake, too, that he wins. Seriously, for me it doesn't matter who I play in the final. I hope I can win the tournament.
Q. Are you in favor of Masters Series being decided by best-of-five finals when it's been a best-of-three tournament up till then?
ROGER FEDERER: I just believe every one should be the same, the finals. That's what I believe. I think it deserves best-of-five finals because it's such a big event. It always adds drama I think if you make it the best-of-five-set final. I'd like to see them all or none, but not just a few.
Q. Agassi was saying if Nadal wasn't a left-hander, he basically would have no chance against you. His forehand gets up high to your backhand, and that's something a lot of players which they could do with you. Can you talk about that?
ROGER FEDERER: Hard to say. You know, would obviously have to see him playing right-handed. It's the same game. But I would also guess he would play differently if he was a righty. Things are how they are. He makes it very uncomfortable to play against him because we hardly have anybody who is really a good lefty. Then on top of that, he plays so different as a lefty. He plays with a lot of spin, doesn't play too flat. It's just a different type of game.
I think once you get used to it, then he's really in a bad position where he has to totally change up his game. Maybe that's going to be eventually in the long run a problem for him. I don't know.
Q. Not to give away your strategic secrets, but anything you felt in the last match you could have done differently, other than play well?
ROGER FEDERER: Absolutely. Especially against him, you know, he gives you many looks at playing aggressive, you know, like I did at the French. I think I held back a little bit more in Dubai. Still there I played aggressive. I think the surface really allowed me to, too. But obviously I saw things I can still change.
Obviously, when you lose, you always think more about the match. That's what I did.
Q. What has Rochey suggested?
Q. Playing another lefty.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, we just talk in general. Obviously, it's a great advantage, I think, to have a lefty as a coach because you can always find right-handers to practice, but not many lefties. It's good to get the dimensions of the court when I hit with Tony. We just chat along. Sometimes we talk about lefties, sometimes we don't.
Q. Can you talk more about Blake. Since the beginning of the year, with the exception of a couple small losses, has had quite a good year. Seems to be rising pretty quickly.
ROGER FEDERER: I'm extremely happy to see him back playing. I think that was his main concern. His ranking didn't really matter at one point. Great comeback for him.
It's great to see him playing so well. I don't know, he might be very close to the top 10.
Q. He is in the top 10.
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know if he's done that before. That's fantastic. I'm really happy for him. If he could make the finals here at Indian Wells, that would be quite extraordinary I think as a comeback and as a story.
I've had some good matches with him. I would be really happy to play him. So would I be to play against Nadal. We'll see who wins.
Q. When you were growing up in Switzerland, did you have good competition to play that helped you develop your smooth game?
ROGER FEDERER: Actually, I had, yeah. I was always involved in group practice back in Switzerland in the beginning before -- till I'd say about 13 years old. Then at 14 I went to the National Tennis Center. All of a sudden I went from the best to the worst.
It was hard because I was practicing with 16-year-olds, then I wasn't even allowed to practice with the 18-or-over, with the pros, so I always had something to look up to.
As I got better, I got to play sets with them and realized how far off I still was. I would take a set maybe once in a while and I was getting really motivated. Then I started to travel the junior world, too, internationally. I saw how far off I was there. I always had something to really look up to. I thought that was pretty good for me.
Q. A little more on Blake, outside the comeback thing, about how much he's actually improved on court, whether you can see that maybe he does have top 5 potential.
ROGER FEDERER: I think if you go top 10, all you need is maybe -- it takes maybe one win more or less sometimes to maybe make it in the top 5, isn't it? If he would win here, he's close to top 5, I guess. Doesn't take much all of a sudden. You got to put yourself in a good position like I did a couple years ago. I was 12 years old -- I wish I was (smiling). I was ranked 12 and I won Hamburg, which made me really jump into the top 10. That was my move.
From then on, I was very close, good-seeded. That sort of made it easier for me. Hope it's going to do the same for him.
Q. Initially in your Masters Series record, it wasn't particularly good. When you were probably 20 or 21, did you ever get demotivated, thinking you were not going to make the breakthrough?
ROGER FEDERER: There was just one split moment when I lost first round at the French, this is against Horna 2003. This was the only like couple of weeks where I was like, "What the hell's wrong? I'm playing so well, and then at the big occasions I'm sort of messing it up. Is it the five-setters? What is it?" Then I won Wimbledon, so that was sort of okay (smiling).
Master Series were always tough for me. I thought always from the first rounds on you catch all these good-ranked players. I always struggled. I don't know what it was. I guess I was just maybe not good enough. Till I won also Hamburg in 2002, that really put me in the driver's seat, same as winning Wimbledon. Those two results really gave me the confidence that I should actually beat maybe guys ranked outside of the top 30 or so.
Q. Do you think Rafael feels more pressure now to beat you since he's done it the last couple times or do you think the pressure is in your court right now?
ROGER FEDERER: Either way. I think it's a big moment for both if he comes through. We know the importance. These are the matches that sometimes determine who's ranked 1 and 2. That is definitely a big match.

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