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April 2, 2006

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Was there some sort of magic touch on the matchpoint where you got tired of the match and you said, "We'll just give them a little net court."
ROGER FEDERER: No, no, no, that was not how it was. Guess I had to work extremely hard to get that lucky over the years.
Obviously, it's funny, you know, when it happens on matchpoint for a tournament victory. I think it happened to me once before in the finals in - I thought it was Vienna against Novak. I didn't know what to do either, so (smiling).
I guess it just happens. I really didn't need it that net cord, that's for sure.
Q. How tough a match was it?
ROGER FEDERER: It was tough. I mean, I really thought he served way better than he did in Indian Wells and I think that was the big difference why it was so close. He could have pushed me, obviously, way further if he would have maybe played a little better on the big points, like in the tiebreakers.
But I don't know. I thought it was tough today. I mean, first and second serve, you know, he was going for big serves, great variation and so on. He made me work extremely hard.
I sort of expected it, you know, but obviously three tiebreakers is the most extreme.
Q. Do you think that those long matches help you be a better player, or do you prefer to have a short, quick one and get out of there?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think it's never easy, you know, coming from whole tournament, you know, only playing one-hour matches, one and a half hour match and all of a sudden you have to face a very, very good opponent in a best-of-five match. It totally changes. You have to definitely make that change mentally especially because it's a totally different match, you know, really.
I'm happy I can do that transition. Same in Indian Wells, you know. To win Masters Series is never easy. I'm sort of very relieved right now, and very exhausted, too.
Q. Are you as relaxed in those tiebreakers as you make it look like you are?
ROGER FEDERER: I was relaxed in the last tiebreaker. I was not so relaxed in the second one, I guess. In the first one, I was normal. So you go through different stages of feelings. Sometimes, you know, you want it more; sometimes you don't. Sometimes you believe he's gonna make errors, sometimes you believe he's not going to make any.
All this, you know, builds up inside of yourself and makes you give that -- gives you that feeling.
Q. Which means more, this year or last year?
ROGER FEDERER: I think last year was more sort of -- so different. I had to fight so hard. I got, I was so close from losing that it obviously felt different, you know. It was my first time to beat Rafa. So this was very different. Can't compare.
Q. You've won so many titles. Does each one feel differently, the moment you win it? And, if so, what did this one feel like? Or do they all feel the same when you get the matchpoint?
ROGER FEDERER: To a certain extent, yes. You know, when it's, I'm getting close to sort of matchpoint, you know, obviously, you sort of feel like, "I've done all the hard work, now I just have to finish it off," you know? Obviously, when matchpoint is over, I always feel very relieved, you know, because finally I can sort of relax mentally and physically. I can stop thinking of, you know, tennis for a little bit. That's always sort of a good feeling to have.
Q. What do you think made the difference for you in this match?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I guess the important moments, key moments of the match. I guess I was just superior to him. There was not much in it, you know. He could have had a break early in the first set and that could have changed things. Then I could have had a break some other time, and it didn't work either.
I thought it was a very evened-out match and it came down to the big points again. That's how it was.
Q. What gives you more joy or satisfaction, to be playing so well in a set that you can win it in 18 minutes, or to pull out a match like this where you maybe don't have your best game?
ROGER FEDERER: I obviously prefer, you know, to dominate my opponents, you know, than having to fight for it. But as long as I keep on winning in the end, that's what I really care about, not how straightforward it was, you know. I think it's always -- still have to remember after all my wins and all this, still feels great, you know, every time I walk off the court as a winner.
That's why I do thank the crowd. That's why when I get back in the locker room I am very happy and seriously want the score in the end was, doesn't matter. You went through a story that match. Either it was domination, either you were dominated or it was very close and you feel very relieved coming out of it.
Q. Can you explain what happened in that interlude at 5-All in the second set where you appeared to think that his (stride?) had gone out. You spoke first to the line judge then to the umpire. Can you explain what was said and why you didn't appeal to HawkEye.
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, the call was not even close to be out, so she said something, you know. She was about to scream out and I heard that. That was right at the moment when it was right -- the ball was right in front of me. So I sort of almost let it go. The umpire didn't think it was the case, but I still believe, you know, she screamed and normally when somebody screams, there should be a let, even though I don't think I would have won the point. These are just the rules of the game.
I went to ask her if she said something. She was honest. She said yes, she was about to, and she did say something. I went up to the umpire. He decided that he didn't think I had any play on the ball. That was the end of the story.
Q. Do you feel unbeatable?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I don't. Not at all.
Q. Domination is wonderful, but isn't there something valuable to being pushed and extended to your limits at times?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, oh, yeah. I like the challenge. I've always said it. This is very nice, you know, to have such a close match and come through it and show once again, you know, that I really belong, you know, to the No. 1 position and deserve all these trophies I win. Really I can show in the most important moments, you know, how good I am.
I think there's a big group right behind me now. Of course there's little bit a change of the guard with Andy and Lleyton maybe not playing so well, and Marat not back at the top yet, and Ljubicic and Davydenko and all these guys, you know, coming along. So I think there's a big group of guys right behind me, which I think are gonna make it many times further, you know, in the draws and I'm going to play them more often. Maybe one of these guys next to Rafael will challenge me in the future.
Q. You actually feel you have to prove you belong where you are?
ROGER FEDERER: Day in, day out. Yeah, I do.
Q. You said at the start of Indian Wells you looked at the draw and thought, "This is gonna be tough." You won that one. You won this one. That's successive back-to-back Masters. I think the first time anyone's done that, won the two together. In terms of accomplishments, you seem to be able to retain titles. Winning them is hard enough, but retaining them is doubly so. How do you keep doing it?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I guess I was looking back to the year 2004, sort of was obviously a key year, you know, not just because I won all those tournaments and Slams but, you know, I didn't have a coach. I had a fantastic year in 2003 where I almost finished No. 1. I thought it was going to be extremely hard to back it up, and I did even way better in 2004.
When I came into 2005, I was like, "I did it once, maybe I can do it again." Now I'm at a stage where I'm not really being influenced too much of all the results of the last year. Of course if I go back and think when is the last time really I lost and really got dominated, it's been such a long time. But that's just how it is at the moment. I'm extremely sort of proud I can, every day I can come out and play sort of very good tennis. I have hardly had any terrible matches in the last years. That's quite incredible for me, too, because I had such a problem being consistent. Was a joke (smiling).
Q. Ivan was saying the other day that all the guys on tour have one thing in common, that they all play tennis and they lose to you. Do you feel like the tour is you and everybody else, or do you really feel like you're part of, I mean -- you know what I'm saying? You understand what he's talking about?
ROGER FEDERER: In a way, yes. I've won the last three Grand Slams and been so consistent the other ones, won so many titles. In a way, yes. In a way, no. Because Rafael had a fantastic season as well last year.
He's right behind me. But in a way, I got to say it's little bit true, yeah.
Q. How difficult is the adjustment from hard courts to clay courts? What is the most important element of the game, do you think, that is necessary for you to succeed?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, the footwork for me comes naturally, the sliding and stuff, backhand to the forehand side. Just little things you can change on the serve. But that also happens fairly quickly.
I used to always struggle on the return the most, I don't know why. But it's been like this since I'm 14 years old. I remember coach asking me, "So, what's the biggest problem for you on clay?" And I said, "Returning." He said, "It's way easier than on hard court."
I guess it's been like this for my entire life so that's going to take me a little bet to sort of get used to how exactly to return and stuff. Other than that, maybe transition to the net and stuff, you know. The balance on clay is obviously very important.
Q. Having had such a good hard court swing, is there any carry over to the clay court season or is it a completely different story when you start that?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I really believe that I can really carry this over to the clay court season. It's always way better when you win matches. Doesn't really matter what surface it is, you know. If you come and you really know you're hitting the ball well and you go on a totally different surface just for, I don't know, a week, you're gonna take that confidence over. So that's what I expect in Monte-Carlo for me to happen, but at the same time I know I gotta prepare in a totally different way, you know.
Q. Now that the tournament's over, are you warming up to instant replay or not?
ROGER FEDERER: Not quite, huh (smiling).
Q. Same reservation still?
ROGER FEDERER: What's that?
Q. Same reservations, or any suggestions for changes or tweaking?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it hasn't been much challenges, but I still feel - I don't know. I miss many calls, either my way or his way, whatever. I still believe you don't get every ball right, you know, still. People tell me I come off matches and I missed four calls, I'm like, "Where were they?" You know. It's not as simple as it seems.
I still believe you got to give it time and see if it's really reliable and everything. You know, it was all right, you know. I'm happy it's in the past right now.
Q. It seems the other players are more relaxed with the HawkEye, maybe you get a little bit more nervous with this. Is that right?
Q. No?
ROGER FEDERER: Was the case in the first round, yes. But after that, not anymore.
Q. Do you feel pressure? You're always expected to win every time you go out there. Ljubicic is a great player, has a great record. But everyone always expects you to win. Do you feel mounted pressure with all the wins?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, yeah, I guess. I mean, as we said before, it's tough to back it up all the time, you know. You always figure it's got to happen eventually, you know, you're not going to defend all your titles and you're not going to be in the finals anymore.
I wasn't that nervous going into the match today, but then I realized very quickly this is going to turn out to be a tough one. This is more when I started to get a little tense. But I think that's good, too.
Q. Did you enjoy the wave that the crowd put together?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, nice (smiling). Absolutely.
I mean, when the crowd gets into it, it's really nice feeling for both players of us. We don't mind waiting a few extra seconds and minutes, you know, till the wave comes down. So that's nice.
Q. You have such a phenomenal record in tiebreakers. Do you feel that when you arrive there, you feel, "Well, I've got him where I want him"? Are you looking for one mini-break and you figure that will take care of it? How do you play them?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I always believe one is not enough, you know. I believe serve is very important, you know, in the breaker. But even if that doesn't work, you know, I never panic, you know. I think that's the key in the end. You can't panic. You got to believe in your game, and that comes through confidence and knowing your game, you know, to a hundred percent. That's what I know about my game, what shot can I hit in what moment and what are the percentages. I think that's sort of what I calculate very good in that very moment, the split second I have.
But, again, tiebreakers, anything can happen. So I'm always a little bit worried also going into breakers, obviously.
Q. You said a few moments ago you can't remember when you were last dominated on the court. Can you point to a match and remember when you were, when you felt dominated on a tennis court.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, here last year in the final for almost three sets.
Q. An entire match?
ROGER FEDERER: Entire match, well, got to go back a long way (smiling).
Q. Will Tony Roche be with you for the clay court tournaments in Europe?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, he'll come with me to Rome and stay till Wimbledon, so that's, what, ten weeks.
Q. We know that you are going to be an ambassador for UNICEF. I would like to know what that means for you, that responsibility. Do you have a special cause you'd like to advocate for?
ROGER FEDERER: Actually, it's going to be tomorrow, Monday. I'm leaving tonight to New York.
Well, I'm very proud, you know, and honored to be the Goodwill Ambassador for the UNICEF. We share the same sort of vision, obviously. I'm very happy to see that they're working together with the ATP, too. I think that's a very important step, too.
So looking forward to the day, and, you know, try to help kids and children around the world.

End of FastScripts...

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