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June 22, 2008

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It gives me very great pleasure to introduce our defending men's champion, Roger Federer. Who would like to ask the first question.

Q. You kept a very low profile this Wimbledon so far. Is that because you're tired of the speculation, will he, won't he, or another reason?
ROGER FEDERER: No, just did a little bit less press than usual. That's maybe what you're referring to.
No, I mean, it was just -- maybe next year I'll do some more again. This year, it's the path I wanted to take.
I've done the same before the French. I just don't want to spend too much time doing those things any more, your know.
The time will come when I'll do some more, but right now I'm quite happy this way.

Q. How would you compare your game now to your game a year ago this time?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, now it's better again. Maybe at the beginning of the year, like I said, I felt a little slow. Just felt a little bit rattled due to the sickness I had.
But today I feel as good again as last year. You know, one year has gone by. I've played plenty of matches. I feel like I'm playing well, which is good.

Q. How would you compare the competition right now versus a year ago?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, the same players are right up there. Novak and Rafa obviously are the guys who are the biggest challengers. You know, they've also had a good beginning to the year.
I think particularly Rafa, you know, who's had the best start ever to his whole campaign, you know, by doing the same things he's always done during the clay court season, and the rest of the year he's been very consistent.
So I think pretty much the same guys. I think the same guys are also the favorites again for Wimbledon this year. You know, with Baghdatis, Hewitt, Murray, Roddick, you know, Nalbandian, all these guys. There hasn't been that much of a change actually.

Q. To what degree do you feel they've narrowed the gap, possibly even at Wimbledon?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it's a tough call because we only play on grass so little, you know. I mean, they had a good Queen's, you know, Rafa and Novak, so it shows they can play on grass.
But they didn't need to prove that to me by playing well in Queen's. I saw that last year and the year before and the year before. I know what kind of good players they are.
Today you see it more and more, that actually guys can play on all surfaces. You know, you see David Ferrer winning, for instance, in Rosmalen. That maybe wasn't something that was possible to believe in five or ten years ago. Today it's different. Guys that are on the top, I really feel they can play on all surfaces.

Q. How much have you thought about the defeat to Rafa at the French?
ROGER FEDERER: Not a whole lot, to be honest. You know, it's almost easier to forget a loss like that than, let's say, the Rome finals I lost against Rafa with two match points down. Took me much longer to sort of digest.
The French was over in such a hurry. I mean, the French Open, as the whole clay court season was over at the same time, so it's easy just to look forward and concentrate on grass. I won't be on clay for 10 months, so it really hasn't been a problem, you know. I'm happy I haven't been affected by it.

Q. A lot of debate the last couple of weeks about whether you're more vulnerable this year at Wimbledon. Everybody from Borg to Pete Sampras weighing in on the subject. Does it annoy you, amuse you, motivate you?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I didn't hear. I didn't read the press. I didn't talk to you guys. I didn't read you guys. So, I mean, people say different things. I don't know. I feel like I'm the big favorite obviously for Wimbledon.
It's a huge year for me, you know, going for my sixth. Getting the fifth one was a dream come true already. It's something that's going to be very hard to match, I think, in the future, in the years to come.
It's taken I don't know how many years for me to be able to match Borg's record. I hope I can also match Pete's record of seven Wimbledons here. That's what my focus is.
What other people and players say I cannot control, you know. But you'll always hear good and bad things throughout your career. It's maybe a time where some people talk a little bit too much sometimes.

Q. But if you win this time, will it be your greatest victory here?
ROGER FEDERER: If I win this year?

Q. Yes.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I'm not sure. You know, I mean, first one is always the most unique one, I guess. On top of that, it was my first Grand Slam victory. I guess the one last year was very meaningful to me, you know, in the circumstances, playing Rafa in a five-setter at Wimbledon. It's hard to top that one.
But never know what's going to happen this year. So maybe this one will be even better. Who knows.

Q. Speaking about hard to top, what were your observations of what Tiger Woods did last week and if you've had any communication with him since, if you care to share anything about them?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I watched it. I came back from Halle on Sunday. I watched till 3:00 in the morning, and then watched all Monday, as well. I mean, it was a great, great victory for him, especially under the circumstances with his injury, you know.
I really thought he was actually in better shape, because I had brief contact before Paris started and I asked him, before the finals of Paris, and he told me his knee was actually doing okay and stuff. I was quite surprised to see him struggling.
But so happy for him that he got, you know, the victory. It's a huge, huge win for him - one of the biggest ones probably of his career, the way he won it. It's just sad now to see him injured.
But I'm sure he'll bounce back next year and be strong again.

Q. Have you been in touch to any degree since you heard about his injury? What were your thoughts when you heard just how badly he was hurt as he was doing this?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I wished him all the best, hope he gets well soon, you know. But, yeah, I mean, it's quite a severe injury, I'm sure. I'm not quite sure what he has exactly, you know.
I could tell that he was hurting, because Tiger wouldn't show otherwise, I would think.

Q. You were expecting for Rafael to win at Queen's honestly?

Q. You were expecting that Rafa winning at Queen's?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, yeah. I mean, why not? He's been on an unbelievable roll on clay. He's proven himself on grass the last few years. I didn't think he was that far off the last couple of years at Queen's, you know. I think one time he gave up maybe. One time he lost against a good player. I'm not sure again.
I mean, I played Rafa now a couple times on grass and I know how strong he is. In the end, I'm not that surprised, no.

Q. Is there anything specific that made you take this more low-profile approach with the press over the last month or two?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really. I mean, it's just more doing it for ten years. Sometimes you need a little bit of time off. I guess also I've been playing a lot of matches since, let's say, the clay court season or since Indian Wells.
I've really done a lot of tournaments in a row, a lot of media every day, you know, the official press conferences and everything. So I felt like I was talking enough, you know. There's no more really to be said.
On top of that, I don't have much vacation after Wimbledon ends, you know, because the schedule actually keeps on going in a tough way with the Olympics and the US Open. So it's maybe also a way to protect myself and save my energy for the rest of the season.

Q. Comparing with the previous four or five years, how would you sum up your season so far?
ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, well, I think the important part for me is coming right now. You know, from tomorrow on all the way to the US Open for me, it's where I can really judge my season, if it's going to be a good one or maybe, you know, a less good one.
So far it's been okay. You know, I mean, I had some problems at the beginning of the year, the ones we know about. After that I think I bounced back and played better again on clay. I wish I could have done better against Rafa. But a loss is a loss, no matter whether you lose in three or in five.
I'm still pretty proud about achieving, you know, my third French Open final, but for some I guess that's still not good enough. But, anyway, I think this is now the important time for me to see what I can do: Wimbledon, US Open, and the Olympics. This is what it's going to come down to for me anyway.

Q. You mentioned the Olympics. Are you confident you have things figured out, you'll be able to bring your best game to Beijing? I know it's an important tournament for you.
ROGER FEDERER: Look, it's a tricky tournament. It's best-of-three the first rounds and then best-of-five for the finals. It's a more dangerous tournament than maybe a Grand Slam, you know, where best-of-five matches may favor the favorites. You have to see the draw. The draw will be tough. Most of the top players are going there, so I'm looking forward to play well.
Anyway, I feel like I'm exactly where I want to be. I'm playing well again. I'm physically in a good shape again. So things are looking good, but there's never a guarantee. I'm going to try to prepare the best way I can.

Q. Your memories of the two Olympics you participated in, are those good memories, or is it kind of exasperating, because obviously you didn't come away with a medal?
ROGER FEDERER: In 2000, I didn't expect a medal, so it was already a big breakthrough to get to the semis. Then it was sort of disappointing not to get one, having two chances.
But Sydney, for me, was one of the best sporting memories for me, almost as a person or as an athlete. The whole combination for me was quite unique.
Then Athens, for me, was already a bit more disappointing. You know, I was No. 1 seeded, lost in the second round against Berdych. Was close; got a little unfortunate in some points and stuff.
Next thing you know, I had to play doubles after that, as well. It was just really a bad day. Also didn't maybe enjoy that much of Sydney, so I hope Beijing is going to be, again, a better experience for me.

Q. How do you feel about your draw? If you do win, you'll have to play Novak and Rafa.
ROGER FEDERER: Already in the semis. That's good (smiling). Look, I'm happy if that happens, you know what I mean. I go round by round. I think it's a tough draw, you know. It's not one of those predictable draws. I think I have dangerous players, you know, floating in my sections.
You start with, let's say, second round, Soderling is possible maybe. The third round has dangerous players in it, as well. The seeds that come after that, I think they can all play very well on grass, you know. But, of course you'll always have surprises here and there, and then the draw with open up.
I really think it's a tough draw, like something similar to maybe what happened when I played Gasquet and sort of Henman first round. It's a difficult draw.

Q. Could you comment on Spanish players going to the grass finals, Ferrer, Verdasco? What does it mean to you?
ROGER FEDERER: It's good to see, you know. They're good players. The clay-courters or the Spaniards, you know, they know how to play. It's good to see them finally also making a little bit of a move on grass, because they weren't really that interested in grass till a few years ago still I thought.
Rafa actually has been able to change mentality around for the Spanish players, because he's showing them that it is possible to play well with an aggressive baseline game. And then now doing the same like what Rafa has been doing, and it's good to see.

Q. How much have you thought about last year's final, which you said is sort of hard to top? What carries over from that? In the last year, to what degree has it been on your mind?
ROGER FEDERER: The finals last year?

Q. Yes.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it's just a nice memory looking back. Just great being part of such a huge final against Rafa and the circumstances. You know, going for my fifth, it was just a perfect setting.
Now, it didn't play on my mind in any way. I moved on, had other things to focus on after that. I felt that all the people were really happy for me. I was able to do the same like what Bjorn Borg did. Then US Open came around, I was able to win that again, had a great end to the season by winning the Masters Cup as well.
It's not really on my mind, you know. It's just something I'm really proud of.

Q. How close do you feel Andy Murray is to being a Grand Slam champion? What do you feel he has to do?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think he's got the game to put himself into the position, you know. Now, if that's enough to win the Grand Slam in the end, I don't know, because he has tendencies, you know, to struggle against Novak. He has a tendency to struggle against Rafa, as well. He's in that section, with Rafa anyhow, so it will be interesting to see.
But I think Andy Murray's best surface is grass, so I really think it's most dangerous here for anybody.

Q. Having seen up close Tim Henman being under the constant spotlight of the British public, do you have sympathy for Andy? Yet again one person is basically carrying the entire British support with him.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, it's a tough thing, you know, because you go to the French Open, to the US Open, you know, you have 15 guys in the main draw. Here you have, I don't know, one guy making it in, maybe other ones who get wild cards. I don't know exactly how it works.
It's hard, you know. But I think Andy or Tim, they were guys who could handle it. Also it would be obviously nice if the Brits had also more on the women's side. It would take away some pressure, but that's not the case here.
It is hard and it's tough, you know. Like I said, I haven't read what you guys have been writing, but I think Andy knows he's got a good chance, you know, to do well here. I really think he has a good game to really go very far. We'll see how far it takes him. But should be interesting times for Andy after missing it last year, for instance.

Q. You were elected to the Player Council. With the top three players on the council now, will this mean a change in direction for the tour, do you think?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think important was, you know, that we, the players, feel like we're represented in the right way. You know, instead of always just being asked in the press maybe, saying stuff from the locker rooms and whatever, I think it was important that also the other players see that we truly care on sort of a council and board level.
I think it's interesting times in tennis. It's good times in tennis because, you know, there's been quite a few changes. But I think it's only for the better.
I don't know the changes yet, but, I mean, it's not gonna affect a whole lot the lower-ranked players. Maybe what they think, it's now we're only going to look for the top players. I'm going to represent all players like the way we're supposed to.

Q. You mentioned Andy Murray's pressure. What pressure is there for you being No. 1?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I guess it's a different kind of pressure, you know. I mean, I've been on tour now 9, 10 years, so it's obviously very different to his. But playing at home is always a bit more special. It can get the best out of you, but also the worst out of you.
He's shown both sides, I guess, here in the past. He's been injured. He's had a good run, was it two years ago when he beat Andy, then lost to Nalbandian, or three years ago. It's a different type of pressure. I don't know how to explain.
But I prefer mine, you know, to be honest. I just like to be the favorite and like to come in and, you know, try to dominate other players.

Q. All the talk is about you three as the contenders, but Andy Roddick has beaten all three of you this year, been in two Wimbledon finals, perhaps underestimated to previous years. How do you see his chances?
ROGER FEDERER: Very good. Same thing. I think he's been playing well. Clay court season obviously has been disappointing. Not played maybe that much. He actually played okay in, where was it, Rome, where he reached the semis and everything.
Yeah, like you said, I think he's been a little bit under the radar because other guys have been in the spotlight. You know how it is, the ones who win Queen's usually get the headlines anyway. That's something where Andy hasn't been this year after winning it, was it four times maybe as well.
No, for me he's one of the big favorites. I'm happy to see him in the other section of the draw actually.

Q. You mentioned Borg. Are you surprised he's not ranking you before No. 3? He's ranking you as the third best player in the tournament. Are you surprised after what he said about you last year? He was so full of praise.
ROGER FEDERER: Obviously, yeah. That's how quickly things change, you know. I mean, look, it's his opinion. I don't mind what he says. Obviously at the moment he has a microphone under his face and people ask him many, many things. Once he'll sound more critical, once he'll sound more positive.
But it doesn't change much for me. I like when it's praise. When it's something else, when it's more critical, you tend to just forget about it and move on, so...
Yeah, I don't -- it doesn't affect me much.

Q. It's not disappointing to hear what he's saying?
ROGER FEDERER: Not disappointing, but it's just different. I'm surprised. Let's put it that way.

Q. The girls are starting to wear shorts now. Will you do something new this year, or will you still wear the white jacket?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, look, I'm not going to go skirt yet. I'm not Scottish either. But, yeah, I mean, I'll have something. I'll have a cardigan. I'll make sure I'll be a class act on the court, yeah.

Q. You haven't practiced today at Aorangi. Are you scheduled to practice today?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I've got to go actually. No, I've got practice at 1:00.

Q. At Aorangi Park?

Q. You are so strong on the grass, especially in Wimbledon. What do you think about any tactics in particular for Wimbledon?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, obviously the game changes a whole lot, you know, when you play on grass. I think it really favors my game because of my ability to move, the way I defend, the way I use my shot selection. I think it really works in my favor. I haven't lost in such a long time on grass. Obviously my confidence is really, really high.
Then again, other players are around, you know, to really challenge me. That only motivates me. So it should be an interesting Wimbledon this year.

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