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August 7, 2006

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Roger.

Q. What have you been doing since Wimbledon?
ROGER FEDERER: I had a good break. It was nice. I spent my time in Dubai. Nice and hot, same as last year. I had a buildup. Tony was there, Pierre was there, my condition trainer. I had holidays. It was nice with Mirka, nice and relaxing. Really savored the Wimbledon win. It was nice.

Q. How long were you in Dubai?
ROGER FEDERER: I was there for three weeks.

Q. Until last week?
ROGER FEDERER: I left on Friday.

Q. Are you relaxed, refreshed, new season? How are you feeling after the work and the rest?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I'm feeling actually physically very good. I was very surprised how well I felt after the hard really clay court season and then backing it up through Halle and Wimbledon. Came out of Wimbledon, and I didn't even feel that tired. That really gives me a sign I've really improved physically. Mentally I know what I can handle now. That was a great sign for me.
I was on vacation. A few days into vacation, I was ready to move again, whereas usually I can't even get myself to the beach or anything. This time around, I'm much more better and everything. I didn't have to heal anything like last year, you know, where I had the feet and everything. I'm happy to be back playing quickly again after Wimbledon.

Q. Pretty pleased with the way you're stacking up right now going into this four or five weeks?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I had my best start to the season with the three finals of the Grand Slams, winning two, winning so many other titles, only losing to one player. It's been the best start to any season for me.
I hope I can back it up. This is usually a season where I play well. This is not America, but I haven't lost in the States for a very long time. Last time I was here I won, too. Feel very confident obviously. I haven't been playing for four weeks competitive tennis. You always have to get into it. The draw, as usual in a Masters, here is difficult. I hope I get off to a good start. That's my only concern right now.
If I get further down into the tournament, I will already be quite happy if I make the semifinals and then kind of work my way into a tournament. First thing's first. The first round is crucial.

Q. The rivalry with Rafael, is that overhyped or overblown or is it good for men's tennis?
ROGER FEDERER: I think it deserves the attention because, I mean, we've been playing so good for really the last one and a half years. I mean, me longer. But he's really been coming along since his French Open win back in '05. He's been able to back it up on clay and then also he started, for me obviously, to improve on hard court and on grass. The difference is not that big any more. It's not that fast like it used to be. He's such a good player that he's been able to play quite comfortably finals in a row.
We've had so many finals this year, which is good for the sport I think. Over the last few Grand Slams and Masters Series, we've been able to win every one of them. I think for this reason, playing back-to-back Grand Slam finals in a row, helps that equation. On top of that, he's been No. 2 in the world. He's been able to beat me more than I've been able to beat him. That's something hasn't happened for a long time, you know, since I'm No. 1. So I think that's why the attention's so big.
Like I say, I think it's deserved.

Q. Being the world No. 1 player, do you have any sense of responsibility to the tour as a representative of tennis, as a representative of men's tennis?
ROGER FEDERER: Absolutely. I kind of really started to find out about that once I turned No. 1 in the world. That was for me a very special moment at the Australian Open in '04. I felt it right after. I was being asked many more questions about different things not related to tennis, then a lot of things also about tennis. They really cared all of a sudden what I had to say. I only maybe realized in what a position I was later on, you know, a few months after that.
I think it's very important for the No. 1 player in the world, you know, to represent the sport as good as he can. With winning I think the Laureus award, I think that's also very nice for tennis. On top of that, Raf won the newcomer this year. So for this reason I think really tennis is on a high right now.
For me, during this period of time, being No. 1 in the world, is very nice.

Q. Putting aside the rivalry, a lot of talk has been had about you being the best player ever. What is your take on all that discussion?
ROGER FEDERER: Hard to say. I think today we don't know who was the best ever, with the Open era, the amateurs, everything. It makes it very hard to understand who really was the best.
I think once I'm all done, too, we still won't know. That will always stay a secret. I think that's kind of nice about tennis, you know. Some have been No. 1 for the longest of time, some have won more titles, some have won more Grand Slams and so forth.
I'm definitely in the league right now because people say I'm halfway. If you go double that all up, all of a sudden I'm very, very high up there, you know.
Still a long way ago. Another five or six years at the highest of levels. That's the tough part. Not allowed to get injured. So very, very pleased how my career has been so far. I hope I can keep it up.

Q. I take it you define greatest of all times a total number of Grand Slam victories? The natural comparisons have been with you and Sampras. What is your take on that? This is a guy you played. How do you stack up you in your prime versus him in his prime? Who wins that match?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, the Grand Slams, there's obviously the most important tournaments. I really try just not to say like I have to beat that record, other athletes like maybe Tiger does. I feel like maybe it would be empty after the 14th Grand Slam, if I will ever get there. For me, it's not the most important. For me, it's just in general the tour, enjoy my time, and also try to win every event and be as well-prepared as I can.
Grand Slams is obviously the main -- always the peaks of the season, but I don't try to look at them like total failure if you don't win them. So I try to see it different.
About Sampras, I mean, it's always funny, when you are No. 1 and you're playing the best, you say you're the best ever. I think it would be the same as the next guy. Then you actually always tend to forget how really good Sampras was. When you saw him play back then, I mean, he was unbreakable, put so much pressure on you by serving so well. He was such a good athlete, he would make things hard.
Probably a very even battle because he would be so hard to beat.

Q. Looking ahead to tomorrow night, you're scheduled to take part in the opening ceremonies celebrating the 125th anniversary. How do you feel about it, being someone who has a great appreciation for tennis history? Ivan Lendl, Roy Emerson are joining in. What are your feelings going into that?
ROGER FEDERER: I was excited, first of all, to hear they're coming. It's not always the usual that they make the trip. For me it's different. I'm right here. They have to travel here, get organized really. For me to always see them again, I've only met Ivan once, that was at the US Open last year, I saw him before the Open briefly, then I obviously saw him on court with Andre just before the finals.
Emerson, I've seen him a few times in Gstaad. The center court is named after him. He helped me to milk my cow back then because he was a farmer and everything. That was kind of nice. With having Tony Roche as a coach, he told me many things about either one of them. It's very nice to finally get to see them again.

Q. Some people said you're at the top of your game, but you've also kind of reached a plateau. What do you say about that? Do you have more to improve on? What more can you add?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I practice every day, try to get better because I can't just be happy the way I'm playing. People start to figure you out. They start to also improve. In the end, they're going to beat you and you have nothing to do any more. You have to do the hard work, and then it's too late maybe. So I always try to improve.
I think my game allows me to improve a lot really, even though it's just little things that's going to make a difference at this stage. I'm not going to start changing my technique and start changing my game style incredibly. It's really the little things that's going to make the difference at this stage.
It's kind of not like when you were 18, when you say, okay, I think you should give a little more on your forehand, and all of a sudden the result is so different. I'm not at this stage any more.
I know what I can do, what I don't do so well, and you try to improve both things. For me it's been working the last few years.

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