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February 24, 2014

Roger Federer


R. FEDERER/B. Becker
6‑1, 6‑4

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Seemed to be a nice way to ease into the tournament.
ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, no, I'm extremely happy with today's match.  You know, coming out and playing free tennis like that right off the bat is a good feeling.
I know probably Benjamin has been doing a lot of traveling back and forth, Australia, Europe, America, back to Dubai, back for Indian Wells and Miami, but you've got to take advantage of that.  I have been here for some time.
I had a good preparation.  I'm happy it paid off thus far.

Q.  The hotdog in the second set, it's a shot that probably anyone in this room would do a nasty injury to himself.  You made it look pretty effortless.  Talk us through that.  Must have been a lot of fun.
ROGER FEDERER:  Well, I mean, two shots before that, the dig I had on the volley, I didn't think I was going to make that.  And then the second one was just a reflex.  I thought he was going to go to the forehand, went to the backhand.  I got it over somehow, and then I thought that was maybe actually going to win, and then he got to it quite comfortably and he had to hit the lob because I was so close to the net.
Then because he was coming in already, I thought maybe he was going to be pretty close to the net so let me try the lob instead of just the hit just like I usually play it.  It worked perfectly, so I'm happy I didn't miss it wide and even better that he got it back so he created even more to it.
Yeah, it's rare for me to win that point with the lob in that circumstance.  I know I can hit it, but it's always exciting, it's so rare to get that opportunity to line it up because it's a safe shot for me almost to a degree.  It was exciting, and the fans enjoyed it, which is almost as important as winning point.

Q.  How difficult is it to win matches when most times you're expected to win matches?
ROGER FEDERER:  Well, the good thing is I'm usually the favorite then, and I go in and I expect myself to win.  Maybe not playing as free as maybe my opponent would be, but at the same time, once I do get the lead, you know, then you feel like your opponent has to do something extra special.
So it works both ways, you know, and that's where the beginning of the match is very important to show your opponent that you want to win, that you're playing aggressive, that it's in your racquet, not in his racquet.
So there is a few things that sort of go through your mind, but I've gotten used to it over the years, as well.  In the beginning it's kind of nice being the outsider.  Then it's nice being the guy everybody is sort of chasing.
Now my situation is comfortable too, you know.  I feel like I am enjoying myself out on the court.  I don't get too carried away or too nervous necessarily every single match.  I don't get stomach cramps like I used to when I was younger.
It's a bit more enjoyable now these days.

Q.  You have had a few first rounds here in the past that were a bit shaky.  You must be pleased with how well you've done, and also you told us you were feeling very strong coming into this.
ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, but that doesn't necessarily mean you're going to win your first round or second round or the tournament or whatever.  You've got to take it round by round.
I mean, we saw with Becker today, just regular shots, you know, he shanks or he just misses.  You're like, How does that happen?  It's just quick conditions.  Kind of flies on you.  It's a night session.  We practice 90% of the time during the day, and then you come out and play at night, have a full stadium.  It's different.
It's not so easy to, right off the bat, play your best tennis, and that's where things can run away very quickly here in Dubai.  If you look at the winner list, as well, usually they are also guys who play well on the grass courts, because conditions are quite fast here.  Your slice stays low.  Your slider takes off.  You know, the kick kind of goes up.
It's tough to control.  So it's worth it to go for your shots and you feel like risky tennis will be rewarded, which is nice for a change here.

Q.  You just said you're taking it round by round.  Have you given any thought at all to a potential semifinal showdown with another guy who has done pretty well here?
ROGER FEDERER:¬† I mean, I know there has been talks about it.¬† I saw the draw clearly.¬† That's what I hope for it to happen, but honestly I don't even know my second‑round opponent.¬† I totally forgot the draw.

Q.  Russell or Stepanek.
ROGER FEDERER:  So there you go.  That's my focus right now.  Like you said, in a perfect world I'd like to win the tournament, not just beat Novak, but if everything goes together, that would be wonderful.  But I'm not going to get too far ahead of myself.

Q.  Pete Sampras has recently come out and said that you can break his record at Wimbledon and play for another four years.  What is your reaction to that?
ROGER FEDERER:  I'm just as happy he's being positive about my game, you know.  I mean, he's a good friend.  I would be a little bit surprised if he would be too rough on me, but at the same time, I think it does say something.  It counts, you know.
It gives me extra confidence to know that someone like him believes in me, is in my corner, and I can always call him up and ask him for any advice.  You know, I know he would give me that.
So I hope I see him in Indian Wells again and we can catch up, but I hope it's possible, you know.  I don't want to break his records necessarily.  That's not what I'm playing for.  I'm playing, you know, for myself, for my team, for my country, you name it.
I'm happy things are going better now again this year.

Q.  You talked yesterday about being really comfortable with your new racquet.  Is there a particular shot that it's improved especially, or was it just increased confidence, you go for your shots generally?
ROGER FEDERER:  Well, I mean, at the end of the day you've got to be able to play accurate, you know, very accurate, because the closer you can hit it to the lines, the more your opponent is not sure if it's going to go in or out, so when you can hit winners or keep your opponent guessing.
But I did have times, you know, where maybe I didn't serve so well or I struggled with my backhand, with the timing and so forth, and I feel like even on a bad day, I have the power on the serve, and I do hit my backhand easier now.  It's just important that I can do it consistently at the most important stages of the match in the biggest matches and that my forehand is clutch when I need it.
I think that's really what I expect from the racquet, and so far it's been very good.  I must say I have been playing in quite quick conditions this year.  Brisbane was really fast.  And Melbourne was, you know, average.  Okay, at night a bit slower.
Then here now it's quick too.  I'm looking forward to see how the racquet is going to react a little bit when it's slower like in Indian Wells, for instance.

Q.  You're living in your home here.  You've got family here.  Your dad is here.  Is the Federer timetable, during the course of the day when you have a night match, any different to when you're in a hotel at a regular tournament?
ROGER FEDERER:  Not so much.  It's different having kids and no kids.  That's a big change (laughter). You know, so that's the big change there.
Hotel or not so much hotel, I've just got to make sure I know I'm playing a tournament when I'm staying at home, because normally I'm not.¬† Normally I'm in a hotel.¬† That puts me in the right mindset.¬† You have your ‑‑I know it sounds so weird, but you have your room service, your housekeeping, your concierge service.

Q.  Because you have moved into a hotel for the tournament here before.
ROGER FEDERER:  I think always except maybe once.  And I do the same in Basel, in my hometown.  This year I just felt like if I check into the hotel, it just feels like I'm leaving Dubai already almost, in some crazy way.
With the kids, they love it at home right now, so let's enjoy that.  No, but other than that, I try to make sure that I do get a little bit sort of alone time.  Today not so much.  It was 15 minutes.  But it's okay, you know.  I was ready for the match, and I'm happy I played well.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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