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June 25, 2006

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. Gives me great pleasure to present Roger Federer, three-time Wimbledon champion, defending champion. Who would like to kick off with questions?

Q. What was your reaction to Andre's announcement yesterday?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, only heard it briefly. Tell me what he said.

Q. He said this is his last Wimbledon, and then he'll retire after the US Open. He's going to play four hard court tournaments leading up to the Open.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think it's sort of nice to have some sort of an announcement so you know it's the last time he's showing up anywhere.
Look, obviously we are losing a big legend of the game, so it's never pleasant. But I think he's had a terrific career. I was lucky enough to play against him. Maybe we'll play more, you know, maybe here, maybe down in America.
But, yeah, definitely a great career.

Q. What do you enjoy watching most when you see him play?
ROGER FEDERER: Like what? What do you mean?

Q. In Andre's game, what is most striking for you as a fan?
ROGER FEDERER: He's aggressive non-stop, you know. That's his game. He's definitely not going to change it because of the opponent or anything. He always stays aggressive no matter how the opponent plays. That you have to admire.
He was one of the best returners in the game, obviously one of the most colorful personalities, you know, from going where he came from then coming all the way, still playing today, 36 years old. It's an incredible effort.

Q. He said when he won the French, he knew he could eventually retire with no regrets. What do you take from his experience in being able to finally win the French?
ROGER FEDERER: I didn't follow him that closely back then, obviously. But it is obviously an incredible achievement to win all four Grand Slams. I mean, it was also an incredible match, I remember. I think he was down two sets to love and came back and won.
It all worked out for him to win all the four Grand Slams, obviously, because he only won the French and Wimbledon once. The way he did it, you know, it was basically unexpected both times. To win Wimbledon, he beat Goran. Nobody really expected him to win here. To win at the French against Medvedev, that came as a surprise, too, although he should have won earlier. But like I said before, great career.

Q. Are you feeling differently yourself approaching Wimbledon? Do you feel like a man on the brink of Wimbledon history?
ROGER FEDERER: I feel very good actually coming back to this year's Wimbledon. I don't quite remember how it was last year. I remember the year before I was very nervous because of being the defending champion and everything. This year around I'm much more relaxed. I've had a great start to the season. I haven't had a match where I played poor all year long.
If I can maintain that level of play, obviously I'm also looking pretty good for Wimbledon this year.

Q. How much room for improvement do you think you have in your grass court game? Any?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, you can always change up things, right? But I'm definitely playing very well at the moment. It's just a matter of being consistent, you know, being able to play it often, the good game.
Grass is tough. You only get one month of opportunity a year. That can be over very quickly. I hope it's going to last a little longer than just this one week in Halle.

Q. How concerned are you about Andrei Shevchenko?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really. Worried about my opponent at the moment.

Q. Good time to be a Swiss sportsman?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. Great effort by the Swiss team obviously. We're all very happy. We have a great draw now. I hope we can take advantage of it.

Q. How much does the number of consecutive wins on grass record mean to you? Much was made about Nadal's on clay. Are you expecting a trophy presentation here if you win your first round match?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I wouldn't want one. Honestly, that is not the right thing to get a trophy for streaks. They did it at the French, which I thought was a little strange. Look, everyone does their thing. All the tournaments decide.
I know that this will never happen here in Wimbledon. I'm not even expecting it. I wouldn't want it either.

Q. Does that mean anything to you, matching that streak?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, it's sort of nice. That's about it (smiling).

Q. You say you wouldn't want a trophy for such an accomplishment. Why not?
ROGER FEDERER: Don't feel that's right. You get a trophy at the end of a tournament, not after a first-round win.

Q. How amazing was it that you won last week in Halle? A lot of people thought after the French, it's tough to change surfaces in so little time. How tired were you this week? Last year I know you were pretty tired.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I was very tired last year coming to the preparation week for Wimbledon. This year, I'm feeling fine. Very relieved that I didn't have to put up the poker face and say, look, I'm feeling great, but feeling terrible. Last year that was the case.
I guess, again, one year of more experience, more fit and everything. But Halle was a hell of an effort, I thought. To go there and play all the matches, especially the close ones, not only mentally but physically too. I had to be very careful I don't get injured and stuff.
To come out with the victory, coming here again very confident on grass, that's the best preparation I could have actually hoped for.

Q. When you say be careful not to get injured, how can you do that when you're playing a match?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, you've just got to warm up very well, make sure you do the exercises, take extra time for treatment before and after, that kind of thing. You tend to, after a Grand Slam is over, just to relax, say, Okay, the big one is over, now I can take a little more easy. Instead of going to take a massage, I can just go and sit on the couch.
I made sure I did all the right things, that I actually had a good Halle, and at the same time getting ready for Wimbledon.

Q. You have quite a tricky draw, first Gasquet, then possibly Tim Henman. How did you feel when you looked at the draw?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I was -- it's very hard. I think it's one of the toughest draws I've had in a long time. As a No. 1 seed and a seed in general, I think it's one of the toughest draws I've gotten.
But to win the tournament, you've got to beat everybody, so that's obviously my aim. But it's not an easy draw, that's for sure.

Q. You basically have two possible opponents. Their rankings are almost unrealistic to how they're playing.
ROGER FEDERER: Especially on grass. Gasquet should be higher ranked. Tim should be higher ranked. Soderling should be higher ranked. And they all can play on grass. It's a very tough little section there. You think once you get through those, it's getting easier, but it's not.
I've definitely got to play very well from the start. I mean, first thing's first. I would like to think of Henman's match. But Gasquet, he just won a tournament on grass. I just played him in Halle, almost lost. Better be careful.

Q. Where would you rank Richard among the grass players in the rankings.
ROGER FEDERER: Hard to say. You know, he's still very young. I mean, he's won Nottingham twice now, is that right? Not the strongest of tournaments, but it's still a good effort to win them. Somebody's got to do it, and he's the one. Seems like he's a little bit above, let's say, the average player.
He brings the talent with it, the natural talent, on grass. Anyway, I actually thought clay might be his strongest surface. Maybe it's not. He's been able now to show that he can actually play well on all surfaces. Hard court, obviously. But now grass and clay seem to him very natural. Reminds me a bit of me sometimes. It's definitely a tricky little first round there.

Q. Going back to your preparation, in view to what happened at the end of last year, are you now strapping both ankles?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, I am always, for every match. I've been doing that for quite some time now, to always both strap ankles for all my singles matches. It obviously happened in practice where I don't do it. Who knows if the tape would have saved me there. I don't know.

Q. How do you like the difference in prize money between men and women in Wimbledon?
ROGER FEDERER: There is a difference?

Q. There is a difference.
ROGER FEDERER: A small one (smiling).

Q. But it is a difference.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I don't think the players, we pay too much attention, if it's now £20,000 different if you win the title. If you make £400,000, if you make 420 or 400, I don't think it really makes a lot of difference for us. It's a lot of money.
Look, equal prize money or not, for me it doesn't matter.

Q. When you play Wimbledon, do you feel in some way supercharged? Do you feel a couple inches taller because you have such a great record here? Is there a comfort factor coming through the gates, being back here?
ROGER FEDERER: I feel comfortable being here as sort of a member of the club, feeling like I've had some fantastic years here. But I also had a few first-round losses. Many don't remember. But I lost in '99, the first round. 2000, the first round. 2002, the first round. I've also had a couple of tough years here.
I don't feel, how do you say, like nobody can beat. Nowhere I feel like this. I think it's the right approach to have. Because that means I would be underestimating other players, and that's what I'm not doing. I feel anybody, it's an open match. That's how I go into every match really.

Q. Some people would be frightened and intimidated by playing at Wimbledon. Clearly you don't feel that way.
ROGER FEDERER: But I had that problem, too. I had that first match I played here in Juniors. I remember I was so nervous that I couldn't believe -- I mean, first of all, I made it to Wimbledon, and then that -- I couldn't serve, I couldn't play from the baseline. I still ended up winning that first-round match, but I felt something I never felt before.
Obviously Wimbledon, for those who really think this is the biggest tournament in the world, which it is in my eyes, but it can be very intimidating. The white, the tradition, the fans, the grass, the whole thing, it's a tough, tough package. On top of that, maybe you have to play, you know, a great opponent, a hometown favorite or something, makes it even more different.

Q. To what degree have you replayed in your mind having been up a set in the French final and how have you moved forward from that so effectively?
ROGER FEDERER: Didn't understand, sorry.

Q. To what degree have you replayed in your mind having been up a set in the French Open final and what has propelled you forward after that heartbreaking loss?
ROGER FEDERER: Didn't think much about the match really. I came off it and thought a pity I couldn't play better. After such a start, usually I don't let it slip away. I knew I missed opportunities.
To cry after them for a long time, I knew that was not going to be the solution. Of course, I was disappointed during the trophy ceremony because I would have rather been there with the winner's trophy than the finalist's trophy.
I know Raf played well and he deserved the title. Sort of cooled off in that moment. Once you can walk off the court, it's another day at the office, but it was all right.

Q. When you were up a set, what were you thinking?
ROGER FEDERER: I was thinking I was in good shape.

Q. Do you think Agassi is the last guy who is going to seriously compete for Grand Slam titles at 35, 36 years old?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I don't think so. I think there will be down the road other guys playing at that age, too.

Q. Could you see yourself still having the physical and mental desire to keep pushing on at that stage?
ROGER FEDERER: Don't know. I mean, I've set my goals sort of to 2012 Olympics sort of here in Wimbledon. But then I'm 31. After that, you have to see how you feel. I mean, it's a long, hard road too then. It totally depends how you play an entire career. Sometimes motivation comes back, maybe eventually it totally goes away. At the moment I'm very motivated. I could see myself only playing 10 tournaments a year maybe for a couple of years maybe at the end of my career. You know, it depends if you have family, where you live, where you want to play, all this stuff. We'll see.

Q. What is the most difficult aspect of winning a Grand Slam for you?
ROGER FEDERER: Just the mental strength. You play, you talk a lot to the press, you have a day off to think about what happened, what's coming up. Having to get ready again, you know, having to play well again five sets, two weeks. The whole thing just makes it hard.
The pressure builds constantly from match to match. You always play a different style of players. With the weather, you never know either, especially here. It's underestimated what goes around the player through two weeks. Can't be injured, can't be sick, can't be this. I mean, it's tough. It's not only about how you play; it's about how you go at it also.

Q. Are you glad to see the clay court season end each year? Is it a relief to get on this surface again or is it not that big a deal?
ROGER FEDERER: I enjoy the clay court season. But there's definitely an incredible amount of talk about it because between the Australian Open and the French Open, you have so much time to talk about clay. All you do is talk about clay. Obviously, you're happy then once that's over so you can have a rest for about six months talking about clay, which is pretty good (smiling). Then the grass comes around, finally grass is here. You hope it's not over in a hurry.

Q. Referring to those first-round losses, do you feel like you're more vulnerable in a first-round match than you are midway through a tournament before you get your rhythm and real feel of the courts?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I wouldn't say that. Any more I feel like I've hardly lost in the first round in a long, long time. I know it could happen at any moment. I usually know the draws are easier in the first rounds than they are down the road. It's really not fair to say that I'm more vulnerable in the beginning or the end. I think it's everywhere the same.

Q. The memories of the first-round losses, are they as vivid to you as your triumphs here at Wimbledon or do they tend to fade a bit?

Q. Do you remember the bad times more vividly than the good times? Do you remember the first-round losses as your wins here?
ROGER FEDERER: No. The match I played against Kafelnikov was a great experience for me, first time to play on Court No. 1. First time I played on a show court here. In '99 I think I played on Court 6 against Novak. It was a five-setter. I was happy to play five sets. I wasn't really the big favorite. Obviously, when I came here the year after, I beat Sampras. I lost to Ancic. I underestimated him. He played very well.
I mean, that match really hurt, that Ancic match. But the other ones were no problems. Obviously, I had so much success here, when I come to Wimbledon, I don't think of the first-round losses, I think of the wins of course.

Q. After what happened in Roland Garros, do you think David Nalbandian won't upset you any more? Do you think there could be a final between you and him?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't even know where he is in the draw. Is he in my section?

Q. Yes.
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know how he's doing, first of all, because of his abdominal. Is he okay or no.

Q. I think it's okay.
ROGER FEDERER: I hope it's okay for him. He can play very well on all surfaces. I think we'll play more often. He should have beaten me at the French. I got lucky to get out of that match. I fought hard, it paid off. A little lucky, of course.
No, I think we'll play more often. Still very hard-fought matches. I don't feel like I'm dominating him.

Q. Is Andy Roddick as much of a threat this year at Wimbledon as he was to you the last two years?

Q. Because why?
ROGER FEDERER: Because of his game and of his name and because of his experience, what he's achieved on grass the last few years. Just because he lost a grass court match not against me doesn't mean he can't play on grass any more, so...

Q. You think it's possible for guys to turn around their seasons in a particular tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, yeah, a guy like him especially. The former No. 1's, the former Grand Slam champions, any tournament they can all of a sudden turn it around and win and be extremely dangerous and tough. No different for Andy.

Q. Do you ever have any nightmares about playing Henman early on and losing to him in front of all these fans?
ROGER FEDERER: No. I used to have nightmares about Tim and other players, but not any more. We get along well (smiling). He's in the positive section of dreams now. I always tended to think those who beat me are not nice guys. That's not the case any more.

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