Roger Federer Interview - US Open, Sept 2Posted on September 3, 2009
Roger Federer Interview
U.S. OPEN September 2, 2009
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
R. FEDERER/S. Greul
6-3, 7-5, 7-5
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How does it feel to be the opening act tonight?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I guess it's a bit like that. Sure, I mean, it feels fine. It happens all the time at other tournaments. This is more unique, more special because it hasn't happened in a long time, or never before on Arthur Ashe that the guys open up.
Seems like it's a success so far. We'll see how it goes.
Q. Normally you and Stan are the only Swiss players at the Grand Slams. This year Marco Chiudinelli qualified. Can you talk about your relationship with him?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, he's done it before, so it's not the first time. I always follow him very closely because he's a childhood friend of mine. We used to play soccer against each other together for fun, and practiced together since we were - I don't know - ten years old maybe. Same coach, Peter Carter, who passed away unfortunately.
Went to pretty much the same school, but I left to go to the National Tennis Center two years earlier than he did. It's wonderful to see that he also, you know, made it on the big stage. He was able to play in Alabama in Davis Cup. I hope he can win second round tomorrow. It would be awesome.
I follow all the Swiss, not just him. But he's obviously a very close friend of mine.
Q. Obviously Marat finished his last Grand Slam today. Have you been able to talk to him today? What are your thoughts on that?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I didn't see him today. But sure it's sad that his last slam is over. I wish he could have stuck around for more rounds than just one. You know, his career is not over yet.
I hope he's going to play the rest of the season. He's so much fun to watch. I practiced a lot with him. I played him in big matches before, so it's always nice watching him play.
Q. Did you get a chance to watch Rafa at all today? What's it like having him back in the draw of a major?
ROGER FEDERER: Fantastic having him back. I was also glad to see he was able to play some tournaments before so he got an idea of where he was. I think that's key for him at this stage of his career.
He seems like he's doing physically well. I didn't see -- to be honest, I saw maybe like four points. But it seems like he was playing well. He won very, you know, easily, and that's great.
Also it's good to see Richard Gasquet back on tour, I have to say. Yeah, I mean, it can only help the tour if guys like these are around, you know, the big tournaments.
Q. Whether it's here or somewhere else, do you expect to play him again hopefully in a final?
ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, I don't think our minds are there, you know, to be quite honest. I think he's got his hands full of making sure that he gets through his part of the draw, and I have the same thing.
We know that here at the US Open you don't get any easy draws because everybody seems to always go deep, especially all the top guys. I don't know how difficult his draw is, but I think if he's physically in great shape, obviously he's got a great chance to go far because he's played so well this year and also played such a great last year's season that if he's on, he's going to be hard to stop.
Q. You're defending champion, world No. 1, coming in here hot. Andre picks Murray as his choice to win this title. Does that intrigue you? Interest you? Irritate you?
ROGER FEDERER: No, because there's many - how do you say - experts and former players and other players who always have their picks. Not everybody can pick me, so it's fine.
I think Andy deserves also a few picks, no doubt, because he's played so well. I'm sure the only thing is that he hasn't won a slam yet, but he's still quite young, you know. It's not like the guy is 35 years old. So, I mean, obviously he's still got time. But I think he definitely is in the best shape of his life right now. I mean, last year as well. But I think this year, with one more year of experience, he's definitely got a great chance to do well this year.
Q. You have said in a Grand Slam you should be prepared to play 35 sets. How do you feel?
ROGER FEDERER: You calculate quickly. Yeah, I mean, that's what the approach should be for a guy who thinks he can win the tournament, is that he had handle seven times five sets. It's maybe something that never happens, but you should be fit enough and mentally ready for this kind of a tournament.
Q. Do you feel like that?
ROGER FEDERER: I feel like that, yes. And I haven't felt like this, you know, my entire career. That's why I worked extremely hard to make myself feel that physically it will not be a problem at a Grand Slam. Because you always get a day off, which is crucial sometimes.
But even if it doesn't happen because of rain, you've got to be ready to play a lot of matches, big matches and tough matches. I'm happy I was able already to do it for so long at such a high level. I've never played seven five-setters in a row, but it would be interesting to see how I handled it.
Q. If you've beaten somebody 13 times in a row, is there anything that Lleyton could do that would surprise you at this stage of your contest?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I guess not a whole lot. But you've got to respect the player he is and the champion he is. A player of this caliber can have a good day. I mean, I have not every day a good day.
So if things go bad, you lose very quickly, especially against a quality player like him. Maybe he's struggling, you know, to get to his level where he used to be through a tournament or through a year.
But on any given day, a former world No. 1, a guy who's won majors, is very, very dangerous. That's why I have to make sure I get into the match quickly, not give him the lead, because we know he's not going to go down without a fight. He's physically almost as tough as anyone out there.
So I'm intrigued about this matchup. It's an incredible run for me against him. I cannot believe I've beaten him that many times in a row. But we had some close ones during those 13. Everyone starts from zero, unfortunately for me now. I hope I can win again.
Q. We spoke to Simon about tonight's match. You broke him early. He said it was going to be a long night. He said you didn't play as well in the second set, gave him some confidence. Could you feel him gaining confidence?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I thought he was starting to play better. I actually started to feel sort of at the end of the first and beginning of the second that this can become a tough match. It was tricky with the wind as well. It was coming again from the one end.
If you don't break on the opportunities you have, all of a sudden you're having to serve against the wind. The other guy takes a couple of chances. The next thing you know, you're down a break. It happens quite often.
Especially he was, again, one of the players like in the first round who picked a lot of sides, went for broke at times. He got in the zone there for a little bit. The break I got in the third set was tough to experience, because I think I served like five or six times incredible serves over 125 miles an hour. He picked the side every time and blocked it back at my feet. Ended up being broken.
It's hard. Shows what a good player he is. I just had to make him play more shots, be more tough. I had to raise my level today to win, because that's what the game was required today to get through.
Q. In Beijing you played singles and doubles. Can you envision ever doing that in a Grand Slam?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't want to say it's never gonna happen. But chances are rather on the slimmer side. Let's put it that way (smiling.) But I've played before in slams.
Q. Is it just because of the wear and tear, the scheduling? Is that at the root of it?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I guess when I enter singles or doubles - or let's say the mixed, which I won't - I'd like to play till the end. I don't want to give up because I'm still in the singles. It happened to me sort of in Wimbledon 2001 when I played with Wayne Ferreira and I beat Sampras and I was still in the doubles.
He goes like, You shouldn't play doubles.
Q. He said that?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. I was like, Well, I want to play doubles. He goes, Well, I'm injured in case, just so you know. He pulled out. He did that for me. I was like, This doesn't feel right. That's I guess what made me just like, you know, I better not enter. Yeah.
Q. Is your back in any way a factor? Do you have to prepare in any way because of it?
ROGER FEDERER: No, it's doing well. I'm still doing just the regular exercises I think I should do anyway as a tennis player to strengthen. I've done it since many years now when I sort of had back pain maybe five years ago or something, I was going through also tougher times. But I'm just doing that. Regular warmups.
I don't have to do anything crazy at the moment, which is great. My back has actually been feeling very good for the last few months, which is a good thing, because getting onto the hard courts you can expect it to get stiff. But it hasn't, which is good.
Q. Has there ever been an opponent where you've had a run of losing to or where maybe doubts start to creep into your mind?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think Nalbandian a little bit in the beginning. Henman and Hewitt. I think early on in your career it's more extreme than later on - for me anyway - just because when I got to No. I sort of beat everybody.
Before that, my game wasn't as good as today. I didn't have that many options. I realized against Nalbandian I was panicking. I had to run to the net to try to force the envelope. Against Hewitt, it was sort of similar. Every time I would come to net, he would pass or lob me. It was just really tough. Henman was just uncomfortable because he always kept coming at me.
In the beginning, my returns weren't good enough, my passing shots weren't good enough, my mental, my fitness. It was good, but it wasn't great yet. And that's why those were matches I didn't like to play. So I was happy I could actually turn many of those win/loss records around.
Yeah, but they all had unique playing styles. It was interesting playing them.
Q. Extremely rare these days for two fathers to play in a Grand Slam match in singles. You've had quite a long rivalry with Lleyton. It's been quite special, hasn't it?
ROGER FEDERER: It has been great, yeah. We've played on numerous occasions. I think over 20 times for sure by now. Played at the Masters, in Grand Slams, in finals before. Also played him in Davis Cup in Melbourne. Played him in my hometown tournament in Basel, as well.
So we've had some closed ones to our heart. It's nice to see him still sticking around, because after having quite a few injuries and having a family, he's still enjoying the grind out there. I hope it's going to be a good match, an exciting one.
Okay, now it's the first one that we're both fathers. I don't know if that makes anything more special. But I'm sure we're going to leave it all out there and see what happens.
Q. Have you sought any advice about fatherhood from Lleyton?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't think from Lleyton, even though we hung out I think it was last year in Indian Wells, him and his family, and Bec. They're a nice family. I like to see him.
Q. Was there any match in particular with Lleyton that really was special for you?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, a few. I mean, I'd have to pick a couple. The one in Miami when I was No. 1 in the world. That was the semis. I think I ended up losing against Andre Agassi in 2002.
Then the Davis Cup one in 2003 I think it was, in the semis, when I was up two sets to love and a break, serving I think for the match, 30-All. Ended up losing that one. I think that was the one that turned around the series for me.
Sure, I guess the finals here 2004. I played an incredible match. Those are the ones I sort of remember the most maybe.
End of FastScripts