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March 16, 2008

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Is Federer back?
ROGER FEDERER: One match, and I don't know, I guess I was never away, either. But no, I mean I'm happy the way it went today, and it was good conditions to play, after all. I was expecting much more cold and more wind, you know, but it was fine, so it was nice.

Q. I was going to probably ask the same thing. Do you feel any more pressure on a tournament like this because you've sort of gone missing for a while?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I haven't played much, and I think this is the difficulty. But then again, every first round you play in a big tournament or any tournament is always a bit of pressure if you're No. 1 seed.
I mean, it just -- it's there, and you just don't feel at ease like you do feel in a second or third round. And that's the big -- it's a big break to make. When you start a tournament you start it well and get on a roll, and now I guess for the second round I'll be much more relaxed.
Even though I wasn't nervous or anything, but you just have a tendency to just be a bit more unsure in the first round because you don't know the conditions that well yet.

Q. What about your level coming off your illness?
ROGER FEDERER: Excuse me? My level?

Q. How do you feel your level is coming off your illness? Are you where you want to be?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I think I was expecting a fairly good match, solid, not too many chances. You know, I wouldn't play too risky. Got off to a good start. I got that. Could have taken many more chances I think today and could have won even more easily.
But the way it went I was very happy. Came up with some nice plays at the moment. So, yeah, I was very pleased with my performance today.

Q. Healthwise, do you feel you're at or close to 100%?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I had no issues today. I felt like I was pretty quick out there. You know, my movement and everything, I was happy with that. No breathing problems, no, you know, no pains or aches, so everything was fine.

Q. Are there any similarities between your game and Novak Djokovic's game? Maybe he take something from you, do you feel?
ROGER FEDERER: Hard to say. I mean, he has good double-handed backhand that changes quite a bit. I guess there's always some sort of similarities when you both play aggressive from the baseline. I guess one thing you could say at the moment is he's playing the big points well, you know.
So that's something I did for many years, and that's probably the biggest similarity I see at the moment.

Q. Could you just clarify one thing: In Dubai after you lost to Murray, you assessed his game. Some of those comments were taken as criticizing him. Were you criticizing him?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I wasn't. I heard rumors too that people were saying I was criticizing him. I wasn't, and if I was, it was at a very high level, you know, so I'm sure he knows that. There's no reason to apologize, you know.
If the press turns around my words, you know, I can't do anything about it. You know, it was -- it was minute after the match, so of course there was confusion I had in my head going around with the illness I had and the match I just played, which wasn't too bad.
All I just said was I thought he was a more aggressive player, and all he was doing was just keeping the ball in play. That's what I said, you know. But he can do both. I know it and he knows it, so I don't think we hate each other, you know.
We had a chat, so everything's okay. Not about that, but something else.

Q. Had you ever heard of mononucleosis?
ROGER FEDERER: I did, yeah.

Q. Do you sense just because of the infrequency you played and the illness and the way you played that there's more eyes on your performance in this tournament?

Q. Than in the past?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm not sure if much would have changed if I would have won Australian Open and Dubai. Focus would have been the same. I came in here last year with an unbelievable winning streak, so there's always -- No. 1 player in the world doesn't go under the radar anymore. It doesn't matter how I play, and so...
No, maybe some -- I think the fans really are excited to see me back on the court and really want me to do well. When we're on the practice courts, everybody's wishing me well and happy to see me again sort of thing and cheering my on. This is the biggest change I felt over the last few weeks here.

Q. You talked about the ability to play the big points well. Could you go through that for me, and what's the key? Is it focus? Intensity? Relaxation? What is the key to playing those points?
ROGER FEDERER: Little bit of everything, you know. Momentum, experience, knowing how to play the moments well. Having a good enough game to be able to play the best shots at the right time and believing in yourself. Everything that comes together really, I think, on the big points.

Q. You said that you lost the December work that you did with Pierre Paganini?
ROGER FEDERER: Not December.

Q. The January work?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I pretty much could actually work everything I wanted in December. Then I had a big setback right before the Australian Open, you know. So instead of maintaining a good level I probably lost a lot of energy because I was feeling bad.
And then lost some more time in -- before Dubai where I maybe lost an extra 10 days. That was really sort of the time I missed, so I'm not far behind, but a little bit. And I'll make sure I catch up with that throughout the next couple of weeks.

Q. How are you handling your work between tournaments?
ROGER FEDERER: You mean for the future now?

Q. Yes.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I'm going to catch up with him more regularly, and I'm going to do another three-, four-day buildup in Miami. I'm going to see him there again. I'll see him again before Estoril. I'll see him before Monaco, as well, after Monaco. So that should be plenty then, looking ahead.

Q. Did you ever have a night in the hospital through all these three times?
ROGER FEDERER: No. They wanted to keep me there, but I said, Roger Federer doesn't stay in the hospital for this. If I have a problem I'll come back, but let me first get worse, you know.

Q. You've only played once in about six weeks. People who play in clubs and stuff would miss it if they didn't play very often. Did you miss playing the one time just in the last six weeks?
ROGER FEDERER: You mean miss playing?

Q. The enjoyment of it and wish you could have played little more?
ROGER FEDERER: No, it was my plan. I didn't miss any tournaments, I didn't miss any -- really much. I was just ill, you know. I didn't feel so good, you know.
I knew I was going to spend a lot of time on the practice courts. I started to enjoy that. It's nice for me to get away again and come back. I feel good about my decision, because I'll play plenty for the next few months; you know my schedule. So it's going to be intense.
And the only thing you always miss is when you play in so much of the practice courts that, you know, you want to see the fans again, sort of wave to them, you've won a match, you know. People talk again.
It's nice to be in the limelight once in a while. That's maybe what I've missed, but I knew that was going to come, you know, with scheduling.

Q. When you were sick and couldn't do anything physically, what sort of things did you do? I can't imagine you started watching soap operas or anything, but...
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I was -- well, in Australia I guess it was obvious. You just try to get over it. Just try to play as soon as possible, you know, not taking too many chances on your health and trying to do everything as good as you can.
In Dubai I was just sort of sleeping a lot, trying to get over the sickness. And when I got sick in Switzerland I was at a friend's place and, again, same thing. I was so tired I didn't get up or have a drink almost. I was just waiting for it to be over.
So that's the sort of thing I was doing. Recovering.

Q. Last year you talked about the streak coming in here. Was last year's loss just another loss for you when you lost here, or did it hurt more because you had a chance to, you know, set some historic records?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, it would have been nice, you know. I'm not saying it didn't affect me or hurt me in any way. I would have loved to break, was it Vilas' record?

Q. Yes, Vilas.
ROGER FEDERER: It would have been nice, but it's not something you go for. It just happens or it doesn't. I was just disappointed losing in the first round, especially being a defending champion here.
I think I played so well. I think I won it three times in a row. So being on an unbelievable roll. I played great tennis. I played some of my best tennis here on this type of court.
To come here and lose first round and then you got almost two weeks to kill before you play again in Miami, that was sort of the disappointing part. Coming here, everything's working, played well in Dubai, sort of like Andy, and you come here and lose first round.
It's just sort of -- sort of takes you back to reality, but in some ways it was good for me, too, I guess, because I was winning so much. So it's nice. People remind you you still have work to do.
You know, you want to improve, and that's how I saw things. I bounced back and I played okay afterwards on clay and at Wimbledon.

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