Roger Federer Interview - French Open, May 26
Posted on May 26, 2010
7‑6, 6‑2, 6‑4
Q. How much did the conditions bother you at all today? Was the coming on and off the court annoying, or how did you feel about that?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I thought ‑‑ obviously the court played very different to two days ago. You know, the texture of the clay changes drastically when there's no sun. It gets wet. Conditions slow down, you know, a lot.
So that was a bit of an adjustment I had to make when I started the match. Obviously I practiced before, and that gave me a sense of how it was going to be.
But the first rain delay wasn't too long. We got in and, and 10, 15 minutes later we're back out. It was a matter of quickly changing shirt and getting a chance to speak to your coach and coming up with the proper game plan depending on the scoreline.
I think that helped me, actually, because after that I played a good set. He gave me some good advice, and obviously the second rain delay was actually quite comfortable because I was up two sets to love.
So from then on, everything is much more easier and much more relaxed.
Q. As you said, here the playing conditions change a lot with the weather. Can you elaborate how they change? Secondly, what is the best playing condition for you here? Is it very hot or very in between?
ROGER FEDERER: Really, to me, it doesn't matter too much. I've learned to play in all conditions. These kind of conditions are hard to practice in because usually you don't have the covers, you don't have all the guys doing all the hard work.
But, I mean, it's great you have it here obviously for all of us, really. What did you say?
Q. How did the weather conditions change the game?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, the ball travels differently. I don't know how to explain it. I guess it travels faster through the court, so I hit a slice that's a bit floating.
In these conditions it maybe stays in the court. In the other one, it just travels out by a meter. This is the kind of stuff you feel. Then on the serve, the way the ball bounces off the court, it jumps off the court. Here it just kind of like, okay it's there. Doesn't pick up more pace when it hits the ground. Those kind of things.
And then the dropshot though in wet weather like today stays really low, and you can knife the ball through the clay. So, you know, I think there's advantages and disadvantages, and you've got to use them to yours if you can.
Q. When you spoke about coming back after the rain delays, you said your coach gave you good advice and therefore you were able to hit Alejandro while he was maybe cold. Was that a particularly planned strategy during both the first and the second rain delays?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, the first rain delay I was trying to play more aggressive. He convince me that I should do it and try it and come to the net more often and take chances, which I started to do. That's what worked second set.
Then the third set, as the conditions were getting so slow, he said, Use the dropshot more often, as well, which I did on a couple of key points. So those were good things he told me. Those little details make a crucial difference.
That one break, for instance, in the third. Instead of having to play at even score I can play with a break advantage, and that changes momentum big time.
Q. Why do you think the first set was so hard for you? Do you think he was playing at a very high level, or do you think you were not in the match yet?
ROGER FEDERER: I thought the first set was good, actually, from both sides. Maybe we had a lot of, how do you say, unforced errors, but rallies were long and we were neutralizing each other. So then obviously the points would always end usually with a mistake sooner or later.
I think he really pushed me to come up with something special, which I couldn't do in the first set, really. I definitely got a little bit lucky to get out of that one. It's a matter of getting into his service games a bit better, because many times I just was always down 15‑Love, and then he had the ad side to serve against.
As a lefty that's an advantage, so he went up 30‑Love quite often. I never really got a chance to get into his service games, only until really I was able to break him at 6‑5.
So, you know, I think he played tough. I mean, both times when I played him before, he was ‑‑ I had much more control from the baseline. But he was able to today to take the ball early and guide it into wherever he wanted to play it to. I thought it was impressive what he was able to do today.
Q. So much is made of a player/coach relationship. Do you think that Severin's role in your career at the moment is slightly underrated, and perhaps people don't give him as much credit as he perhaps deserves?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I don't know. It depends on who you ask or who speaks. Maybe he doesn't have the biggest name in the game because he wasn't No. 1 in the world himself or has coached 15 other top guys, you know.
I don't think you necessarily need that to be a good coach, you know. He gives everything he has every day, and people still think he's a part‑time coach, which he's obviously not because he's traveled the last two, three years with me now full time.
He's also Davis Cup captain, so he has a lot of experience by now, obviously. It works really well with me. Also in tougher times, which we had to go through the last three years, he's always been very positive. Maybe he's underrated because I don't follow too much what you guys write about him, maybe.
I know he doesn't speak too much to you guys, so we don't talk about it. (laughter.)
Q. You have such a deep understanding of the history of the game and an appreciation of the heritage of our sport. You spoke briefly on this the other day, but I wanted to ask you to reflect on what it would mean for the tournament to move from this site which has such a heritage. Would this be in some way a loss for our game or not?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, do you think really it's gonna change, or is it more just story than...
Q. I don't know for sure, but I think it's ‑‑ I think it's a possibility, and a significant one.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, we'll see. I mean, I also believe in traditions and everything, but it's got to make sense for sense for everyone. Obviously it would be very disappointing if it moves away from here.
But if they do it, they must have good reasons. Those reasons sometimes are more important than all the history and all the traditions we've had. I mean, I hope it stays here. I'd love to come back in 20 years', 40 years' time.
Q. You had the rain delays today in your match. Do you think for a match in a Grand Slam tournament on center court it's acceptable, and do you think there should be a necessity for any Grand Slam tournament to have a roof on center court?
ROGER FEDERER: Poor guys are getting hammered, eh? Yeah, we need a roof badly. Tomorrow, if possible. What can I say? It would be great to have a roof. But this is how this game has been played for decades. We're used to walking on and off the court and being flexible about these kind of things.
Now obviously it looks a bit like Paris and the French Open is a bit under pressure because Wimbledon and obviously the Australian Open both have roofs. At least you have a few matches in, so we have at least some things to write about.
You know, it's one of those things. They gotta know when the right time is to make these kind of moves. I think everybody would love to see matches going on the whole time. But for me, it's totally acceptable to walk on and off the court a few times during a match.
Q. Roger ‑‑ over here.
ROGER FEDERER: It's coming from this speaker, you know. It's like you're sitting in the closet. (Laughter.)
Q. Sorry, my ventriloquism trick will be next. You've used a variety of practice partners in tournaments or in Dubai. What kind of quality do you look for in a practice partner?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it's a lot of fun, I think, if juniors come over 16, 17, 18 year olds, because for them, anything I need them for in practice, they're excited. They learn and improve themselves, you know, which is important to me, too.
Because I don't like to just say, Okay, stand in the corner, and I know the guy hates it and he leaves and he feels like it wasn't worth it. You couldn't do that to another top 10 player, for instance, because for him it's not his goal to do that.
But with a junior, he finds that very interesting to then see me, how I practice or what I do and how I breathe and live tennis, really. So I think that's something I look for, is the guy who is eager and excited to come to practice with me and gives 100%.
And maybe he's tired, he lets me know, because that's completely normal, too, in hot conditions like in Dubai sometimes. Then sometimes you feel like, you know, that I would love to have a lefty; sometimes you feel like you need a righty; obviously you always have the coach.
So sometimes I have two sparring partners or two juniors come over and ‑‑ or then a good friend, you know, from Switzerland. That always works very well.
Q. Sorry, the question is not too technical, but when you come out of the locker rooms and you have to come for a press conference ‑‑
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. (laughter.)
Q. ‑‑ how easy it is? Because you come, you have to wear the hat which has to match the color with the jacket...
ROGER FEDERER: No, it doesn't need to.
Q. No? You don't pay attention to that?
ROGER FEDERER: No, that's all I have in my bag. It's pretty simple.
Q. You never get confused?
ROGER FEDERER: No. Because does this shirt match this jacket? I don't think so. (laughter.)
You know, that's all I had with me. Sometimes I feel like my hair is not the right way so I put the hat on. Like today. That's why I'm sitting here this way.
Q. It's not a sponsor? Okay. All right. Thanks a lot.
ROGER FEDERER: No, no way.
Q. My question is about your coach, coming back to your coach. What do you ask to a coach exactly? I mean, the level you are, the knowing you have about game and everything, the experience you have, which answer your coach, this coach can give to you that you don't know? And what are you really looking for in a coach now?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I don't have the time to go scout out future opponents. Like today, for instance, I don't know if they will be able to play Rochus and Reister. But Reister, I think I've only warmed up with him once in Hamburg a couple years ago. Obviously I don't remember how he plays.
Obviously Olivier I know well, but there's still maybe that something extra out there I have forgotten or I don't know still and he can come up with. Then it's just good to have someone to be able to debate about my game and the opponents' game and come up with a game plan, obviously.
I have my ideas from all my experience, but then he's also seen my past matches the last day, the last weeks, the practice sessions, and then he's got a good sense of what I'm doing well and not so well. Then you can structure a game around those problems or those strengths.
Yeah, so it's been going well and smooth. But then again, every player needs different things. It's crazy how players think. You know, for some, the coach is not important; for some it's the physio; for some it's not the physio but the condition trainer; for some it's just good to have a friend on tour.
I think every player needs to look what they need most, really.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in French, please.
Q. We'll still be talking about the coach. Now, in such a situation like today, does it sometimes happen that you don't agree with your coach when you analyze this situation? You know, like the tips he gives you, Severin? If this is the case, who's going to decide finally?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I know I'll ask him, Why have you said this? Why have I said this? We never say the other one is totally crazy. No, no, it's never happened to us. Never.
It's never happened with any of my coaches, because it's always reasonable. There's always a reason why they say these things.
Q. I think that before the press conference you received a DVD with statistics for your match. I'd like to know if you look at statistics with attention, if you draw conclusions for the future match, or not.
ROGER FEDERER: Not really. I don't know if the DVD is just about the statistics or the match. What is more important for me is to watch the match. So, you know, I keep on CD 80% of my matches, and then my coach can analyze the old matches, for instance.
And also, for me, it's for me so that I have a nice connection. My father likes this collection. We can't watch these 800 matches, but at least a few hundred. (laughter.)
Q. You never shout on court, almost never, when you hit the balls. Today during the first point during the tiebreak you were running on a dropshot, and then you shouted a little. Is it because you felt some type of relief or to encourage yourself? And when the opponent shouts a lot, do you think about this? Do you forget about this? Or does that give you hints about his mental position at the moment during the match?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't shout very often because I don't need to play better and shout. Some people think that when they shout they're in a trance, you see. Some do this during practice and not during a match and vice versa.
I understand this, because if you start doing this then you feel that you can hit more strongly, because when you shout you have the impression that it's a bigger effort. Well, there is, depending on the player.
What I don't really like is when some players shout during three shots, and then they don't shout for two shots and then they shout again for three shots. This is something incomprehensible.
Frankly, I don't know when it happens to me, but it's important to have this fire with me. When I'm excited, if the point is important, then this is what is important. This is the key to me.
Sometimes you might think I shout more because I'm a bit more tired, but it could be like pretending. No, I don't really pay attention to this.
Q. Now, the match is not yet over and it's bad for him.
ROGER FEDERER: For who?
Q. For Olivier. But let's say Olivier wins. What about playing against him? What are the memories you have when you played against him?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, he's a good friend. I like to play with him. I played juniors at Wimbledon a long time ago with him, and we always had difficult matches when we played against each other.
One of the best backhands on the tour. He's exceptionally talented. Therefore, playing against him is always something very pleasant. He has such a touch. He reads the game and anticipates.
Q. When you were playing juniors he would beat you or defeat you regularly. Were you frustrated to some extent? Because you were saying that when you were playing juniors you were more nervous than usual.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, under 14s, under‑16s or 15s, he was really strong. He was the strongest one, and, you know, it's the world of tennis.
I knew I was not stable enough, my backhand was not good. My forehand was dangerous, and my serve, as well. I started growing when I was 15 or 16 only. It happened once. I can tell you what happened. I was so powerful and my backhand improved a lot, and then I could defeat him.
In 1998 when I was No. 1 I defeated him I think once or twice, and I felt that things were changing for me. I made many efforts, a lot of progress, but to start with it was frustrating. I felt I was so far away from some people, like Malisse as well 6‑1, 6‑2. It was a dropshot and then a lob. (laughter.)
So, you see, after the match you'll think, Okay, he was a year older at that time. It makes a difference. And, you know, at least I can tell you this calmed me down.