Roger Federer Interview - French Open Final
Posted on June 8, 2008
Q. That couldn't have been what you envisioned when you walked onto the court.
ROGER FEDERER: No, not really. I was hoping for a better outcome, no doubt, you know. But Rafa played well today, made it hard for me, and, yeah, was better. It was a tough loss, but I tried and I hoped, and it wasn't enough.
Q. Has he improved since this day one year ago, and have you gone off?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I think he's played a terrific tournament, you know. He's dominated everybody he played these last two weeks, you know. I mean, I definitely think he's improved.
I always had that feeling, you know, he's playing, you know, quite differently to the first time we played here in Paris in the semifinals. He's much better on defense, much better on offense, you know.
When you, you know, really cannot play your game and he can, you know, play exactly what he wants from the baseline, well, you end up with scores like this sometimes. It's tough for the opponent, obviously.
Q. Commiserations, Roger. It's 3‑All in the second set. You have that break point to go ahead 4‑3, and Nadal hits that dropshot. You chase it down. You look to just flick a backhand winner, but unfortunately you net. You don't win another game thereafter. I mean, that was a pivotal game, wasn't it?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, looking back, it was. I didn't think it was going to happen when I missed that backhand, you know, into the net. But what can you do? You know, I mean, I guess that was my best chance. But if that would have completely turned the match, I don't know.
Didn't come real close today so it's disappointing, because I really thought I was playing well the last few weeks and months. And where I've come from, you know, the last, you know, last half year or so, I think, you know, I'm still very ‑‑ we're very pleased, you know, with the efforts I've put in, you know.
So to lose the way I did today, it's obviously hard and it's a rough loss, but it's ‑‑ it's okay. I'll move on from here, and I'll try again next year.
Q. There was almost some 50 unforced errors, approximately, that you did. Do you think that's because of some overconcentration that worked against you, or is it just that what we call unforced errors, the way Nadal's balls bounce, you disliked them? Like, what made these unforced errors that were so numerous?
ROGER FEDERER: Um, look, doesn't matter now what happened, you know. I mean, the match is over; clay court season is over. I'm just here to answer some questions, not to analyze the match. I wish it was a different outcome.
I wish it could have, you know, gotten off to a better start, like maybe the last few years, but today Rafa was supreme, so it was hard.
Q. If there is a key reason in your mind for what happened, and could you name it?
ROGER FEDERER: I didn't get the beginning.
Q. If there is some key reason in your mind for what happened...
ROGER FEDERER: What kind of reason?
Q. Key reason.
ROGER FEDERER: Key reason. Excuse me, okay.
Q. For what happened, could you name it? This thing that happened today, what is it going to mean for you in the next future?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, key for me is the way Rafa played. I mean, no doubt he played excellent. He hardly made unforced errors, and when he's on the attack, he's lethal.
On the defense, he had some, I mean, unbelievable shots, you know. I can only praise him for the level of play he's had for the last two weeks and today again under pressure.
It's not like it's easy for him either. He handles it very well. To come up with a performance like this under pressure shows what a great champion he is.
For me, I mean, it's been a good tournament. I still go out of this tournament, you know, with a positive mindset. You know, not with a mindset, Oh, my God, you know, I had no chance today. I mean, I had a little chance in the second set. Okay.
But, you know, it doesn't matter now. I mean, I'm going to look forward to grass. I think the second half of the season, hopefully, is going to be better than the first.
Q. Does the magnitude of something like this shake your belief that you can win this title?
ROGER FEDERER: Sure. I mean, after a loss like this you don't want to play Rafa again tomorrow, that's for sure, you know. You hope to be here again next year, and you probably assume that Rafa is going to be here, also.
It doesn't make it easier, you know. But I still believe that with the right mindset, with the hard work I'm going to be able to put in hopefully, you know, without hiccups, like what I had in December and February where I unfortunately missed out on, you know, key practice, you know.
I hope that that's going to maybe help me again for next year to be even better than this year. But, I mean, I still feel like I'm improving, you know. Same counts for him. So let's see what happens again next year this time.
Q. When you do play again in possibly four weeks today, will you have still have the psychological edge, do you think? Or do you think maybe that's changed after today?
ROGER FEDERER: Um, look, I mean, I've beaten Rafa 6‑Love in a set. I've beaten him in finals before. I've beaten him also quite comfortably on previous reasons. Didn't really give me the edge on clay against him, you know.
I haven't lost on grass for, what is it, five years now, six years? I still definitely feel very strong about my chances and being the big favorite, you know, going into grass. You know, it's so far away, grass and clay, that losing in four or five or, you know, no chance like today, I don't think it has a big effect on me mentally.
Q. Will you play in Halle?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, yeah, I'm scheduled to play.
Q. Roger, you're by miles the second best clay court on earth. At the end of this long clay court season and this incessant talk about Rafa, are you a little bit relieved the clay court season is over?
ROGER FEDERER: No. I mean, the tough part about the clay is, let's say the first three or four weeks, you know. Not that enjoyable, you know, because everybody is just talking about Paris, everything is just, you know, this big hype. I mean, it's nice to be part of it. It means you're playing well. It is a little bit much at times.
But when sort of the French Open comes around everything sort of calms down. You focus on your section. You know, you're only sort of doing press every second day which sort of helps, as well.
Now I'm much more relaxed than maybe, you know, one month back where I don't think it's that enjoyable for us players sometimes.
Q. Beyond that, your peers look at you as an extraordinary player. Do you look at Rafa as an extraordinary player on clay?
ROGER FEDERER: Sure. I mean, it's not first time I'm saying that. I'm giving him plenty of compliments. Yeah, I don't know what to tell you.
Q. At this stage in your career, do you still have sort of the capacity for moral victories? Or do you pretty much just go into a tournament, and if you're not winning the trophy it's not fully satisfying?
ROGER FEDERER: No. I mean, like ‑‑ I mean, the tournament has been good for me. I mean, I go out of this tournament thinking, you know, I tried everything I could. You know, I put myself in the position. But Rafa was better today, you know.
So I do find ways to stay positive even though I don't win the tournament, you know. You know, especially when you end up losing sometimes, victory is so much better, you know. On clay, you know, it's been tough on all of us, you know.
But I stayed very strong and, you know, in my mind, you know, trying to put myself over and over again in the same position and playing Rafa. I could lose every time in the semifinals and tell myself I don't want to face him in the finals, but I've been strong and I've been tough, and I made my way there. That gives me great, great feeling, you know, a good satisfaction.
Then, of course, I hope I can play better when I play Rafa or, you know, that he maybe doesn't play so well. But, you know, like today, it's hard to play against him. It was hard for everybody who faced him these last two weeks. But for me, you know, I go out and I'm positive. It doesn't always need to be a victory to go out in a positive mindset.
Q. Are you going to continue working with Josť Higueras?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. I mean, we spoke about it briefly at the beginning of Paris, you know. He's going to come to Halle with me, and he's also going to be in Wimbledon. It's something we're going to speak about the next few weeks, you know.
But I've given the request that he should consider what weeks he wants to join me for the rest of the year, so we'll see how it goes.
Q. Rafa's offensive skills are obviously improving, but do you believe that still on this surface great defense beats great offense?
ROGER FEDERER: Look, I mean, he's ‑‑ I mean, I don't know if it's got that much to do with great offense or great defense, it's just his movement on clay. It's just better than the rest.
I mean, I've always said it three years ago already: He plays like two forehands from the baseline, you know, because he has an open stance on both sides. I can't do that, so I lose a meter or two here and there from the baseline. So he's got a huge advantage in this aspect, you know.
I don't know how he grew up doing that, you know, but it's definitely ‑‑ I think that's very difficult, and maybe he's got the great advantage as well that in his normal life he's right handed by nature and not a lefty.
But his forehand is great, you know, and he's very tough mentally. He hardly misses, and when he goes on the offensive, he plays it close to the line. So he's got a very good clay court game.
Q. What do you think that today Rafa did better than usual? And what do you think that you did worse than usual? I mean, to explain what happened, because the score, of course, is particularly strange, no?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, yeah. I mean, of course it's a tough result, you know. But I guess, you know, when somebody of us plays very well, it's hard to stop the other opponent. Sometimes you get, I guess, results like this. Unfortunately, for the fans, you know, I wish I could have put in a better match, you know.
But I mean he ‑‑ he was good today. That's all I can say. No more I need to add.
THE MODERATOR: French questions, please.
Q. Do you still think you can win Roland Garros?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes.
Q. Are you sure?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, if you want me to answer no if that makes you happy, then no. Choose the answer. I said yes. (laughter.)
Q. The fans were very much on your side today. How did you feel about it?
ROGER FEDERER: On the points I won, yes, but there were not that many. This is why I really hoped I could do better today, because I thought the fans could be an asset for me if the match was getting close.
But I never managed to be close enough to Rafa in the match to give the fans an opportunity to join in, so it's my mistake.
Q. When did you become aware, when did you realize, that you had to play an excellent Nadal?
ROGER FEDERER: I think he started off very well. I don't think I served bad today. My serve was okay. But he made huge progress returning my serve, and I had many difficulties taking the lead with my serve, even more than usual.
I think this is what cost me the match, because when I can win my serve, then I always have an opportunity on his serve. But when he keeps on breaking you like this, it's very difficult when I was two sets down, 4‑Love. I mean, I realized there was nothing I could do.
Q. Is it more difficult to lose on such a score, or do you just accept you have a guy who can do just anything on the court?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, right now I'd say it's easier to lose this way as today, because all along the match you realize that there is nothing you can do. You're not going to win.
I think it was the same thing for him, and this is probably why his reaction was not as intense as it usually is. That's because of the result. It's always more difficult when you lose when you really could have won. Today I lost, and I lost, clearly.
Q. He is always much better than you on clay. Is he getting closer to you on grass?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, we just played each other once on grass in Wimbledon. We played each other quite a few times on clay. I don't think we've had many matches on hard surfaces this year, but he is improving as a player.
I improved, as well, this year. But I think I had to work harder to come back to my usual level after I had this disease. It was a bit difficult for me at the beginning of this year. This is probably why I lacked practice. It's a lot like for him two, three years ago when he had been injured, and you know, I was coming back.
So you need to put more effort to reach this level, and this is what I had to do. So it's a great satisfaction for me too, that I reached a final.
Of course, defeat is difficult today. I also feel how much Rafa has progressed on clay, but we'll see in the future if he is stronger on grass or on hard surfaces.
Q. Is it possible for anybody to defeat Nadal in Roland Garros? We have a feeling that this is getting tougher and tougher for everybody.
ROGER FEDERER: Of course it's tough. But you want to believe it, and this is what I tried to do. This is what I tried to do. But, I mean, the way he played today made it very difficult.
He has wonderful, awesome sensations here in Roland Garros. He has never been defeated. The only time he wasn't there was because he was injured, so, yeah. Many players should think about defeating Rafa, because I don't think many of them do that, do think about defeating Nadal.
Q. Imagine it's 2009 and this little fairy comes to you and says, You're going to win one tournament, but you have to choose: Wimbledon or Roland Garros. Which one?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't want to answer these stupid questions anymore. They're too stupid.
Q. But why?
ROGER FEDERER: Because I want to win at everything. I have no preference.
Q. You talked about your disease and the problems you had at the beginning of this season, and all the hard work you had to put in to come back to your best level. Many times during this tournament you said that you felt you were at 100% of your physical abilities. Now tell us the truth. Weren't you lying a bit to us about that? And do you genuinely feel at the top level, the level you were at before your disease?
ROGER FEDERER: Honestly, yes. I felt good today from a physical standpoint, but things turned out a bit more difficult for me than usual. He no longer plays short balls as he did in the past. You can no longer attack him on his forehand, as I could in the past. He is getting much more aggressive, and it's becoming much more difficult.
I tried to fight him physically speaking and points were not difficult for me, but he was just much stronger than me today. I didn't want to give him any free points, but it's got nothing to do with mental state or physical state. He was just stronger today.
Q. You're still No. 1. That's good.
ROGER FEDERER: Thank you. I'm happy you say so.
Q. But do you feel competition from younger players?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes and no. I played young players and all the players ‑‑ I mean, players older than me, but they were stronger, like Hewitt and such when I came on the tour. I had to play Agassi, Roddick, Ferrero, and then there was Rafa. Now there's Djokovic coming up. He was playing semifinals in Grand Slam tournaments this year, so yes and no.
So it's motivating to see all these young players coming up. It's a challenge, but I'm quite confident the second half of the season is going to be better than the first, and this is why I want to focus on grass now.
We'll see later what happens for the ranking. It's true that Rafa has played very well so far, but the clay season is over, so let's see what happens.