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May 6, 2008

Roger Federer


6-3, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It's must be as solid a start as you could have hoped for.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, the draw was tough. You know, it was Guillermo in the first round. We've had some tough ones in the past so I knew it was going to go difficult.
I think I played a tough match today. I played well. I felt like I was in the groove right away again from Monaco. I think the week off did me well, but I practiced hard as well. So things are good and I'm very happy with the result.

Q. The fact that you lost twice with him on hard court and you beat him on clay means you are a better player on this surface than him, or what?
ROGER FEDERER: Look, I mean, I guess he grew up on clay like I did. Who knows. Different times, you know, different results. I played him indoors and beat him quite easily in Madrid last year, and here I beat him again on clay. But Miami was as close as it could get.
Indian Wells I think he quite surprised me the way he played. So this was a good match to start off the Rome campaign, and I hope I can move on from here.

Q. Do you feel like the keys to winning on clay are different for you or the same as hard court and grass?
ROGER FEDERER: No. I mean, you have to adjust to each surface. To me, every surface, thank God, comes very naturally, which is I think a big advantage in my game.
I feel that when I play there is never this feeling of feeling completely not right, you know? I feel always good any surface I play on will, and on clay you are just got to be more patient than the other courts.
Where maybe one big shot can end the point, that's not the case on clay. You got to be able to sort of build something up one shot at a time, and I quite like that play as well. I like the sliding, and always have on clay.
So it's an interesting surface for me. So it's almost easier to attack and play aggressive than on hard because the ball shoots through the surface so much on a quicker court.

Q. I think I never remember to see you do as many drop shots. Is that an inspiration?
ROGER FEDERER: A little inspiration. You know, my Davis Cup captain, Severin, watched the match yesterday and he saw that it worked very well against him because he stands really far back. We all know that. That's no secret he plays far from behind the court.
I tried one and it worked and I tried two, so I said, okay, I'll do a few more, and it worked even better. It's something you go with the momentum. Not every player gives you the opportunity to do it, but he definitely did. I think it was the right plan, because I won all the points except one.

Q. You said that you build it one shot at a time on clay, but it seems like do you think you are thinking more and going forward when you're on clay?
ROGER FEDERER: Because the ball is slower it's almost easier to attack. I could play hard court tennis on clay, but I think you have to take the best of clay, what it gives you with the defense, with the time.
But then you have to also be patient and use the dropshots at times when it's a good moment. You just have to pick your spots much better on clay than on any other surface.
It's maybe the surface, you know, you get away with most without a serve and without volleys really, because you can set up so much from the baseline with big shots. You can put your opponent in such unbelievable positions so in the end he'll miss and you'll have an easy put-away volley. It's still very tactical and very physical, which is nice.

Q. Throughout years, do you like the game on clay better or less?
ROGER FEDERER: I guess more, because I mean, I enjoyed it in juniors. In juniors there's really sort of no real difference except grass. Grass just so unique. You get the first time on grass and you're thinking, Wow, this is quite a surface.
On hard court and clay it's sort of what you grow up on and you feel comfortable on it. Then I came on tour I lost I think my first 11 or 12 matches on clay. I got many wild cards, which was nice, but it gave me a bad losing streak.
Played Rafter in Paris, Medvedev in Rome, Spadea in Monaco. Not easy matches, you know. And then I had some tough Davis Cup losses in Belgium, so all of a sudden you're on a losing streak on clay court.
I just felt like it was a hard surface for me to manage the beginning on the men's tour. Once I get into it I really love it, and I enjoyed playing on clay today.

Q. When you had this illness and all the difficulties in the beginning of the year, how did you think before coming to clay you would start a new surface?
ROGER FEDERER: I think it's a new start for everyone. You know, it's a different sort of a tour. Everything is in Europe now and everything's different and everyone is adjusting.
Some don't come over until Rome, and some don't even play the whole clay court season. Some even go to South America and play. For me, I think there was three different little parts of the season already: Up until Indian Wells I started to feel better again; up until Miami everything was just see how I felt.
I was feeling better, but then the clay court season came along and, again, is the big change. It was the right choice for me to go and play Estoril and, you know, give myself a chance to play matches. I think I was lacking matches at one stage when I lost in the first round of Dubai.
Now I'm again back in my stride and feel like I'm playing well and nothing ever happened. It was a tough couple of months early on.

Q. When you you're playing people like CaƱas, do you ever envisage Rafa on the other side of the net?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really. It would have to be a lefty to feel that way. You cannot play a righty the way you would play Rafa, because it's just too different. The way he plays and the way the ball comes, you know.
If I would play a lefty I would see very much Rafa in somebody's game, but not today.

End of FastScripts

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