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March 27, 2008

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How would you assess the first three tournaments of the year for you, and has that left your priorities unchanged? Would you have modified them at all?
ROGER FEDERER: They have been rather tricky, I would think, you know. First one of the year is always tough, because there are no real tournaments beforehand. And especially this year with the sickness, I think it was even more complicated, you know.
So preparation definitely wasn't at its best. Dubai, again, I had a long break before that, and I had a really difficult draw. After realizing what I really had, you know, expectations were maybe really high, you know.
Then in Indian Wells, maybe I'm lacking matches, obviously, going into the event as well, like in Dubai, and I actually played okay.
So, I would think top 5 in the race, things are not looking too bad, and priorities don't really change for the rest of the year now.

Q. After this is over, do you think you'll have some problem going back to Wimbledon?
ROGER FEDERER: No, not really. It was just a matter of getting enough matches in in the last events. I mean, these two tournaments are tricky anyway. I realized that last year. You know, if you play well everything's great. If you lose you have actually some nice time to practice and relax.
When you tend to lose you want to play again so you can forget. But especially during these two tournaments. The press writes a little bit too much sometimes. For me, it's just a matter of getting back on the winning road, and it would be good for me to win three matches at Indian Wells. Now it's back to normal again, which is a good thing.

Q. Tiger was in town last week, and your friendship with Tiger has been much talked about. Did you have a chance to talk to him about the ending of his winning streak, and how did he take it?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. I missed him, unfortunately, you know. But he's on a great run, and hope he's doing well. I'm sure he is. I don't think a tournament like this really distracts him too much. It's all about getting the green jacket in a couple of weeks.

Q. Mono is kind of a recurrent thing. Are you sort of talking to doctors as you go along? Are you having tests, or do you think it's passed now?
ROGER FEDERER: I hope it's passed. I guess there's never a guarantee that it comes back, but I hope it doesn't come back. It didn't disturb me in a crazy way, you know. If you think about it, I still played semis of the Australian under the circumstances. Didn't miss any tournaments at all, which is not a bad thing, considering.
Probably go and do one more check-up probably after Miami just to see how I'm doing. But really my heart rate's doing well, you know. I've been monitoring that with my condition trainer. I'm happy the way I'm playing again out there.
You know, things feel good, anyway. But i haven't been close to any setbacks, which is a good thing as well.

Q. How does the Swiss press treat you, Roger? We can't read it. We don't know. I don't know if you even read it. But does it have any effect on you?
ROGER FEDERER: What do you mean, in general?

Q. In general. And now if they're writing, Our boy is in a slump or something like that.
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, usually they're pretty good. I haven't had too much trouble with them, you know. Some write too many things to try to sell papers, obviously, but you can't stop that.
You know, I'm on a good basis with them because I see them too often to be on a bad level with them.

Q. You mentioned the media. Do you ever second guess yourself at this point in your career? Are you completely beyond that, or do you are have moments where you wonder about staying on top? And also, do you find this recent stretch motivating for you?
ROGER FEDERER: We have to remember that this is the plan I chose six months, nine months ago. So I knew that if I don't play very well I'm not going to play many tournaments. But you have to understand that I picked this schedule to be in my best possible -- best possible shape for what's coming up, and that's in the next few weeks and months ahead of me.
Especially through the French Open until the US Open where I'll have four massive tournaments in a short span. This is really when I want to be at my peak.
The sickness just before the Australian Open was the biggest problem for me, because that really sort of set me back a little bit. But I still played, I thought, very well throughout the event, and just felt a little slow throughout. I played very well still, I think. And I lacked some matches, and that was going to happen. I knew that. But I'm used to that situation since many, many years.
I always take a month off, sometimes even two months, and come back and do well. But something happens every time. And for this reason there's no need to second guess or panic whatsoever. I'm quite amazed what the headlines are at the moment, to be honest.

Q. Considering you were such a powerful advocate of Monte-Carlo's tournament as a Masters Series, how grateful were you to see that it is voted as the ATP Tournament of the Year this year?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, surprised, because it's one of the tournaments with the biggest hassle for me as a player. Even though I like the tournament, the fans are just outrageous over there. I can hardly move from the practice courts back to the locker room.
But honestly, the weather usually always works. The scenery with the ocean, it's nice, you know, to see that voted by the players. It's a beautiful tournament. I'm happy it's still on the calendar, and I'll definitely be playing it this year again.

Q. When people talk about other players trying to close the gap, the focus tends to be on Novak and Rafa. Is Andy Roddick part of that equation at this point? He's had so much trouble against you head-to-head. Do you consider him among the very top rivals for you?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I would think so. Everybody who is in the top 10 is a rival to me. You know, even the No. 50 in the world, because I don't choose the draw, you know. That's somebody else who does that.
For me, I mean, I'm concentrating on my own thing, you know. If it happens that I'm going to stay No. 1 in the world for so long, it's great. If it looks like it's the future, that's great, too. But I can't control how the other guys play except when I play them. This is the tricky part about our sport.
But Andy's definitely right up there. He puts himself into positions over and over again, where if the draw falls his way or he gets a good day when he needs it, that he could win a Grand Slam. I think that's what it's about for him.
He's been No. 1 in the world before, So I don't think that's really the thing that motivates him the very most. I think it's about winning Davis Cup, winning big titles, you know, like Dubai and the Master Series, like here, for instance, and then go on and try to win a Grand Slam. So, yeah, absolutely.

Q. What is Novak doing right now that's making him so difficult to play?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think he's just improved as a player in terms of, you know, his experience. You know, he's moving well, very well at the moment, I think. He's definitely, you know, played very strong on the outdoor hard courts. I think this is where the last few tournaments have been played, and he's been very strong in Australia and then again in Indian Wells. Struggled last year in Shanghai, you know, which was quite a surprise.
But as a youngster, you always have your ups and downs. And your ups will be very high, you know, because there are no limits when you're young. So he's been playing really well, so it's been impressive.

Q. Talk about how important this particular tournament is in terms of your schedule and getting back on track. Could you comment on confidence? Is that something that's maybe overrated that we all sort of talk about and think it so critical, but maybe that's just...
ROGER FEDERER: Confidence is very important. You sometimes can enter a tournament being totally confident and totally tired and still win it just through confidence, because, you know, you sort of recuperate throughout the event. Sort of just because you're playing so well at the moment, that sort of carries you through.
Whereas maybe sometimes when you just play not as good, you know, you're too concerned about too many little things, you know. But this tournament, to me, I mean, it's important, you know, but it's not important to what's ahead.
Because after this I'm moving away from hard courts and I'm going on clay. So it's a different total sport almost. This is where my focus will then change at the French Open. At the moment I'm just concentrating on doing well at this event.

Q. In Australia, you knew you were slower, you knew that you weren't the Roger Federer that you used to be. Did you get angry with yourself?
ROGER FEDERER: No, not really.

Q. Did you ever say, Gosh darn it, why is this going on?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, remember the first two matches were great, those games. The third one was hard fought. I'm proud of myself to get through that one.
Blake and Berdych was sort of all right. I had a tough one. I sort of came through, didn't play my best, so you're analyzing in that type of way. Only then do you realize I'm just, you know, not as bouncy as usual.
Then especially I felt it against Djokovic when I really had to show the skills of defense, and I couldn't come up with the shots. I couldn't come back from a point. I couldn't go from defense to offense. This is when I really realized something was just really weird.
I couldn't figure out what it was, but then you move on. Say, Okay, I guess he had a good day. I didn't have my best. Maybe I can do better. You forget about it. Then later when you sort of test is when you really sort of understand what really happened. But this is how I felt throughout the tournament. So you try to block it from your mind, then something would be really wrong.

Q. You mentioned the French Open. Is it more important to you this year than previously? And is it correct that you have one more clay court tournament in your schedule this year?
ROGER FEDERER: It's going to stay as important as the last few years for me. I know that I have a real chance since the last three years, since I made my first semis, really, and the French really started to happen for me.
So it's not more important than the last few years. Yes, I play Estoril, Monaco, week off, Rome, Hamburg, week off, Paris. So that's my schedule.

Q. Why an extra clay court for you?
ROGER FEDERER: It's quite simple actually. I used to miss Monaco for a couple of years. That gave me three or four weeks of practice on clay. Then I decided to play it after all, and then I always had two weeks between Monaco and Rome. So that gave me enough time also again to work on things and prepare.
This year, because of the change of the Olympic year, we only have one week in between. I could not really fit any practice on clay anyways, so I decided just to play. That's why I want to play one extra tournament.

Q. Ten years ago was very important for my country, Chile, because Rios was No. 1 here. You were very young, but maybe you can remember something about that, about his career.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I was a big admirer of Marcelo. I thought he was one of the players with the best talent around. He was one my favorite players at the time being.
Him and Pete Sampras back then were my favorite players.
Happy for him that he got to No. 1 in the world. Not happy that he never won a Grand Slam, you know. But I was fortunate enough to play him a few times and practice with him a few times. So, yeah, I have good memories of Marcelo.

Q. He will play against Sampras in a few weeks. What do you think about that match?
ROGER FEDERER: Good luck to Marcelo. It's a tough match, but I think very interesting to the fans.

Q. You talked about the importance of confidence. Can you talk about where your confidence is right now? Are you kind of getting it back, or do you feel like you're sort of raring to go?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, definitely confidence came back. I really needed -- sometimes it only takes a match, you know. So I felt better right away much better after winning my first round in Indian Wells to losing the first round last year.
There's always a little bit of doubt. I played well against Mahut and then also Ljubicic. It's unfortunate I couldn't play well against Tommy, because I think that would have been a good match for both us.
But you know, the match with Fish, you forget about it. You move on, you analyze it, then you look forward. I feel fine now. I'm motivated and I'm confident on the practice courts. We'll see now in the match if it's going to pay off, all the hard work I did in between.

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