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September 11, 2006

Roger Federer

A post-match interview with Roger Federer

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Congratulations.
ROGER FEDERER: Thank you (smiling).

Q. Out on the court, if I heard you correctly, you said it was the most pleasurable Grand Slam final in your career. If you could elaborate a bit on that and sort of your emotions after the win.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, what I meant with it is maybe the most well, I think depending on how you look at it, but the most special one for me, you know, to play Andre in the final of the US Open. Still maybe one of the only living legends in tennis we still have, you know, next to Martina Navratilova on the women's side, and him.
To play him, you know, in this situation, you know, him being towards the end of his career, me being on the top of my game, and getting the chance to play him on such an occasion, that's what I meant with it being really special today. I mean, I couldn't speak too much yesterday, you know, looking into it, because, you know, I still had to focus on the match.
But I knew that this was going to be very special.

Q. That living legend just said you were the best tennis player he ever played and reiterated it at least two times in his press conference. How does that make you feel?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, nice. He's given me many nice compliments over the years, so I really appreciate that.
Yeah, I'm amazed I could hang with him throughout the last few years with him. You know, he got me a few times early in my career where he made me look like a little schoolboy. Now that I could turn it around, it's for me fantastic. So sort of we can have an even battle, you know. It's really nice.
I look up to him, you know, because he's been around for so long, and for his results. So a lot of respect from my side.

Q. Talking about legends, in 2003 you beat Pete Sampras in Wimbledon. He was an icon at that time.

Q. 2001, okay. He was kind of untouchable there. Now you beat another icon. How do you rate these two matches? Does it mean the same for you?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I was much more nervous going into the Sampras match, obviously. Not only was that the first time I ever played Sampras, it was the only time as well, but also my first time on Centre Court at Wimbledon. Obviously, that is very special.
So it's very different, you know, Wimbledon, US Open, finals, you know, fourth round. So it's hard to compare those two.
But for me, I've always looked much more up to Sampras than to Agassi. Didn't pay that much attention to Agassi, but thank God he was around longer so I got to know him better for his results, for him as a person. Now I enjoy playing as much against him like when I did against Pete.

Q. You've got six Grand Slam titles now, so you join with Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker. They're your idols.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, they're my idols.

Q. How do you feel?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, that's fantastic. When I heard that today, that was for me something very special because, yeah, tying your idols, isn't that great? You know, I think it's every little boy's dream. I made it come true today in a memorable final for me, and I still got something left I think in my career.
So hopefully I can beat those records. That will be even better (smiling).

Q. It seems like you are always unbeatable. What do you think it takes to beat you besides luck?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, well, the three matches I lost, and two of them I had matchpoint, you know, so they got a little lucky.
But, no, I don't know really. I amaze myself that I can back it up one tournament after another, keep on playing so well, and especially on hard court and grass court. Clay obviously is a little bit of a different story. But still also there I gave myself a chance to win the French.
But, yeah, I wonder why I always play so well, and especially on the big occasions, like I said on center court. It just seems to click for me. It's really through, I think when I was down 4 2 in the third, I really started to feel like my serve's coming back, you know. That's the first time I felt that throughout the whole tournament. That it happened then, I was quite pleased about that.

Q. It seems like you didn't go to the net as much as you usually do. At the end of the second set, you didn't have one point at the net.
ROGER FEDERER: Did I win it?

Q. No, no, you didn't have any the second set.
ROGER FEDERER: Not any, okay, okay.

Q. Was Andre forcing you to do that?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, obviously it's hard to attack on his shots because it's so flat and deep. So obviously that's not a shot where you can approach on.
He's very good on defense. You know, he plays the angles very well, so it makes it hard to come to the net. I wasn't in the mood to serve and volley too much, so I wanted to stick with him from the baseline and try to come through this way.
In the end, it's the result in the end that matters. So I'm very pleased. Obviously, I wish I could be serve and volleying, too, but right now I don't think I would.

Q. You talked about how some of the players you faced and beaten are your idols. Andre is in that category. Was there any point today when you looked across the net and thought, "Maybe I should just let the old man have one"?
ROGER FEDERER: No (smiling). No, that really only happened this one time when I played Sampras. I was warming up and, you know, I looked across the net and I couldn't believe it was Sampras, you know. That's the only time it really happened.
I had some when the draw came out in Basel back in '99, you know, I couldn't believe I was going to play Agassi. I thought, "Okay," he was on his way back, but still he was a superstar. For me to play him then, that was very special.
Once you play more than I don't know how many times, it's still special. But it's not you don't fear anybody anymore. You still have the respect, but it's a match like another one as well. Circumstances are very different. 24,000 people are behind him. It's the finals, you know. So, no, I didn't have that feeling.

Q. I am from Russia and I think that Marat Safin is the single rival for you. Is that correct?
ROGER FEDERER: (Smiling). I wish I could say yes for you, but... (laughter).
I feel like there's a whole group of guys chasing me right now. He's one of them, let's put it that way.

Q. We love you in Russia.
I didn't understand, but all right (laughter).

Q. We love you in Russia.
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, is that what it is? All right. Thank you (smiling).

Q. Could you just take a moment and talk about the one or two qualities you most respected in Pete and the one or two qualities that you most respect in Andre.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I can only go as far as players, you know. I don't know them good enough personally, so that would be something strange for me to do, you know, to tell them how they are, their character is. I can only tell you how they are on the court.
They both seem very respectful, you know, to the game and to their opponents. Obviously, they have a very different game. I think we see both games, they're very dominant in what they do: Agassi from the baseline, and Pete at the net and with his serve, you know. So they have totally different qualities, but they had similar careers.
For me, Sampras' career is quite extraordinary, you know. So it's hard to compare, you know, one to the other. I think that would be also wrong to do, but I think it's great they had such a fantastic rivalry throughout the years, you know.
Obviously, as soon as Andre goes for me, also it's a pity that he goes because I wish I could play more of him.

Q. Did you learn anything about yourself these past two weeks, and did you learn anything about your game during this tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I was playing to win, basically, so it wasn't how should I say? I wasn't trying out things, you know. I'm saying it's just too important to actually change up your game. In the beginning of the tournament I wish I could play a little bit more aggressive, but that somehow didn't really work for me, so I had to really be careful. I played a few tricky matches, you know, with Santoro and Rochus and Kiefer. I lost maybe my game a little bit throughout those matches.
But bounced back well with Nalbandian. It was a tough one against Hewitt.
So I really played to win. I'm happy that worked out. Especially today, I really started to feel like I can play more aggressive return, play a more defensive return. Today is really the first time I felt like I can actually use all my shots, and that wasn't the case up until this match today.

Q. How are you going to celebrate this title? Will you go back to Switzerland? What are your plans?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, well, that's the plan, you know. I've got Davis Cup back in Geneva coming in a little bit, ten days' time or so.
Yeah, I'm not making any detour. I'm going straight to Switzerland from here.

Q. New Yorkers are usually a generous crowd. Today did Andre's fan club bother you?
ROGER FEDERER: They were very generous for him, yeah (smiling).

Q. That's what I mean. Did it bother you?
ROGER FEDERER: No, it was all right. It was little bit more than I expected on his side, but, you know, that's I guess how it is.
But no problems. I still enjoyed every second.

Q. Do you feel yourself as the best player in the world?

Q. Do you feel like the best player in the world?
ROGER FEDERER: Right now, yeah (smiling). But the best player of this generation, yes. But not nowhere close to ever, because, yeah, just look at the records that some guys have. I'm a little kooky (smiling).

Q. Twenty three wins in the final. Breaking the record of Borg and McEnroe. You are the best player ever.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, in this in this particular stats, yes. Also maybe final appearances and final wins, you know, the winning percentage, in Grand Slam finals. There's records I'm proud of. I'm happy I have some records because it makes it more fun for me, you know, not only to play against the other guys, sometimes to play against history occasionally.
I still cannot believe how well I've been playing over the last few years and that it just keeps on going, you know. It's incredible because last year was fantastic with the three Grand Slams and the Masters Cup and all the other titles. Now to back it up with an almost same fantastic season, you know, even have chance to maybe improve it.
But after the two first semifinals, you know, in Grand Slams this year, to come back and win the next two, it's for me quite a surprise no matter what.

Q. Are you going back to Thailand to play the Thailand Open?

Q. What do you expect for this?
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, it was a great tournament they had last year. I really enjoyed it. It was a tough field. We had a great semifinals with Paradorn and Marat and Andy in the semis, and myself.
I think I really like Thai people, you know, so I guess that's also one of the reasons why I'm going back there.

Q. A lot of people, when they first look at your game, just say, "Fantastic, this guy is the ultimate shot maker," and just put you way at the top. Now you're winning title after title, the weeks at No. 1, three Wimbledons, back to back, etc. and now Andre comes in and says you're the best he's ever played. At what point will you just say, "Okay, I'm the best"?
ROGER FEDERER: Hmm... well, he just played me, you know, so I don't know. If it changes if you ask him in five years' time, you know.
Him saying that I'm, let's say, better than Sampras, you know, I'm little surprised, you know. But, you know, he says what he thinks is right, you know. I don't think he would be lying in here. Yeah, I appreciate it very much. It's fantastic to be compared to all the players he's played, you know, throughout his career. We're talking about the best, you know, some are the best in the world or of all time. To be compared to those is great, you know. And it's still going, so I still have chances to get there and to improve.

Q. Was there ever a point where you didn't want to play tennis, or you had other interests in life and now when you reflect back on that are you glad that you stuck with it?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, there's always times I think in a player's career where he just wants to do something else or walk away from the game because too many losses, too much traveling, whatever, you know.
So I was joking around quite serious at one stage I thought, you know, just hang up my racquet and go away and just not be so frustrated. That was back in maybe '99, when I almost cracked the Top 100 and was stuck at 120 in the world for about six months and was just not good enough, basically, to make the next step. That was for me very hard. I really thought I tried to work extra hard on it. The work didn't pay off straight away.
But then, you know, when the wins come back and also the pleasure obviously comes. Everything is much easier.
So for me then to have cracked the Top 10 and win Wimbledon, that really gave me a boost. Now I look back and go, "What the hell did I do before? Why didn't I enjoy tennis before?" It's crazy that it needs a Wimbledon championships sometimes for me to realize that.

Q. Which of the younger players do you foresee can give you trouble in the near future, if any?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, we have quite a few around. I think the two guys who beat me this year, Gasquet and Nadal.

Q. The fact that this hasn't been asked 9/11, playing on the 11th of September, playing against an American legend, I mean, you could feel quite a bit of palpable patriotism out on the court today. Any special reflections?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, the date, obviously, is hard. Not only for Americans, I think for the whole world to see that.

But I think, you know, people came to see tennis, you know, and for me, I saw the greater matchup with Andre in the US Open finals more than the date. That is left for those who are very sad, you know.
I didn't lose any close friends, so for me it's different. But everybody was shocked, you know, obviously. I think once we were out there, it was a normal sort of thing, you know, just that they were backing him up like crazy, which I totally understand, because they wanted him to win so badly. That's the usual thing that happens.

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