Roger Federer Interview Masters Cup
Posted on November 21, 2006
2006 TENNIS MASTERS CUP
November 19, 2006
R. FEDERER/J. Blake
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Another successful end to a wonderful year. Is it possible to just sort of put it in perspective for us, what this victory means for you?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, it's quite incredible, you know. Obviously, it's very short after, you know, the whole thing. But to finish it off, you know, by winning the Masters Cup, you know, the world championship so to speak, it's really, for me, obviously the perfect ending to an incredible season, you know.
There's not much more I could have done, you know. I gave myself the best possible chance basically at every event. To come out, you know, like this, on top, I surprised even myself, no doubt.
Q. I asked you in Madrid what would be the shot you would be perfecting. You answered backhand drive, return of serve. Seems like you practiced a lot because that was the best display ever. Even Sampras would give a Grand Slam for a backhand like that. Can you tell us, you felt it working all the time during the whole match?
ROGER FEDERER: No, absolutely. I think Nadal warmed it up for me today. I definitely hit my backhand great today. I hit hard. It worked well, you know. I'm definitely very happy the way it went. Anyway, backhand worked good today, yeah (smiling).
Q. James said that he's run out of adjectives to describe how brilliant you are. What kind of adjectives would you use to describe your brilliance.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, pretty much out of words, as well. I had to laugh at one stage how well I was playing, you know.
I always came up with a great answer, you know. I was in control pretty much all the time. Everything I wanted to do worked, you know. To come to this point in my career where I feel so happy with my game, it's come such a long way, you know, that I also am out of words really to describe this performance.
Q. Comparing Grand Slam titles, how important is this title? I know your priorities are Wimbledon titles, but how about this title?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, this is like one of the goals you set yourself for more long term, for the beginning of the year. You try to be a part of this elite group, you know. That's why it's an important goal, you know. Only eight players can qualify. It gives you the opportunity to only play against the best.
It's a possibility also to end a good season. For me, this was one of the breakthrough tournaments back in 2003 when I won my first Masters Cup. And when I was here in 2002 for the first time in Shanghai, I thought it was one of the most special atmospheres I've ever lived or gotten to know. That's why for me Masters Cup is always right up there for the biggest tournaments in the world, yeah.
Q. You came here last year when possibly you might not have done. I guess perhaps largely because Nadal, Hewitt and Roddick weren't playing. You did much to save the tournament. You perhaps lost the title as a result of that injury. Do you feel now, 13 months later, that you've now repaired all the damage that was done by that injury when you were training in Basel?
ROGER FEDERER: Don't quite understand what you mean. But for me anyway, you know, the foot is still a bit swollen, you know. It stays like this for some time. But I've definitely recovered well, you know. I'm really surprised to have had such a good season without any problems with my foot really, you know. I had to put a brace on for a little bit of the first couple months. But after that, you know, I recovered well, and also was confident enough to start taking it off and just playing with the tape.
So, you know, looking back one year ago, I think it was a really emotional sort of time because it was first time really coming back from a big injury, especially playing against the top right away. To finish the season with that thriller match against Nalbandian, I thought it was a great end - even though I lost. You know, I was really happy to be back playing.
So to maybe come here now the third time around to Shanghai and finally win it, the display I did it, I think it's really, really one of the most special victories for me anyway.
Q. Everybody thinks that right now tennis has entered an era of your period. What do you think of this domination, how long can this kind of domination last?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know myself, you know. I hope it stays for a little bit more longer, you know, the domination. It's very difficult, you know, to keep it up, no doubt, you know. I had to play, I don't know, over 90 great matches to win, you know, so it takes a lot out of you. The traveling is tough, you know. But I hope I can keep it up and stay healthy. I definitely give myself a good chance to play well again next year.
But, you know, we'll see if somebody new comes up or I just can't maintain that level of play. I hope I can, and I'm looking forward to the challenge of 2007, no doubt.
Q. You won three finals in the Masters. Today, 6-0, 6-3, 6-4. Against Agassi, the first Masters, the final 6-3, 6-Love, 6-4. Against Hewitt, 6-3, 6-2. The average you lose in each set is between two games and three games. What do you think about it, because we...
ROGER FEDERER: I'm satisfied (smiling).
Q. Yes, but how do you explain? That means that the gap between you and the others, whatever you are going to tell us that they are great champions, is so big that is almost unreal?
ROGER FEDERER: No, no. I think it's quite surprising, as well, for me, you know, to come out, you know, and beat a fellow top 5 or top 10 player in the finals so convincing.
I remember against Agassi I played incredible, as well like today, you know. Was one of my best matches up until that moment I ever played. And against Hewitt, obviously was difficult because the rain. It was only best-of-three sets and everything. It was a totally different match. But I had him pretty much under control, Hewitt, at that point in my career.
For me, there's no real explanation why I play so well in the big moments, you know. I came up also with incredible shots again today on big points. For some reason it just ends up always happening, you know. I don't see what the secret is behind it, I really don't.
Q. In two weeks will take place the final match for the Davis Cup against Russia and Argentina. I would like to have your opinion, impression, about the chances of each team, who is the favorite and why.
ROGER FEDERER: Probably go with the home team. I think Russia has a very tough team, you know. They have a good No. 1, 2, 3, even 4, you know. Probably pick the Russians even though Argentines have an incredible record at home over the last few years, haven't lost. I just think Russia being at home in the finals, I give them the edge over Argentina.
Q. So yesterday Blake said he will write an autobiography, and Federer, he says you are an artist on the court. Tiger Woods said you are a great guy. Yesterday, a journalist told me you are the best ambassador of tennis. Which one do you prefer, and why?
ROGER FEDERER: I like the combination, I guess (smiling). A little bit of everything is always good, you know.
No, many nice words, you know. Love to hear them, of course, you know. It's nice 'cause it's not normal. But, no, I don't have a favorite. They were all very nice.
Q. You are now enjoying your best-ever singles season in 2006. What I'm interested in is, could you pick some moments for us that give you very cheerful emotions, and sometimes you are a little bit disappointed?
ROGER FEDERER: You mean the highs and lows of this year?
Q. Yeah, yeah.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, there was a lot of highs; not many lows. But I think the most emotional probably was the Australian Open, my speech. That was quite incredible, you know. I couldn't believe how emotional I got. Probably that was it.
Wimbledon, for sure, the most special, you know. This one is kind of, for me, the great end to just a fantastic season. Gives it a great end to the story for me in 2006.
Disappointments? Not really. Maybe a bit the French Open final. Wish I could have played a bit better. The match maybe didn't live up to the expectations after all the great matches we had in Dubai, Rome and Monaco. But I enjoyed it after all, it was my first French Open final. So, not having many disappointments this season, that's really nice.
Q. It seems like for the last two years when you are 100% physically, Rafael Nadal taking apart, it's very difficult, nearly impossible for other players to beat you. If you look at the other players, not the ones that were here in Shanghai, but the newcomers and the youngest players, is there anyone who could be a significant opponent for you next year?
ROGER FEDERER: I think there's many on the verge of, you know, breaking maybe the top 10. You know, Murray, Gasquet, and even Berdych is making his move slowly. Djokovic, as well. There's a few young guys. Monfils played well the beginning of the year.
Yeah, I don't know. I think they're between making the break and not quite sure yet. Maybe they need another more year. Obviously, the strongest of that pack is still Nadal. He came up so fast and so strong and he's been in three Grand Slam finals already. He's won many titles.
Just think the other guys seem to need a bit more time. Maybe could be next year, but I'm not sure about it.
Q. Is the priority to stay where you are in the sport? Is it really to have a sensible schedule? Is that what you look for at the start of the year and plan your year properly so you are in the right frame of mind, the right level of fitness, when the big events come along?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, absolutely. For me it's a different situation than other players because with me you got to count in number of matches played and not the number of tournaments. Obviously, that changes. I've always been very careful of making my plan, especially the last few years. I've always told my condition trainer, you know, as soon as I get to No. 1 in the world, you know, I'll make sure that I play only a certain number of tournaments because I want to look into the long term, look five years, ten years ahead, trying to save my energy and play as long as I can.
That's what we've been able to do. That's also what's been I think a big positive aspect to, you know, my playing, you know. I could always arrive to tournaments earlier, have a better preparation and all these things. I always try to also have some time off during the year, you know, so it's not ongoing all the time. That's what I did when I was younger, you know, just coming up about. But I think that was also the right thing to do, get used to losing, get used to winning, just getting the experience.
I think my plan has got something to do with my success, no question. So I will probably pretty much have the same schedule next year, same as this year, maybe except not playing the first week of the year.
Q. Apart from tennis, we know that you are supporting other causes, UNESCO, peace in the world, things like that. You will go on with this?
ROGER FEDERER: Absolutely. I'm also going to have -- I'm going to announce it in the next day or so, make a trip to India, as well, just before Christmas, for UNICEF.
Yeah, absolutely. I'm very - how should I say? - just very excited to help more also my own Roger Federer Foundation. That's something that's really grown very close to my heart, obviously. I hope I can try to help as much as I can. UNICEF gives me a platform to do that on a worldwide basis, not only in South Africa. I hope I can help the ATP with the Ace Program and also, you know, just myself by, you know, making field visits and just helping them out.
No, I'm looking forward. I think the Federer bear initiative was very nice, and I hope they're going to sell many more of them.
Q. I wanted to know, these days we are discussing many issues about finals at the ATP tournaments, best of three, best of five. I'd like to know your opinion. It's true you and Nadal didn't go to Hamburg because you played 7-6 in the fifth in Rome the day before. The same time, today, for instance, after one hour and two minutes, two sets, the match was over. So, I mean, the people who paid today for a ticket after one hour and two minutes would go home. Today, they had to pay around 68 Euros, cheapest price for the Chinese, which is quite...
ROGER FEDERER: Significant.
Q. ... significant, I would say. I'd like to know your opinion. We don't know what you would like really, best of three, best of five. Talking about the finals in the Masters Series.
ROGER FEDERER: I probably think best of five is more dramatic, let's say, obviously, because you have more possible change of result, you know, guys still coming back maybe from two sets to love and so forth.
But I think you have to look at the overall schedule, you know. We've had so many pullouts this season that maybe the best of three would help us, you know, being able to play more often or be able to back up weeks after week, you know. I think we would have played Hamburg if we would have had a best-of-three finals and then also Wednesday start after that, you know, in Hamburg. I think so maybe people would have gone home a little bit sad in Rome, but the people in Hamburg would have been happy to see us.
So there's always the two things you have to look at. I think that the Masters Series finals and other, you know, just a couple of other finals are now cut to best of three. I think that's okay, you know, because you always have the doubles, as well, on Sunday. Of course you run out of matches, but that's the one. I think people are just happy to see you play, and not if it's one hour, or one hour and 25. I don't think it matters much in the end as long as it is the finals.
Q. You've now accumulated enough ranking points that in February you're guaranteed to overtake Jimmy Connors' record for most consecutive weeks at No. 1. I know it's difficult to talk about yourself in the context of the history of the game, but you must be now approaching being one of the greats of all time, do you think?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I think that is definitely one of the big records I've broken, you know, maybe the biggest, you know, so far in my career. Yeah, I'm waiting for that date to come along, and then I'll celebrate it, not right now (smiling).
Q. It's hard for me to get a chance to speak to you. I have waited so long. First, congratulations. Second, I want to know if you are going to have a match with the doubles winners tomorrow? Will you be by yourself or which Master among the singles players will you choose to have the match with the doubles player?
ROGER FEDERER: Who is my partner?
Q. Which one will you choose among the singles Masters to beat the doubles Masters, the winners?
ROGER FEDERER: Probably pick James.
ROGER FEDERER: The two finalists. He played the best along with me this week. I'll have the best partner.