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January 28, 2007

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Nice familiar feeling?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, hasn't happened that many times.

Q. Getting to be familiar, though.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it does feel great. It does feel great, yeah (smiling).

Q. Was it a case of playing smarter tennis in the conditions?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, look, I mean, I think the conditions have been the same now for the last couple of matches for me. I think I just had to really adjust to Fernando's game. He's changed it up a little bit and made it hard for the opponents to attack him really, by playing a good slice, with a lot of spin, covering it well with his forehand, especially (indiscernible) serving well.
You know, I tried to tell myself I've beaten him nine times out of nine, play your game, be aggressive, don't give him too many free points. It ended up working even though it was a close match. I'm just kind of relieved and all proud I did it again.

Q. Don't play many guys like that, do you?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, especially all the time slice, you know almost. I mean, he does come over it when he has to really. In passing shots sometimes when he's up 40-Love he does go for it.
He made it hard for me today to really kind of attack him. He slices the forehand, slices the backhand. It's just a different game. Especially the first set. I was missing a few of them to give him the upper hand. He should have won the first, but I came back and won. That might have been crucial.

Q. Seemed to go cross-court a lot to his forehand. Was that a strategy, keep him on the forehand court?
ROGER FEDERER: Look, you try to stay with him as much as you can. Especially with his forehand, he takes huge cuts at the ball. You always have to be careful for his down the line if you do that. That gives me the opportunity to attack him, you know, maybe down the line to his backhand or then beat him on the forehand cross-court, which might be tough for him.
So, I mean, I think I picked the right tactics in the end. I played well. I played a really tough match which I was hoping for.

Q. Does it mean that much more when you do win it in straight sets every single match? Does that have an emphatic meaning to you, as well?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I guess, you know, equaling records, doing something that hasn't been done for a long time, it's really nice, there's no doubt. Wasn't ever a goal for me up to win a Slam without dropping a set.
It's more to me that reminds you all the time, if you would, you know, you would be, so on and so on. All I care in the end is to hopefully hold that trophy, even though it might be 20-18 in the fifth set. I don't mind, as long as I win.
Of course, now that it's all over, it's great to think, Wow, you know, not having dropped a set. It's quite amazing.

Q. The organizers of the Open say it's going to cost $200 million to get it up to standards. What do you think of the standard of the Australian Open as opposed to other Grand Slams?
ROGER FEDERER: What is it going to cost them?

Q. $200 million.

Q. To improve the standard of the facilities.
ROGER FEDERER: What do they need to improve? Well, I mean, we players enjoy it very much. I guess you can always improve little things. This is the only Grand Slam that has a roof over the big courts, you know - even two. I mean, we have some events that have it, but not Grand Slams. They're actually maybe ahead of some Grand Slams.
I think the facilities are really nice for the fans, for the players. I think if they're going to invest that kind of money it's going to be an incredible Grand Slam, because it's already very nice right now.

Q. Are you aware of that 'genius' banner that follows you around tournament to tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, of course (smiling). It's really nice. I have so many fans, especially on my website as well. We cracked the 100,000 members actually this week during the Australian Open. I've met many of them. Always writing me mail, you know, kind of getting in touch with me, showing it when they're in the stadium.
I've seen that banner many, many times. It's always kind of nice to see them again. Maybe it's not the same person, but the same banners out. Yeah, it gives me a good feeling.

Q. What does that word mean to you, "genius"?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, look, I guess I'm the best tennis player in the world. You can call me a genius because I'm outplaying many of my opponents, kind of maybe playing a bit different, you know, winning when I'm not playing my best. All of that maybe means a little bit of that. So it's nice.

Q. Work or talent?
ROGER FEDERER: Both, for sure (smiling).

Q. How surprised or relieved were you to take that first set? Was that what you felt was the turning point?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, could have been. I don't know if it's the turning point of the match. I mean, I guess he would have had a great lead, could have played more freely, maybe could have taken more chances.
Maybe I would have been more under pressure. But I think I handled the situation well and I knew that those weren't match points, they were set points, and you can always take a lost set or even two. You just got to keep on believing that you can turn it around and that you're doing the right things.
I mean, Grand Slam finals are tough. Everything's on the line. There is no draw in tennis. It's always going to be a winner and a loser. You hope you're going to play one more great match. Especially the way he came through to the finals, put the pressure on me, as well, because I knew if I wasn't going to play a good match, I was going to lose. So that puts the pressure on. I'm the overwhelming favorite, so it's always tough.

Q. Would you remember how to come from a set down?
ROGER FEDERER: Absolutely. I mean, I don't think just the match would start back at zero. Would have had to try to win in four sets really. Would have been no problem, I think. I don't know if I would have won, but.

Q. Have you booked a clay court for practice tomorrow?
ROGER FEDERER: No, not really. That's going to start after Miami.

Q. Of all the streaks you have going, what sticks out in your mind as the most impressive to you?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, all these Grand Slams since 2003. That's what, for me, is really scary, how many I've won. I was thinking about it this morning actually when I woke up. Like if somebody would have told me I'd win 10 Grand Slams from mid '03 till today, I never would have thought there was any chance of doing something like that. I would have signed up for just one, you know. So to do that.
Then, I guess the streak of No. 1 weeks in a row, beating Connors soon. I think those are the two biggest ones, I think.

Q. At the start of the match, the emcee is going through your list of achievements. Would you prefer that happened or didn't happen? Two Grand Slams there's no announcements, and the other two they announce everything you've done. Would you rather go out incognito and play, or read this list of achievements?
ROGER FEDERER: I like how he does it. I think he's almost the best of the year. The way he does it, I remember I was back in my parents' place, I don't know, in the summer or sometime. My dad, you know, he's playing over all the matches from cassette to CDs. Takes him hours and hours and days and days.
There was one match lying around of the finals of last year against Marcos. I said, Let me have a look. It was the very beginning. I heard again the announcement. Everybody started to laugh again in the end. I rewind it and listen to it again (smiling).
You can imagine I enjoy it very much. Coming back, having one title more than the last year, it's great. I really enjoy it.

Q. Do you think a match like this, if kids could see a match like this, that it would inspire them how you two played such different tennis from what we're used to with the baseline grinders, beautiful tennis with one-handed backhands? Do you think maybe we can get some kids thinking about playing that way, too?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I do hope so, yes. I mean, I was inspired by Becker and Edberg. I mean, look what came out. So thanks to them the way they played. They had both a beautiful backhand. So, I mean, I hope some kids see that and they actually consider playing one-handed. Especially by me winning so many, that's going to maybe tell them it's good, you have the option with the slice, drive and everything.
I mean, I like two-handed backhands as well. I can just play one. I'm incapable of playing a double-handed. I do feel the one-handed is more beautiful.

Q. Fernando is strong as a bull. Looked like the middle of the second set he was kind of sucking wind, having trouble keeping up. Seemed to move around exceptionally well.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think I was really trying to get the upper hand from the baseline because I knew that was going to be key to the match. I knew it's going to be tough because of the way he's playing, you know, the way he's been serving in the tournament.
I knew that, you know, if he plays so many slices, it's going to be tough for you eventually. You have to stay on the attack, otherwise it's just going to be in defense. It's going to be hard for you physically to go through a match like this. So you have to open up a little bit. I was hoping for that moment to come, once I lead a set, maybe take advantage.
It kind of worked out for me. He had to go for more. Once he had to do that, it gets tough for him. I mean, that's maybe why the first set was key. I don't know.

Q. Inevitably we'll talk about the Slam. How much does that live in your mind?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, now I'm again close to winning four in a row basically. That's what's again on my mind before thinking of going all the way through to US Open.
French Open is obviously the next big one for me. That's going to be very interesting to see how I'm going to do there. I mean, I've made one step further every year now. Went from semis to finals. Got closer to Raf, as well.
I think it's going to be a very interesting French Open for me. I hope it's going to work out for me, and I'm going to play well, hopefully win the title. That will be a dream come true. That's the only way I can make this season a better one than last year. Otherwise it won't be possible, so...

Q. Is the Slam an achievable target?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm going to give myself the best possible chance, like I did last year. But, you know, it's so difficult to do. It's such a long way to go that I've just won one-quarter out of it. To think of it, just to do it all over again, on all different surfaces, it's going to be so hard.
I'm happy I won the first one. I'll be happy if that's the only one I win this season. But I'm going to make the best run possible for the other ones, as well.

Q. Would you say your motivation is as strong now as it's ever been to play and to win?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think I've definitely -- with the experience now, I know what schedule to pick, what tournaments to play. My decisions seem always the right ones because they always pay off in the end. Doha, no Doha, this tournament or not this tournament.
I end up, you know, don't actually needing the matches because I get them in the first rounds of a Grand Slam. Maybe I might be wrong, but I don't know. I doubt it because of my experience and by knowing how to come back off two, three months' layover and how to come out and play a competitive match. I know how to do that. All those things all combined make it so hard to beat me, especially probably over a best-of-five sets.
I don't - how do you say - lose many sets early on in the tournament which give me then great marginals (sic) in the end, especially in terms of resources physically. Yeah, I mean, I'm doing the right thing. My motivation is maybe as big as ever. You're right.

Q. After which level, what do you think another tennis player think about Roger Federer after this?
ROGER FEDERER: The other players?

Q. Yes. What do you think? You are unbeatable? It is impossible to play against you?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, if I were another player, I would be amazed a little bit to see always the same guy winning. I guess that's how I would look at it. I remember when Lleyton was No. 1. When I was coming up, Lleyton was No. 1 for about two years. I remember thinking, Nobody's going to beat Lleyton. He's just going to always be there, always winning. I don't see why he should start losing because he's just better than the others.
I guess that's a little bit how other players see me as well. I hope at least, you know. But that's how I see it.

Q. Are you confirming that you're not going to retire next year like Borg did when he was 26? If you have a bad year, winning only two Slams per year, that means in five years you will have 20.
ROGER FEDERER: I like your thinking. You're worried that I'm leaving and then you're seeing like the 20 already. It's great to be only halfway (smiling).
I mean, I doubt that I'll retire. You can never say for sure. I told you guys that I hope to play at least till the Wimbledon Olympics in 2012. That's a really big target for me. And the Slams, you know, just try to keep it up. I'm getting closer every Grand Slam I've played now to Sampras'. I hope to keep it up.

Q. What makes Rafa so hard to beat for you on clay? I mean, Nadal.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, there's only one Rafa, in the top 10 at least or top two (laughter).
Yeah, what is it? I guess he's physically very strong. Growing up on that surface. Being on a winning streak for 60 matches. He's very confident. He knows how to play. He covers the court extremely well. Maybe a lefty. We don't see that very often. This whole combination makes it very tough.
He's a great player. I enjoy watching him on clay. I liked especially the challenge last year, the three matches we had was fantastic. I really enjoyed it.

Q. It almost seems sometimes your status as a person in tennis, ambassador for the game, is the only competition you have as a player in the game. Your status as a person is rising, the only thing rising as fast as your status as a player. Is that meaningful for you?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't understand.

Q. The affection people feel for you, the ambassadorship.
ROGER FEDERER: I think especially now that Agassi retired, really absolutely taken over as the ambassador for the tennis game. I've always tried to put in as much as I could back into the game because the game, this is what I love doing. It's been so good to me, you know.
I hope that once I retire, I left tennis in a better way than when I arrived. I'm not saying that it was bad, but I always try to improve things. We have a great relationship with the top 20 guys even more. I get along very well with all the players. I think we're all trying to talk more together, with Etienne, with the ITF, with everybody, just trying to make it a better game. It's had its up and lows, like it should have. We're just really trying to take it up another level. If I can be No. 1 pulling them all along, that's a great thing.
We'll see in the future what's going to happen.

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