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August 13, 2006

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: With the win today, Roger captures his 40th career title, his 11th in an ATP Masters Series, which is second best with Pete Sampras all time since 1990. Also he's won his seventh title of the year, which is best on the ATP circuit.
Questions for Roger.

Q. I guess this is 54 consecutive matches for you in North America. Why have you been so dominant on this continent?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know, because I was really struggling over here in the beginning of my career. I thought it was always too windy, too humid, too hot, too not my style. Now all of a sudden I've turned this all around. I really enjoy playing here. The night sessions I like. I couldn't play before in the night either.
I guess it's just a question of getting used to it, a habit, you know, making a habit of playing over here. Also big secret for me was actually to arrive early at the tournaments, get over the jetlag. That's what I was not really doing before. I would arrive maybe Saturday, couple days before my first round, and I would wonder why I was so tired in the first round all the time.
I've changed a few things. It's been paying off like crazy really (smiling).

Q. When you were a set and Love-40 down in the second set, what were you telling yourself to do?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. Better wake up or do something because that was a shocking game till Love-40, too. I think I served a double-fault, missed an easy forehand, missed a backhand. In no time it was Love-40.
I couldn't believe I started the second set so bad. That's like a key moment of the match. At the same time, you know, by giving yourself a Love-40, you can also take away his confidence by coming back in that game and winning that game, make him start doubting himself, like that was maybe his big opportunity.
That's exactly what happened. I mean, he had to pay the price very hard obviously by not in the end winning the tournament. For me that was definitely the turning point, after missing my opportunity really to come back in the set at Love-40 at one stage.

Q. You also played a lot better after that. Why was that? Was it mental?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I just couldn't really get comfortable in the beginning. I mean, first of all, he was playing well. That's one thing for sure. Maybe the night/day session, I couldn't make the transition that good. The sun was out there when I was serving this time around. Changed a lot of things.
You know, Richard was playing well. I was missing my opportunities, too. All of a sudden he was on fire and played some incredible shots. It's obvious you're going to lose a set.
A little lucky here and there. In the end, a fantastic win for me, fantastic tournament. I did it again, so it's fantastic (smiling).

Q. Four times this week you've been taken to three sets by your opponents. It's almost as if you're teasing them, I'll give you a chance, but I know how this is going to finish. Can you explain the way the tournament has gone for you? Is that coincidence or is there more to it?
ROGER FEDERER: I actually had a feeling like I was serving and playing better from the baseline the beginning of the tournament. As the three-setters started coming in, I was not feeling that great. The victories more came through fighting, through trying to make every shot, trying to not play so fancy any more because I was obviously in a struggle.
I thought the beginning was actually better than the end, which is actually not the way it is for me. Usually I start to play really well from quarters on, semis on.
It's actually been a very interesting week for me, to come through. It was a physical test, too, a mental test. In the end today especially it was very close coming back from losing the first set.

Q. How far do you think a player like Gasquet is from catching up to you? You seem to have an amazing mental advantage over him and other guys. How far are these guys?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, you got to talk not about the No. 1, you have to talk first top 10 and then top five. I think he hasn't been able to do yet. You got to keep it in perspective.
I think he's got the potential to go very high up in the rankings. It's his second Masters Series final already at a young age, to me in Hamburg and then to me here. I think if he keeps playing so well every week, he'll eventually win one of these big tournaments.
Yeah, I saw him already one year ago actually as a top 10 player. It shows how tough it is, especially for young guys. It's good, they're all very dangerous on the day, in the end the difference makes the guy who can back it up day in, day out. I think that's what he's starting to do. I think that's why we'll see much, much more from him in the future.

Q. Did he play well enough to beat you in the first set or did you beat yourself in the first set?
ROGER FEDERER: I think he was playing really well. I think he was consistent, playing aggressive, hitting his shots when he had to, serving solid. He was the best returner I think for the whole entire tournament. I knew that coming in it's going to be tougher to hold my serve and everything.
I definitely had to get used to his game a bit because I didn't know if he was going to stand far back or go in because he's got the option to do both. That kept me a little off guard. That's the strength in his game. He's not so predictable. That's what made me struggle today.

Q. Why is it that when you do show signs of perhaps being vulnerable, you kind of shut down those signs? What is it about you?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. I just have a very strong belief in my capabilities, you know, in not showing my opponent how I feel, fighting like crazy even though it doesn't look like I am maybe because I have such a relaxed style of play.
I just always do believe that I can turn any match around. That's what happened today. I know that once I turn it around, once I would take the lead, then it would be very difficult for my opponent. That's what I always tell myself. Maybe it's an illusion sometimes, but it definitely works.

Q. Is there any disappointment on your part not to have faced Nadal in the final? Here is the one guy who has maybe shown you do have some vulnerability.
ROGER FEDERER: You know, honestly I don't care too much, you know, to play Nadal. I care about winning the title, playing well in the matches. It happens that he's in the other final, on the other side of the net, that's good. I mean, it's nice, you know, everybody talks about the rivalry. Of course, it's interesting and everything. But in the end for me, important is to win a title, not to beat him. That's just my way of looking at it.

Q. This is your 40th career title. Does it get sweeter as you tally up the number?
ROGER FEDERER: This one seems like it takes a while to realize I've won the title somehow. It all happened quickly in the end. Posing there with the trophy, I'm like, geez, I'm already the champ, you know. Not like it went quick or anything. I had to fight for it. But still I got back in the locker room. I was still like, That's it. Is it all over? This one seems like it's taken a while to really kind of sink in.
But 40 titles sounds great. I'm very, very happy about that. It's a great week for me here in Canada. I'm happy I could come back this year. I'm looking forward now to the rest of the hard court season, Cincinnati and the US Open.

Q. You talk about your self-belief. We've seen that a lot this week as you've won third sets. When was the last time that was truly shaken?
ROGER FEDERER: In Halle. I played four three-setters in a row. I played Gasquet, Rochus, Haas and Berdych. Should have been out really in the quarters against Rochus. He had match points, points for double break in the third and everything. I got really lucky in that match.
There, especially after the French Open, you're coming on the grass feeling tired and exhausted. I mean, that was even a harder tournament for me than this one actually.

Q. After playing González yesterday, was it difficult initially in the match adjusting to Gasquet's style of play?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, usually no because they both one-handers, they both have good forehands, play pretty similar actually in a way. Just that, you know, maybe Gasquet's strength is more on the backhand side, whereas González is more on the forehand.
I think the transition for me maybe night to day was more crucial today. At the same time, you know, every match just turns out to be different. If you choose a different tactic or if you're just not hitting the ball that well, the result changes very, very quickly. Richard did very well I think for a set and a half. Maybe he didn't quite believe in the very end that he could beat me.

Q. Can you confirm you will be in Cincinnati next week to try and tie Lendl's record of 18 consecutive finals?
ROGER FEDERER: About the final, I don't know, but I'll be there to play (smiling). I hope I can tie it up, yeah.

Q. Can you talk about the Canadian experience, the difference you find here from perhaps what you find from American fans? Can you talk about the fans, the welcome, the whole Toronto experience, good and if necessary bad.
ROGER FEDERER: No bad stuff, no. That's very positive. No, I actually start to really like the city of Toronto. Unfortunately, I've only been once to Montréal. But I also enjoyed that.
You know, the fans are very different everywhere around the world, where you go. It really depends on the stadium, what kind of city you're in, what is the hype about the tennis in that city.
Here I feel like this stadium makes a great atmosphere. Every time I played, I mean, of course it was the match of the day almost every time. They came out every time in big crowds. I thought, especially in the beginning of the tournament, they were really excited to see me back here in Canada. That I really appreciated very much.
In the end, to come up and win the tournament, kind of thanking them for their support, it's fantastic. Like I said, I think the city is nice. Shopping. It seems very friendly place. Yeah, could come here for vacation maybe one day, who knows.

Q. For a guy who wins as many tournaments as you do, where does this one rank? How do you keep track of them all?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm very well aware of what tournaments I have won. They all feel different but very good, of course. Your wish is always to do well. The dream is then to win the tournament. It's so hard to say to yourself, my goal is to win the tournament. It's just not the way it is. You have to be careful, focus on everything from the first round on.
This one ranks for me very high every time. Masters Series is big. The six matches in six days against all let's say top 50 players, that is tough stuff. For me this is a big tournament, big win.

Q. Overall, the year that you're having, were you surprised how well you did in this tournament after taking a month off?
ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, yes and no, because I know about my hard court record, especially here in North America. It's been I think the best start for sure to the year for me. I've been only in finals. I've only lost to one player. I know that coming in here I was going to probably play a good tournament, but then there's always doubt that after a month break you're not going to play the same. That's what you're more scared of, you know, because in practice everything is fine, but a match is different.
I had kind of a good feeling. Never sure. To come again here and win, it's a bit of a surprise really.

Q. Looking ahead to the US Open, given your experience here, is there anything you feel you need to tighten, to work on a little bit, to sharpen your game?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think I can just play better on each and every point. I think I played a couple of loose points here and there throughout the tournament. I think out of at least four three-set matches, I could have definitely cut out two, that could have gone two sets. In the end I'm happy I came through after all.
I think that's maybe what I do a bit better at slams. I concentrate even harder. I'm even more concentrated on each and every point. That makes in the end the match, you know, go even easier.
Look, maybe the opponents played well again this week. It was hard. There's little things I can improve, just a feel for the ball. I just think I need some more practice and some more matches, then I can play even better.
The way I'm playing right now, it seems like it's good enough.

Q. How far are you from your top form?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I think I'm playing very well. It's just maybe that this surface was very slow. I had to be very patient. In the beginning of the week, I got here, I served 14 aces against Mathieu. I was teeing off from the baseline, hitting great forehands and everything, backhand side. All of a sudden I found myself not being able to hit so many aces any more, not feeling myself like I can hit that forehand every time like the way I wanted to because the opponents are getting tougher, the surface seems now slower after all and everything.
It's kind of a funny week for me really. I thought the conditions were quite fast in the beginning. It turned out to be really slow in the end. I think now Cincinnati and the US Open is a big quicker. That's maybe going to suit my game even better. Who knows.

Q. Do you have to guard at all against overconfidence? The questions we ask are all very adoring. You said you only lost to one player. You don't seem to take these guys for granted. Is that part of what puts you where you are?
ROGER FEDERER: Maybe it's because I used to underestimate many opponents coming on the tour. I remember in juniors it happened to me. On the ATP Tour level I would think this guy has a weird technique, he can't beat me. I have a beautiful technique. The next thing I know I lose 1-2 because I totally lost it on the court.
I paid many times very hard for not really respecting my opponent enough, I would think. Not in a bad way, but just his game. I've totally stopped doing that. That's what's actually now in a kind of way paying off for me now that I don't underestimate anybody anymore.

End of FastScripts...

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