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January 31, 2009

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You had a bit of trouble watching last night's match did you, or did you have to get back down here to do it?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I was practicing at the beginning of the match. It took a while, so I went for dinner and saw the end. It was really exciting. It was an unbelievable match.

Q. What did you think about? What was going through your mind as you were watching it?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, as I didn't see the whole thing, it was kind of difficult to judge. But you heard, you know, that Fernando was struggling with his leg, you know, at one stage, but then looked much better again.
But it was just good to see such a close contested match, I thought. In the end it was unfortunate it had to finish on a double fault, but I thought the quality was very good.

Q. It was one of the great ones. Does it make you feel that you've got more of that advantage now that you've had the extra 24 hours and Rafa has had to dig so deep through five hours?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, you could think that way, but I don't think it's really going to affect Rafa that much. He's had very easy matches going into this semifinal.
Okay, he has a day less. But, look, I mean, you got to be fit and recover from this kind of a match. I think he will, even though he took a while. His matches usually take longer than other matches because he takes his time out on the court. I don't think he will be really affected on Sunday.

Q. You're at the threshold of history here tomorrow. I'm sure, given your love of the tradition of the game and what it all means and the value you hold on Pete Sampras in the game, what are your thoughts of tomorrow and the potential that lies ahead of you?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, it's an unbelievable opportunity for me, of course, you know, not being No. 1 anymore, you know, trying to beat No. 1 in the world and getting the 14th Grand Slam.
You know, this is where I won the Grand Slam to become No. 1 in the world back in 2004 really, so I've always had a specially liaison with this tournament. You know, the stage is set, basically, for a great match. I hope we can live up to them like we did in Wimbledon.
I think it's going to be a close match. I think he's playing well, and he showed it throughout the tournament. Yesterday his match was fantastic, so I'm looking forward to a great match and then hopefully equal Pete's record.

Q. When you went on the tour with Pete a year or so ago and also the Madison Square Garden match, did the Nos. 14, 15, and the word "record" come up in conversation?
ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, yeah, I think we were mostly just chatting about how it was for him to stay at the top for so long and how it is for me and how different it is today maybe than it was back then. You know, I think it was more about that.
I didn't ask him how many he thought I was going to win, you know. This is not stuff you ask Pete. But it was, just for me, a great honor to be around Pete for like a week, you know, day in and day out, playing him and practicing with him and doing press conferences with him.
I know if you do press conferences with a guy who's sitting next to you, obviously he's obviously going to be nicer to you than when you're not in the room with him. We get along very well. I had a great time.
And then to play the XO in Madison Square Garden, which was sold out, it was an unbelievable match. To play in the States, at this stage of my career, was really a lot of fun.
If I look back on how then the crowd reacted at the US Open a few months later, I think it was so worth doing it. You know, and just being around Pete, such a champion, it was a nice feeling. We just spoke in general a lot, and I think I was more interested in the person than his records really.

Q. Are there any facets of either his game or his personality that you try and bring into your game?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think when you grow up you get more affected by how a guy plays. I remember when I was very young and you see a picture of a player, and then you say, Oh, this is how you got to hit a forehand. Then you start doing it and your coach says, What are you doing?
I was like, Well, I saw this picture of Sampras playing this forehand, and his follow-through was like this. He says, Well, this was maybe a just a follow-through in a particular moment, but this is not how he hits every forehand.
So these kind of things go through your head more and you're much more affected by these kind of things. Later I think you look at more how he behaves out on the court. He always very quiet and calm. This is something that I admired that in Edberg at well.
I knew I had it in me, but it just took some time to find it. Once I did it, I just wanted to make sure I had a mix of being fired up, being happy out on court, but still being very concentrated and focused on the game.

Q. Both players suggested last night that it would be much fairer if both semifinals were played on the same day. What are your thoughts on that? Fernando was particularly strong suggesting that you have an unfair advantage going into the final.
ROGER FEDERER: I don't think so. I mean, you still got a day off. It's not like he has to play right now, so this is a different story. I mean, it's just the way it is. You know, the US Open, we have the same problem over there. So here we come to Australia and we have another problem because we have two days off and the other guy has one day off. At the US Open we have no days off, so let's be happy we have a day off here, to be quite honest.
I don't think Rafa will struggle too much to get over this kind of a match. Like I said before, he's had an easy tournament so far. This was the tough one. I'm sure he's going to get over it. I see the point, but I don't think it's a valid one on this occasion.

Q. Would you like to see both semifinals on the same day?
ROGER FEDERER: For me it doesn't matter. I think it's fun to have one at night session yesterday, you know, and one the day before. I think it's great for fans. So I think it works.

Q. You lost the No. 1 ranking last year, and you lost in two finals to Rafa. You have a chance to get at least some revenge for that year. If there is a decline in your performance, do you sense that, or are you actually getting better though your ranking shows you're going in the opposite direction, as it were?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, rankings in tennis change very quickly, as we know. I mean, of course the No. 1 and No. 2 ranking hasn't changed a whole a lot the last four years.
But being No. 5, 10, 15 in the world, we've seen that with Verdasco. One moment he's 15 then he's No. 7 in the world or something. It just goes very, very quickly.
So that's why. The ranking just shows how consistent you've been over a longer period of time. But then I don't know, you figure out Rafa will get injured through French Open and Wimbledon, so then he's not No. 1 and 2 in the world anymore, but just because he's been injured. It's not always 100% accurate.
Normally it is, especially in the men's game. We're playing week in and week out. We play at least 10 tournaments out there, some of them play 30. So I think the rankings are fair.
But, I mean, I do sometimes sense that I'm playing better and sometimes worse. I've always felt like this for the last five years, ten years. Since I've been No. 1 in the world I've always had better days and less good days.
It's just that the bad days nobody was talking about them, because in the end I came through and won the tournament. Then you don't look back on the second round. I think this is sometimes when people look at more a little bit today, because they think there is a recline, [sic] but actually there is not. It's a funny way of looking at it.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about the drug program? Some players have felt that the new system is a little too intrusive into their personal lives.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, it's a tough system, no doubt. It's a significant change to what we were used to before, so I think it takes some time getting used to it, you know.
But at the same time, I feel like this is how you're going to catch them, right? You're not going to catch them bringing them up and saying, Look, I would like to test you maybe in two days. This is not how you're going to catch the guys. The guy's cheating and they're smart, right? That's why I'm kind of okay with it.
You know, it's an hour a day. I know it's a pain, but I would like it to be a clean sport, and that's why I'm okay with it.

Q. Are you at the point of your career where days like tomorrow and the Grand Slam, the majors, are the ones that really get your juices going and what the game is about for the rest of your career?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes and no. I mean, I'm still -- I feel young enough that I don't only look at the majors, you know. I still feel every tournament I enter I would like to win it. I feel there's always such a -- people are so happy to see me at every tournament I go to. So I can't, just out of respect, say, Look, I only want to win the majors.
It's just not the way it is. We have a great tour. Every tournament tries so hard, and I want to try to win their tournament. That's why, of course, because of the record, you know, that's what everybody talks about. This is obviously also on the highest list just because it gives the most points, it's most rewarding in terms of ranking and in terms of being judged how you're playing. You get the biggest test. It's best-of-five sets. That's why obviously Grand Slams are very intriguing.
The other tournaments are not to be forgotten, you know, because I love playing those as well.

Q. Which is the most prestigious record in men's tennis? Is it the most Grand Slams?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I guess this one is -- yeah, to me it almost seems like, you know. Or weeks at No. 1 maybe, because that shows how long you've been at the top. More than slams, I guess.
But then there's many other ones as well. I feel those two are the most important at the moment.

End of FastScripts

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