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January 26, 2007

Fernando Gonzalez


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Given the match last night, how important was it for you to come out and make real statement this evening?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: I'm enjoying the tennis. I've been playing the last four months in a very high level and I feel that I'm not doing too much, so that's very important, what you feel on court.

Q. Did it ever happen to you that you make three mistakes in one match?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Never. And one was really stupid that I did (smiling). But normally I did like 45 mistakes and 2 winners many years, so now I'm really happy because I've been doing this for the last matches.

Q. Is there any part of you that's wondering where this kind of tennis was for six, eight years?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, it was many things, you know. I feel that I have a big hole in my left side. Now I don't have it. Now I'm more fit, you know. I can play longer. Before I could panic if I stay too much here (referring to the backhand). Now I can stay here and wait for the other guy to make something or I can create many things.

Q. You're going to play Federer in the final. What do you think about this?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: It's a tough match. He's the No. 1 player in the world by far. He's the favorite. I lost many times with him.
But now I'm in a better -- I mean, I'm playing much better now than the last time that we play. And it's only one match, you know. I'm going to give everything that I have to try to win my first Slam.

Q. Do you think you can maintain the ability to come up with the creative shot-making that you had in this match against Roger and in a Grand Slam final?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: I mean, I'm going to try to do the same thing that I've been doing: playing good tennis, don't do it too much, because my forehand side I feel I can do whatever I want.
I'm going to have Roger on Sunday. Is going to be a tough, but I'm playing a great level. I didn't play long matches the last three matches. I mean, I'm almost a hundred percent.

Q. How much is Roger an inspiration in general and for you in particular?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: It's a lot because I'm playing the most important match in my life and he's the best player of the last many years. He's winning all the time. He have to lose sometime. I'm going to try to do it on Sunday.

Q. Do you look forward to it?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Yeah. It's only one more match (smiling). It's pretty exciting for me.

Q. When you came into this tournament, did you think you would be able to take as many big names as you have on the way through?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: I always come to every Slam with a big illusion. Maybe the first two matches -- first match I play really good. Second match I didn't play my best tennis. I was two sets to one down. I came back. I was feeling really good.
But I get here like eight days in advance. After, when I play Lleyton, I play really good tennis. After that I think -- I mean, I have a big change on my mind and in my tennis.

Q. Does your record with him, does that work in your advantage or does it make your job tougher?

Q. Yes.
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: I don't think so. I never beat him. I don't have advantage with Roger. But in tennis, you always have a new opportunity. I have a really nice opportunity now.

Q. Do you feel like he's going to see a different Fernando González on Sunday?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Absolutely. I mean, I've been playing much better. Last time we play was maybe three or four months ago in Basel final. But he was playing really good. Me, too. But I was a little bit tired. It was like third final in a row.
Of course, he's the favorite player, but I'm going to try my best and I look forward to win the match.

Q. Do you feel comfortable on Rod Laver Arena these days? Do you like the venue and the crowd?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Yeah. I really enjoy. I mean, is a really big event. The stadium is really nice. The people is -- I mean, it's fantastic crowd. Also have always the Chilean support, so it's really important for me.

Q. Before you said you would be really excited to play this final. Americans use "excited" for different reasons. For you "excited" means also you can be nervous?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Of course. I mean, but today I was -- I have enough nervous to be focused, you know. That's good. I never play a Slam final, but there is always a first time. I'm having really good time on court playing this kind of tennis.

Q. Would you say this court surface maximizes your strengths, the Rebound Ace?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, it's very similar to hard court. I mean, it's different, but it's a nice court because you can play baseline, you can serve and volley, you can do everything like a hard court.

Q. What does it take for you to keep hitting these winners one after another? What does it take?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: It's the best thing that tennis have, you know, try to go for a winner forehand. For me, is really -- is the biggest thing, I think.

Q. People used to say about you, He's a good player, but he doesn't have anything but a forehand. You're more than that now, aren't you?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Yeah. I can go in. I work a lot on my net game. I can stay in the back longer time now and wait for the right opportunity.

Q. What made you decide last year, I'm fed up being a good player; I want to be a champion? What made you decide that?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: I been like three or four years between the 11 and 25, like going up, down, up, down. I feel like I improve other things.
Maybe if I improve the things and I don't improve my rankings, even I try and I make more fun my game, you know. Always I was playing the same and same. I need to do some other things. After that I start to win some matches not playing my best tennis, so that give me a lot of confidence.

Q. Is it more fun?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Yeah. I mean, if you're winning (smiling)...
But I can go in, I can slice, I can do all the things that I never did it before.

Q. Stefanki said you were very brave to change your backhand. In which way did you change it?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Tried to do it more simple, because before I try to do too much. Now just simple. And it works really good with Larry. Larry, he likes a lot the good techniques, simple techniques, try to do always the same.

Q. He didn't change anything with your body, with the grip?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, with the body. Yeah, most with the body. On the backhand, on the volley, little bit on the grip.

Q. What is the reaction at home?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: I don't know. I just talked to my mom, but it's like 8 in the morning. But I know that many people wake up early to see the match, because tennis is very popular at home. They respect because I have to play next week in Viña del Mar. Then we have Davis Cup against the champions at home. They're in the summertime now, so they're very excited about it.

Q. Are you aware that a lot of fans call you Gonzo? Do you know what that means?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: The Americans call me Gonzo.

Q. Yes.
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: What does that mean?

Q. Kind of crazy, unpredictable, kind of a wild man on the court.
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: I didn't know it. I thought it was for González.

Q. You have a lot of fans out there. Are you afraid to give up this label?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: It's okay because it's true (laughter).

Q. Were you back in Chile when Rios played the final here at the Australian Open? Do you remember the atmosphere in your country at that time?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Yeah. I wait for the match live. Unfortunately he lost straight sets.

Q. Korda.
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Yeah. But everybody was expecting that match because tennis, the last years, been really big, with Marcelo, after with the Olympics, and I hope on Sunday.

Q. How much do you think you improved since the last Australian Open?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: Many things. Maybe in the last six months. I mean, I was talking to my trainer now. Last year I lost first round, five sets. I cramped. Really bad match. Maybe the worse match in my life. Not maybe; I think was.

Q. What match was that?
FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ: First round last year. I lost against a qualifier playing really bad tennis. Maybe I was here like three or four days. Now I'm here like three weeks. It's really nice. It's really nice because in this position is better, going better.

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