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August 30, 2006

Roger Federer

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Roger, is this the right way to start the tournament off, with a win like this?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I thought I was always in control, obviously, you know, because I always got to break first in the set, and that was always the first game of the set. So that obviously always helps.
Yeah, I thought I played pretty well. Not too many mistakes. I played aggressive, and it worked out. So it was a good match all in all, definitely.

Q. Of all the matches you've played in your life, is there two or three, maybe, where everything was feeling real good? The best you ever felt on court. Any matches come to mind?
ROGER FEDERER: Probably had a few matches like the finals in Wimbledon against Andy. Finals here at the Open against Hewitt. There were moments where I really felt like I was playing unbelievable, you know, and everything I wanted to do kind of worked, you know.
Didn't feel like this today out there, but I definitely felt good.

Q. Marat was in here earlier and was asked the question, you know, what's happened to him since his victory here and why is it he didn't live up to expectations. In a sort of humorous way, he said this guy Roger Federer came along and he certainly made it more difficult for all of us. He's not the only one to say that. I cover golf tournaments as well. People talk about Tiger Woods and having to play in his era. Do you have a sense that you have that kind of impact on the other players on tour, and if you could just comment on how that makes you feel, to be the dominant player right now, also in the consciousness of players?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, no, this is a long thing you have to build up. Doesn't go, you know, overnight because then the players just think, Okay, maybe he's won a couple of Slams and everything, but let's see if he can back it up, back it up. If you start doing it over I think three years or so, it really shows that you're very tough to beat. You know you've proven yourself over and over again. That's why I am right now, you know, in my career.
The hard work has all paid off so far, you know, and now I'm always in the position where I'm the big, big favorite for every tournament I play. That, obviously, has been tough sometimes for other players.

Q. You seem to handle that stoically. It has to be a tremendous amount of pressure.
ROGER FEDERER: It depends how you look at it, you know. I say I always prefer to be the favorite than the underdog. That's definitely worked out for me since I became No. 1. I never lost that spot and never looked back. That gave me more confidence than pressure really.

Q. Are you enjoying your tennis career more now than you ever have?
ROGER FEDERER: It's totally different now to the beginning. In the beginning you're trying to feel your way into the tour, trying to look for friends, trying to understand the way it runs. You know, trying to get to know the center courts, the fans, how does the whole thing work.
By the time you find out, you know, you're in the early 20s, and then the pressure builds up on you, you know. Through the media, they want you to have results and everything, so you're more thinking about these kind of things.
Whereas now, I really concentrate on how I need to get ready for a tournament. I know exactly what to expect. So it's a whole lot easier now than it used to be.

Q. You spoke a moment ago of times when you played extraordinarily well. At that moment when it's all coming together, can you describe that? Is there a feeling of lightness? Is there a feeling of joy? Is everything effortless? Can you try and share with us what that moment is like when you're playing like that.
ROGER FEDERER: No, I guess it's just a feeling you get inside, you know, every time you have a chance to attack, you never lose a point. In defense, you believe in your capabilities of coming up with a great shot at the right time. Big points, you know you're gonna serve well.
You have a feeling in the baseline rallies that everything is slowed down for you and for the other guy it's quicker, you know. Feelings like this then make you just play fantastic tennis.

Q. You pick up a ball quicker, more easily. Is that part of it, too?
ROGER FEDERER: Because you played the right way, because you played the correct shot at the right time and all this stuff, and then in the end it can't surprise you so much anymore. After that, you read the game very well. Ends up being a deadly combination.

Q. At this point in time when you come to the US Open, do you think to yourself, If I make the final I hope I'm looking at Rafael Nadal, because you have set yourself so far apart from the field?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I'm more concerned about my path, trying to make it there. I think the draws for both of us are pretty good, you know. No, I mean, I don't think of playing him right now, not at all, because it's just too long of a road, you know.
Not only I have to get there, but him, as well. Just the other 126 players don't agree with that, so they will try to not make it happen.

Q. What can you say about Andre Agassi's first match and the fight he's doing to play the tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I enjoyed his match a lot. I thought it was a great match, you know, with great rallies and a great rhythm. You know, what a turnaround it was in the third set. He was under a lot of pressure in the second, then in the third.
To come through, that was the difference. That's really what I was hoping for for Agassi, that at least he get through the first. From then on it's a whole lot easier it seems for me.
Now he plays an up and coming youngster. I think that's going to be a terrific match. Definitely am going to watch that one as well.

Q. The women are trying this on court coaching issue. What do you think about coaching in tennis? Is it a good idea? Is it a silly idea? What do you think?
ROGER FEDERER: What do you think I think (smiling)?
I think it's a joke.

Q. Why?
ROGER FEDERER: 'Cause we don't need it. We will be the only sport who doesn't have it, and I think that's good about it. You don't need to be like the other sports.

Q. Do you think it goes against the essence of tennis as you understand it? I mean, the fact that it's one person out there and you have to think for yourself?
ROGER FEDERER: It's been like this forever, so why change it? The fans don't care, so...

Q. On that same note, what do you think about this idea of doing the Round Robin at some tournaments as opposed to the regulation knockout?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, that's a thing where we'd obviously have to try out and see how it goes. It's an idea, you know. It kind of makes sense, you know. But till it's not really tested, you know, on a normal tournament week, not much we can really say about it yet.

Q. Marcelo Rios, as a joke, said that the only guy that kind of stopped him here actually in the Senior Tour is you, playing with you.

Q. Senior Tour.
ROGER FEDERER: How old do you need to be?

Q. 35.
ROGER FEDERER: 35, oh... (smiling).

Q. Do you think Rios is too young for play there?
ROGER FEDERER: I think he could play both tours; he's that good. I'm happy to see him play at all, you know, because of all the injuries he's had, good career he's had. It would be a disappointment not to see him play at all.
He's such a unique player with a lot of talent. I would love to see him back on tour. You know, that's where I would like to see him. Not the senior's tour.

Q. What about González, does he have a chance here?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, absolutely. He's had a great summer so far. I think he's improved over the last few years. He has been much more consistent. He's in the top 10 now and, you know, playing good. Dangerous game with his forehand and everything. I expect a lot of things from him here at the Open especially.

Q. You said you preferred to be the favorite. Sometimes sports teams and players just don't like to be the favorite, can't handle the pressure. What is the psychological effect on you by being the favorite?
ROGER FEDERER: I always have the feeling the underdog has to adapt and try and change his game, try to figure out the way to beat the favorite, whereas the favorite, he can kind of wait and see how things go. That's just, anyway, how I look at it, you know.
Especially against, you know, weaker players, you know. That's even more so. If you play obviously in the top 5, top 10, then it's maybe not as important. But I still prefer going on the court knowing that I've won more matches, I've won more tournaments, and that gives me a better feeling.

Q. A while ago you were part of that New Balls campaign. There's a new class of 19 , 20 ,21 year olds coming in. Baghdatis, for instance, Andy Murray. Talk about some of these younger guys coming up, the generation, if you will, before you.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, they've announced themselves I think the last two or three years with Nadal and Gasquet and, you know, other guys. Some have really made a big step forward, you know, by winning Grand Slams like Nadal; other ones have been able to win Masters Series like Berdych. Other ones have just been pretty solid on the tour.
But the biggest breakthrough for some of them is still missing, you know, except maybe Nadal and Baghdatis. The rest still need to prove themselves more. It's been a disappointing year for them, I think, this year, because the Australian Open, I think it was not good at all. They went a couple of rounds here and there.
But I think they need to be able now to slowly play quarters and semis. That's what we will see now in the next couple of Slams. But I think next year it will be different than this year.

Q. When Andy beat you, was that a fluke, or do you think he really has the type of game where he could at this time contend in a Grand Slam environment?
ROGER FEDERER: You know, look, you never know with youngsters. But that he comes away here and wins the US Open, somehow I doubt it because he's still young, lack of experience, maybe not fit enough, all these things. But, if the draw drops the right way, if he gets his day's rest and everything works out, then obviously he has a chance.
You know, I don't overrate the loss against him because I came from Toronto, just won, had a lot of matches. He was there, he was ready, and I wasn't. So he played a good match on top of that; I didn't play well. That was the combination enough to beat me.
But still got a long way to go, but he's come a long way. I think he's a very good player.

Q. When was the last match you felt like you were the underdog?
ROGER FEDERER: Been a while (smiling).

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