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March 15, 2014
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
R. FEDERER/A. Dolgopolov
THE MODERATOR:Â Questions, please.
Q.Â Last time you mentioned grit.Â You know, grit is a very interesting word in sports.Â You play with zest.Â Are you familiar with the word "zest"?Â It's with, you know ‑‑I think you're playing ‑‑you seem happier.Â Do you think you are?
ROGER FEDERER:Â Compared to?
Q.Â Compared to maybe last year.
ROGER FEDERER:Â Last year, yes.
Q.Â Last year, yes.
ROGER FEDERER:Â Yeah, I think I'm just playing more freely overall and with more confidence because I can get to more balls without thinking.Â I can wake up in the morning without feeling sore.Â I can go to bed not feeling like, I hope I feel better tomorrow.
I don't have these thoughts going through my mind and I'm not worried sort of every single sort of minute of the day.
So automatically you're more inspired and you're more happy as a person then in the process, for sure.
Q.Â After the Anderson game you talked about how before that match you saw the weather and you thought, Maybe it will be windy.Â You said you've been through that before.Â Is there anything you haven't seen like weather‑wise and conditions‑wise?
ROGER FEDERER:Â Well, I mean, we don't play in ice cold conditions, thankfully, tennis players, because, I don't know, it doesn't work for us.Â It's not like other sports.Â Where they play NFL‑‑ I saw a game when I was practicing in Dubai and there was snow just everywhere.
I was like, That's crazy.Â I don't know how they do it.Â Thankfully I'm a tennis player, I thought.
But then again, we play in unbelievable heat sometimes, like in Australia.Â We had four days of extreme heat.Â Wind, I have had it, you know.Â Playing in the rain I think is always tough on the clay.Â It's just tough for everybody involved, fans, us, conditions, ball boys.Â You name it, everybody doesn't have a great time.
So it's part of what we do.Â Clearly it also took me a while to get used to all these conditions, you know.Â I think wind and humidity is probably one of the tougher ones out there.
Q.Â Would you say the experience that you had was a little bit of an edge for you today?
ROGER FEDERER:Â I mean, I think Alexandr has also seen a lot, so maybe a slight advantage.Â I'm not sure.Â You would have to ask him.
Q.Â Wondering if there is any added significance for you having played this well here this year since this is where things went sour for you.Â Does that make it any sweeter this year?
ROGER FEDERER:Â Not necessarily.Â You know, I accepted the fact that I wasn't feeling well last year.Â I knew I had planned to go back after this tournament and then rest and prepare.
So instead of resting I was just sore.Â Instead of preparing, I was just trying to get back.Â So it was a bit of a wasted sort of stretch for me instead of coming out feeling like, you know, sort of at the top.Â I didn't feel that way.Â That's when I had the aftereffect I think for a few weeks, maybe.
I did return okay.Â Once the clay came around at least the pain was gone, but mentally I took a hit, I think, just knowing that I never felt in pain for that long like I did after this tournament last year.
So it feels good winning again here so many matches.Â I think it's nice winning anyway (smiling).Â It just solves a lot of problems and makes you feel better, you know, happier.
Q.Â Having won so much this week, does it make you rethink Miami at all?Â You're going to have six matches here.
ROGER FEDERER:Â Yeah, I mean, we'll see how the match goes tomorrow.Â I mean, thankfully ‑‑ I'd like to see more best of five set finals potentially, but it is not, so that's definitely a plus.
But it looks more likely for me to go than not to go, you know, at this point, yeah.
Q.Â How important were the few days you had here with Stefan?Â A lot is made of coaches aren't here or are here.Â You had few days with him first part of the week of the tournament.Â What do you do with that in that period when he's not here?
ROGER FEDERER:Â No, I mean, it's just nice spending time and discussing how was Dubai for me, for instance, how were the conditions here, kind of analyze everything.
And then how do we see me playing here, you know, how do we use conditions to my advantage?Â How do we train?Â I still think for him it's interesting just to see what do we, the players, these days, you know, in terms of press and photo shoots and more press, more photo shoots, more press, you know, (smiling).
It's nonstop.Â I think he's sometimes a bit surprised how much we actually do.Â So, yes, you have to get used to that.Â I think and if he doesn't like it he can tell me and I can try to change it.
But this tournament definitely you are more busy these days before the event than we used to just because it feels like the pressroom is more full, more sponsors come down here, more people want stuff.
But it's just nice spending time with Stefan and just, you know, discussing things about my game.Â Just the rest, it's normal things, life, you know, those kind of things.
Q.Â Could you be more specific about the year of injuries?Â Was it a bad back?Â When did it happen?
ROGER FEDERER:Â It was a bad back.Â Here.
Q.Â It happened here?
ROGER FEDERER:Â Second round.
Q.Â Second round?Â It just never went away or just how long...
ROGER FEDERER:Â No, it did go away three weeks later, probably, when I was home.Â Just kept on lingering, lingering, lingering, and then eventually it went away.Â But, you know, being sore every day leaves its sort of its, I don't know‑‑ scarred.Â You're scarred a little bit.Â Then I started to train again lightly, you know, as I could, and then eventually I trained I guess normal again.
I don't even quite remember.Â It's a bit of a blur now.Â But I wouldn't have entered Madrid or Rome if it wouldn't have felt good last year, so I'm sure I felt okay.Â I hadn't played for a while, so that's ‑‑ maybe I felt the effect of that in Madrid, plus Nishikori play played well.
Then I actually played all right in Rome, made the finals there, played some good really good tennis.Â And then in Paris I played all right too, and then in Halle I won.Â I just had a bad batch against Tsonga in the quarters at the French, and then Wimbledon I had a bit of a surprise loss, but I wasn't in pain then.
Just maybe feeling that training was lacking from the weeks I lost in April.Â Just I could feel for a while I was playing the wrong way.Â Little things crept into my game that shouldn't have and probably wouldn't have had felt better.
And then I got hurt again a few weeks after Wimbledon.Â That's when things really went‑‑ became difficult, because I think the second time I got hurt I had like a back spasm in Hamburg.Â I should have pulled out of the event.
Then I really like questioned everything.Â I think that time I got hurt was more ‑‑I think I was warming up because they have like an indoor like arena there so I was always playing like soccer a little bit as a warmup.
I think from playing soccer I hurt my back, just like from passing around.Â I think it came from something else, but I just realized my back was really fragile.Â That's when I put everything in question and really had to rethink my routines.
That's then when we came up with another plan instead of the one we had after April a little bit.Â We adjusted it again.
Q.Â Here was it serving?Â Was it reaching for a return?
ROGER FEDERER:Â Serving.Â After a second serve, yeah.
Q.Â All the of a sudden you felt it and you knew?
ROGER FEDERER:Â Yeah.Â You know (smiling).
Q.Â How badly the back injury affected your performance last year, what kind of changes did you make to your routine and preparation?
ROGER FEDERER:Â Just core exercises.Â Pretty much that, you know.Â Because I just realized just doing treatment is not going to do it any good.Â You have to work on it to become stronger.
Even though I did a lot of exercises beforehand, I just had to adjust them, you know, maybe do it differently, different speed, different exercises.
So I just went through that with Stefan, my physio, Pierre, my conditioning coach, doctor, another physio.Â We just talked about it all and laid it all out on the table what I've been doing and what everybody thinks what I should do from then on.
Then the problem is it's not a quick fix.Â It was, Let's see how you feel in two weeks, two months, six months.Â It was a long‑term plan, so you're very unsure still if you're going same direction.Â Because it's not like one day to the next having no pain.Â Tennis players are in pain quite often.
So it's tricky to just let it all go and say, It's normal to be in pain.Â So I had to, you know, just accept that as well, that you're just going to be in pain, you know, a little bit, like every other player, too.
Don't believe you're not going to be in pain.Â It's just part of being a tennis player.
Q.Â Even after all these years of watching you, I think even us in the media were taken aback at some shots you come up with as winners.Â In the middle of a match do you surprise yourself at times with some of the points that you play?Â I mean that in a positive sense.
ROGER FEDERER:Â No, I see that.Â No, yeah, I do, as well, because in a match, you know, you just stretch that little bit extra.Â In practice, there is no reason in the practice.Â You can't quite get certain points going the way like you can the match.
I don't know if the court is bigger or the opponent pushes you further or you don't care if you have to slide on the hard courts.Â I don't know.Â In practice I save myself a little bit, because that's not when I want to get injured.
Yeah, I do surprise myself as well.Â I think most of the players do that to themselves, as well.Â Certain shots you can't learn, you can't teach.Â It's just instinct.Â You adjust and you just try.Â Sometimes you get lucky and it looks amazing.
Because we are professional tennis players it feels like really we controlled everything, but also sometimes we get lucky in the process.Â All you have to do is try get to the balls, and for that you have to be fast and anticipate.Â Then you try to come up with something.Â It depends how much risk you're willing to take.Â The more risks you take, the more spectacular it can be.
Q.Â You have hit a lot of incredible shots.Â Following up.Â There was the tweener against Gasquet, a lot of let cord shots that are really special, and that overhead you hit off of a Roddick overhead.Â Can you think of in your own career kind of two or three that were special to you during your career?
ROGER FEDERER:Â Yeah, sure.Â I think smashing to Roddick in Basel, especially because it was my home, my home city.
Then I think the get I had on the break point against Agassi in Dubai one time where I flicked it behind me.Â I don't know how I did it.Â I think I couldn't even believe it.Â I looked back and it was over his head for a winner somehow.
That one, and I guess the one against Novak through the legs, you know, at the US Open.Â Those kind of stand out to me right now.
Q.Â If it is Novak, obviously you have played each other in lots of big matches.Â Maybe not for a while.Â How much do you relish the opportunity to play against him in the final?
ROGER FEDERER:Â If it's Novak?Â Yeah, I think we have had great matches always.Â I think we have played here as well before, if I'm not mistaken.
So it's one of those matches I think we both know what to expect going into, and even more so maybe now that we have just played in Dubai and also in Paris and London at the end of last year.
So we played quite a bit recently, which helps both of us with some info.Â We don't have to go way back, you know.
I think he's fresh and eager to really try and win this if he makes the finals clearly, because he hasn't played many tournaments yet this season.Â I think he really wants it, and that's going to be a challenge for me to accept that and fight that, you know, with good play myself.
Q.Â You have high expectations of yourself, but how have the results you have had this year sort of aligned with what you expected so far?
ROGER FEDERER:Â I mean, I think the results are better than I thought they would be.Â I expected myself to play better starting March/April, sort of this time around.Â Maybe Miami, clay maybe, you know, that kind of time.
So for it to all start earlier gives me more information how my body is, how my mind is, and from now on I really feel I am really there where I want to be or where I wanted to be six months ago.
So that's very encouraging and super positive, really.Â Now it's just a matter of keeping that up, taking the right decisions not to overplay, not to underplay, and, you know, enjoy yourself.
Because at the end of the day, it's also very important.Â But having the fire and wanting to win every single match you go out there and in the practice trying to improve as much as you can, that's ‑‑ I think I've got the good balance right now, so it's very encouraging.
Q.Â If it's Isner and not Djokovic...
ROGER FEDERER:Â Clearly, I mean, I like playing John.Â I think he's got an amazing serve.Â I get along with him quite well, you know.Â We always joke around, so I always like that challenge of the big server.Â Can you figure it out?Â And if you can't, you can't.Â Then he's better.
So I kind of like that challenge.Â We played here a few years ago I think in the finals in '12?Â It's the same situation, I think.Â They played each other in their semis with Novak, and I was on the other side.
So similar situation.Â Yeah, I'd love to play John, but we'll see how this match turns out.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports