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September 7, 2006
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Got your night match.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it was good.
Q. Maybe an environment that, aside from say Davis Cup, you're probably not accustomed to, so sided towards Blake. How did you feel? There was some cheering for a couple double faults, things like that. Did that bother you?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, it happened at times, I guess, when they were really wanting to root him back into the match. I understand it in a way. They want to see more tennis, and I thought it was a fantastic match, you know. Was unbelievable high quality.
For me, it takes a lot, you know, to come out and say like this match was unbelievable, you know. But I really thought that we were hitting the ball so hard. I was so happy with the game today of me, you know. I was solid. Didn't make many unforced errors. I could actually pretty much rely on my serve, except, you know, a couple points here and there.
But I thought it was a great match, and I thought James definitely took a had a lot to do with the whole thing.
Q. James just said in his press conference that he was reading an article recently where it was stated that Tiger Woods was exceeding Michael Jordan as the greatest athlete of our times. He said, quote, unquote, "That's a joke." He said he thought that title belonged to you. He went into great detail as to why he felt that way. How does that make you feel when peers speak of you in that way?
ROGER FEDERER: It's very nice, obviously, to highly talk about a fellow player, you know. I think he is fantastic for the game, as well. But, you know, that he says something like this, puts me ahead of basically my own idol, Michael Jordan, that's something very special, of course. For me, it's impossible to say if it's true or not, you know, because it's so hard to compare sports. But it's definitely nice to be all the way up there, that's for sure.
Q. You looked like a relieved man when you finally wrapped it up. Would you say Blake gave you the toughest match you've had here so far?
ROGER FEDERER: Absolutely. I think the score says it all. The match could have gone could have been easier, could have been tougher, you know. We both missed our opportunities once here and there. But that's what was kind of expected because we took so many chances on our shots and everything that it turned out to be a thriller, really, because it was so back and forth.
Crowd got into it. They loved it. In the end, you know, I won, which was even better, so (smiling)...
Q. Who has the best forehands in the game now? You faced them all. Obviously, James has a big one. Flat and heavy. Could you say who has the best ones and how James's compares?
ROGER FEDERER: I guess James is all the way up there. I guess Nadal, too. He's got a very nice one, as well. Other than that, there's a few of the, you know, lower ranked guys with an excellent forehand, as well. I think always have to look at the top guys, you know, who they obviously have the best forehand when it really counts, you know. Most variety and everything.
So I would put them very high up the rankings.
Q. How important was winning that first set tiebreaker? Seemed like it had a lasting effect on James into the second.
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I knew the importance, for sure. I was extremely happy the way I came out and hit the ball, because I knew conditions gonna be tough with the crowd, getting used to the night session, night session on Ashe and everything.
So the tiebreak, obviously, was vital, you know. That gave me I found another gear in the second set, you know, which I was very surprised to find because I was playing already so well in the first set. Maybe he, you know, let his head hang a little bit, but I took advantage of every chance I got there and actually raced through. Maybe that second set was more important than the first.
Q. Did you really, because it was your first time in Ashe this tournament, did that mean a lot to you? I know a lot had been made of it. Did it mean a lot to you that you hadn't been there yet, and because the atmosphere was what it was against you, did that give you the extra gear perhaps?
ROGER FEDERER: I doubt that it's because of, you know, being the first time at Ashe at night. I played my first few matches on Ashe, so it's not like I haven't played on this court forever. I've been practicing the first week all the time. I know how it feels.
I remember how the crowd was last year, you know, with Agassi. I thought it was even more extreme than tonight. Not like this was nothing, but, I mean, it was pretty tough. But I knew that from the start. I didn't have the feeling they were rooting against me; they were rooting for James. That's a big difference. It's absolutely acceptable for me.
Q. You rarely have problems closing matches out, but you had chances in the third set. You served for it. Chances in the tiebreak. Even in the fourth. Was that his level raising a lot or were you not doing what you wanted to do there?
ROGER FEDERER: I definitely think I could have served way better, gotten more first serves in. I had this one game, I think in the third set maybe, when I served for the match. I didn't on the deuce side I hardly made a first serve. When I did, it was right in his hitting zone.
So definitely myself to blame, because on my own service game, I should be the guy dictating play and everything. That's what I couldn't do. He was taking huge cuts at the second serve. Gave him too many opportunities. Again, he took them.
I think that is where you see most the home advantage really, you know. Nothing to lose. You play maybe with more confidence. You believe stronger. You know that the ball is in the back of the line instead of being out. That's just how it felt all the way through.
Q. James is obviously a fabulous talent, a fabulous player, top player. Can you say what you think he might have to do to take it to the next level in terms of Slam results?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, he's right there, I think, you know. He got unlucky last year. I mean, he should have beaten Agassi, I think. Then tonight again, I think it could have gone either way really.
So he's been really improving a lot over the last couple of years, I think. Returns so much better. His backhand's so much more steady. His forehand has always been good, you know. It's amazing how far he's come. It's not like he's 19 or anything where you see guys improving by the week. I think he's got a great chance for the years to come. And I hope that he's gonna play well, you know, because I really like to play against him and I really like to see him play, as well.
Q. If you could choose a player to play the final, who would that be?
ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, who's in the semis (laughing)?
Q. Youzhny and Roddick.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, of course. Probably like to play Andy, I guess. But not quite there yet for both of us. So we'll have a day rest and see how it goes Saturday.
But, uhm, you know, we look like the big favorites, you know, me and Andy. But we've seen what happens to favorites sometimes, you know, so we've got to be very careful.
I've had some tough matches with Davydenko, so I'm very well aware of that.
Q. Talk about Davydenko. He played you very, very tough in Australia. Took a set from you. How dangerous is he right now?
ROGER FEDERER: I think he's playing excellent, you know. He's proved he's really improved a lot on hard courts. We all knew he could play on clay and everything. But him similar to James. All of a sudden he kind of found another gear, more confidence from the baseline. Also incredibly fit, you know, never breaks down. Has the much bigger belief now than he used to have.
Every part of his game has kind of improved because his serve was pretty dodgy, was switching from one racquet to the next, not sure exactly how to play and everything. All of a sudden he's found his game. It's being very steady from the baseline. Making you run a lot, making you work hard. And he returns obviously excellent, you know, with double hander and everything.
So I think I have to have great variety in my game, and try to play aggressive. Serve well, you know. Make it easy for myself. So see what happens.
Q. Why would you rather play Andy? Biggest match?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, obviously, yeah.
Q. Blake was saying that he didn't feel any nerves coming from you, that your body temperature was maybe 60 degrees. Last game of the match when you were closing it out, were there nerves there at all?
ROGER FEDERER: Kind of (smiling). I mean, I was just worried that it's gonna go to 5 All and then he's all pumped up, the stadium's all pumped up, and the next thing I know, I might be in the fifth. The fifth is not lost yet, so I was still thinking positive. I still wasn't broken. So I always had the belief that all of a sudden first serve's gonna come back.
But, look, geez, I missed some two forehands which normally I don't miss. But this is the occasion, you know. It's so big, and a lot of pressure on you. So I definitely felt it today because of the circumstances.
Q. Does anything bother you? If not, how did you learn to not let anything bother you?
ROGER FEDERER: I used to be very up and down, for those who follow me for a long time, you know, mentally. Even physically, you know. The whole game.
Now, I focus on each and every point, you know. I try to let things not get to me. I've realized that that has improved my game by doubled it up basically because I'm playing so much better since I'm really kind of concentrated. I enjoy it more, too, you know. Instead of going through an emotional roller coaster, you know, throughout the match, it's just worked for me. I feel very relaxed out on the court, you know, like I am off the court. That works for me very well.
Q. How did you do that? Was there some epiphany that happened, a talk with somebody that got you
ROGER FEDERER: I needed to smash a racquet in Hamburg to really understand what was going on. Then I finally woke up (smiling).
Q. Reaction to Nadal losing and not having to face him again.
ROGER FEDERER: What's that?
Q. Reaction to Nadal losing and not being in the tournament anymore? What were your feelings yesterday?
ROGER FEDERER: I didn't see the match, so can't say anything about it. But I knew that it could be a dangerous match for Raf because he almost lost to him at the Australian Open. Okay, that was maybe before he really made his breakthrough. But I remember how he had a high backhand or forehand volley. Used it on matchpoint, I think. I knew with that great backhand of his, he's gonna cause trouble to Nadal.
Plus, on top of that, Armstrong is pretty quick, you know. For me, doesn't matter much, you know, as long as I advance in the tournament really.
Q. There's no disappointment in not getting another rematch here?
ROGER FEDERER: Nope, not really (smiling).
Q. It's been a very long season. How do you rate your play now compared to Australia or the French or Wimbledon?
ROGER FEDERER: The whole season has been excellent. I thought the Australian Open was fantastic for the first section, and then all of a sudden I got a little bit of a struggle, but still ended up winning the tournament which was fantastic.
I've been in basically all finals I've played except Cincinnati last week when I came from the win in Toronto and I couldn't back it up, so...
But the whole season's been my best by far, I think, because I've been in all major finals. Plus, now here I'm back in the semifinals. I couldn't be more happy.
The only thing maybe a bit disappointing is I couldn't win the French Open final, but that's okay if I play so well the rest of the tournaments.
Q. You tie Ivan Lendl, consecutive semifinals in Grand Slams. When you talk about greatness in sport, that is also consistency. Talk about that accomplishment and what that defines.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I heard it before, you know, that I broke his record. I didn't even know about it. I know that I have a good streak going in reaching I think Grand Slam finals or something.
Q. Semis, as well.
ROGER FEDERER: Semis, as well, but finals, too, in a row. So, I mean, it's great to be so consistent at the highest level. It's the toughest level, too, with the five setters and so forth. Nothing is allowed to happen, you know can't be sick, can't be a little bit injured. It's all gonna you got to pay the price in those five setters.
I'm very, very happy. And, you know, to break records like these, these mean a lot to me, obviously, because these are I guess the hardest to beat.
Q. First set when you were 5 All, you have zero challenge and he has two. You enter the tiebreak, you had one and he had three. Does that fact give you extra pressure? Does this use of challenge prove to be a very important part of the mental game of tennis?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, if they boo you, yeah, I mean, it has a bit of an effect, you know. I guess that's the rule we can use now. I'm not a fan of it, so I would boo it myself.
But, look, uhm, it's there to be used, you know. Of course I feel bad sometimes to use it on a ridiculous point, but might as well, you know. You never know if the machine is wrong on something.
Q. You don't have any strategy?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, when you feel like there might be a chance that it's in and you think the situation is useful, I guess then it's might as well use it.
But when at 5 All I have no challenges left, I'm not nervous at all because this is how it used to be. This is actually how I would like it to be.
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