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September 9, 2006

Roger Federer

ROGER FEDERER: This is a UNICEF Bear for those of you who don't know. You can sign up for him, the money goes to UNICEF. Got my name, too (smiling).
This is me (referring to a stuffed animal bear).
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. If you play Andy tomorrow, how different a player do you think you'll see than the player at Wimbledon for two years?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, totally different, grass and hard court, first of all, and he's not in the finals yet. I think it's obviously more difficult here because of the crowd and, you know, the whole finals situations, playing an American and everything. And the only time I lost against him was on hard court, you know. Wasn't here, but was on hard court.
So, look, I have to see first how this match goes, and then I'll start concentrating on playing who wins here.

Q. Compare the match with Davydenko here to the match in Australia.
ROGER FEDERER: I think I played more aggressive this time around. I thought the surface allowed me to do that, too. I had a good start and stuck to my game plan, whereas in Australia I changed my whole game plan after the first set without any reason, you know. That proved to be very costly almost, you know. So made me work extremely hard after that. I struggled after to really get into his service games.
Whereas today I always felt like I was if I returned well from the baseline, I was better than him, and that allowed me obviously to play really good today.

Q. Were you surprised about how straightforward it was today?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, of course. You know, I've had some tough matches with him. I've played him I think now eight times okay, maybe I've beaten him eight times, but I've lost a set on four occasions, I think. At the Australian Open match this year, was really close against him. So I expected something similar, you know.
But I came out, played really well, and I hope that I can keep it up for one more match now.

Q. It looked like you had some success drawing him forward with a slice backhand. Is that a tactic you try to use against Roddick?
ROGER FEDERER: Don't know yet. It worked against Davydenko and it works against many players, you know, because these days guys like to rally from the baseline and the whole thing. So kind of, you know, we'll see if I'll do it the same in the finals. I guess so, because that's my favorite place.

Q. Could you talk at all about your mental approach. On the court you always seem to have a sense of calm. Is that something you've worked at? If so, how? Some players seem to fuel on a more manic or psychic force, yet you seem to be able to play in a certain calm. Could you talk about that, if that's the case.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think it comes over, you know, playing a lot, a lot of matches over the years. Being, you know I think knowing myself really well by now, knowing how I need to act to get, you know, through rounds and so forth. I think mental part of the game is getting more and more important over the years, you know. Whereas before, maybe talent and physical strength was important, but now I think the mental part, because, you know, margins are so small these days that it makes a huge difference if you got that edge, too, over an opponent.
It used to be one of my weaknesses really, and I've tried to, you know, kind of change it around. I was able to. It's been paying off ever since. So it's been maybe three or four years where I really turned the corner.

Q. How have you changed it? Could you talk about that. If it was one of your weaknesses, what have you tried to do?
ROGER FEDERER: I just really tried to relax on the court, you know. Not try to go through too much of emotions, you know, and everything. Because I've always felt like I was totally exhausted after each and every match I played. I said maybe I could win two rounds or so, but I couldn't win an entire tournament playing like this. So for that reason I had to relax a little bit.

Q. Could you talk about the crowd out there. If it's Roddick in the final, how do you handle that, a crowd that could be rooting for the opponent?
ROGER FEDERER: I think it's more enjoyable if the crowd really gets into it, of course. They make you get the better out of you really. I mean, you know, of course today, 12:00, it's kind of early. I mean, the people are there and everything, but, you know, it's hard to really get them into it except if it turns out to be a thriller in the fifth set.
But against Americans here, it's automatic that you'll have the crowd, I mean, support for the Americans. I've seen it how it was with Blake and with Agassi over the years. I don't think there will be any difference if I will play Roddick in the final.

Q. Have you noticed any difference in the way Andy Roddick plays since he's been with Jimmy Connors?
ROGER FEDERER: I haven't seen him enough, to be honest. I've seen no, I've hardly seen him play. Maybe I'll try to watch some today. I guess he's just, you know, serving much better again because, you know, that's what was letting him down the last year or so. People were returning him too easy. Obviously, if you return Andy Roddick well, you're always in for a chance. That's what he's been able to do better again.

Q. Can you address if you play Youzhny.
ROGER FEDERER: Sure, I think he's an excellent player, you know. Very good from the baseline. He's one of the best one handed backhands in the world. Unfortunately, you know, he's been not able to make that big step forward yet, you know, like others have.
But that result will already put him higher up in the ranking, and I think we'll see more of him in the future. He has a very good aggressive baseline game, and he didn't beat Nadal just like this, you know. In practice he beats many of us guys, so we all know the danger of Youzhny. Definitely not to underestimate in the finals, that's for sure.

Q. How frustrated was it being in this tournament and most of the attention was given to Roddick and Agassi? Were you disappointed at all?
ROGER FEDERER: No. No, no problem. I think that the focus was on Andre. Totally normal. That the focus was on Andy after that, totally normal because he just won Cincinnati, just had a coach change, plus was on a winning streak. Blake was there, too. The focus, it's normal, it's going to be very much on the American players. I think we had big difficulties with the rain that made it hard for the scheduling and everything. Look, I didn't mind it. I'm through where I wanted to be, in the finals. Some were not here, some are here. We'll see what happens in the final.

Q. If you win tomorrow, you'll be the first guy to win three consecutive both Wimbledons and US Opens. Are you aware of that? As things like that come up, do you use them for motivation?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, well, kind of, you know. You hope to play a good match, first of all. You don't think of making history or something on the moment itself. Once you get out there, you think of each and every point. You know, when it comes down to the wire, you're like, Hopefully I play well now and just win these points. You don't think, This could be my third US Open. You just hope to win this US Open. After that it kind of sinks in when you lift the trophy, like, I know, I've seen this situation before, it's great that I have the opportunity to lift it up again. These things go through your head and not really, I've won Wimbledon and US Open back to back.
But that's just a great bonus to have, I think.

Q. You alluded to the scheduling. Was it your choice to play the 12:00 match today or the tournament's?
ROGER FEDERER: The tournament's.

Q. Your excellence has allowed you to establish and tie a lot of records, streaks. Where does six consecutive finals in majors rank in your mind?
ROGER FEDERER: It's awesome, you know. I mean, I think especially the four in the same year. It's kind of really special. It was kind of what I was hoping for the beginning of the year, but it's such a long road, and you have to work so extremely hard. You know, I've gotten so close to winning the French as well, so I'm happy I didn't let my head hang down and, you know, kind of get disappointed on myself on, you know, missing the big opportunity.
But came right back, won Wimbledon, and now I'm back in the finals of the Open. It's a fantastic year the best ever for me. I'm really happy.

Q. You've now won 20 straight matches at Flushing Meadows. Apart from Wimbledon, is this your favorite place to play perhaps?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. I started to like many tournaments by now (smiling).
But I never had a really, really disappointing US Open. I've always won a handful of matches here and I always felt like almost was in contention, you know, to really make a breakthrough here. My first breakthrough really came at Wimbledon in 2003, and then I was happy then to win this tournament also twice already.
So I think this surface definitely suits me. I used to not really like the wind and the humidity here in the States. That's maybe why I never made a breakthrough here. But the last few years, that's not been a problem for me. I've adjusted to all those things. So that's why I play so well here, I think.

Q. Is there any ritual that you're planning to do tonight to prepare for tomorrow's match?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it's a bit different than at other Grand Slams because here you play the semis and the finals back to back days, whereas usually you have a day off after the semifinal.
So, I mean, it's nothing new for me because I've been in this situation. The matches have not been very tough for me, you know, yesterday and then again today, day before. So I'm very confident that I am gonna feel fine tomorrow, and just gonna take a rest now. Not much time. Just take some treatment and have a nice dinner and go to bed early, and then hopefully play a great match tomorrow.

Q. Is there a secret to your success?
ROGER FEDERER: I guess not, no. Hard work and belief in that I can win every match I play. I've come a long way. I never thought I'll ever play so well or dominate tennis. I'm just really having a great time.

Q. You mentioned the mental change, attitude change in terms of being less emotional, being less volatile, more even. Was there a particular tournament where you said, I'm completely washed out, I can't continue operating this way?
ROGER FEDERER: The first kind of moment for me was like when I played I think in I think it was '99, I played in Marseille. I beat Moya, 4 in the world. I was 300. I remember I lost in the quarters and I was like I had tough matches, but I was so exhausted after two matches that I had no hope in the quarters, you know. I was like, I got to somehow relax a little bit.
Took me years after that to finally understand that I had to. Like I said, more press conference ago, like it took me to smash a racquet in Hamburg to finally get my act together. Finally I did. I'm happy and it paid off.

Q. The other day you mentioned you don't like the instant replay system. Can you explain why.
ROGER FEDERER: Why I don't like it?

Q. Yes.
ROGER FEDERER: It's just not enough points, you know, that really make the difference. That money, we can use it for better causes than for, you know, challenges or whatever it is. It's only on the one or two biggest courts. It's different for the other guys, you know. They're not used to playing with these things.
For me of course it might be an advantage in the long run because I know how to handle those challenge calls, but I really don't think it's necessary. But, look, if the fans and the tournaments, they like it, look, it's not my problem, so...

Q. Marat said he felt that it was inaccurate, that he saw marks that clearly contradicted the
ROGER FEDERER: Well, today maybe I read the wrong mark but, I mean, I wouldn't have challenged if the screen shows it's this much in. But, look, you always hope for errors in the machine and everything. That's why you challenge, for the hell of it, so... (smiling).

Q. You've already made the Tennis Masters Cup this year, it's old hat now. Can you remember back to 2002, what that first experience at the Tennis Masters Cup was for you?
ROGER FEDERER: I was so nervous, end of the indoor season. I was really fighting to get in. I had to hope that Henman loses against Escude in Paris, and he did. Then I was like, Finally, I'm through. I went on the court, lost to Hewitt, said I'm going to Shanghai, that's what counts.
I was so excited, and I played a fantastic Shanghai. I thought it was the best tournament, one of the greatest experience, you know, after the Olympic Games and my first Wimbledon, you know, to kind of play the Masters Cup. The way they treated you there, only eight players, you know, the Chinese people, it was just a fantastic crowd and everything. I loved every moment of it.
I had some fantastic matches, especially against Hewitt in the semis, and I've qualified ever since.
Now with a new stadium, it's another great experience. I'm happy to be qualified for sure.

Q. If you don't like the instant replay system, why didn't you just refuse to use it as a form of protest?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, might as well get a point here and there. I still don't think it makes a big difference.

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