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Roger Federer Interview - French Open, June 4
Posted on June 5, 2008
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I was hoping to be able to get off to a good start in the second set. That was my first focus. I knew I wasn't, you know, playing great in the first set, but I think Fernando really returned well, kept the ball in play, and himself played well on his own forehand, which usually always happens.
But still, it was tricky just because I was missing mine. You know, getting ‑‑ I think I was broken three times in the set, and that always is going to leave you a little bit rattled going into the second set.
So I was really happy the way I came back. I really got on a roll, played great, and was able to dominate him, you know, at times, and also start to serve a little bit more ‑‑ a bit better, a bit smarter. Well, I think I played ‑‑ in the end, I think I played a very good match today.
Q. Would there be any circumstances or any players that you've come up more playing on clay?
ROGER FEDERER: Come up more?
Q. To the net.
ROGER FEDERER: Sure, I mean he's playing from far behind the court, he chips a lot, so it sort of hangs in the air. You're not sure maybe the first one is maybe going to go in or not, so you got to sometimes ‑‑ not take a chance, but you got to read it early and, you know, come in and either hit swing volleys or just knock them off, you know, instead of letting him come back into the middle.
Today I think it was particularly important for me to have an aggressive mindset, you know. You definitely have players where you get a chance to come in more than against others. But on clay it's, I think, always hard, you know, because if you don't have a maybe good first volley, the second shot is so easy, today, to pass that it just sort of ‑‑ it's a tough thing to do.
Q. You hit your backhand great today, especially down the line. Was it on the day, or are there a couple things you've been working on with José where he's been telling you more to hit through when you have to?
ROGER FEDERER: No. I mean, against Fernando you always know he's going to be leaning in the backhand corner, you know, so he leaves, obviously, the forehand side very open.
The tough part is just usually, you know, you're in a tough position to hit it up the line, you know, because you're usually on the stretch.
I tried to get there as much as I could. I already, I think, played it well against Benneteau. Throughout the tournament I've been actually playing it well. It's something I have to play, I have to use, you know, because it opens the court up a great deal for me, and then afterwards I can always attack with my forehand.
I think it's an important shot. It's something we've been working on maybe a little bit, you know. We didn't have that much practice time, so...
But, yeah, I'm using it well at the moment, which is nice.
Q. Fourth straight semifinal here. I know it's tough to compare years. Just talk about in general about how you feel about your game go into the semis?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it's good. I have been in so many semis of Grand Slam in a row. It's always a great pleasure being in the last four. It's really where it gets most interesting.
This is usually where I hope to play my best, you know, and especially here at the French, which one is supposed to maybe be the toughest one for me.
To make four in a row is a great accomplishment, but, you know, this year I'm obviously particularly aiming for the title.
So I hope it's not going to stop here.
Q. González didn't win, but would you say that's a pretty good way to play against Roger Federer?
ROGER FEDERER: The way he played today?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, he plays a particular game, you know. He dinks the backhand and rifles the forehand. He sometimes kicks the serve, and then he hits a serve, you know, so he's quite unpredictable.
I don't see many guys having that type of game on tour, you know. I mean, he's a dangerous player. We've seen it on many occasions that he's got the game to upset, you know, the big guys.
I knew the danger playing against Fernando, especially with his great record this year on clay. When he's got confidence, he is a tough, tough player to play against.
Yeah, I mean, you can say he played me the right way, you know, but maybe it was a little bit too passive, too physical for him for four sets. I don't know.
Q. Your serve and the way you held serve towards the end, is that more a matter of changing tactics or executing better than you did in the first set?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, the thing was I almost got myself in trouble in early in my own service games, you know. And then I would have 30‑All points sometimes where maybe just not quite sure what to do yet, you know, just sort of getting into the game.
Those were reasons why I got broken early on. That didn't happen anymore towards the end, you know, because it wouldn't be at 30‑All, it would be at 40‑15, and everything is just a touch easier when you're up in the game.
I made sure I got more first serves in, you know, because I realized it was not going to make much of a difference if I would serve 210 or 190. He would chip it back the same way.
But that got me more safety, and then I could my forehand started to work better and better. I started to move him around, and I think I played a smart match in the end.
But nevertheless, he stayed dangerous till the very end, you know, especially with him winning the first set. That's always going to put you under extra pressure.
Q. Did you have the chance yesterday to see the Almagro and Nadal match?
ROGER FEDERER: Four points, maybe.
Q. 6‑1, 6‑1, 6‑1. Are you impressed? Surprised? Worried?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it surprises me, obviously, that it happens to a good player like Nicolas, you know. I've played him in the past, and I've had some tough ones against him. Never lost against him.
But, you know, I would have thought he would have given him a better run for the money, you know. But I read some quotes before the match. You know, like he thought that Rafa is so good and so great, you know, that maybe he didn't really believe in it. So if you don't believe in it against Rafa, you're not going to win, so...
And, yeah, from what I heard, he didn't choose the right tactics, you know, by never coming to the net, by never using a dropshot. I mean, it's always going to be hard. I guess he didn't play the right way.
Q. I know that the Olympics, it's a big goal for you. I want to ask you about the case of Nicolas Massú. He's trying to get an invitation, a wildcard for the Olympics, because the ranking is too low for him. Do you think that he deserve an invitation? That he should be in the tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: Absolutely. He's a defending champion. I mean, if he doesn't get one anymore, I don't know who will get one. Yeah, I'm the first guy to completely agree with, you know, whoever has taken that decision. I hope it's in a positive way for Nicolas, because what he achieved back in Athens winning singles and doubles, it's never going to happen again, you know.
I know maybe his ranking dropped, but nevertheless, he achieved great things four years ago, and I think he should be compensated with a wildcard this year.
THE MODERATOR: French questions, please.
ROGER FEDERER: No questions in French? Too bad for you. See you tomorrow, or the day after. (laughter.)
Q. You're going to play Monfils or Ferrer. Do you have any preference?
ROGER FEDERER: No. Not really, no. They're both difficult players to play. Gaël because he's French and he's very fit at the moment. David, because on clay he has great experience and I played very tough matches against him.
But I don't think I ever lost to any of them. It's not as if I had lost three times against one of them, so I don't care.
Q. Since the beginning of this tournament we've seen you many times as if you were annoyed, or sometimes we had the feeling that you were a bit bored. Is it because of the game conditions?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, this is not true, so end of your question. No, honestly, it was difficult. It rained a lot, so I don't want to look up in the sky, because otherwise rain falls in my eye. I want to remain focused.
No, I try and remain focused, and today at one stage I was a bit afraid, because the match was not going on the way I wanted and I had to fight a lot.
Probably needed to have more aggressive attitude, and so I wanted to be aggressive today. Maybe this is what you saw today, but otherwise, I'm very happy. I feel good. No problem whatsoever on my side anyway.
Q. Two years ago, they started organizing a tournament for disabled people here. What's your feeling? Have you ever tried that? What do you feel about these athletes?
ROGER FEDERER: I've already played with them and against them on the central courts after a match. And at the US Open, for instance, I remember ‑‑ and I think it's great. I'm a great fan of that. I think it's great they play on the very same site where we play here in Roland Garros and in Wimbledon, which I think is fabulous on grass.
I always take pictures with them during awards ceremonies, and I think it's very important. It's already difficult enough for them to be in a wheelchair, but I think it's great they can practice a sport like tennis.
Q. I think you've noticed that a large number of people here with the French and Swiss want you to win here this year as compared to last year. At this stage, are you more confident with your tennis today, and can you anticipate more?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, of course each time I win a match I build up my confidence. I have good feelings, because I wanted to reach the semifinals and then be fit for the finals, and I have not used too much of my energy, which is good, which is good as compared to ‑‑ because Novak and Rafa have two days off now. But otherwise I feel good.
I also feel that people support me, not just because I speak French. Even when I played against Julien people were very fair play. They were very happy to see me playing. I think they're very supportive, especially here in Roland Garros, and I think they want me to win, and they've wanted that for three years.
I've reached the semifinals. I'm not that far from the final, so I'll try to fight, and we'll see what happens.
Q. Coming back on the match, how can you explain the difference and what happened between this first set, which was not very well‑played, and the three others, which were just great and beautiful?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think I was not in a good position. I had a break against me in the first set right at the beginning, which is not a very good position. Then I think this really is what cost me the first set.
I don't know, if he had a third break against me, I don't know if it would have made any difference, but I had difficulties with my forehand. I couldn't play the way I wanted, and I attacked his backhand too much instead of opening with my forehand.
But sometimes you tend to be afraid of his forehand so you want to play on his backhand, but ‑‑ so I made some tactical errors at the beginning.
It's only afterwards that I started to be far more aggressive on his forehand, and then I realized he couldn't hurt me too much, and that was a good thing.
And then the match turned a bit and I felt very strong from the baseline and I felt very confident, so then it became very difficult for Fernando. He had three major opportunities at the beginning, but that was the key of the match at the end.
Q. So if everything goes fine for you in semifinal, do you have any preference for the final, Nadal or Djokovic?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I have no preference for the semifinals nor for the final. My only preference is I want to win both matches (laughter.)
Q. Would you like to take your revenge on Nadal?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I'd love to play Rafa, because we've been rivals for quite a long time. We've played 16 matches together, and we've played exhibition matches. We've known each other for ‑‑ I think this will be the ultimate test on clay this year.
Q. After you played the last tournament, suffering mononucleosis. Do you enjoy being in very good physical condition now?
ROGER FEDERER: No, that's over. That's something I want to forget now.
The Australian Open was even better than what I achieved here so far, because in Australia I knew I had something before. I knew I would have something after. But during the Australian Open I wanted to focus just on my tennis. When people came to me and said, What's wrong with you? I was surprised I had played ‑‑ well, I was surprised I managed to play that well.
No, that was two months ago. I started feeling much better a month ago. To me, that's part of the past. Reaching the semifinals here is a big achievement for me.
Q. It's the 16th time.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, the last one who defeated me here in semifinals was Guga, three sets, quick match. Everybody was happy. (laughter.)
But it was a great match playing Guga here in Roland Garros. It's like playing Agassi in America or Hewitt in Australia or Henman in Wimbledon. It was a beautiful match, but my reacting the way I did surprised me.
Q. I just wanted to know if you think Djokovic can win against Nadal at this stage? And can you tell us more about the relationships you have with Novak Djokovic?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, to start with, I think he has a chance against Rafa. He played a very good match against him in Hamburg, and he is very fit. He also played well in Rome before that. He had a very good clay season, just like me, just like Rafa.
So I think we are the three players at the top of the moment. Maybe the weather is going to make a difference for one of them. I don't know who is going to benefit from the weather, because probably the ball is not going to bounce as high as it does when the weather is fine.
But I think his game is very good to make it difficult for Rafa, yet Rafa is a favorite here, so it's going to be an interesting match.
As for our relationship? Nice. We talk to each other. I'm happy he is here for the future of tennis. At the moment, we ‑‑ everything's okay.
Q. People say you learn more from your defeats than from your victories. Would you say it's true? And if you think it's true, what did you learn from the matches you lost this year? What did you learn about yourself, about your tennis?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, yes and no. I learned a lot when I lost when I was younger, because I played matches and I walked out of the court, and I was sad, disappointed. I didn't know why I had lost the match.
Now it's easier for me to analyze why I lost a match. It has a lot to do with the level I played that very day. It's because something doesn't work, and I can't change it.
In the past it was different, but today I think I learned just the same thing whether I win or I lose. In the past I did learn more from a defeat, especially when you're young. You know, you need to gain experience, and when you lose, it is an experience.