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March 31, 2011

Roger Federer


3-0 (ret.)

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Gilles has been tough with you in the last few years. A nice way to get into the semis?
ROGER FEDERER: No, no, it's not a whole lot fun honestly because you see the guy being booed off the court, which he clearly doesn't deserve. I understand the frustration from the people paying a lot of money to come see us play for multiple hours potentially, and then it's over within ten minutes. Only I think we played 15 points, so it's not great.
Look, we've played some funny matches against each other. The five-setter this year, then the three games here. The second time around when we played in Shanghai, I came off a back injury and I couldn't really play properly as well.
Then we had the first one as well, the first time around we played in Toronto, which was basically a normal match. Same also in Australia this year, but that one went the distance and was all intense.
So here again, it was really windy and really tricky to play in, so, yeah, I don't know what to say much. We didn't play. So I guess I'm just happy to be in the semis at this point.

Q. He said he injured it in the warmups. Did you feel this?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know if it was during my warmup or his warmup earlier.

Q. His in the morning.
ROGER FEDERER: In the morning? Right. I came on court right after he -- I took his court really at 12:30. After he had been hitting for a half an hour he looked fine. He even hit some serves. He stopped pretty quickly when he was serving, I remember, but then I saw him sort of in the locker room and everything seemed normal.
But it really restricts you. I had a bad neck last week as well. It's just something that's really hard to play with sometimes. Sometimes you got to be lucky that it doesn't happen like two hours before but maybe while you're already playing or right after so you have that night to sleep through it and work on it.
He probably just didn't have that time, and that's why he wasn't able to play properly.

Q. How did you get rid of the energy that you have? In the beginning you're fired up to go out and play, and all of a sudden it just dissipates.
ROGER FEDERER: What do you mean in the beginning?

Q. Before you go out you're pretty excited.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, but I didn't know he had something with his neck. You just play the same way. When it's over, you're like, Okay, at least I'm going to come out of this match not injured and I'm saving myself for hopefully the semis.
If not the semis, the rest of year. It's always nice to get easier matches like I had with, say, Olivier Rochus, which was a proper match. You take those and you're happy you're able to put those away and not have to battle for two and a half hours and come out and maybe carry niggling injuries with you.
That's kind of the first thing you see, is like, okay, safe to -- maybe crucial down the stretch at some point maybe in the clay court season or maybe just didn't pick up anything new. Especially Gilles Simon, he has that tendency to wear you down in long matches and drag you into his long rallies and always same.
I came out of the match with him in Australia and I felt the match was tough and physical, so that's why I guess in some ways I guess I was happy I didn't have to go that distance. I knew it was never going to be a four-hour match, but I knew it could be a really tough three-hour tussle.

Q. Is there something you do tonight that you wouldn't normally have done?
ROGER FEDERER: Because of short match mean?

Q. Yes.
ROGER FEDERER: No, not really. Honestly doesn't change anything for me. I was thinking of maybe going out to hit some more today, but then it's so windy. I don't want to mess around too much with my rhythm. I feel like I'm hitting the ball fine.
Maybe tomorrow I'll come out and instead of just warming up for 20 minutes I'll do 40, 45 minutes.

Q. I just meant do you think you'll go to Coconut Grove?
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, I always do different things. Go to south beach or other things, go to nice dinners. I usually try to do that regardless of how tough the match was.
Of course, if you finish a night session you can't do that, like tomorrow night. Probably going to go out tonight when the kids are asleep.

Q. I think all the fans are rooting for you to play a certain player Friday night in the semis. How do you feel about playing Rafa possibly?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think regardless if I play Rafa or Tomas it's going to be a good match for me. I lost with match points last year against Berdych here, so that would be some memories that come up again.
And if I play Rafa, then obviously we have many memories from playing amazing matches against each other. It's not even that unusual that we play each other in the semis, because it's happened at the World Tour finals back in Shanghai, and then also we could have played against each other in Cincinnati in the semis but then he lost to Baghdatis.
It's happened before. We'll see how it he takes it. I'm happy that I'm already that step further and I don't have to think of having to play Berdych and then maybe to play Federer [sic].
But he's a champion. He'll handle it easily. I would love to play Rafa clearly. I think it would be electric out there tomorrow night. We'll see how it goes.

Q. Would you believe it's been six years since you played in the United States?
ROGER FEDERER: I didn't know that.

Q. Here, the final.
ROGER FEDERER: Here? Really? Okay. I didn't know that. That would be good, too. Another reason.

Q. It's a quirky thing, but it's really hard to believe.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it is. One match away. Let him do the work. I'll be sitting couch. (Smiling.)
No, that's not nice.

Q. Can you talk a little bit more about that fine line that athletes walk between staying healthy and having to deal with injuries?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, well, this is not really injury. He's not going to walk away from this not being able to play the clay court season, so this is a quick fix. He might even be all right tonight or tomorrow, being able to play at 90% again.
But, sure, you have to listen to the signals of your body. Maybe that's why he rather have called it quits really early so he didn't hurt it even more. Yeah, I don't know. I guess it's all together, you know, in practice and the way you live every day, how much you sleep, what you eat.
There are different ways you can stay healthy. Then I think every player has their own secrets or routines that make that work. Some just get unlucky, like Tommy Haas maybe or -- I don't know who else to think of. Or Tsonga maybe early on. You have a bad back operation at 21. Could he have avoided that? Maybe. I don't know. From then on, it's just a fragile body maybe.
So that's why it's important to kind of get professional early, unfortunately. I think it's also important to also grow up as a boy or as a kid just doing what you like to do and not already to take treatment three hours a day at 15 years old. That's not point either, I think.

Q. You've been able to stay relatively healthy. Any keys to that? Is it luck?
ROGER FEDERER: I guess lucky to some degree, and then early -- I think I just have just a good sense of how bad are the injuries I'm playing with, how bad is the pain, how serious is it. Sometimes I don't even need a doctor or physio's advice to tell me what's good and bad for my body because I know it. I know how bad the pain feels and how much I can still push on it.
I think it's also a secret to knowing when to take a break and knowing when you can actually push, you know. Then obviously once you reach sort of the heights of the sport you become more clever and you become a bit more careful as well after having gone through a few little niggling injuries.
Then you really focus on how it avoid them; whereas in the beginning I think it was important those times to weather the times sort of between 17 years old and 23, those five years when you're not really professional yet but trying to be and not really knowing what it takes to be a professional athlete. You want to survive those years, I think.

Q. I know you're downplaying a little bit playing Rafa. Isn't he still the barometer with which you maybe measure your game as far as who is the best in the world?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, wouldn't be fair to say that because Novak has been playing really well. At the same time, sure. My No. 1 rival to me it seems is Rafa. Doesn't matter how many more times I'm going to be playing all the other guys. At the moment, we have that history and nobody can take it away from us. That's why the only thing really missing from us is a US Open match, I guess, and a few other maybe tournaments.
But we've played in so many big finals against each other and were able to play over four or five tough sets and have always shown a lot respect towards each other. So, yeah, clearly those are the matches I'm really looking forward to and hoping to play my best tennis.
If you win, great; if you lose, that's okay, too, as long as you tried everything and learned something else from that match after you lost. But I am planning to win, and that's why I have to be well-prepared. First I need to know that it's Rafa. It would obviously be nice to play here in the States.

Q. What memories you have about this tournament? Seven years ago it was the first time that Nadal play against you. You think that he will be extra motivated?
ROGER FEDERER: If we play? I don't think so. I think we really get up for these kind of matches against each other because we know the world is watching. We always have these incredible points and incredible matches against each other. We always try to play a bit different every time we come out against each other because we have to adjust to the conditions, the slower courts, the faster courts, and so forth. The excitement is huge walking into the stadium. Those things make you nervous. So it's a good thing when that happens.
Look, what I remember from seven years ago when I played him the first time, I came back from sun stroke in Indian Wells after beating Henman, and kind of dragged my way through the match with Davydenko. I don't know how much I had actually heard about Nadal before that match.
I remember seeing him for a bit over a year, I think, because he had a breakthrough maybe in Monaco the year before or somewhere else. I knew he was good, you know, but he, I guess, surprised me to some degree that he was so consistent, so good on hardcourts already so early.
That really showed me he was going to become a probably world No. 1, Grand Slam champion, just a really special Spaniard who could not only play on clay but other surfaces as well. He clearly lived up to all the expectations. From then on it went; the rest we know.

Q. It happens in tennis sometimes when rivalry becomes a trivalry. There was Connors and Borg, and then McEnroe shows up. In the last half year it's Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic. Have you only felt it in a real sense that it's happened like maybe since last fall?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I still think a few years ago when the two of us were at the top and you had Novak and Murray as well in the top 4. I mean, I almost got to put Murray into those guys as well because he was able to beat me and Rafa as well, and Novak. It was all a time when we were all beating each other a little bit. Nobody has a clear edge over the other, I find, at the very top, if you take us four.
That's why I find it's been like this. Now maybe, okay, I understand that Novak has joined that elite group of me and Rafa and so forth. Just because Murray hasn't been able to play so well the last few tournaments I don't think is quite fair.
He was in the finals of the Australian Open, Murray, and played Rafa extremely tough in London and so forth. He able to win Shanghai and Toronto, so he's right there as well.
It's been disappointing for him, but obviously it's clear we talk about Novak more now. Okay, he's got two slams which Murray doesn't have. I guess he deserves to be in that equation then, yeah.

Q. Do you think we put too much emphasis on the rivalry when we have so many other players? Do you have a sense of, Well, let them go write about something else or give those guys enough credit?
ROGER FEDERER: You're talking about my rivalry with Rafa now?

Q. Yeah.
ROGER FEDERER: No, look, I think in the beginning, early on in my career when I became the world No. 1 I didn't really have that rival, and I was very happy about it. I was just able to win, win, win, and dominate and go on and lose, you know, ten matches in two years kind of thing. That was quite incredible.
So in the beginning I guess I struggled to embrace the rivalry I had with Rafa. Only later on I was able to say this is actually quite cool. Sleeveless, pirate pants, you name it, long hair, lefty, spins, more with the flat shots and so forth and double-handed against one-handed, lefty against righty. I think it all kind of made sense, and I was able to embrace it then.
I think we had some good times in the past, and they have changed into what it is today. Really respectful and helping each other for good causes, foundation matches, you name it, for tsunamis. We've done so many things together. It's been a lot of fun.
Yeah, I think it's understandable you talk about rivalries, and especially you have such a big one going, it's clear that you address the next big player who's playing so well at the moment, which is Novak.
What we know is that it moves very quickly in terms of how the press reacts to results and losses and wins and so forth, ranking swaps. So that's just part of the game. But at the end, I think the players, they look more in the long-term. You can't be too rattled about quick news.
At the end, I think the press knows that as well. At the same time, we have to come up with a story at the very moment. That's completely understandable. It's fine. I also like good headlines for tennis. I don't want them to be boring and always the same. It's all fine.

Q. With rivalries you're usually not supposed to like the guy until after one of you retires.
ROGER FEDERER: I guess, yeah. Yeah, so we'll see how it all unfolds. We still have many more years on tour and a lot can happen. (Laughing.) Maybe we won't get along anymore. Who knows.

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