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January 17, 2008

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. There were one or two rallies in that match similar to the match you played against him at the US Open a couple years ago, but the result very, very different. Do you feel significantly better than you did back then? Are you a better player now?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I had some good matches against Fabrice in the past already. And, honestly, the US Open was part of it.
He just -- you know, he came to the net much more. I think the surface was a bit faster for him, which helped him. And, you know, today I just really got off to a good start. And, you know, after that, it was tough for him. I really didn't give him much. I think I really played him in a very smart way.
So it was nice. We had a few nice points. You know, you always usually have them against Fabrice. But sometimes you wonder where they are. Then all of a sudden they're right there. So it was fun to play against him. But, you know, the score was very one-sided, which was nice for me anyway.

Q. It was a pretty friendly match. Could you describe what was going on on the very last point?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, sort of things were going really fast, and he just wanted me to slow down (laughter). No, I played along a little bit.
So it was just -- you know, we're good friends off the court. We like each other's games, and, you know, have a lot of respect. So it was just good to joke around a little bit.

Q. Fabrice has kind of said one of the keys to his longevity has been that he can just enjoy tennis. I guess in this case, even when he's losing quite a bit. Can you describe your own relationship with tennis, for better or worse? Is it the kind of thing you love even when it's difficult?
ROGER FEDERER: Sure. I mean, for me probably it's a bit different because I'm at the very top and I'm facing sort of different pressure. It's maybe not such a grind day in and day out. It's more, you know, the pressure I'm facing.
But honestly, I still also want it to be what I wanted it to be in the first place: love for the game. I always said, you know, this is what I always wanted to do. And when it came along and it became all crazy with media and sponsors and stuff, I didn't really think part of it. I told myself, You got to enjoy the ride. It's part of it now. Don't let that scare you away, you know.
Honestly, I've enjoyed it, you know, starting with local media back in the day when I was a junior, and going all the way, I've enjoyed the changes, you know. I'm happy it didn't take away the pleasure of playing, because that's what it comes down to for me in the end. I like practice, but in the end I love the matches out on the tennis court in front of the supporters, which is nice.

Q. Is it all the more a pleasure to play somebody like Fabrice who is kind of the same mindset?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, you feel he enjoys it. He's playing in a fair manner. It's always a tricky match against him. But you know it's going to be fun. And this is what it's supposed to be, this game.

Q. You played your best at both the Masters Cup and here after people had raised some questions at the Masters Cup, after you lost your second match in a row in four-and-a-half years, then today coming in here and being a little ill. When people question your abilities, does that motivate you?
ROGER FEDERER: Not necessarily. You know, I mean, it's normal. You know, you can always comment on, you know, playing styles of different players. And, of course, the more you give an opportunity, the more people will be asked and the more rumors start to fly around.
It was obvious it was going to happen at some stage. I didn't think it was that extreme. I thought I was playing okay in Madrid, you know. Made the finals there. Played actually some good matches, some dangerous matches. Then just played in Paris. It was way slow. Nalbandian played a fantastic match. And González played well.
So for me there was nothing really happening. It was maybe more for the media or for some experts who started to speculate. But I was happy I got sort of a second life at The Masters. It's the only tournament you can win by losing, which is great for me. It was nice I could pick up the rhythm so well. I continued in the beginning of the season like last year, where I also didn't drop a set.
I hope I can keep it up. But they don't disturb me too much, you know, any more today, the talks anyway.

Q. You have a pretty average five-set record. It's not in sync with the rest of your career. Is that a misleading statistic? What do you make of that? Is it a stat that players pay attention to?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, it's like some players, you know, have maybe some bad finals records. Then you look at who they played sometimes, where they were, those finals.
It doesn't always tell the truth, you know. I played quite a few five-setters early on in my career. I had a couple of tough ones I think in Davis Cup one time. I should have maybe won one or the other. But if you look also against who I lost, it was good players, quality players. I don't know if I was the favorite back then, you know, beating all these guys.
And then I haven't played much, you know, the last few years. I don't know how many five-setters I've played. The ones I remember, the Rome final, the Miami final against Rafa, the semis here. Those are all, you know, a couple years ago. The finals obviously at Wimbledon. But there's not too many I played.
But I just have to really put my mindset at, you know, when I practice, can I last seven matches out of five sets? That's something I wanted to be able to almost relate to. So to me, for instance, the semifinals loss I had against Safin here didn't come down to fitness. I really had pain in my foot. Marat played a great match.
Some they show you how much you still have to work. Those are the moments which are also very enjoyable when you see, actually, even if you win or lose the five-setter, you move forward because it's a hell of a test. As long as you don't have those, sometimes you think everything's working fine till you're all of a sudden in the most important match of your career, you're in a five-setter, you can't handle it. That's actually why I'm happy I did already play five-setters when I was younger.

Q. As someone who does love the game, the spectacle of it all, the characters, will you be turning on the TV tonight to watch Baghdatis against Safin?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. Depends on my dinner schedule. I don't know when I'm going out for dinner yet. It's not like I'm going to put it around that. Usually it's always just around dinnertime. Maybe I'll go a bit earlier tonight because I'm done a bit earlier today.
I like to watch, you know, tennis on TV. You know me. I watched last night's game, for instance. I'll try to watch it, yeah. I mean, they're good guys. They make some incredible shots, so it should be entertaining.

Q. What's your thoughts on your next round against Tipsarevic?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, interesting. He made it through in that group. I thought really Verdasco was going to make it. He's got a hell of a game.
But Janko has really improved a lot, I think, the last couple years. I played him in Davis Cup. We had a very one-sided match that went my way. Of course, I played on home turf, which helped. I practiced with him at the US Open. I really feel like he's hitting a good ball. He's good off both sides. He came through some tough matches.
It's going to be interesting to see how the beginning of the match starts. It's going to be a dangerous match. He beat some good players the last couple years. So we'll see.

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