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March 20, 2007

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Roger, please.

Q. Talk about what happened at Indian Wells? Was that a blessing in disguise, do you think?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, there's definitely good things about it. I mean, not finally, but some unexpected time off. I've always been on the verge of just trying to get my plans sorted out just as good as I could, you know, and all of a sudden this was the first time in many years where I've had a week.
I didn't know what I was going to do. So I had time to take another rest, you know, and enough time for leisure and also to practice. I got here early. I don't know if that's going to pay off, but, yeah, it's going to be interesting to see my reaction here. I hope I can play well.

Q. You obviously don't want to lose a run, but does it take pressure off you?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really. I think there's more pressure when it comes to losing. The next tournament, if you come back on the winning side again -- you know, when you lost you're just on the loser's side and it happens most of the times.
I would prefer to be on streaks obviously because it keeps you going, and the pressure from all the streaks and stuff, I don't feel it to be honest because I take every match at a time.

Q. What do you think about the Latin American players at this point? Do you understand there are two Chileans and Argentinians.
ROGER FEDERER: The South American players over the last few years have always been tough to beat and have really come along very strong, especially since Nalbandian and Coria came in.
They're the same age as me. They've really led a great group of guys, and then Gaudio won the French Open, as well. So the Argentinians have been very strong. But also Chileans came, and the Olympic medals of Massu and Gonzalez and the Australian Open finals with Fernando.
Of course Kuerten and probably Rios were the first ones to probably start that trend. They're tough to play. You know, they're such great competitors and athletes and great players from the baseline so they can play on all the surfaces now that the hard court is slowed down.
Yeah, it's fun that we have different players from different continents. Now I think the only ones that's really missing is Africa and Asia.

Q. Did you watch Indian Wells last week?
ROGER FEDERER: A little bit.

Q. Did you watch the finals?
ROGER FEDERER: A couple games I saw. I was practicing.

Q. Was the streak a disappointment? You were very close and we really all thought you were going to make it.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it would have been nice, but that wasn't my goal before the tournament. I was hoping to win a few rounds and hopefully get into the tournament and try to defend in the end.
I thought defending the title was more important than beating the streak, even though it went hand in hand at that point. It's just disappointing to lose a tournament. It was a strange loss I have. I thought I played okay, but I came from a quicker court in Dubai so maybe I was struggling getting onto the slow stuff, and really wanted to play the next match.
Then getting the blister and the problems with the tape and those delays really kind of messed my rhythm up and I couldn't get back into the match. By the time I felt more relaxed again it was already 5-2 double break down, and it was just too late. He closed it out nicely so I've got to give him credit, that's for sure.

Q. What is it about the Key that makes all the best players come out and makes it the fifth major of the season?
ROGER FEDERER: I guess you've got to go back in history. Matches were played here best-of-five sets back in the day from the first round on. They really tried to push hard to make it become the fifth major. I guess there will never be a fifth major, but it was always considered a tournament where everybody comes.
It's in a long stretch before the Australian Open and the French Open. There's no Grand Slams for a while, so Miami fits in perfectly. They've always had these great stadiums here, and the fields have always been bigger than other tournaments. I don't know how many players here, 96 players or something in the main draw. So it just makes it a big tournament.
You have many players, men's and women's the same week, like a Grand Slam, and that's why it's considered one of the big events to win on tour.

Q. When you're not playing tennis what will you be doing in Miami when you're not practicing and playing?
ROGER FEDERER: I like to go shopping here, walk around South Beach a little bit, enjoy just the crowd over there. I think it's really kind of nice to get there. Yeah, nice restaurants here and there.
Going to take it easy, go to the beach, as well, so there's nice things to do.

Q. Are you going to make any change in your game plan for this tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I guess so, yeah, because I had so much time off. I had over 12 days of time basically to get ready from one to the next tournament. Last few years every time I've come with a win from Indian Wells here to Miami, so the preparation is definitely different.
I don't know if it's going to help me right away, but I think in the long run I will definitely have no problems with energy towards the end of the year because I haven't played much this season yet. So for me it will definitely be good to get more matches here in Miami.

Q. For you the unscheduled break, was it more helpful mentally or physically?
ROGER FEDERER: It's not like I needed a break because I didn't play so much this year. You have to look at it in the long run. In the season it's always good to get rest, especially looking ahead with Miami and then the whole clay court and grass court season is really intense and tough.
I only get a handful of days off until after Wimbledon, so it's going to be really difficult, except, of course, if I really lose first round at the French Open. That's not really my goal. Been preparing for that for quite some time. I look at it as a little bit of a positive side.
Mentally and physically I didn't need a rest, so it was just extra days off.

Q. Will you talk specifically about Fernando Gonzalez and what is it about his game that makes him so difficult?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I've known him for a long time. I've known him since 14, 15 years old and I've played junior tournaments with him back then already. He was a year older, but I became junior world champion playing in his age group. He was in the semis here actually at the Orange Bowl and he lost to Coria in the semis. I beat Nalbandian in the semis.
I never played Fernando actually that year. He won the Junior French, I won Junior Wimbledon in the same year.
Now on tour it's been great how he came along, especially the last couple years. He's been able to improve his game. He didn't come overnight. It was a hard work in progress for him. His form was always dangerous and his backhand is steady.
He's now got the experience, so he's a very tough player to beat and he can upset any top player, even himself, can move very close to the very top soon, I think.

Q. Part of the attraction here is you and Tiger playing the same weekend. Who do you think is more dominant in their sport, you or Tiger?
ROGER FEDERER: I would guess there's a lot of speculation, but I think we're the last two guys who care about that (laughing).
I mean, it's nice to -- I think to be compared outside of the sport for me, for him maybe, as well, a little bit. What he's been able to do over all those years is just incredible, being so consistent. We definitely have to talk longer obviously because he's older and had more chances.
But the way he's been doing it and the way golf came along, thanks to Tiger, is phenomenal to see. That's also why so many people go watch golf now. I went to see Tiger and it's not the easiest thing. I walked inside of the ropes, but to go see him playing golf is kind of tough. You never really see him, you only see backs of other people (laughing).
I guess tennis is a bit more fan friendly in that respect. I don't know if I'm going to go see him here, but I hope he's going to come to the tennis on the weekend.

Q. Do you play golf?
ROGER FEDERER: I do. I played last week a ton.

Q. How well?
ROGER FEDERER: I need some advice from Tiger actually (laughing).

Q. Do you like it?
ROGER FEDERER: I do like it, yeah. It's very nice, relaxing.

Q. What can you tell to the boys that want to play tennis and that want to be No. 1, as you?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, the road is long, but I think if you have the right team and support from family and friends and everybody and give you an opportunity -- if you have good coaches, too -- and of course in the end you have to have the will also to work really hard, because today talent is not enough anymore.
You've got to practice really hard and then play well at the right times kind of thing to make a breakthrough and learn from your mistakes.
Tennis is tough. It's a bit of a losing game because you lose all the time, same as golf. There's only one winner every week. It's kind of tough. There's no draws and everything. So you'll have a lot of disappointments early on in your career. But it's just important to come out strong out of those losses.
I think if you get an opportunity, you've got to take it and be strong mentally.

Q. Is there a chance that you'll be playing more tournaments in Asia, especially countries like India? You haven't played there before. Is there a chance that Indian fans will get to watch you?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I played there for the first time for UNICEF last year, and it was fascinating for me to get to meet the culture up close. I know many Indian people, and they're very, very nice.
So I would definitely like to in the next five years get to play in India. I always love going to places where I've never been, like Japan last year was for me a great experience, as well. So India is definitely one of my priorities for the next five years, yeah.

Q. You said there are some strong players. Do you think there's a chance to win the Davis Cup this year?
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, every year. That's such a strong team, always very good singles players, and doubles team, as well. They're a threat every year, yes. No matter if somebody gets injured they have backups like crazy, not like other countries.

Q. You mentioned that Tiger has been consistent for longer because he's older. When you look at tennis and you look at other players, or have you looked at how long they played or have you thought about how long you can maintain this level?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, as I came maybe on the really, really big stage, a bit later on, and I had actually time to deduce the situation and really work hard, not chase down all the tournaments and guarantees and all these kind of things.
I had time to really get comfortable with who I was. So this is why I think I can definitely maintain this level for quite some time. I don't feel any fatigue or anything.
But I definitely feel I'm getting a bit older, you know, just because of playing so many matches and seeing places for the second time or for like the tenth time almost, like here in Miami.
And what else do I want to say? Oh, yeah, I set myself the goal actually to play definitely until the Olympic Games in London. That is for me one of the big goals, and Wimbledon itself. That's for me a great scenario.
But I hope I can play longer than that, too. I'll have to see how it goes. Injury-wise, you never know.

Q. Any thoughts on Rafael Nadal you can share with us?
ROGER FEDERER: What do you want me to tell you?

Q. After a big win --
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, he plays fantastic. For some it may come as a surprise. For me, I think it's normal. I always said I think he's -- if I'm not No. 1 he should be No. 1 because he's been playing so good over the last couple of years. For me I can't believe he hasn't won a tournament since the French Open.
But he was not playing that bad. People were saying he was in a slump and everything, and I knew he just came up against one guy that was really hot. Indian Wells suits his game, and finally he played like he usually does and beat all the guys, so I was happy to see that.

Q. How are the conditions here with the court? I know the weather is different than Indian Wells, but how does the court play?
ROGER FEDERER: Quite similar. I think it's very slow here actually, too. I don't know if it's slower than the last couple years, but it's hard to hit winners from the baseline. You've kind of got to work your way into those points. Kind of force the error, not actually get winners and stuff.
So it's very similar to Indian Wells, it's just humidity and wind, which makes it harder to control, and sweat, which makes it difficult.

Q. Do you like the purple?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, as long as it's not pink, it's okay. Go from blue to purple to maybe pink next year, so we'll see (laughing).

Q. Can you expound on the round-robin system?
ROGER FEDERER: Because of what happened, simple as that. I knew there was going to eventually be a problem with the round-robin system. Very sad to see it really had to happen to the people that woke up and realized.
But I guess we're going to be discussing this issue also this week, and see how we go forward now. Yeah, it's unfortunate, I think.

Q. Do you get more attention away from the court in Europe or in the United States? And then second part of that, in the last year has your attention level in the States changed?
ROGER FEDERER: I feel like there's been a big raise of attention since maybe my -- kind of my second US Open win when I beat Andre. I think that was a huge match for me. You know, almost had the feeling that all of America was watching that one because it was such a sentimental match, that maybe Andre was going to retire on the spot and everything.
I think it kind of started from then on, and then with all the continued success I've had an incredible run in the States especially. I've won many matches in North America, and honestly anywhere in America or Europe, there's not much of a difference anymore.
There used to be I could walk around much more easily in America obviously because I wasn't here so much, but lately I've come to learn that here it's the same thing. It's okay.

Q. Does it annoy you?
ROGER FEDERER: (Lauging) it's okay. People are friendly, polite. It's okay.

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