Roger Federer Roger Cup Toronto InterviewPosted on July 22, 2008
July 20, 2008
THE MODERATOR: We can start with questions in English.
Q. Have you had much sense in the last couple of weeks of the impact the Wimbledon's final had around the world?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, to some degree. I haven't read the press at all the last two weeks, so -- because I tried to get away from it all, tried to forget really the loss. But at the same time I heard rumors through friends and whatever, you know, that people really picked up on this unbelievable match. And it is great to hear.
So now I'm back again on the tennis tour, I hear even more which is great news. And so, yeah, I guess it is a good time in tennis and exciting end of the year. Also starting here in Toronto and then going over to the Olympic games as well and U.S. Open, I think it is a great time.
Q. Roger, congratulations on that Wimbledon final. Certainly was epic for all of us to watch, and the media and fans alike have enjoyed it so much and it has done so much to raise tennis' popularity. Do you take an extra bit of incentive or an extra bit of joy in playing Nadal? It seems like you bring out the best in each other.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, of course, I enjoy playing against him to some degree. You know, I mean, it is always good to have a rival. I don't like when matches turn out like they do at the French Open when you have high hopes and after a few games, you realize it is probably not going to happen for you.
But playing him in a fair-play match, in surroundings that are unbelievable like at Wimbledon or other tournaments, it is definitely a thrill for me.
Now, after maybe missing that a little bit at times because Agassi left the game, Sampras left the game and for me playing against them was always the sort of biggest moment in my career. And now, I think, Rafael has proven himself as a great guy and a great champion as well.
So when I play against him, it is not like I was playing Agassi, Sampras but it definitely becomes more and more special the more times we play against each other.
Q. Roger, did you watch the match after it was over? Did you get a chance to see the tape? And if you did, what were your thoughts?
ROGER FEDERER: Like I said, I didn't read or see anything. So I didn't see a point, no.
Q. Just switching gears a bit, looking forward to the Olympics, you have always said that's always been an important tournament for you.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah.
Q. How -- where would you rank a gold medal compared to your other Grand Slams?
ROGER FEDERER: To me it ranks as high now. My situation is obviously different. If maybe I am a player who doesn't have any Grand Slams, you know, maybe a Grand Slam would still do more for my own career.
But because I have 12 already, for me an Olympic gold ranks as high, you know? So I was very proud, you know, to represent the Swiss in the 2000 Olympics and really just missed that -- very close on the medal.
And like last time, was quite disappointing losing the second round. But, nevertheless, going there was one of the biggest experiences in life I've ever had, going to my first Olympics in 2000. So as long as I can walk and play, I will always come and play the Olympics.
And who knows maybe I will carry the flag like I did in Athens into the stadium. That would be a great honor as well. So, yeah, my birthday is on the opening day as well so that's going to be nice, too. It ranks very, very high in my scale, absolutely.
Q. Roger, how did summer with the two Masters Series here and in Cincinnati and the Olympics having an extra one for you and Djokovic and Nadal, how do you think that plays into the rankings and leading up to the U.S. Open?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I don't know how much -- I mean, maybe the rankings maybe to some degree are a factor. But it is not really my number one concern. Like I did in stages, just trying to hope to get into a rhythm on hardcourt because we'll be on hardcourt for -- what is it -- nine months now until Monaco next year. So let's not forget that.
It is important to start off well. It would be great for the confidence, gearing up for the Olympics and then New York. So that's really what I look at, at the moment, you know? But I am -- for sure it is an interesting time for the rankings at the moment, especially for Rafael, we know winning back-to-back Wimbledon and Paris. It is always going to be a subject until the end of the year. So should be -- should be exciting. I hope we can (indiscernible) play well until the end of the year.
Q. A few questions in one. I think you take some vacation after Wimbledon. And if, yes, when did you come back on the court for training? And, second, last year you take vacation after Wimbledon and you come back at Rogers Cup. But this year the Rogers Cup is earlier than usual. So is this something that bothers you?
ROGER FEDERER: Bothers me that it is earlier?
ROGER FEDERER: I wish we had two months in between, you know, but what to do? It is just life on the tennis tour. It starts in January until November. So we have no choice. But I mean, it is true.
It is a rough time for us. You know, we have to -- especially if you make the finals of the Slams, you know, that eats up even more of your time. So for me and Rafael, I think it has been particularly hard. Novak has had time off while we were playing at Wimbledon, for instance.
But I think for Raf and myself, it has been solid the last couple weeks. It makes it even more hard. And it was a big trip also to China and back. It is going to be quite hard.
But I think mentally we're all ready for it. Important most to get away. I took one-week vacation and started practicing again Sunday/Monday and arrived here yesterday morning. So I have been practicing for the last -- what is it -- four, five days now.
So don't ask a whole lot of information how my game is at the moment. It is definitely to play on hardcourt than on clay or grass. We don't have the bad bounce. We have the normal bounce again, and that's good to see. I am very excited to be playing on hardcourts again.
Q. With the emergence of Rafael on grass the last couple of years, do you feel that men's tennis finally has a rivalry that can compare to Agassis, Samprases, the Borgs, Conners and McEnroes?
ROGER FEDERER: I guess, matches like we had with Wimbledon will only enhance that, even though we've had some great finals in the past but sometimes didn't get the recognition like the wrong final or the finals in Miami when we also had a five-setter and then we played each already four times in Grand Slams before this, at the Wimbledon Finals. We've played many, many times on big occasions and twice in the Shanghai Masters and the semis.
Yes, some of it takes a big match like this to really break through for both of us, unfortunately. But I think we did that, and I think it should be -- every match we play on from now on will be very interesting between us.
Q. You mentioned that Novak has had some time off being eliminated early from Wimbledon. I know you are ranked Number 1 in the ATP, but should be considered the favorite for this tournament, the fact he's had extra rest?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, yes and no. I mean, it's yes, he's had the time off. Yes, he is maybe not as confident as he was, you know, because he lost the second round at Wimbledon. Whereas, maybe we come in with a little less rest but at the same time, we still had one week off and one week practice so it is enough to get us in great shape. And we obviously have the confidence going for us.
So this is a tough tournament to win. You know, I mean, I couldn't tell you if my draw is easier or tougher than Rafael's or Novak's or whoever's. I just think it is a tough tournament to win. It depends on your form some days because you have all the good-enough players here to beat you and upset you in if I given day.
So I think -- I wouldn't put it as an advantage or disadvantage. I think it is just a different type of preparation we've had.
Q. Roger, people love to group you and Rafael and Novak together for good reason. When you look at your styles as far as tennis-wise, what are some of the similarities you think the three of you have and what are the clearer differences from a tennis perspective?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think we were all quite complete as, you know -- from a standpoint we can hit all the shots in the book. And at the moment, I guess, we're the best movers in the game as well, which gives us the edge from offense and defense, you know? That's a similarity I see.
Obviously each one of us has something particularly good in the game, you know? I think it is more obviously my game and then Rafael's game, you know, what really stands out. Whereas, Novak is more, you know, just very complete player. Doesn't miss very much and has just really become a good player over the last year or so. He obviously still has to prove himself a little bit more, I think.
But still we have great assets in our game.
Q. You had an opportunity yesterday to hit with Peter Polansky on center who, of course, is a local boy around here. I know you've hit with him in the past, albeit sporadically. Have you seen any developments in his game or did you notice any changes to the way he was playing?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think we hit for the first time here four years ago, so it has been a while. He was quite young back then and sort of coming up. I saw back then already that he was quite talented. He hit a good ball, good technique, you know?
I just think it is important at the beginning -- and then it is important to see the development he does physically, you know? And when I saw him again, you know, although his hair is longer, he looks a little bit bigger and tougher and I think that's exactly how you want to evolve, you know?
And now he's old enough to really move onto the next level, and it is important now to make his move. And I think being around the top players and the top tournaments will only motivate him even more so. And what he told me is also he played quite a bit on clay as well, which I think is a good thing for him.
So we'll see what happens in the future for him. I wish him all the best.
Q. (Indiscernible). A lot of people are saying it could go either way. How concerned are you and the other players about what the outcome could be?
ROGER FEDERER: We are concerned about the game. We are concerned that things will be good for the players for the tournament at the end, whatever outcome that will be. We are very involved at the moment, you know, not in that particular case but in politics in general and on the tour.
And I have spoken a lot to (indiscernible) in the past, and we get along very well. And we have similar views and ideas about what's good for the game. I mean, he lets me have the lead a little bit more because, obviously, I'm more experienced, been around longer for -- you know, double as long as he's been around. But it is still great at his young age shows interest in the game. And that's why we also went on the player council; Novak as well. He is interested as well.
So I think it's interesting time for the game of tennis. And I think it is heading into the right direction because it's maybe been a long time back since the top players reunited and really wanted to have a positive effect on the game.
Q. The outcome of the case could throw all that off track, couldn't it?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, we'll see what happens. Yeah I mean, look, we have to see what happens. It is all speculation. So I'm not going to comment on speculation.
Q. For a long time, it seemed like Nadal was chasing you. Now world rankings aside, are you now chasing him?
ROGER FEDERER: All depends on how you look at it, you know? I guess I am chasing another Grand Slam title after he snatched the last two. So I'm chasing my next Grand Slam title. So that's sort of what's happening.
But in the rankings, he's still chasing me. It depends on how you look at it really.
Q. I would like to welcome you to the City of Toronto, one of the best cities in the world.
ROGER FEDERER: Thank you.
Q. Now, what are your expectations for this tournament? What do we expect to see from Roger Federer having just come out from a gracious defeat from Nadal?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I hope I can -- I really hope I can win the tournament here. I've been able to do it for the last two times when I was here in Toronto. I played always good here. It is a surface I really -- it is good for my game. I don't mind the humidity anymore. The heat and everything is not a problem, even though it is not going to be -- looks like it is not going to be terribly hot this next week.
I am feeling well. I am really eager and motivated to show what I can do again on the hardcourt.
It is a different type of season. It's been hard, Paris and Wimbledon. You know, the whole stress level. So I have been able to come down a little bit and regroup and it is important for me to start off well, you know? And it will give me a great momentum going into Cincinnati, Beijing and U.S. Open the rest of the season. So I hope I can really do well here and play well. Always trying to get the title.
Q. You just said that Nadal is chasing you in the ATP ranking. Do you feel increased pressure after the loss in Wimbledon? Do you think this is going to affect you in this tournament or not?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I don't think things like this will affect me, the way I play. You know, I've been trying to prove as a player for the last 15, 20 years, since I played tennis, especially since I became number one in the world. I think I've worked as hard as I could, you know, trying to always stay ahead of the pack.
And I have had challenges from you name it: Hewitt, Roddick, Agassi, Ferrero, Safin, Nadal, Djokovic. It hasn't really changed a whole lot. Obviously Rafael has made his move now. He's come closer.
Like I said, the rankings will be a subject for the next week, months to come. And he deserves to be in the position to be put in the great playing he's done this year. So we'll see what happens.
I'm happy where my level of play is again after a rough start to the season which wasn't easy. I didn't play very much. And then I struggled a little bit. But I'm back playing well. Unfortunately, I didn't get the reward I was hoping for with a big title after working maybe harder than I had to in the past, just getting back into shape.
So I hope I get the reward now end of summer. So we'll see what happens.
Q. You talked about your birthday in Beijing. Most of the top male players of the past 25, 30 years have peaked at 25. You're going to be 27. Do you feel that time is ticking, or do you feel as though there's still another level you can achieve?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know about another level. I think I can still improve as a player. Tennis is -- as a tennis player, you're never complete, you know? There's always something you can work on and improve. That's not something really a whole not new.
The thing is when you are 15, I prove a lot more than when you are 25. There is not much more you can really change or -- there is little improvements but the thing is at 25, 26, 27, little improvements make a big difference after all because of all the experience you have because my fitness is not something I really need to work on a whole lot more because I don't lose matches anymore because of that. Whereas, when I was 20 I did. So that changes as well. And that really allows me to focus on tennis -- solely on tennis, which is a good thing.
And then what was -- no, I think really at 27, you know, it is not like I'm 32yet, you know? I mean, I still have -- I don't believe in those saying that at 25 you are going down. I'm sorry, you know, even though -- I only made my move in 2003 on a Grand Slam level. It's only been five years really, or six years. So I still have a lot of great years ahead of me.
And if I would have maybe won my first Grand Slam at 19 or 18, maybe it would have changed but I only won my first Grand Slam when I was 22. That's why I think I have many, many more years left.
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