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August 26, 2006

Roger Federer

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How important is the Nadal rivalry with respect to the growth of your career given the fact that the rivalry now exists on all the major surfaces?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think we've had good matches, you know, especially this year. I thought the battle on clay was very interesting, you know, going from Monte-Carlo to Rome to the French Open and everything, playing each other in all the finals and then, you know, just after that in Wimbledon, too.

So I think it's been interesting not only for us but for the entire game. The two of us being 1 and 2 in the world, I think that always is a bit more interesting.

Q. Do you think that hard courts represent the most neutral surface for you?

ROGER FEDERER: I would think so, yes. I guess. They can play I'd say hard and flat or aggressive, but you can also stand back and spin the ball. I think it gives you an opportunity.

Q. Is there a friendship yet between you and Rafael, or do you still not know each other well enough?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, by now we've done plenty of appearances together, you know, to promote Monaco or Rome or here in New York for Nike. We've seen each other many times off the court, too, at the Laureus award and everything.

So you get to know each other better. It's been always, like with all the other players, too, friendly atmosphere. Fair matches on the court, so it's been good.

Q. If you were told by the Tennis Gods that you could work on just one aspect of your game to improve, what aspect would you most likely improve?

ROGER FEDERER: I would like to be able to serve and volley first and second serve.

Q. Is that something that you'd like to try?

ROGER FEDERER: No, it's more something I look, you know, to maybe do in the years to come, but not just now. But you never know. I think it's pretty hard these days, you know, to kind of do that. I mean, conditions have really slowed down over the years, I think. So there's no secret that I went down in tensions, too, you know, by about four or five kilos over the years, try to get the power back through a looser string.

Q. Are you trying to shorten the points in some matches?

ROGER FEDERER: No, not at all.

Q. Since Cincinnati, what have you been trying to get right? Did you have a rest for a couple of days?

ROGER FEDERER: Since Cincinnati?

Q. Yeah.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I had days off, took enough rest, had enough practice - it rained out a little bit yesterday, but so far it's been good. You know, I feel obviously mentally fresh because I haven't played much since Wimbledon. But, physically, I feel fine, too. I have no injuries I need to tweak or anything. Things are looking good for a good start here to the Open.

Q. What do you think about the way Andy has been playing recently since he hooked up with Jimmy Connors as his coach? Do you think he sort of catapulted himself back to make a run here?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I think not winning or winning Cincinnati didn't matter much for him. I think he was gonna be one of the favorites here for the Open, you know. He's won here before. It's in the States, this is where he usually plays his best. He lost here in the first round last year so he's got only positive results to do.

Of course now by, you know, winning Cincinnati, I think things are looking very good for him. I always said Andy's not gone. People were laughing at me when I said, you know, I think he's one of the dangerous guys in Wimbledon, you know. Just a lack of respect sometimes, you know, to a great player. So he's proven himself he's back, and I was very happy to really see him win Cincinnati.

Q. Does this year feel any differently for you especially coming off last year playing Agassi in the final?

ROGER FEDERER: I think it's easier to come back the third time, you know, when you come around and try to defend a title. When you come around the second time, you're defending that title for the first time and you feel a lot of pressure, everybody's talking about you. By now I've gotten used to how to defend big tournaments, and I don't look at it as a big pressure, I just try to prove to myself again that I can do it all over again. I played such a terrific final against Andre last year, you know, that really excited to be back and hopefully playing well again.

Q. Your thoughts about the fact that Andre has drawn so much attention? Does that change anything in terms of how people will be focusing on what you're trying to do?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, it's obvious he gets the attention. He deserves it over the 21 years he's played here at the Open, and this is his last. He had a great run here last year on top of that, you know. He's had a bit of injuries now through the summer, but it seems like he's gonna be ready for this one. So I'm happy to see, you know, he's gonna play and hopefully have a great run, you know. He was a very important person, you know, in tennis for all of us. He inspired many of today's generation, and he was an inspiration also in terms of his foundation and his results, you know, winning all four majors. That's something hardly anybody's ever been able to achieve. I was lucky enough to play him more than 10 times, which is nice.

Q. What do you think of the instant replay statistics?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, the stats I think are totally wrong anyway because usually you save them towards the end of the set and then you might as well just challenge for the hell of it. That's why we lose many calls on statistics because we know probably the ball is out but might as well take a chance, you know. I would think that stats would be much higher if we really used it on each and every call. What's the point sometimes challenge at 40-Love down and the other guy's serve, and risk a call? It's not really quite right, those stats.

Q. You're 3-3. The ones you lost, were they ones you knew were out or in?

ROGER FEDERER: One, you hope, you know, that it's gonna be in but you think it's gonna be out, it's just so close. Other ones, usually I challenged I think -- the ones that were right is because I was really -- I was sure I was right, for sure. The other ones came probably towards the end of the set where I took a chance.

Q. Are you more in favor of it now that you've used it a bit?

ROGER FEDERER: I don't think it makes a difference at all, so...

If it's there, it's there. If it's not, it's not. I don't mind it anymore.

Q. You weren't very happy with Montreal, Cincinnati back-to-back Masters Series?


Q. Toronto, sorry. Will you try to have any input down the road when the ATP revises the calendar?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, they know my point of view. It's been a subject since a long time. It's just unfortunately they have not been able to do some little changes by maybe giving the top guys some seeds, you know. You know, this one is actually easier, Toronto, Cincinnati, than Rome, Hamburg because you have a best-of-five finals on Sunday, and that you didn't have in Toronto.

So, yeah, I mean, I guess it requires maybe a bit of a change, but, I mean, I was able to play in Cincinnati this time around; I wasn't that tired. It is possible, but definitely tougher.

Q. Would you prefer to see tournaments ending with five-set finals, these other tournaments, the ones that are three sets through the week and five in the final?

ROGER FEDERER: I think it depends a bit on how exactly you promote the whole tour, you know. I think you have to take a choice on if you're gonna make all five sets or all three sets. But then again TV has so much to say about it, too. They give you bigger windows, smaller windows, you just take what you get. It's kind of difficult. There are many different promises that have been made. That's why it's hard to change such things.

But, look, we were always willing to talk, the players, with the tour, the ATP, ITF and everybody. I hope we can work it out in the future.

Q. You spend a fair amount of time during the year in North America. What is it you like best about coming to America, and what do you like least?

ROGER FEDERER: What was the last thing?

Q. If I could ask, what you like least.

ROGER FEDERER: Oh, least. I like to come here every time, I'm really excited every time I leave someplace to come to the States. It's kind of always a relaxed environment, usually always good weather when I come, you know. I like California, I also like New York, Miami is really nice, too. So three places I usually go to are nice. I wish I could see also some other places, but it's kind of tough and the schedule doesn't really allow me to do so. The city of New York, the beaches of Miami, the relaxed atmosphere of California is really what I like.

Q. Have you been able to get out of Midtown at all to see other parts of New York?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I move around quite a bit - walk around, drive around, I even had a helicopter ride the other day, so I got to see the entire city from, you know, the top. That was exciting.

So, yeah, I get around a lot here.

Q. You've seen quite a lot of Andy Murray recently. How do you rate his chances here?

ROGER FEDERER: You know, it's an interesting challenge, you know. I think the juniors have been -- the youngsters have been a bit disappointing in Grand Slams so far this year. This is their last Slam of the year, so they'd better play well here.

It's a bit of pressure, and the focus is gonna be more on him now that he's ranked and got another coach and everything. I think it's gonna be interesting to see how he plays. I still don't think it's gonna be the total breakthrough for the youngsters here at this year's US Open, but then again I think next year will be much more competitive in each and every Grand Slam.

End of FastScripts...

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