Roger Federer Interview - Wimbledon, June 20Posted on June 20, 2010
Roger Federer Interview
Sunday, 20 June 2010
Q. You spoke about being aware of Borg's record, the pressure of that. Here you are with a chance to beat Pete's record. Is that on your mind at all?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, maybe obviously a little bit because I'm aware of the great things he achieved, being one title away from it, you're obviously aware of it because you also ask me the questions, and you're not the first one. But then again, you have to break it down and make it simple for yourself, trying to win the first round, being here, trying to defend the title before everything.
So I'm happy I'm back here playing, you know, healthy and everything, because that's always something sometimes you can't control, like with Rafa last year who couldn't come here and defend his title. I'm here, I get a chance, so that is great.
Q. You've spoken before about the belief you have when you're on the court. What was it like when you first realized that you could compete not just to win one Wimbledon championship but maybe more than anybody ever? What was that like for you to come to the realization you could win more Wimbledons than anybody ever?
ROGER FEDERER: I guess it comes by proving yourself in the bit smaller tournaments against fellow top players that you know you can beat them on a regular basis and that you have no issues really on a fitness standpoint, you know. I think once those things are in place, it's a matter of maybe day form on the day who plays better, who chose the better tactics, you know.
But early on, everything's a bit confusing because you know you're good, but you can't perform every single day at your best. I guess once I was able to win in 2003 here for the first time at Wimbledon, I knew I could do it basically week in, week out.
Q. And then the confidence that you developed that you could not just win one, two, three, but now Pete Sampras was quoted in today's paper as saying you might win eight, nine, even ten.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, well, that's nice of him, you know, to say that (smiling). I don't feel pressure by him saying that because I've -- people already compared me to Sampras when I had no Grand Slams. I've done really well, considering the pressure I've always had surrounding me.
But obviously my game's made for grass. You know, since I came here as a junior and since I beat Pete here in 2001 and I won my first Wimbledon here in '03, I definitely think every time I play, I'll have a chance to win here, there's no doubt.
But we all know how hard it is to win Grand Slam titles. But I think with the experience I have on this surface, the experience can pull me through many matches actually maybe I would be struggling with.
Q. Pete, when he was playing, before the tournament sometimes would climb through the catacombs of Centre Court, stick his head out of one of the tunnels, take in the setting quietly, no one else around. Do you have any moments like that when you come back here that you sort of absorb the whole setting, what it all means?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. I mean, it's much more calm here than at any other Grand Slam sort of the week prior to the tournament, obviously, because qualifying is at a different site. So the only people really you have on-site is the people, you know, sort of doing the finishing touches. It's nice and calming, the whole surroundings.
Just being on whatever court it is, Court 5 on practice, you look at Centre Court and the ivy and the watch, it's perfect, you know.
In the past I also have gone to see the trophy, gone and seen Centre Court. But I don't do it like every year it has to be the same way. I'm not very superstitious when it comes to those sort of things. If, all of a sudden, I go see the chairman, Tim Phillips, I might have a peek out to Centre Court. We'll see how it goes today. Maybe I'll do it.
Q. What does it mean to you after the clay court season to come back to Wimbledon as No. 2 and Rafa as No. 1? Does it change your expectations, add more pressure? How does it feel?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, it doesn't change a whole lot, you know, because I don't think I can get my No. 1 ranking back anyway. It's about winning Wimbledon again. Mentally I didn't have any - how do you say - going crazy, you know, after my loss at the French. It was all digested very quickly. Played well in Halle. Here I am giving myself again a great opportunity to do well at Wimbledon.
Q. You've spoken about your trophy room at home.
ROGER FEDERER: Hmm.
Q. With the Wimbledon Cups, do you have them all lined up one after another? Are they set up in years?
ROGER FEDERER: What do you think (laughter)?
Q. I'd say probably lined up one alongside another.
ROGER FEDERER: There you go (laughter). All the US Opens, all the Wimbledons, they're all lined up next to each other. They almost go in a circle, so it's nice. I'm lucky enough to have won that many.
Q. You were a decent footballer in your youth. Did you watch the Switzerland-Spain game, get in touch with Rafa, and do you think that's a good omen?
ROGER FEDERER: About the omen, again, like I said, I'm not superstitious. This is something, again, very historic for Switzerland. We obviously haven't had the success, you know, on a soccer level that maybe we've had in tennis over the last 20 years.
But obviously this was a huge match. I watched it, of course. No, I didn't get in touch with Rafa because I'm not the type of person who rubs it in. We know the bad times can come by very quickly, very realistic. But obviously after a match like this, you're allowed also to start dreaming that you could go much further in the competition. I hope we can see as many matches as possible.
Q. Who is your favorite in the World Cup?
ROGER FEDERER: I think so far it's been hard to really go just purely with one team. First up, honestly I thought England had a very good chance. Now you never know what's going to happen there. It all comes down to the last match. Argentina, seems like they're solid. Holland are the first that's qualified I think right now.
No, I think Switzerland has the best chance, you know. That's how it looks like for the moment (smiling).
Q. Switzerland playing at 3:00 tomorrow and on Monday, how will that affect your preparations?
ROGER FEDERER: You think I'll just like leave the court at 3:00? That's not going to happen quite yet. Maybe I can install a little screen on Centre Court on the change of ends (smiling).
It's happened in the past that I've had to play matches during important things in my life. You know, kind of went on court last year many times thinking that Mirka was going to give birth to my children. That was a bit more, you know, crazy than Switzerland playing at 3 p.m. I still have a chance to maybe go see a little bit. But focus is always on my first-round match here, come through, see how much I can see of the game.
Q. What does the Swiss team mean to your country? How would you compare the prominence of football and tennis in your country?
ROGER FEDERER: Football is very big. We like the sports, as we do like skiing and ice hockey and tennis. I think those are the biggest sports in our country.
I just think sports, maybe you get more even behind obviously a national team, regardless of what sport it is, but especially soccer because it's the most global sport and the biggest sport we have.
It was nice seeing pictures with Switzerland, them seen going crazy over a win like this, because we all know we will talk about this for 20 years after this win against Spain, you know, because you're not very often in the World Cup and you only get maybe three matches to shine, and we were able to do it on the first one.
This was amazing. I wish them obviously all the best. It's great, a great start for us. Soccer is a very important sport in our country, yeah.
Q. What did it mean to you to have the opportunity to give something of a pep talk to the team a while back? What was that experience like?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it was an unusual experience because I don't hold, let's say, speeches yet. Maybe one day I will, because I do already get offers saying I need to give motivation speeches to people, banks, whatever. So when Ottmar Hitzfeld, the coach, called me and said if I could just come in and meet the team, inspire them a bit, answer questions on how I handle the media, how I handle the pressure, see the guys a bit, I said, No problem. If my schedule allows it, I'm very happy to do that.
I came in. I don't think they've lost since. If it's 1% they give to me, that's great. But they were good enough themselves. They know it. I told them that. It's in their control, as well, to some degree. It was a good experience for me anyway and I'm happy it worked.
Q. Could you give England a pep talk?
ROGER FEDERER: They don't need one yet. It's in their control, so it's okay (smiling).
Q. How would you grade your first half of the year?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think it started great with playing so well in Australia, obviously. I really played some of the best tennis of my life. I've been disappointed I wasn't able to carry on. I know my game, my body and everything so well that I really expected to take off and just go on a tear on that.
Maybe the long infection did throw me back a bit, not having played so much through March and April. All of a sudden I went through three months only playing about five matches. Two of the matches I played there, I lost with match points really.
Q. Any regrets on those match points? It left you one week short of Pete's record. Were you pleased for Pete to hold onto one record?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm so close, it's obviously a pity to some degree. At the same time I'm happy for Pete so he can keep it for the moment. If I get it back, it's even sweeter, you know. So I'll definitely try to do that.
I don't know if any of those match points would have changed the outcome of me staying world No. 1. But I think it's really the Australian Open that helped me keep it for so long.
Once the clay court season was going to come around, it was always logical that Rafa was going to pick up tournaments.
I don't know. I don't want to say nobody expected him to win all four. But I know his level of play on clay. It's supreme to anybody. So it was impressive to see how well he played. He deserves to be world No. 1 again.
Q. Since you beat Andy in Australia, he's had a real dip in form. Are you surprised by that? Do you still see him as a major contender for the title here?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes. I think regardless of what happened between here and the Australian Open, Andy is one of the big favorites for this tournament. It's been I think for me, for Djokovic and for Murray, you know, to some degree a bit of a disappointing sort of last few months. But I think Murray also played incredible tennis at the Australian Open.
So here we are again at Grand Slam play. You have to maybe ignore a little bit what happened in between and remember the last time you played a best-of-five set match. This is when he was very tough.
I think that's why maybe it favors the big guys. Andy's obviously one of them.
Q. What do you remember most about how you won against Roddick last year?
ROGER FEDERER: What do I remember most? His backhand he missed. My saving of the breakpoints in the fifth. My 50 aces. The match point. Holding up the trophy and being tired afterwards. Almost still today. That's about it.
Q. How much do you relish the increased competition, given that Rafa is here this year and he missed out last year? It's a great battle between the two of you. A lot of people saying Roger won it but Rafa wasn't here. Now everybody is here.
ROGER FEDERER: Del Potro is not here. So not everybody is here. There's always going to be somebody missing eventually down the stretch. Tennis is a tough sport. We'll always have injuries. Last year was a big blow because he was the defending champion. Sure, in some ways it makes it maybe easier to win, but at the same time you have more pressure, too. If you think about it, it doesn't make it any easier because pressure plays a huge part in our game.
Look, I'm happy he's back. I want him to play every tournament. I want the other guys to play as well because it's better for the game if we all face off, that there's more story, you know, for the sport. So I'm looking forward to an exciting Championship.
Q. You say injuries are always a part of it. You've had this incredible streak where you're always not just at the slams but making it far into it. Of all your records, how important is that one to you?
ROGER FEDERER: You mean, the semis streak?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, big. Right now I look at it and say, Okay, it's been broken. It's a great number. But probably when I sit on the couch one day, I don't know, 20 years, I go back and think probably that was one of my incredible runs in the game. Very proud of it, of course.
Q. What would you say is most important to that? The durability?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, just being there, giving myself chances to win. Because I think once you're in the semis, you're only two matches away. I mean, I never got a walkover in the finals or the semis, but I've been there so many times. All of a sudden, you play your best, you go win a few. That's what I've been doing. Different surfaces around the world many years in a row. It seems like you only almost get one chance in a career to do that. So it's like if you miss it, you can't do it again because it just takes too much effort.
Q. After watching him in the clay court season, do you feel like Rafael has switched his game into a more offensive mood, picking his spots, more aggressive?
ROGER FEDERER: More aggressive? Hmm, I think he's always played somewhat aggressive on clay. I mean, it's his nature of play. Some think he plays defensive because he's got incredible passing shots. But on the offensive with his forehand, he can put it on a dime wherever he wants to do it.
We've seen him play aggressive in the past on hard courts and grass courts. I don't think he needs to prove himself anymore that he can play offensive. Otherwise he wouldn't have been able to win the Australian Open and, let's say, Wimbledon as well.
I felt like what I saw was the old classic Rafa on clay hardly losing sets and matches. That's what we got from him. That's why it's going to be incredibly hard to beat him here at Wimbledon.
Q. How do you think your game has changed since your first win in 2003?
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, well, many things have changed, I think. I've definitely become more fit, more experienced. My backhand's improved a lot. I think my serve overall has become more consistent. My second serve has always been good, but I just think overall so many things have become more consistent. I'm much more aware of everything around me.
Sometimes you just have to not forget not only play just the percentages all the time but also play aggressive like a junior. I'm always trying to combine all those things. I work extremely hard in the practice season to improve as a player. I think it's all paid off over the last six, seven years.
Q. Looking forward a bit, do you hope to be fighting for gold in London at 2012? What do you think of Wimbledon as an Olympic venue?
ROGER FEDERER: I think it's fantastic. Obviously with the history already here at Wimbledon, the Olympics are going to be held here, it's special.
Now I think obviously, you know, London is such a big city, an important city in the world, to host the Olympics I think is always great. It was going to be either London or Paris. Regardless, it would have been fantastic.
Obviously I have a great effect with Wimbledon. I'm really excited to be playing there and getting a chance to pick up maybe a singles gold.