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January 3, 2012

Roger Federer


R. FEDERER/N. Davydenko
6‑2, 6‑2

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  You couldn't have started much better than that, could you?
ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, I'm very happy.  It was a good first match for me into the new season, and I think it was a combination, like I said on the court, between me playing actually really well in the first match and Nikolay just not finding his range, you know, what we're used to seeing from him in the past.
But I take these victories any time, especially against a top player like him and knowing his potential, because I think I've really played him at his very, very best at the World Tour Finals in London and then here in Doha and then again in Australia a couple years ago, so I know how much this victory means.  I'm happy I could move forward in the draw and still try to defend my title here.

Q.  Is it too soon to say that it shows you've got the balance of your preparation correct?
ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, I mean, who knows?  I mean, I still have to wait and see, but it's definitely nice to have one match under my belt here now that's a successful one and sort of gives you at least a good feeling.
I will be playing many matches at night in the coming weeks, so this is obviously an important step, as well, getting used to the conditions.  The more matches I can get, the better for me right now, and especially now that I might have to back up every, you know, every single day to keep on winning.
It's nice also to play a quick match.  There's only positives out of today, and I hope I can keep my level up tomorrow again, because it's a quick turnaround.

Q.  Listening to you talk and watching you start yet another season, it's remarkable how much appetite you seem to have for playing on the tour.  Can you say why it is that you have this continuing desire to play and compete?
ROGER FEDERER:  For me, it's normal, I guess, to have that.  If you don't, you're going to have many losses just due to lack of interest or just not well‑prepared, or just being there because it's the right thing to do but you don't really, truly, you know, love it or believe in it.
So I think the mindset has to be the right one, and it's a lot of sacrifice we do during the year and throughout the career, but it's a great reward you get in return.
So I think it's just tough to remind yourself actually how lucky we all are.  I think looking at all these things, having, you know, a family, children almost seeing me play now and still having the chance to play the highest of levels, being injury‑free, playing on center court, nice crowds, beautiful tournaments, it's something I've always wanted and dreamed of, right?
So why, sort of, you know, drift off and just not be excited about it?  So, for me, it's completely normal, and I'm happy I feel this way.

Q.  Just two questions.  I mean, when you start that quickly, do you kind of get into a groove and you feel it, like, Okay, this is just ‑‑you start getting a sense that this match is going to go quickly?  Do you know that right away?  And also, as you said, you didn't have a lot of time off and didn't make any changes, but when you looked at tonight, what were you most happy with?  Would you say you kind of moved him around?  Your service game, you have many more winners than he did?  What were some of the things you liked and you were happy to take away from this match?
ROGER FEDERER:  Well, I take away, you know, good stuff, like I mentioned before.  I thought my forehand and backhand was working.  I think I had good variation on my serve, which wasn't the case sort of this last week.  So I'm happy I was able to pull myself together and make that happen.
Even on the return, obviously it's slower here than in Abu Dhabi, so I always knew I was going to return much better here.  And right away I was able to break Nikolay on many occasions, which I wasn't able to break at all basically in Abu Dhabi except with one poor game Rafa played.
So things have obviously changed here, and I'm happy that the conditions suit me.  So it's no surprise, actually, that I do play well here, because I did play great tennis here last year, and I think I only got broken once in the entire tournament last year, so I was happy with my movement, as well, and I had good variation.
I couldn't come to net very often, because rallies were cut short by either errors or winners.  When I did come to net‑‑ well, I missed a volley, I think, once or twice.  So it was like nothing extraordinary there.  But, you know, against a player like him, you're never quite, you know, through until you hit the, you know, finish line.
So you play with that in the back of your mind.  And he's played extremely well through so many years to make you feel that way, which with another player who hasn't reached what Nikolay has, you feel a quicker, that you have him under control, but with Nikolay you never quite have that feeling.

Q.  As you said, he was in the final with you last year and he's fallen in the rankings.  Just being on the other side of the net, what do you think?  Is it the injuries, or are you seeing something in his game?  Is he just getting older?  What's happening, do you think, that you didn't ‑‑is this the guy‑‑ this doesn't sound like the guy you saw last year in the finals.
ROGER FEDERER:  No.  I mean, look, I think it was always going to be clear we were never going to play the quality match we played last year here in the finals.  I mean, I really was able to make some incredible stuff, and him, as well, but I just had a bit of a better serve overall, and I think that got me through.
Nikolay wasn't always, you know, the great top 4, 5 player he was.  You know, he kind of slowly but surely got there, and once he was there, you know, he was completely deserving there.  If I wouldn't have maybe been around, he would have won a couple of slams.
So I think he's had a really incredible career.  He's got an amazing win/loss record in finals, in particular, and I have really a lot of respect for him.
So his game has always been one of small margins.  He hits the ball very flat, close to the lines.  So if you're not quite feeling maybe 100%, just miss those few more balls, that has a complete different, you know, outcome to the match then.
That's what he has to work on, it's just consistency, and keep playing aggressive and, you know, plugging away.  Because he still has the wheels, and he seems very motivated; otherwise he wouldn't be playing anymore.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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