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March 18, 2008

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Coming into this tournament you spoke about the need to get matches under your belt. In some ways, would you have preferred a tougher workout today?
ROGER FEDERER: No. Actually I enjoy matches like this, really. I mean, for me, having a sensation like I had today towards the end of the second set when you feel everything's going your way, you've got his game perfectly figured out and everything you're trying to do sort of works as well, it's just a good feeling.
I think this is also what you want to do, then, is you want to try to run over your opponent. Not give him a chance anymore. I was really happy to break that often, and no problems whatsoever on my own serve. It was a perfect match really for me.

Q. In these baseline days, is it nice to play against a player who plays the way he does?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, we have similar games, I guess. One-handed backhand, we try to play aggressive from the baseline. When you've got the edge, because maybe I'm a bit smaller, bit more athletic, just have a tendencies to get to more balls and be in a better position.
I thought I had the upper hand from the baseline actually early on in the match, and that was key for me, knowing that from the baseline there's no need to panic.
I served really beautifully today, I think, which was very important for me to put the pressure on Nicolas. I was surprised how well I returned his serve. I think he can definitely serve better than that. He didn't really go for the outright aces, which is good for me, because I got really plenty of balls back into play and from the baseline I was in control.

Q. You mentioned after the match the other day that you just wanted to play conservatively. Were you trying to make a point to push yourself and be more aggressive?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, different opponent, different day. I mean, Garcia-Lopez was playing from the baseline, trying to run around his backhand, you know. Playing with a lot of spin and sort of also tends to like just move you around and wait for a mistake.
With him it's a different. He's going to force the issue. You are a going to see many more unforced errors from his point, but maybe more offensive play from my side because we both want to get to the net as quick as possible.
Look, I've always enjoyed playing against the Frenchmen. They have good techniques, playing style, unbelievable shot making. It sometimes tends to be to be a bit easier playing against them. They make you better tennis than, for instance the Spaniards, who are just going to throw the ball into play.

Q. What do you feel like you've accomplished in these first couple matches going forward?
ROGER FEDERER: Accomplished a good feeling, I think. Just, you know, overall excited being back, happy to be playing well. I'm there where I wanted to be, in second or third round for me.
Just feeling like I'm playing good tennis again, you know. I feel like I did at the Australian Open after one of my first couple of matches. But this time I'm more sure I'm over the sickness, you know, whereas in Australia it was really quite extreme. I couldn't really practice the way I wanted to before the Australian Open.
This time it's very different. I don't know who I'm playing yet so it's going to be exciting to see. I'm really looking forward to the rest.

Q. Computer shows you and Rafa to be pretty close in points, but do you feel he's close to you these days?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, obviously, yes. I mean, he's been playing great, you know. He's been playing consistent. He's been playing more than me, so of course you have to expect him to do well here again. I think this surface suits him.
After I lost here last year, I remember he was -- I was thinking, Well, if Rafa doesn't win here something's wrong, and he did. Didn't lose a set. I expect him to do similar things here again this year.
He's very tough with this type of surface. Yeah, he's close, but he has more points to defend in the next few weeks and months.
But that's not really my focus at the moment. For me it's to do well here at Indian Wells and see how the points are standing when we go into Miami.

Q. Do you think his hardcourt game has improved?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, he's improved it since the last few years. The only problem is he seems to always run into a guy who is on an incredible run. Sometimes it's Youzhny, sometimes it was Berdych, and then it was Tsonga at the Australian Open. Guys can take away time from him. He struggles on hardcourt.
That's always gonna happen, but these guys need to step up every time as well. It's not going to happen every week, and Rafa is also going to be there to take it if these guys are not there. This is why Rafa is so strong. He beat Roddick last year, Djokovic last year here. He's proved it on grass, how great a player he is on grass courts and hardcourts, quick courts.
There's no need for him to improve anymore. He's there already.

Q. You come to the net quite a lot, but I doubt you'd describe yourself in terms of a serve and volleyer in terms of a Stefan Edberg or Pat Rafter of the past. Do you think in this day and age it's possible to be out and out serve and volleyer and compete at the very top of the game?
ROGER FEDERER: I think it's possible, for sure. Yeah. The conditions have become very slow with the balls and courts and everything slowing down. But I think if you volley very well, you know, like Edberg would have done in the past or Pete or Rafter, Becker and these guys, you know, they're such great athletes and so good at the net, you know, it's -- I think you could put an incredible amount of pressure on the baseline players today. You could take away the time from them.
But it is hard, because maybe we return way better today and pass much better because conditions are a bit slower and because we -- everybody's practicing that way. But I would be interested in my own game if I would just start serve and volleying first, second serve and see where it would take me in the ranking at the end of the year. It would be interesting to see.

Q. Any plans to do that?
ROGER FEDERER: No plans at the moment, but you never know.

Q. You've done a great job over the years neutralizing the strong shots, strokes of the opponents like Andy's serve or Agassi's groundies. But is Rafa's forehand, particularly on clay, the toughest stroke you've had to deal with?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, look, I'm not sure if it's just his forehand, you know. Let's say it's more his movement than anything else. His forehand and backhand seems is never going to break down really, especially on clay.
I can't see people talking about him, that that being a weakness. It's amazing what kind of pace he can get off the backhand and how good his defense is off the backhand and how good his slice has become. People underestimate his game entirely.
No, look, it's good. These guys are good stuff. We have seen Agassi's groundies, and there's always somebody new that comes up with something that challenges your game. Rafa, I really think, is his intense movement on the court.

Q. Roger, how much better do you think you can get?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think I have really a lot of potential towards playing more aggressive, what we were just talking about. I think the rest is sort of trying to maintain good fitness, good defensive skill. My offensive skills will always be very good, you know. Just having to continue, you know, improving little things.
I think it's about details at this stage of my career, and I'm not going to become a different player next year. I don't want to. I'm really happy how I'm playing.

Q. How do you feel about Alinghi having to sail against the catamaran now? Looks like there's a judgment now.
ROGER FEDERER: Haven't heard about it.

Q. They are going to have to sail against Oracle next year.
ROGER FEDERER: Sure, I mean, whatever they want to do at Oracle. I mean, I guess. It's a pity that it's decided in court, you know. I hope the Swiss didn't do anything wrong, because I think it should be played according to the rules.
But for us, anyway, for us Swiss it's been a very exciting last year, you know holding the America's Cup, and hope it's going to still stay fair and not become some upsurge sort of sporting event.

Q. You've had some amazing streaks in tennis. Have you been in contact with Tiger about his own winning streak?
ROGER FEDERER: I saw him at the Garden. He came to watch. Sure, I congratulated him after his amazing victory last weekend. He was fantastic. On a roll he is. I have a good feeling for him this year, really.

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