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November 18, 2006

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. We saw you on your knees like when you win a tournament. It was just a semifinal. Can you explain why you were so relieved, why so happy?
ROGER FEDERER: Because of the shot. As simple as that, you know. I think if he would have double-faulted, I wouldn't have gone to my knees. But it happened that I was on the run and I couldn't really see the ball, how it went, you know, because it was so close to the net. You know, the net was in its way. I actually lost the ball for a minute, you know, because I wasn't sure if it was going to where I want it to go. So, no, it was just under the circumstances, you know, that was the reaction.
But you're right. It was a good feeling. And usually I have that after finals. I rarely finish off matches like this, so it was nice.

Q. In the first set he broke you back and the key moment, that 5-4, you attacked. I mean, what were your thoughts in that moment? Because is not normal to you to lose a serve without any point.
ROGER FEDERER: I played a bad game, no doubt. But he, you know, hung in there. He won many points on my second serve, so obviously I knew that if I don't make my first serves I'll be under pressure. Unfortunately, I couldn't serve it out.
I had the feeling, you know, I was reading in many of his service games, you know, making him work really hard. So I knew that, you know, for him the big game is coming up at 5-4, trying to hold. I played a good game. From then on really I didn't have so many more problems on my own serve. That was key to the match in the end.

Q. Are you starting to feel like you've figured out Rafa's game and know how to beat him? Now that you've beaten him the last two times, are you feeling more comfortable?
ROGER FEDERER: Obviously, I do. For me it's nice to win on kind of my surfaces - grass and indoors, you know. I maybe lost the ones I'm supposed to maybe on clay. But I was awfully close there, you know.
For me, there's definitely a way, you know, moving forward. I definitely feel like I've learned a few things, you know, and maybe now it's maybe a little more up to him to change his games. I don't know because it was really close game. Depends obviously a lot on the surface, you know, how the points are played.
I think it was an excellent match with high quality. I think that's what we always see when we play each other.

Q. You started off with a clear statement of intent with three aces in your first game. How much of a psychological boost did that give you?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I just saw thought, you know, if I serve well, I can hold comfortably my own service games. He started to read my serve a little better after that, I thought. He didn't give me the T on the deuce side so often anymore.
But, look, I had a good high first-serve percentage. Unfortunately, I think I double-faulted a little bit too much, and I think I could have had a bit of an easier time without double-faulting. But I was really pleased with the way I served and how steady I was from the baseline. It was a good match all in all, absolutely.

Q. It seems like there is a lot of emotion and respect when you play with Rafael Nadal. Is this something different, special, playing with him?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, just the way he plays, you know. It's obviously so different. It's something, you know, I see so seldom, a lefty playing with so much spin. The way he plays, you know, it's very different.
So I don't know. I feel it's a great challenge for me because he plays very much one-dimensional. He always plays the same way, but he does that so well. So it's up to me to be creative and aggressive and everything.
It's a really big test for me. I'm happy I came through because these are the matches, you know, I'm waiting for, to beat sort of the best, you know, after me. So to beat him the last one of the season is obviously fantastic for me.

Q. He's been making small adjustments to his game, small little changes. From where you stand, that is on your side of the net, have you felt something, the spins, the way he's hitting the ball? The other question is you're almost getting to a pattern where you start off better against him than a regular match. How is that so?
ROGER FEDERER: I definitely think he's obviously improving still today, you know. I mean, he's young. He's still got many things to improve in my eyes, you know. But his strengths are so good that obviously that makes him so tough to beat today, you know.
It's obvious he wants to keep improving, you know. If it's his volleys or slice or his attacking game, his serve, whatever it is, and even his forehand, I think. You can always work on your strengths and on your weaknesses. We'll see him maybe changing up his game a little bit.
I guess his victory will come through his forehand, I guess, his fighting spirit, you know, just being as tough as he is. That will stay with him forever. But he can make little adjustments that can help him maybe win a little bit easy sometimes.

Q. Looking ahead to the final, can we get your thoughts on two possible opponents?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, David I played, you know, here, so I know how he plays. I've played him probably the most next to Hewitt, you know. So I know his game very well.
With James, we've had a few matches this season, in Miami and Indian Wells, at the US Open. We've always had good matches.
So I would like to play James, to be honest. He's one of the fantastic stories in our game. Very much fair play. Nice guy off the court. So I would definitely like to see him play the finals.
But it would be kind of funny to play David again, same like last year. Be looking also to see who wins that match.

Q. We know that your strategies and tactics are very strong. A lot of people are saying that your backhand has a little bit of a weakness. What do you make of this?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, it's maybe my weaker wing, you know, the backhand. It's definitely very good on the pass. I've definitely improved it a lot because 80% of the shots all come to my backhand, you know. If it's on the serve or elsewhere, they always try to find my backhand. But that's maybe one of the reasons why I could improve it, you know, over the years.
I see it more as a strength today because I have the chance to vary my backhand very well. You can use the slice and the topspin, and it's improving your rhythm also much more on the return. I'm happy the way I was able to improve my backhand.

Q. Do you think it's a great pity that that caliber match is just a semifinal instead of a final?
ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, well, you know, that's usually what everybody says, you know, when you play each other early in a tournament. But all our last matches have all been in finals, so I think it's kind of good that it was maybe in the semis also. Also for other players to get an opportunity, you know.
And, no, I think it lived up to the expectations. I think it was a great match. We'll see another good match tomorrow.
But I think it was nice at all that we played each other because he was on the verge of not qualifying for the semis. So I'm happy to have played him today.

Q. You talked before that you need to be creative against a player like Nadal.
ROGER FEDERER: Against everybody.

Q. Against everybody. And when you win, you don't care the way probably you win, but today you went to the net 21 times, you made 17 points. In the second set, 8 times to the net, 8 points. So I'm asking you, don't you think you could go to the net a little more often since he's always so far away, and can't you sometimes try a dropshot, or you don't need it because you run, you don't care?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, all speculation. I definitely could, you know, play very different. My game allows me to.
But, you know, I take choices before a match and during a match. And I feel these are the right ones. Maybe sometimes I come out and say, Maybe I should have changed a few things, you know. But I think today was definitely the right way to play against Raf.
Yeah, maybe a little bit more to the net, it's possible, you know. But who knows? Maybe I would have done it in moments I shouldn't have done it, and that would have cost me maybe the set. I don't know. So all speculation.
My wish is always, you know, to be at the net more often, you know, because I like to shorten the points and I like to attack. But it's not always that easy, you know, because guys return and pass really well today.

Q. Could you tell me why, when you're facing Nadal, when you have the forehand opportunities, you would rather choose outside-in instead of to attack his forehand, not rather than like Nadal who actually would choose to use actually the skill to attack your backhand?
ROGER FEDERER: Look, it's -- I don't know. It's just the way I play against Rafael. Maybe it looks like attacking more of his forehand, but it's got a lot to do with how the point is all prepared, you know, from both ends. If he plays a forehand, a backhand crosscourt or along the line, it obviously depends what I can do, you know. He plays a way that it's easy for me to attack his forehand and his backhand at times, you know.
But I definitely have the choice to do both, you know. And I always have to be very careful that I don't play too aggressive, I think, you know, because he gives you a lot of balls like Lleyton Hewitt, which you can attack potentially, but it's also a bit of a trap, you know, because you come in and he passes you after.
So, you know, I just think you have to play very smart against him, and that's what I did today. That's why I won.

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