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January 13, 2008

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It's said that top seeds can be vulnerable in the first rounds of Grand Slams. Given your lack of match practice, is this a concern for you?
ROGER FEDERER: Not more than usual. I always know the difficulties of a first round. They're never easy, no matter how you enter, with full confidence or little.
No, I mean, of course, it's been some sort of a different preparation to some other Grand Slams. It's always tough in Australia because you don't have many matches coming in. But I'm very much used to it, not playing for four weeks or six weeks and then coming in and playing a big tournament. So for me it's not much of a change.

Q. Are you feeling a hundred percent now?
ROGER FEDERER: I've been playing sets the last couple days, you know, which was very important for me, to be able to play points. I'm happy with my form, to be honest. Very pleased. Physically I'm fine now, too. No more issues.
Yeah, I would consider myself a hundred percent.

Q. Compared to other times in your life when you've been sick, how bad was this one?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, not sick very often, you know. Just took me, you know, five days, a week, I don't know. It was just a tough thing to get over with. It wasn't just the flu for two, three days, then it sort of gets better. It took me longer than that.
I didn't panic necessarily because I knew I had enough time before the tournament started. But it was just a bit different. I didn't mind having more time off. Just resting all day, maybe getting a little session in at 6:00 in the evening.
It was also, you know, some sort of a different experience. But it's never nice, you know, to be ill. It's something I don't enjoy.

Q. What would have happened had you had that illness in the middle of a Grand Slam?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. Maybe I would have played, you know, just strolling around the court, I don't know. I've never given up in a tournament. I doubt it would have kept me out, as well.

Q. What is your confidence level to win the tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: Confidence? Yeah, I don't know where it is. I haven't been playing any matches, you know. But honestly I practiced very well in Dubai before coming here, so I definitely, you know, created a good base for this fortnight. That's what I feel now when I get back on the practice courts. You know, I feel the way I would like to feel. Tennis comes back very quickly. You know, it's not like I haven't been playing tennis for four weeks. It's only been one week I couldn't play tennis. When you practice so hard, like the way I did in Dubai, then you practice for a couple days, you're right away back into things. That's for me important to know.
I feel like I'm moving well. Surface seems to, again, suit my game, which is obviously important after all the talk about it. Now we'll see how it goes.

Q. Is the surface much different to what the Rebound Ace was?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really. I think it's very similar. Just a bit slower maybe. I haven't played much during the day. So tomorrow I'll practice during the day to see how it also feels during the day.

Q. You were consulted on the surface. What sort of feedback did they want from you?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't remember being consulted, but maybe they did ask me a couple questions. I don't know. The press asked me. So maybe one of the guys was thinking I was a press guy.
But, no, they choose, you know. I'm just one player of so many. I don't care, seriously. As long as it's hard court. I think it's not good to change surfaces at the Grand Slams because what if the French would all of a sudden go to hard court? It's not the same tournament any more. They've changed the surface too many times in the last years I think here. So they better keep this one for the next 50 years.

Q. This place has such good memories for you. Are you a bit sad with the court looking so differently with the color and stuff?
ROGER FEDERER: I prefer the blue over the green, absolutely. I think it looks nicer on TV. It's nicer on your eyes when you play. The stadium looks just more friendly, more nice. The green was very much too green from my point of view. Especially when the lights were on, it's very a very strange place to play, especially at night sessions sometimes. So I really prefer the blue over the green.

Q. Did the green seem unfriendly to you?
ROGER FEDERER: Not unfriendly, but the blue is more friendly.

Q. In Sydney, Richard Gasquet and other players complained that with this surface, Plexicushion, the balls after a while become bigger and bigger and you need more strength to hit the ball. Have you been feeling something like that?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, a little similar. But obviously it depends on how you play the points. I think if you can keep the points short, play an aggressive type of style, you avoid the long rallies, then you can obviously make sure the balls stay more or less, you know, new and quick throughout the remainder till you have to change balls again. So it depends on how you play. Of course, if you play five minutes behind the baseline, rally like crazy, after a few rallies, all balls will be fluffed up and it's going to be very slow.
So it depends on how you play. But I think it's a good thing that you have the choice to play aggressive, then the balls will stay quick. If you decide to play a little bit more further back in the court, you can slow down the balls, you know, throughout the match.
But I think the surface is a little bit too slow, in my opinion. Everything is already slowing down. Everybody's already complaining that, you know, we're playing too much from the baseline. So we'll only see more of that here in Australia, that's for sure.

Q. Do you think the Australian Open can maintain its status as one of the four majors? There's been some talk, like the Spaniards wanting to buy the Open, making it one of the majors in Spain. Do you think Australia can hold on to the status forever?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, 'forever'? I don't know. 'Forever,' that's a long way. I don't see a change in the near future, talking about the next 20 years. For me, it an obvious choice. It's been here for a long time now. Maybe the Australian Open went through some times when not all the players traveled here, you know, like Agassi, Connors, all these guys. They didn't come here. Back then it was also more difficult to travel so far, you know, because of the planes weren't up to the standard yet and it was just too far for one tournament.
Now with the airlines being so good, you know, I think this will be no problem any more. It will be okay for the years to come. I don't see why it should change. You know, it's a great Grand Slam, great facilities, one of the best in the world. So I think they deserve it. They've been able to maintain great crowds and a great event for us players.

Q. With the population of China growing, if China one day wanted to make Shanghai -- to give it that sort of status...
ROGER FEDERER: Sure, but you need some history as well, and the history lies here. We all know the Grand Slam history is the biggest. We know next to some other tournaments in Europe, you know, which have been around for a very long time, and it's important to keep those tournaments, as well. China's going to get their tournament in Shanghai it seems like in the future. I think they can't complain too much. They had the Masters Cup there. They're going to get a Masters Series.
I mean, there will always be little changes, but I think the Grand Slams should stay where they are.

Q. You're going to be playing Pete again in March in Madison Square Garden. First of all, how regularly do you think these exhibitions are going to go on? Secondly, is it strange to have become friendly with a guy whose record you're chasing?
ROGER FEDERER: No, not really. For me it was a great excitement to spend a week with Pete, you know, throughout the Asian swing. You know, we went to places which, you know, don't see much tennis. And I think that's something always that's important to me, you know. In the off-season, if I play at exhibitions, I play at areas where there's not hardly any other tournaments.
For me it was a dream come true to get a chance to play at the Garden. It's somewhere I never played at. It's been a long time since men played there as well. And Pete really wanted to have an exhibition in the States, as well. So I said, Sure, where should we do it? Sort of Madison Square Garden came about.
Honestly, it was just nice to hang out with him, see what type of a person he is. We've become friends, you know. It was very nice, you know, that we have obviously the record going on. I don't think it matters too much to us. It's just more about having respect and, you know, liking each other, you know, during that trip.
It's the last exhibition we got planned, and after that we'll see where it takes us.

Q. Who do you think your main threats are here at the Australian Open?
ROGER FEDERER: The usual guys, you know: the guys ranked behind me so... What do you want me to tell you?

Q. Is there one particular one you're worried about, perhaps?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, Rafael Nadal, by surprise. Guys, come on.

Q. You've played 10 straight majors now. Nobody has done that among the men before. Do you find each one means a little more pressure or because you're older you can handle that pressure all right?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, obviously I'm surprised, as well, at how consistent I've been at all the majors. It's not just I've played many Grand Slam finals; it's consecutive. And I think that's the great effort. Like, you know, the first question, the danger always looms around, you know, the first few rounds because you know you want to get the feeling for the court, the balls. It's been a year. You come back with a lot of pressure trying to defend the points.
There's always a lot of pressure, but somehow I always get through. You know, I got the right approach and I'm confident. I got different styles of play I can use, you know, to win matches. Always in the first round, you know, I don't play against a fellow top 10 player, which helps obviously. This is also one of the reasons I always maybe played very well throughout the Grand Slam.

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