Roger Federer US Open Interview - September 9Posted on September 9, 2007
An interview with: Roger Federer
Sunday, September 9, 2007
R. FEDERER/N. Djokovic
7‑6, 7‑6, 6‑4
Q. How would you rate your game today?
ROGER FEDERER: I thought it was my game. I thought I played well when I had to. I've played better matches in the past, no doubt. But, you know, it's a big moment, a lot of pressure for both of us.
It was a bit windy again today. Yeah, I mean, also the opponent plays a role in how good you can play. He made it hard to me in the beginning. All in all, I'm very happy with my performance.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, for me, I mean, Wimbledon obviously is always going to be No. 1. But New York has definitely grown on me the last few years. I think especially since that famous final against Agassi here a few years ago I started to really love this tournament.
I realize actually what kind of a big‑time event this is, you know, with 24,000 people in the stadium, the city. Just the difficulty to win here. I wasn't aware of it in the very beginning when I came on tour really.
For me, US Open is the second biggest one we have on tour. To have won those two, you know, the most times, it's just incredible for me.
Q. Novak was talking about during the most important points he felt the nerves, felt the idea it was his first Grand Slam. Could you sense that from the other side of the net, that at those moments he was much more inexperienced?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, it's funny because I played him in Montréal, and it was a similar situation. You know, I served for the first set at 6‑5, 40‑Love. This time around he had it. I came back. I got the momentum in the tiebreak and I win it.
It's crazy, if you think about it, how similar the matches were. But this time it swung my way, you know. But it shows you always have a chance.
Same thing what happened to me in Montréal. I missed a few shots. The guy hit a few good shots. All of a sudden back into the set. This time around I could do it.
But I felt it was really getting tense. Wasn't serving as well anymore, and from the baseline he was afraid to hit the ball. That was with the wind in the back. So I was quite surprised I still got out of that game.
But in the end, obviously it was key I won that first set.
Q. You say it took you a while to kind of get used to New York and the show here. I see you're wearing your black tonight, an afternoon match. Also walking in to the Darth Vader theme song. How much of that is you? How much of that is other people? What do you think of all of that?
ROGER FEDERER: Look, in the end I call the shots what I want to wear. If they want to put me out in yellow, I don't do it (laughter). I've done those mistakes in the past. I don't want to do it again.
But I thought all black is kind of a cool thing. I can only pull it off in New York. I started enjoying wearing a jacket at Wimbledon, kind of bringing something new to the Open, because I see many shirts out there I don't like.
I just want to make sure that one guy dresses kind of normal on tour (smiling).
Q. And the Darth Vader aspect?
ROGER FEDERER: I didn't think of that in the very beginning when I did it. I've actually played once in all black, once in my life, in one match. I think it was Hewitt in Paris Bercy years ago. This was still when I was trying around.
So I kind of liked the idea of having a day session, a night session outfit. They're really nice and classical shirts. I just thought, you know, even the black shoes and black socks, I'm not the biggest fan of them, but you have to complete the outfit.
Actually enjoy the look, to be honest, and nobody pushes me.
Q. Yesterday Davydenko called you lucky. Today a couple balls on the line. He missed one by a millimeter. Are you lucky?
ROGER FEDERER: Ask the other guys (smiling). Look I always say sometimes you need a bit of luck. It's obvious like in card games or something you hope it falls your way, but you can force the issue, too, push it your way, more than just to rely on pure luck.
I think especially over five sets, you know, kind of you pull away the luck a little bit and it's more of how good you are really. Sometimes it comes down to the crunch.
We know it on grass. We've seen it many times it's played on one point. Who takes the right decisions, who doesn't make the mistakes on big points. He did today and it cost him the match.
Q. When you were down in the first set, what did you try to focus on? What went through your mind at that moment, down 40‑Love?
ROGER FEDERER: I thought he was going to serve another big serve and I would be out of the set really. At this point you have no hope. It's obvious, you know.
However, you hope if a couple points go your way early on and you get back to 40‑30 he could get a little bit nervous. It's a Grand Slam, after all.
But you don't think too much because it goes too fast. Yeah, not much.
Q. Do you see the potential for a rivalry with Djokovic along with Nadal?
ROGER FEDERER: Very possible, you know. Honestly I've enjoyed the challenge of young guys challenging me. This is probably my biggest motivation out there. You know, seeing them challenge me, beating them in the final, it's really for me the best feeling, to be honest (smiling).
If a rivalry comes along, great. So far we haven't played many times in finals of tournaments. It's always been quarterfinals, last 16. Now we've had two finals back to back. That always helps the rivalry.
But I still obviously consider the one I have with Nadal much more serious at the moment.
Q. Is he good enough to step up to that level?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, he's been very consistent. I think if I would have played him twice in the semis of the French and Wimbledon then I would have had maybe more of a rivalry with him, but he landed on Rafa's side. They kind of got it going at the moment actually.
Q. In many ways this was a different slam victory for you because your last three matches were all so close. I guess you could have lost any of those matches. Has that made it any more special?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, honestly, like you say, I didn't lose a set the last three matches, but they were close and I came through. It's probably because I'm experienced and I'm confident about my play.
The other guys missed their chances, you know. In the end, looking back, having beaten, Roddick, Davydenko and Djokovic, all in straight sets, is an incredible effort for me. I didn't expect it after the struggle I had against Isner and López.
Q. Today Tiger Woods shot a 63 and had a come‑from‑behind victory in a tournament. He has said that you are the most dominant athlete in sports. What do you make of what he said on the day that you've just won your 12th slam?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it's very kind, you know. Of course, you know, I love getting compliments from Tiger because they do mean something to me. It's great to see him winning, as well. It's always the best if we win at the same time, you know.
I hope he can keep his great run up, beat Jack Nicklaus' record. I'm chasing down Sampras. For me it's a lot of fun, being compared with Tiger, who is the greatest. I'll leave that up to the audience. But my last few years have been incredible.
Q. You passed Borg and Laver today with your 12th. How much do you think about the Sampras record? How badly do you want it?
ROGER FEDERER: I think about it a lot now, honestly. In the beginning I was ‑‑ I felt pushed a little bit in the corner, put under pressure about the situation because you don't win slams like that, it's just too tough.
I feel these two and a half weeks, it's so draining. I'm exhausted in the end. It's a great relief, you know, just to finally maybe have a good night's sleep without thinking about the upcoming five‑setter I have to play. So I know how tough it is.
So to come so close already at my age is fantastic, and I really hope to break it.
Q. When you're done, how many do you think you'll have?
ROGER FEDERER: Don't know. I really don't know. I mean, I hope more than Pete (smiling).
Q. Do you think you're a significantly better player than you were a few years ago? And if so, could you talk about that?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I used to play obviously much different at the age like Djokovic. I would chip and charge, serve and volley a little bit, play like my idols basically: Becker, Edberg, Sampras. They all did it, so for me it was like I got to play the same way.
Then I realized things were slowing down. The new string generation came along where returning and passing shots was made easier. It was harder to attack in some ways, you know.
But at the same time that helped me now because I do have the game to attack, I do have the solid volleys, I do have the opportunities and the option if I have to. That's good that I did it when I was young. I took some chances.
Obviously maybe that cost me a lot of matches, but the reward was fantastic. But, yeah, it's been a long road. I had to work hard on my game. In the end, I think I've really come along in the last few years. I think the last two, three years I've been very much the same with maybe little adjustments and there.
Q. Beside your passion for tennis and your new love for golf, how much are you interested in soccer? European Championship next year in your home country. Is this a sport which interests you a lot?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it's actually my second favorite sport after tennis, you know. It's even ahead of golf, because I never played it when I was younger. Used to be in a soccer club. Enjoyed the camaraderie, being together with some guys, trying to win a match. The celebrations were always the best. Being together with another 11 guys on the field was just the best feeling.
I'm very proud to have ‑‑ that we have the European Championships in Switzerland, sharing them of course with Austria. I really hope I can attend some matches. Hopefully we'll be good hosts.
Q. Novak obviously has a lot of charisma off the court. He sort of won over the fans, and here in the media room he's very funny and quick wit. What do the players think of him? What's his reputation among the players on tour? What do you think of his personality?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, we don't talk too much about different players.
Q. What do you think of his personality?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, in the locker room he's always very respectful toward me, you know. He's pretty quiet. I only hear stuff. I didn't see the stuff he did on court the other day. I didn't see what apparently he did in the locker room either.
For me, these things, you know, I only hear. But people don't really talk about it. I know some guys weren't happy. I know some guys might think it's funny.
He's walking a tightrope, for sure. If fans like it, it's good for tennis, to be honest. It's good to have a character like him out there, there's no doubt.
Q. Davis Cup next for you. Can you give me some comment on your chances and your opponents?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, we got Davis Cup in the Czech Republic against them in Prague. I'm really excited to go there. It's my first time over there. Of course, they have a really tough team. It's tough relegation round for us. Really important.
Of course with Stan Wawrinka playing really well, myself having won here, I think we're really in great shape. Still the favorites. But it's going to be interesting to see and I'm looking forward to the tie.
Q. I think it's fair to say you were rather different at 20 to how you are now. Does Novak remind you anything like you were at 20?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I was probably a bit more quiet in the open. I was a bit more crazy maybe behind the scenes.
Probably the other way around: He's more crazy out in the public. But, yeah, I mean, I remember when I was young, 20, I was having fun. It was good times, too.
Q. How do you define "craziness"?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, just take chances. Who cares what the other guys think. It's the way to go when you're young. I was the same.
Q. You said after the match you had a stomachache, your hands were cold. Were you more nervous today than you have been? When were you last this nervous before a major?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. I mean, I can't recall. But I get nervous quite often in big occasions, you know, just because ‑‑ I guess especially at Grand Slams because, you know, you wait around so long and you hope to be in the driver's seat on the final day and everything.
It's just hard. It really works you. So you're like, I hope I didn't come all this way to lose. You start asking yourself questions. Of course, the more I win the more I ask myself questions almost. In the end to win, it's relief, happiness, just all together. It's the best feeling.
Q. How long did it take you to calm down today?
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, it was quick. In the warmup already today, it was really just right before.
Q. He only made 53% of his first serves, yet stayed in it. What was good about his second serve that kept him in the match?
ROGER FEDERER: 53% for me is not a bad stat. For me below 45 is a bad stat. I think for some people I guess in this room they think anything below 60% is a bad statistic.
Not in my point of view. So we have different views, I guess. He goes for aces all the time. Of course he's going to miss serves.
We have many guys out there at the top who go for aces and don't have 60%, 70% first serves. But no doubt he's got a solid, great second serve in the game. He backs it up well.
I think it's got maybe not too much to do with the second serve itself but how you back it up. He's tough from the baseline. He hits great shots. He's got good shot selection, which is important.
Q. This morning I heard a suggestion that you could be playing an exhibition early next year against Pete Sampras in the U.S. What's the story on that?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, well, we gonna play XOs obviously in Seoul, Korea, Kuala Lumpur, and also Macau at the end of the year after Shanghai, three of them in a row.
The idea came along obviously to do it in the States as well. We're going to play March 10 at Madison Square Garden here. I'm really looking forward to that. We'll first see how the first three matches go. Hopefully I don't have to come from behind, huh (smiling)?
Q. Novak, he's not ready for No. 1, but do you think he's ready to take No. 2 from Nadal?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I will have to check the rankings. I don't know. I guess Nadal is still No. 2, but it's getting closer. It probably depends who finishes better at the end of the year. No. 2, No. 3, doesn't matter much; it's No. 1 that matters (smiling). That's how it goes.
Q. Did he have you back on your heels in the first set at all, really coming on strong?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I thought he played better in Montréal, to be honest. Conditions were a bit faster. It was kind of more hard for me to control, you know, the rallies from the baseline, because it was really fast.
But, yeah, I mean, I had one bad game. That cost me obviously. I don't know. I mean, he had his chances today ‑ many of them. You could sing a song about it. It's a tough one for him to swallow, because especially him losing in the end straight sets, it's tough.
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