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August 28, 2010

Roger Federer


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It seems like last year, since last year's US Open, in early rounds of tournaments you've had some difficulty closing out players. That may have caused fatigue in later rounds. Is that an issue you would agree with, and are you working with Paul Annacone on that?
ROGER FEDERER: No, that's not really a priority. When it gets close, it's never easy to close out matches for anyone. That's through hard practice and getting your confidence back and doing the right things at the right time.
And your opponent hopefully being a part of it, you can turn those things around. I haven't been particularly tired. I'm very fit. I've worked extremely hard. So with the fatigue, that hasn't had much to do. I haven't overplayed, so that's kind of the answer.

Q. How is your relationship with Paul working out so far?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, we've moved it from a test trial to integrating him into the team now, so that's going ahead. Obviously he has had stuff to do for the LTA here, and he will have things to do obviously after the US Open, which I'm cool about.
That's what I said in the beginning in Cincinnati, as well, and also here. After that, he'll be part of the team.

Q. How many weeks would you say?
ROGER FEDERER: Um, well, we'll see. I mean, I'm a Swiss guy so we go by the minutes, you know, not by the weeks. (Laughter.)

Q. What do you think it would be mean for your rivalry with Rafa to actually meet finally on this court and also for the sport?
ROGER FEDERER: I think it would be great. We've played in all the other majors, I think. The French obviously, Wimbledon. I mean, we've played in all the other majors, so, um, this one's missing. I hope we can do it this year, otherwise I think we'll both be around for quite a bit longer that we'll have a chance further down the stretch.
Obviously him having won the last two, it's interesting to see if he could win three this year or not. Being world No. 1, obviously that's something that's interesting, too, for him now, using that ranking to win the tournament here.
I'd love to play him. It's only going to happen in the finals. We have work to do first.

Q. What's gone through your mind over the last couple of years when someone said you're on the downside of your career or you may even be on the way to done?
ROGER FEDERER: Um, well, at times I took it as a compliment really, too. I mean, I was No. 2 in the world most of the time and playing -- winning one or two Slams a year and I was on the downslide. So you can't really take it too serious, really, to be quite honest.
You can't win every season 12 tournaments. That's clear for me well enough. I spoiled myself by playing so well, and you just prepare for the times when it's just maybe not 12 tournaments a season, you know. If it's two or four or six, it's still a good season depending on how you're feeling, how you're practicing, how you're evolving as a player. I was always making sure I tried to get better.
Look, I also had some problems with myself, obviously going through a period, you know, not uninterrupted either. I had mono, I've had a lung infection, I've had a bad back. It's all been more on a lower level, but maybe at times I should have just taken a rest instead of playing.
But I'm not scared of taking losses. I wanted to know where I stand, and the only place I could find out is at tournaments. Hopefully I'm not losing in the first or second round. I like to play. And if people think, Oh, he's not the same, well, that's not something new, because I knew I was not the same playing for a few events.
But they get overrated sometimes. Then I stop reading the press when it becomes that kind of an atmosphere in the press.

Q. Speaking of a final against Rafa, is there a specific reason why he never reached a final here yet?
ROGER FEDERER: He's reached the semis now three years in a row. There's not much he's doing wrong. If you can make it to the semis, you can make it to the finals. That's pretty clear.
Maybe if he would have played only one semis in a Grand Slam of his life then we'd talk differently, but he's had success all around the world, even here in New York. I consider that a success playing three straight semifinals. It's just that he ran into guys who were dangerous, who were tough, who were better than him on the day.
I remember when Murray beat him or last year Del Potro beat him, they all played fantastic tennis. On the hardcourts he's bit more volatile, because on the hardcourts we have more opponents, or especially him, that it's just hard then to run through seven opponents.

Q. How would you compare the competition of this year's tournament compared to years past?
ROGER FEDERER: In terms of depth or...

Q. Yeah, depth.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I think we -- top guys obviously always have the best shot, but I think depth is bigger and better than it's ever been. Everybody plays so well now. Everybody's so physically tough and has mental capabilities and gets so excited. They know that this is such huge tournament. Everybody really gets up for it big time and believes in their chances.
Some obviously don't believe they can win the tournament, but they believe can they can cause an upset and create something for themselves. That's what makes it particularly hard for us.
Look, it's really a tough tournament to win. I think as the years pass, I think this is going to be a tough tournament for the top guys again.

Q. Your friend, Tiger Woods, is playing across the river trying to hang on to his No. 1. We've seen him lose his mental edge against a lot of his opponents this year, it seems. How important is that to your success when you are No. 1 in the world, and how tough is it to regain it when you slip a little bit?
ROGER FEDERER: Um, well, I mean, I guess you concentrate on yourself, your game. I don't think he's getting upset by like the opponents' play and stuff. I think it's more about his own game or the course or whatever it is. It's completely different in golf than it is in tennis.
I've had my emotions under control for the last nine years now, so for me, that question, I don't need to ask myself if it's on my racquet or not. I scream once in a while. That's because I like doing it, you know. It's not something I feel like I have to control.
If it happens, it's not a big deal because it happens so rare now. I'm at absolute peace with myself. Other players or other athletes do it differently to perform well, to remind themselves they need to get better or adjust or stuff like that.
But, look, he's had a tough situation the last few months and stuff, but I'm sure he's gonna get back.

Q. It's the first time since 2003 you haven't come in as defending champion. Does it motivate you any more? And when you got to New York, did you reflect at all on last year's final?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I look back at the last six years I guess of being incredibly successful. Now, being defending champion or not doesn't change a whole lot. Okay, maybe I don't have as many points to defend, but I don't lose -- I don't have sleepless nights over that kind of stuff anymore.
That was back in the day when I was trying to make a move in the rankings. I was thinking, What do I have next week to defend? I don't play that game anymore. It's about performing well and trying to win the US Open again.
Maybe there is an extra incentive for me to try to win it again after being two points away last year. It was a disappointing loss for me. I felt like that was one of the finals I should have never lost. At the end, Del Potro played great and deserved the victory. It was a tough one to swallow.
But, yeah, I've had a bit of an up and down season so far. I've won the Australian Open, so I have a chance to win a second one this season. There's still a lot to play for. That's why I'm excited to be back in New York and feeling great.

Q. How are you feeling both physically and mentally, especially coming off the win in Cincinnati last week?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, mentally obviously I'm very fresh. I didn't play for six weeks after Wimbledon. I had a good vacation. Spent some nice time in Switzerland with friends and family. So from the mental side I have no problems whatsoever.
Physically, I feel same thing. I feel as good as I can feel prior to a Grand Slam. I have no niggling injuries, no pain anywhere. After going through a tough Toronto really I had a lot of muscle pain, my arm, my wrist, my chest, my shoulder. Coming back right off the bat after six weeks and playing such tough matches early on was tough on the body.
I got a little bit lucky in Cincinnati. I had a walkover there against Kohlschreiber. That kind of gave me that extra day of rest. Next thing I knew, I never looked back and didn't have any physical problems anymore. Here I am. I've had a good preparation and ready to go.

Q. Even though you won everything and you know you can win anything, how important is your confidence to win titles like the Cincinnati?
ROGER FEDERER: It's good to win titles, but important is that I'm playing well, and I got -- I beat top guys once in a while. I mean, that's what it comes down to.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not happy playing semis and finals. What gets me very happy is winning Grand Slams and taking home the silverware. That's really what is the best feeling.
Yeah, maybe I do take losses a little bit easier today than I used to, but they don't make me happy. They definitely make me improve and work harder again. I'm doing all the right things, and there is a lot of depth at the moment.
Unfortunately I came close a few times this season to winning more titles. It's been two, but two very big ones, very important ones. Like I said, there is still a lot to play for this season, and I expect myself to pick up more titles along the way.

Q. Getting back to Annacone, can you just quantify what pluses he brings to your camp. In your conversations, how many times does the word, "Sampras" get mentioned?
ROGER FEDERER: What he's brought to the team? Well, his experience, I guess. I mean, you know, he's a very nice guy and he's very calm and speaks as experience from a player and as a coach, as well.
I guess he also had kids early as a player, so he knows how to handle that. You know, it's just nice to hear, you know, different fresh -- different voice for a change.
Severin knows me so well as a friend, but then also ace a player the last three weeks. I just think the dynamics work really well with Severin and Paul, and me coming into the conversation just makes it really interesting. I can go with a very clear mindset into the matches.
And then the Sampras thing? Sure, we speak occasionally about Pete and about how he was with him or about his experiences and stuff. But every single day, I mean, I know so much about Pete already that I never try to copy him. I never try to be like him, but I tried to learn from him as a junior because he was my hero growing up.
So definitely when I do hear stories from Paul about Pete it can be inspiring, because Pete, to me, will always stay someone very important as an inspiration in my tennis life.

Q. Can you describe what you were feeling at the end of Wimbledon? Because for those of us who were there, it seemed like a very different state of mind for you. Even the things that you said after that loss just didn't seem characteristic of you.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, because I've never talked about not feeling well physically. People were shocked that I said something like this. But I thought I would be open about my feelings, and I got sometimes criticized for it. I don't understand why, because it's just fact that sometimes you go through a 10-year career feeling sick or injured and stuff like that. So to me, it's something completely normal at times.
I gave all the credit to Berdych. I thought he played incredibly well and won many matches in the past. I was very frustrated with my body not keeping up. That's not what I was expecting from it.
So for me, moving away from Wimbledon, I knew it was going to be a very important phase in not only in my career, but in my year because I knew I was going to have six weeks off after that. So it was just important to take the -- learn from the experience I had in Paris and Wimbledon and say, Okay, what do I want to do next? How do I want to attack the hardcourt seasons for the next seven or eight months?
But it was quite easy to get over the loss really. That for me was not a problem, because I knew I was not at 100%. I guess for once I did have some, how do you say, I had some excuses to some degree, which also makes it feel better sometimes.
But I didn't watch the end of Wimbledon. I just kind of switched off and moved on.

Q. And how did your mental state change with the video that you did where you knocked a couple of objects off somebody's head, if that really happened?
ROGER FEDERER: Um, well, that you can only do when you're confident, you know. (Laughter.)
I was able to only do that after my vacation after two weeks. If you would have done that after Wimbledon, I couldn't have done it. So it was a fun thing.

Q. What has it meant to your career that you now have a great rival like Nadal, and how much time do you spend thinking about him between Slams?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I could say anything right now, but, look, he's not my rival since three months. He's been my rival for almost five years now, so we're a very healthy rivalry. We get along really well. We chat a lot in the locker rooms, just hang out sometimes, play XOs against each other. I will play an exhibition against him at the end of the year for my foundation where he's been nice enough to come help me for free, come over to Switzerland and play for us, and for me, really.
So it's been nice to have such a rival like Rafa who has been so respectful, really. I think I've helped him to be a better player; same for me. I think he's helped me to become a better player. People seem to love it. It's one of the biggest rivalries we have in all of sports, and I'm happy it's been on a fair basis. It would be a bit of a pain if it weren't like that.

Q. Since you know Centre Court at Wimbledon and The Ashe Stadium Court better than anyone else in this room, can you talk about whether it's legitimate to say that Ashe plays faster than grass? If that's the case, it seems like Nadal doesn't necessarily have problems playing on grass, but this stadium at times he can be a little bit slower to the ball. Is it really faster, and can you just talk about the whole experience?
ROGER FEDERER: It's hard to say is it really faster than Wimbledon. It's such a huge difference, because on a nice and hot day, I think -- I mean, I think balls are faster here than they are at Wimbledon. Um, I think if the ball bounces really high on a hardcourt, then it's hard to control, to get the ball from -- to hit it from up to down the whole time. You'll eventually sometimes miss the ball and stuff. You can hit, really hit through the court if you play aggressive here.
And on hardcourt, just -- on grass court, sometimes it feels like its already slow. It's kind of a bit -- even though the ball doesn't bounce as high sometimes, that's what kind of makes it actually a faster game. But then if you don't hit it well on grass, it kind of really sits up and it's very slow, really.
I just feel maybe on average the US Open could be the fastest Grand Slam, yeah. That could be one of the problems for Rafa here in the past. But the problems are on a very high level. I mean, the guy's won in Australia; he's been here in three semis already; this guy doesn't need to learn how to play on hardcourts anymore.

Q. I think over five and a half million people have seen that video we were talking about earlier. Did you expect the reaction to it that there has been with the great interest?

Q. What can you tell us about the making of it?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I couldn't believe the amount of hits I got. I mean, it was first it's all of a sudden out. And then, Okay, if it's already out I'll put it on my Facebook page and on my website, because I'm sure my fans would also like to see it instead of seeing if from someone else.
I'm happy then that so many people have seen it, liked it, and debated about it. I was shocked. In one or two takes, it was very quick and easy. It took like five, ten minutes, and that was it. It was at one of the shoots I did after Wimbledon in Zurich, and we had a fun time doing it. It was a good thing.

Q. Where do you see tennis today based on where it was 10 years ago in reference to you see a lot of kids out here today enjoying the sport, more kids are involved, and the popularity of tennis as a world sport?
ROGER FEDERER: I think the tour is very healthy at the moment. I think we have great product with great rivalries. It's a truly global sport. I don't know if we have 10 of the same guys from the same nation in the top 10, so it's really super global, like many sports would love to be.
I think tennis also in the States is growing. I think this year is the first time it's on ESPN, so I think that's going to definitely increase a lot of -- you know, having even more sports fans here in the States, because the US Open is the biggest yearly sporting event here in the States over such a long period of time.
So I think we really have a great product with all the right players doing all the right things. Prize money has increased over the years even though we've been going through a financial crisis. And really, to be quite honest, I'm quite proud that I've been a part of it a little bit. Obviously we have the right people at the top, so I think it's very positive.
Then the numbers, if more kids are playing tennis or not, or following it more, for me, I don't know. They would have to ask someone else. Obviously in Switzerland we have more kids playing tennis. I mean, Arthur Ashe Kids' Day now is a huge success. So many people and families and kids come out.
Every year it's fun being part of it and seeing everybody enjoying the family experience and being close to the stars or being close to the game. I think it's vital that you start at a grass roots level, and the USTA tries to do that, and other countries, too. I think it's all good.

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