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October 7, 2013

Roger Federer

Ze Zhang


6‑2, 6‑1

THE MODERATOR:  Questions about the doubles match, please.

Q.  How did the partnership come about?
ROGER FEDERER:  It was one of those things I had an idea of playing doubles here last year with someone.  Yeah, it's too complicated of a story.  I thought this year if I play doubles, it needs to be something different, something special.  As you know me, I only play doubles with Swiss guys usually.  Or with Tommy, that was almost an exception this year.
I thought what could be really fun, different and cool here in Shanghai.  I spoke to Tony.  My agent spoke to the tournament, Michael and Charlie.  Got to do something, because this has such great potential here.  I love playing here.  I never played doubles here.  I thought, Who could it be?  They mentioned what about if you play with a Chinese player.  Especially as ZE ZHANG is coming up, he's really good.  That's perfect for me, that's great.
I was excited about the idea right away.  There you have it.  It was pretty straightforward.  Don't even remember when it was somewhat confirmed.  It was some time ago.  I was looking forward to this day for some time.
When I arrived here, they announced we were going to play doubles together, there was huge excitement.  They were going to put us on center court on Monday.  I thought, that's great, that's good for the game, good for tennis here in China.  That's kind of the ultimate goal, is to partner up with a Chinese up‑and‑coming player and promote the game at the same time.
I'm just so happy for ZE ZHANG, that he played really well.  I really am, because he couldn't have played any better.

Q.  Novak Djokovic said the other day it would take five years before a Chinese player really made a significant breakthrough.  Want to get your thoughts on that.
ROGER FEDERER:  Well, the question is what is 'significant', number one.  Number two, there's hardly any teenagers anywhere.  I don't think there was one in the top 300 not a long time ago in the world, not just in China.
So for that matter, it's going to take teenagers longer to make a breakthrough, make it into the top 100, top 50, top 10, so forth.
Used to be completely different 10, 20, 30 years ago.  Seemed much faster.  I don't know what happened to the game.  Maybe more physical, more mental.  I think all countries are fighting to have that teenager break through and break that mold again and reach high rankings early.  That's not just a problem for China.
Overall for the game, I think it would be fun to have young, up‑and‑coming stars around.  With China, they're trying very hard.  They're very disciplined.  Clearly it would be amazing for this kind of a huge tournament and the country to have a rising star within the top 50.
I wish ZE ZHANG all the best.  Hopefully he can be that player.  He seems established.  He knows what he's doing.  He's got a professional setup.  Now it's just about hard work.  Hopefully he can do it in the next couple of years.
Maybe he can elaborate more on how it is for him here in China.
ZE ZHANG:  (Through translation.)  I think over the past two years, tennis in China began to improve slowly.  Players like me and Wu Di have improved in the rankings from 300, 400, to within 200.
You can't say this is too slow or too quick.  I think that over the past several years there really are a lot of breakthroughs in China.  I think I will try to be within the top 100.

Q.  As we all know, your language skills are exemplary.  All we see these days are doubles players talking behind their hands.  How did the two of you communicate?
ZE ZHANG:  (In English)  Very simple.
ROGER FEDERER:  His English is not that bad.  He likes to answer in Chinese.
To me, I had the understanding he understood what I was trying to tell him.  You keep it pretty simple out there.  You don't want to go into too crazy of details of what you're trying to do.
This is the first time we played together.  You just really focus on playing well yourself, first of all.  I think that was also one of the reasons we did so well.  We were not worried about the partner having to save you.  I think that's what he did exceptionally well today.
Then it's more or less where you're going to serve, maybe a couple key ideas I had to keep him in line and give him a clear mind.  He seemed to understand and also then do it.
I got the message that he did understand my English very good.  Credit to him because my Chinese ain't that good, like his English (laughter).

Q.  Roger, you're an ambassador for the sport.  What do you think can be done to raise the profile of Asian tennis?  Do you think people should play doubles with Asian partners, stuff like that?
ROGER FEDERER:  I think it's the full‑on package.  I came here to open the Qi Zhong stadium in 2004.  Been coming here since 2002.  Went to play Bangkok, Tokyo, Shanghai, played the Olympics as well in Beijing.  Came back here time and time again.  Done also a lot of promotional work here.  Then played also Asian exhibition tournaments in Seoul, in Macau, Kuala Lumpur, you name it.  I've been around the block here.  Several times also I toured with Pete Sampras here in Asia.
For that reason I've enjoyed coming back here.  I've also come on vacation to this continent many, many times.
For me it's very important when I saw the potential, and how nice the people are over here, to promote the game more over here.  Clearly we're waiting for more players to break through from this continent really.  We had Paradorn Srichaphan.  We have Kei Nishikori from Japan.  Hopefully we'll have more and more players coming up.
By having such a great tournament, all the top players coming here to Shanghai, I think that's only going to help it.  I'm not the only guy promoting the game over here.  I think we all really want something to happen in a big way in the next 10, 20 years here.
I was one maybe from the start, if you'd like to say, even though tennis was somewhat known before that.  It seems like fans are getting more and more knowledgeable.  Clearly it's becoming more and more fun to return to play Shanghai, for instance.

Q.  ZE ZHANG, you played extremely well today.  Over the past two days you worked with Roger communicating and practicing with each other.  What did you learn from him?  Are you extremely excited that you want to show off in front of your fans?  And Roger, as well, what did you actually tell ZE ZHANG because he played great today?
ROGER FEDERER:  Maybe he should answer.  I don't remember everything (smiling).
ZE ZHANG:  (Through translation.)  I think over the past few days, we practiced together.  He actually invited me to practice with him.  So I'm thrilled to hear that because it was really fascinating to me that he is easygoing, he's nice, and he's fun.  So we had very good communications.
Then, of course, I learned a lot from him, not just the playing skills, but also the professionalism.  I think I can be more professional.

Q.  Any details that you can disclose?
ZE ZHANG:  (Through translation.)  In today's match, in the beginning I lost a few points.  He told me, Never mind, it doesn't matter.  He always encouraged me.  Then you can see that I can handle the match more easily.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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