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September 3, 2011
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
R. FEDERER/M. Cilic
6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Must feel pretty good. Cilic is a tough player. How did you feel you played out there?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I thought it was a tough match, like you said. Coming in I knew it was gonna be tricky, and I'm happy that I was able to counter his pace and his good play.
I mean, it was a tricky match, especially at one set all. In the third set sort of in the beginning I thought that was a key moment because he had momentum on his side. I was not returning and serving exactly the way I wanted, but I was able to turn it around and finished strong in the set.
Then in the fourth things were a bit easier. Tough match from start to finish, really, because also the first set could have gone differently. I know that.
Q. You play mostly night matches here. What's it like playing at 1:00 in the afternoon when the stadium is only half filled and then gets more filled obviously during the match? Is it different?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I think it's 50/50 here when I come to New York, day and night. I mean, they can't put you every time night session, because I think it's good to mix it up. And then also CBS comes in on the weekend and they request me to play during the day sometimes.
This is kind of how we practice, you know, during the daytime 90% of the time, so it feels almost more natural to play during the day than at night. At night you know it's just electricity, it's only one match happening. All the rest of the courts usually are done, so the focus is only on you.
Other Grand Slams you play only during the day, so for me this is pretty normal to come out and play at 1:00.
Q. You said that you thought took the momentum in the third. When he was called for the time violation do you think that took anything out of him? He seemed to double fault and then you just...
ROGER FEDERER: Did he double fault because of the time violation? Maybe. I don't think so. It came a bit out of nowhere. It's like what I mentioned. These time violations come out of nowhere sometimes, and then they'll never come back again. (Laughter.)
Look, I mean, if he was really taking too much time I think it's correct that you warn a guy, but then you should just stay tough, you know, and also go to point penalty. I think Marin was playing pretty quick, you know, like I was. It was a tough call, but I guess fair.
Q. You're obviously so fluid out there on the court, but also pretty fluent with languages. Can you just take a minute and just talk about language, compare the three different major languages you speak, which is the most expressive? What do you think in? Just talk about the different languages you speak.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I grew up speaking English and Swiss German, and then I don't know, I don't want to say my English got lost a bit, but obviously I was speaking only Swiss German at some point.
For some reason I started speaking more English again with my mom, and then with my coaches, Peter Carter when he came to the tennis club. That's kind of how I got my English back a bit. And then obviously touring at 14, I already had a solid base, and I think I was able to improve from there.
And French I learned only when I was 14 years old for two years at school. I was never really afraid to make mistakes, I guess. That's why my French is decent today. Makes my workdays a bit longer, you know, at the press. (Laughter.)
I was just speaking to Ferrero about the press, and he couldn't belive that I'm doing almost one hour of press after matches every time. And he is a former world No. 1.
It got me into some problems I guess, too, to speak so many languages. But honestly it's very nice to be able to communicate with everybody almost at all times, really. That's quite nice.
So I'm happy I was able to learn these languages and speak them pretty well.
Q. What do you think and dream in?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't dream much. (Laughter.)
Honestly, I'm kind of happy about that, actually. Swiss German is my No. 1 language, and then English follows right after that. French is a bit trickier for me, but I guess when I do speak with a lot of French guys I start maybe thinking in French.
I'm not sure. It's just natural. I'm able to bounce around from language to language pretty easily, which I'm happy about.
Q. I noticed the tiebreak stats, which you are world leader of all time. Can you talk about what goes through your mind in the tiebreak, and can you practice for it anyhow?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, in practice actually you do play quite a bit of tiebreakers, because you finish, and, Okay, let's play one more tiebreak.
It's never the same like playing one in a match, because I think the pretiebreak, what you go through is very important, you know. Are you coming into this tiebreaker with a good feeling? Are you coming in it with, you know, like with a lot of doubts?
I think that has a big impact on how you play the tiebreaker. I mean, as much as it is important to finish strong, I think the beginning is vital. In a tiebreak people always say the big servers have an advantage. Maybe to a degree I think that's the case.
But you have to try to take all the right decision in that very short period of time you have left in a tiebreaker. I mean, I've messed up many tiebreakers in my life, but I'm happy I also played some great ones. Like for instance, the French Open final one against Soderling when I hit three or four aces and everything kind of worked.
You just hope they happen at the right time. And actually in Grand Slams, tiebreak record is actually I think very good. That's key.
Q. What are your thoughts on and observations of the career of Donald Young and his recent progress?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, never practiced with him, so honestly I don't know him very well even as a person. It's just, Hey, what's going on kind of thing. It's pretty relaxed. I saw a bit of the match with Wawrinka which is hard to watch because in the end he ended up losing.
But, no, I think he's been real good at a very young age. I think his coming into tour was rather complicated I think. Getting a lot of wildcards and getting a lot of help creates a lot of pressure, right?
So that's hard to live up to. I really feel that, because I had expectations, too. But I had them when I was 17, 18, 19. He maybe had them when he was 15, 16, 17. It's a big difference. Seems like he's making his move now, and he's had some good wins. I think he beat Murray this year at Indian Wells.
Here again he's backing it up with good play. I guess the goal for him after that is start doing better almost away from America. That's the key for most Americans, in my opinion.
Q. There has been more retirements, more players retiring this...
ROGER FEDERER: Than ever, right?
Q. Than ever.
ROGER FEDERER: It's a record.
Q. Can you pinpoint any possible reason? There has been some talk about balls being different.
ROGER FEDERER: The balls? I think the balls are the same. I'd say 50% of them aren't lucky because, you know, not feeling well or getting injured or carrying in an injury. Depends where that player comes from. Maybe did they overplay a little bit? Has he been playing too long with an injury already?
I mean, comes out in best-of-five set tennis. Can't hide it, in my opinion. Could some guys finish the matches? I'm sure, but they didn't decide to. For me it is shocking to see so many retirements. I have never retired in my whole life except once when I played against Blake in Paris, but I didn't even walk on to the court.
For me it doesn't matter how bad I'm feeling, I will be out there and giving it a try, because you never know what's gonna happen.
Look, every player feels different. It's unfortunate it happen for the fans, I guess.
Q. In his book, Rafa says Federer is more technically gifted than I am, his serve is better than mine, his volley, his forehand is probably more decisive than mine; his slice backhand definitely is, and his positioning on the court is better, too. I just wanted to get your reaction to that. Also wondered what you thought might be, if anything, better in his game than yours.
ROGER FEDERER: Um, well, I think it all depends on what kind of a surface you play on, you know, as well. Our head to heads speak for themselves when clay comes around, even though I've beaten him twice there. I think this is where his strength come into play the most with his movement on clay and instinct better than anyone on that surface, for instance.
And I think his margins he gives himself each shot, you know, are better than anyone's. I play very flat. I have more risk in my game, but at least I feel the match is usually in my control where Rafa maybe doesn't always feel that way. He has to dig extremely deep sometimes. But when he's on a roll, he's almost unstoppable, as well.
I think he's an incredible player. He's improved a lot over the years. He'll keep on improving and be one of the greats.
Q. Do you believe any of the other players can be as dominant as you have been with the single handed backhand?
ROGER FEDERER: Hope not, because I wouldn't be as dominant with the double-handed backhand. My double-hander is terrible, so... (Laughter.)
Q. Of the up and comers, do you see the single-handed backhand going away?
ROGER FEDERER: A little bit. I think so. Unfortunately I like seeing one-handed backhands. You have to vary your game when you have the one-hander, because it's totally different when you're moving to your backhand side than with a double hander.
These guys today, even when they play double-handed, they go open stance, almost sliding on hard courts, which was unheard of 10 years ago, I think. So things have changed a lot, yeah.
But I wish we would see more one-handed backhands. But the double hands we see today are very nice, very beautiful, and very efficient. I don't know what I would teach my kid.
Q. Here in America, arguably the foremost athlete of our era is Tiger, and Rafa recently said he idolizes Tiger more than anyone. You've obviously hung out with him. He's obviously gone through some really tough stretches here. Could you take a moment and reflect on that situation and what some of your thoughts are on the struggle he's been going through?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, it's hard to follow, because you know what an athlete wants to do. He wants to be out there and compete, and that's what he's not able to do right now with his injuries right now.
So it's very unfortunate. I spoke to him actually yesterday and I asked him how he was doing. Yeah, he's not very happy, but he hopes to be back, you know. I mean, I wish the same, because I follow golf much more when he's around than when he's not. I think many fans too hope he's back, because it is more interesting.
He's done so much in such a short period of time and for such a long time, actually, which is where I also draw inspiration out of, you know, is to see those great athletes do it for a very long time. I've been able to do something similar, you know, to him in that regard.
So we have similarities and, you know, can talk about that very comfortably. But it's been tough for him the last years. He knows that. It's been hard to watch. I only wish him the best.
Q. So does that say that focus and confidence for an elite-level athlete are very precious things and can go off...
ROGER FEDERER: Well, the body is No. 1, I guess. Because without that we can't compete, you know, even in golf where you're not running around, you know. It's always the same place where I guess the tour comes from.
If that starts hurting at one point in your body it's unfortunate you can't do it properly anymore or you just do it a little bit less good and the margins are small in any sport.
We know it. Even as dominant as you can be, it can change very quickly. That's why I take no match or tournament for granted. That's what I always said. Every big tournament I was able to win, you don't know if it is your last, you know. That's why you always have to keep on improving, keep on working hard. That's what we all try to do.
Q. What are your thoughts about the road ahead for Tiger and the possibility of breaking his sports record for majors?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think before he can attack that goal he needs to be healthy again. Once he's healthy again, he needs to win some tournaments. Sure, he can go in and win a Grand Slam. That's not an issue. He's good enough for that. He's proven it so many times in clutch situations.
But I think it's a work in progress, and he has more time left than, you know, maybe tennis players have. That's why I think it's still absolutely possible.
Q. How much tennis do you watch when you're not playing?
ROGER FEDERER: When I'm on vacation, none. When I'm at home, none. When I'm at tournaments, I watch a lot. That's kind of how it is.
Q. Your girls are two now. What's it like to see them pick up a racquet and imitate dad?
ROGER FEDERER: They're not quite there yet. And they don't try to imitate me either, or it doesn't look like it. They try hard, but they get discouraged after 30 seconds. They just, okay, pick up the doll that's in the room instead. I'm happy about that.
But who knows? Maybe in the next six months I think there's gonna be a lot of changes, they going to get much more into activities. They love their swimming and so forth. I'm happy to seeing them, you know, enjoying the sports.
Q. If they want to become tennis players, are you gonna say yes to that?
ROGER FEDERER: I won't say no. We'll see how it's gonna go. I have no idea. At the moment, they're not gonna be, but who knows?
Q. Can you assess your game this week? Are you on track? How do you feel you're playing?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I'm on track because I'm in the tournament. That's the most important at the end of the day. I seriously don't care how I'm playing. I wish I play my best every single time and feel amazing.
That's not reality. Anybody who goes to work knows it's not as great as he wishes to be, and we go through the same thing. But you find a way to win when maybe someone is not playing so well or when your opponent is playing well, and that's what the beauty is of this game, I think, is trying to find a way when you're not feeling great.
That's what I maybe was able to do today. Even though it was a good match, I thought it was entertaining. It was fun. The crowds are amazing. That gives great motivation and inspiration to play your very best.
And as long as I'm in the tournament I know I have a shot, and that's what it's about right now.
Q. How was the wind today? Was that a factor at all?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it was tricky. First came from the left, then from the right, and then from the back. So it took some adjustments to do, but I think I handled it well.
Especially towards the end I took the right decisions, which was important.
Q. Either Juan Monaco or Tommy Haas in the next round. What do you think about their games at the current moment? What would be the game plan as to each of them?
ROGER FEDERER: Look, Tommy is coming from a tough place, as well, you know, having had a lot of injuries as of late. He's just come back on tour. I think in Paris he played his first match.
He's a great friend of mine. He's just also had a daughter and he's enjoying life a lot. I'm so happy to see him doing well in the tennis courts. I wish I could play against him. I hope he wins.
Monaco is a tough customer. You know, he works the ball like all South Americans do, and he's got good grit and battling on every single point. You know, it's always physical against these kind of players.
That would be a tough match regardless. I hope I play Tommy.
Q. What's your sense when you watch Serena Williams on a roll, her dominance on the women's side? What do you admire most about her game?
ROGER FEDERER: I guess she has more power than most of the girls. For her I guess it's tricky at times to pick the right shot at the right time because she has multiple options and she can just blast her way through opponents sometimes, you know.
Also for her, it's important not to forget all the whole tactical aspect I find sometimes. But then again, I'm not a woman, so I don't know how they play it and how they go into matches. They might not think at all or overthink things sometimes, you know.
So it's what it is. I honestly can't tell you a whole lot. But when she plays great, she's nice to watch.
Q. Gluten-free diet seems to have become more fashionable among tennis players. Is it something you ever gave thought to? Is there anything you don't eat?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I don't even know what that all means. I eat healthy, and I think that's what people should do, too, if they have the options.
It's sure important the right diet for an athlete. Is it everything? I don't think so. It can help you, you know. I mean, I think every athlete should be in good shape. I don't think we should have any fat athletes, to be honest.
We do too much sports and we should be too professional to let that happen to ourselves. If it happens, well, we should wake up. You don't have the right entourage. They're not telling you that you're a bit fat.
Players try different things, and whatever works for them. I do my thing. It's been very easy and natural and healthy, and it's worked. I'm happy about that.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports