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March 19, 2006

Roger Federer


Q. How does that feel? Third one in a row.
ROGER FEDERER: Excellent. It was a hard-fought battle in the beginning. Really got the better of me in the beginning, so I had to react and not panic. I did a good job there.
In the end, I played fantastic tennis with some great shots once again. You know, to pull them off in a final, it's always a nice feeling. I really had great matches back-to-back on a few occasions now. The form is excellent right now.
Q. Early in the first set, were you having trouble getting a rhythm?
ROGER FEDERER: No. I just thought he played better, as simple as that. He played aggressive, took the ball early, put away his forehands when he could, didn't miss on the backhand, made me run around. That's usually what I do. He gave me a little bit of my own medicine.
I didn't really play poor, I thought, you know. , so there was no need to sort of be frightened by that. I just hoped, you know, I get maybe at least one break back in that first set. So I was surprised obviously coming back all the way and winning the set. Obviously, that was tough to handle for him after.
Q. At what point do you think you got on top of James?
ROGER FEDERER: After getting the second break back when I leveled the score, I knew it was going to be a tough one for him now.
Q. When it's 1-4, do you say to yourself, "I guess I'll get him in four"?
ROGER FEDERER: That's my sort of point of view, yeah. If this first set is gone, let's sort of try to get the rhythm at least a little bit, you know, so you feel better in the second set.
Obviously, I was already, you know, getting ready for a long day. That was absolutely my thinking. Hopefully I win in four.
Q. Did you think he was capable of playing at that level throughout four or five sets, the level he showed in the first five games?
ROGER FEDERER: He didn't need it for four or five. Three would have been enough playing at that rhythm.
So, no, I absolutely thought so because I saw the match with Nadal last night. He played excellent. In the wind, it was tough conditions, against Nadal. I knew if you can already put him away in two sets, he's very dangerous for me, too.
These wins against top players like him yesterday obviously can lift his game up a gear and he can play even better tennis against me in the finals. What a great opportunity not only to beat the second best and then also the best back to back, then also on top of that win the tournament, that can really give you wings. The people were behind him. I was expecting that he was going too play really well today.
Q. When you're playing as well as you can, do you get the sense certain crowds aren't quite sure to take it? There are lulls, quiet moments. They're up when he's playing well. When you're playing well, there's not quite the level of appreciation for what you do that perhaps certain people think there should be.
ROGER FEDERER: You think that's the case (smiling)?
Q. My point of view. I'm saying the crowd is almost not quite sure how to react. Do you get that sense on the court as well?
ROGER FEDERER: Sort of sometimes maybe. But you have to understand, you know, they were really backing up, you know, James. Obviously, they're a little bit more quiet when it's not really going his way. It was really close in the beginning. It really looked like an upset early.
I guess once you get on top of it, all of a sudden, as the big favorite, things sort of calm down. Then your best shots are not all of a sudden applauded the way they should be, they're only applauded when it gets tight. When domination sets in, that's really where they don't clap as much as they could.
But I still believe they do appreciate it, yeah.
Q. You really seemed to take him out of his rhythm on his service games. He didn't even win half of the points on his own serve. Can you talk about that.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I remember I played him not too long ago in Cincinnati in the first round. I had a tough one there. I remember he really impressed me how he served. I knew that it was important to get the first serve back, sort of get into play, not let him dominate all the time.
On the second serve I knew anyway I've got a chance against anybody. But the first serve is sometimes key to really get those important points. That's what I really did well today. I mean, of course, he didn't serve that great in the second and the third, like in the first. But I think that was definitely key to success today, also returning his serve and make him work hard on each and every service game, not give him some easy games where he can relax.
Q. What kind of improvement have you seen in James game since Cincinnati?
ROGER FEDERER: I think already there he was playing better. I really have the feeling his backhand got much more consistent, especially on the return. He doesn't give away that many returns any more. I think that's really helped him to improve.
I think, like I said, his first serve has also improved. His forehand was always good. His movement, too. I think those are the key things.
Q. Talk about your resiliency, never having lost back-to-back finals.
ROGER FEDERER: I didn't know that. I have in the beginning of my career.
Q. You haven't.
ROGER FEDERER: Are you sure? Didn't I lose in the first two finals (smiling)? Marseille, Rotterdam maybe. 7-6 in the third. I think I did. Anyway, happy nobody knows.
For me very special is to play 10 tournaments entered, 10 finals in a row. That is for me quite impressive. That's what I like (smiling).
Q. Because you tend to win more than you don't, is it sometimes hard to rate them almost in terms of which is of importance and not so much importance to you? Where does this one rate?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, you can't sort of compare them to other tournament victories you have or whatever. You look in the moment itself. I think beginning of the season, winning the first Masters Series is huge for me really. Even though I don't fall on my knees and cry and everything, it still means a lot to me.
Sometimes really the big satisfaction comes later on, you know, maybe a few months down the road where I go like, "Wow, I did really well in Indian Wells. What a great week I had." I remember coming here, I was extremely tense looking at the draw, thinking, "Wow, I've got Indian Wells, Key Biscayne to defend." It really got me worried.
Now that I won, I'm pretty relaxed, very happy. I don't know. It's a hard question to answer really because every tournament you win could be your last, so you try to enjoy it the most you can.
Q. When you were saying earlier in the week you were actually really calm, you were fibbing; you weren't really calm?
ROGER FEDERER: I was calm on the court. I mean, I felt good, but I was just worried about crashing out early and then having all the pressure on me also in Miami. Now by playing so well here, it obviously takes a lot of pressure off Miami, which is nice.
Q. You were saying coming into the tournament when everyone was asking about playing Nadal in the final, that he actually had to get there and get through the draw. You get through to the final consistently, which might separate you from Nadal, and even Blake today.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, I've gotten sort of used to playing on big occasions, too. I have that advantage, being so used to any situation. Being 4-1 down, double break, there's no need for me to panic, whereas others maybe think, "I've already lost." For me, that doesn't count.
I think the more you put yourself in the position, the more you learn from it, the stronger you get. I have that advantage over James, especially over James, but also over Nadal.
Q. Have you thought about a calendar year Grand Slam yet? Has it crossed your mind yet?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes and no. But I think more of winning four Grand Slams in a row, which is the French for me. I am preparing mentally for the tough times over there because the pressure will be huge on me from myself and everything. I really hope I can play a good French Open this year.
Q. Can you talk more about the quality to get to all these finals, giving you an advantage? Is it confidence, ease?
ROGER FEDERER: Experience, I guess. It's got a lot to do with experience. I always thought when I came up and about, they said the other guy has more experience. I said, "Well, that doesn't matter because I'm dangerous," whatever. Dangerous is just not good enough sometimes. You got to know the tough moments, how to handle them, I think. That's really what I've gotten to learn over all the years, that you can use your experience very well, too. This I do now sometimes, which is nice.
Q. When there's a tough moment, you step back and just put it in a little bit of perspective?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. Analyze it very clearly. I think I never get carried away in a way emotionally, in a good or a bad way. I'm always in control of how I need to play, what's been happening, what I've got to do. I think that's a good strength of mine.
Q. You hit so many extraordinary shots, were stealing points a lot of times, that backhand drop. Does something come over you that says, "God, I'm flying again"?
ROGER FEDERER: Today, absolutely. I felt that for a while. Like I said, in the beginning, once I came back to 5-All, I knew this could be another great final for me because I was really starting to feel good. Second set I felt actually better all the way. Just couldn't convert some of the early opportunities I had. I really felt very, very confident on the court. At some moments obviously I knew this is almost impossible that I'm going to lose this final.
Q. When you watched Blake beat Nadal, did you think it was going to be even tougher than you thought?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, I knew it's going to be a tough match for Raf. He beat him at the US Open, that was already over five sets. That's when you can show how good you are. I knew it was going to be a tough one. I thought James played extremely well in that match yesterday. Rafa had tough times with James game. When I saw James still won, I was a little bit surprised because Rafa has been playing so well.
I knew this is a very different match, actually, I was looking forward to. I had to adapt, sort of keep my mindset right, my tactics. I'm happy I was able to achieve that.
Q. What will it take for you to wear the type of shirt that Nadal wears or even Andre the other night on a course against Haas?
ROGER FEDERER: Practice, it's okay, but not in the match for me.
Q. Why is that?
ROGER FEDERER: It's not me.
Q. Talking about the pressure of coming into Indian Wells, Miami, defending all these points, is that because maintaining the No. 1 ranking has become real important to you?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, maybe that, but then also I think if you lose early year, you know you got so many -- in a way it's good -- to practice, but also think about your loss. Then if you crash again out early in Miami, you have sort of one month and you only play two matches, let's say. You got to really -- it's perfect if you play well, but it's a tough one if you don't play well. I think I was more scared of that, not having enough matches going into the clay.
Now that I played here, we don't need to talk about it any more.
Q. What is it like to become the first one to win three times in a row?
ROGER FEDERER: Special. Obviously I like records once in a while. Happy I've made one here.

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