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June 23, 2008

Roger Federer


R. FEDERER/D. Hrbaty
6-3, 6-2, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Roger Federer for you.

Q. Did it startle you a little bit when Dominik suddenly sat next to you?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. I looked over and there he was. He asked if I could sit next to me. I said, Sure. There's no problem. There's an extra seat (smiling).
We go way back. Used to play doubles together. Used to practice a lot together. You know, he taught me also a little bit how you're supposed to practice because I was a little bit weak in the beginning of my, you know, men's career and everything. I couldn't practice real hard, so he sort of showed me how it works.
He always said if I ever beat him in practice I'd probably be No. 1 in the world. That's exactly how it went. We've had always good fun together. He said it might be his last Wimbledon, so it was almost a little bit emotional. So it was quite nice he did that.

Q. What did you say to him?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, sure you can sit next to me. I said, Well, I mean, also I'm very happy, you know, that you appreciate playing against me. You know, it's a match that was a great honor for him to actually not only play against me, but be my friend. I said, Well, same for me here. It was nice to share that moment on Centre Court together.

Q. Must be the first time you've walked out on Centre Court with people in certain quarters expressing some doubts about your game. Did that have any effect on your psyche, or did it make you more determined going into this first-round match?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, again, I haven't been reading and I haven't been listening to what has been said. So, of course then I haven't been affected either.
So I've been working in there as defending champion, opening Centre Court, trying to defend the title again. That's all that mattered to me. I came from a good tournament in Halle. I couldn't do any better than not dropping a set, not dropping a service game, so I feel like I'm right there to do the same thing again this week.

Q. Hrbaty has been a bit of a tricky customer in the past. Were you expecting more of a testing match today?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, sort of. Maybe not a whole lot more because I've been practicing with him in Paris, and then as well in Monaco and in Indian Wells, as well. I've seen him struggling with his serve and his elbow. He had elbow surgery. He's not the same player, and he knows that.
You could also see that throughout the match. He started to serve more and more double-faults. He hasn't always loved this surface. He's struggled in the past, as well.
But, you know, he's been in this situation before 10 years ago against Sampras, you know, when he played Pete in the first round here. So he knew what it was all about.
Anyway, it was fun playing against him and it was sort of the match I was hoping to expect. But he played better in the beginning than I thought he would actually.

Q. Anything different about the new grass this year?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, every time you walk out it's beautiful. I mean, the grass is perfect. You really feel like nobody has really walked on it, even though they played the doubles Saturday. It felt very special again. The roof back on felt very natural, as well.
It was, you know, nice sun. I thought the grass played very nicely again.

Q. What is your ideal first week? Do you want three or four games as smooth for you as that, or would you rather have a match that's a lot tougher?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, as long as I pass the rounds I don't really matter if it's five sets or three sets. I really don't.
I think the next round will be a difficult match with Soderling. Definitely not to underestimate. If you probably remember him, he was here in the fourth round against Tim one time. Then I think Tim beat him again maybe two years, three years ago, and then I played Tim in the next round.
So he's a good player. Actually, I think grass really suits his game because he's got a great serve. So, I mean, that's my next focus. Not really the first week. I'd love to get through and then find my way into the tournament. I was able now to get through the first round. That was key.
That gives me an extra day of practice. Just a good feeling passing sort of the pressure test really.

Q. Your junior years here, sleeping in the dorm, eating the English food, what do you remember coming as a junior player coming in here?
ROGER FEDERER: I remember it as a really fun time. Juniors is just a little bit more relaxed in some ways because you're trying to be professional, but sometimes you're not.
You think you are, and the coach is telling you you're not. It's just a hard thing. You think you're doing the right things, and all the time you -- I almost had the feeling sometimes I was working harder back then than today, you know, because everything seemed so much more complicated.
I remember sleeping they dorm at Roehampton. It was a fun thing to do, as well. Felt like sort of a little Davis Cup team in an amateur way. Then once you play Roehampton and you got here the second week of Wimbledon, these are the moments you sort of dream about, you know, sort of rubbing shoulders with the best players and just being around, I think.
Then if you get a chance, playing with the top guys, you know, it was like a big thrill. Yeah, I mean, anyway, I had a blast in juniors. That's why it's so nice to see also guys I played against from junior times also playing today actually at the best of levels.

Q. How relieved are you when you get a start like this?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, it's great, you know, because I did feel all of a sudden like a little pressure about two minutes before I went on court. I felt like, Wow, okay, here we go. Let's try to get off to a good start. I did. I don't think I dropped a point in the first few games. That was a great start.
Then that right away obviously put away the pressure. I could just concentrate on trying to play well. Pressure sort of left pretty quickly.

Q. Are the first few rounds extra nerve-wracking?
ROGER FEDERER: I would think the first one and the finals. The rest is okay (smiling).

Q. Your next opponent, Soderling, you played him six times. Some people say he should be a top 10 player, but he's missing the mental approach. Is there something about his game?
ROGER FEDERER: Look, I mean, you need a few things to get to the top. I guess one is mental, one is physical, one is technique, tactics, talent.
In the end, you put a lot of things together and you see who's at the top. But Robin is a dangerous player, because, like you say, maybe on one particular day he can play top 10 without a problem because he's got a big game, great serve, aggressive baseline. That is what you need today.
Against me, he's had some issues, like you say, maybe not playing great in the most important moments. He gave up against me in Miami, which surprised me, you know. Those are just signs sometimes of being a little mentally weak. But nevertheless, you know, he's a guy I respect a lot. It's not a whole lot of fun playing against him in the second round of Wimbledon already.
We'll see what happens. I won't underestimate him, that's for sure.

Q. When you're so far superior to an opponent, as you were today, particularly when it's a good friend, are there any feelings of awkwardness or discomfort in winning so efficiently and sort of ruthlessly?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, not really. I mean, I think I've passed those times. You always know it would be much worse if the whole match ends up turning around and you end up losing. It would be much worse of a feeling. That's why you just try to block it out, hope you have a good match. It was fair play from beginning to end. That's what I was hoping for. He had some good points. He hit the shot of the match, you know, behind his back.
It was just a great day of tennis. You know, that's how I try to look at it and not really on the side of, you know, poor guy and stuff. You know, maybe some of the spectators see it that way, but I don't think that Dominik saw it that way.

Q. Where did the idea for the sweater come from? How much say did you have in the design?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, obviously, it was Nike. You know, we've been talking, what could we do? I thought two jackets also was enough. Let's move on to something a little bit different. Maybe, again, the jacket will be back against next year. I think it was just something different would be nice. We thought about something nice, like a cardigan, a jumper. I think the result is nice, as well. I have a belt as well this year. Just some new fresh things. It's nice. It's a little bit more easier to wear than the jacket, to be honest.

End of FastScripts

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