Roger Federer Interview
Australian Open, January 23, 2001
Fourth Round Win Over Tommy Robredo
Q. Do you recall your first visit to Australia and what impression it may have made on you?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it was a long time ago now. I remember I had a great vacation here with my parents and my sister. We did all sort of the east coast, Sydney, up into Cairns, and also did the Great Barrier Reef. It was a wonderful time we had. People were friendly and helpful, because sometimes we didn't know our way around. It was great.
Q. I meant as a tennis player.
ROGER FEDERER: '98 as a junior. Same thing. I played out in Taralgon. A little country town. Very relaxed atmosphere. Players were in a good mood, I remember that.
Obviously it was a dream come true to play on the grounds here at Melbourne Park. Same thing. To sort of rub shoulders with the big guys, it was kind of cool.
The city was fun. I don't remember what I was doing and where I was staying actually, but it was a good time.
Q. We're one week on the way now. You had a scare against Gilles Simon. Now you're in the quarterfinals. Are you satisfied with the way things are going now?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, I'm satisfied. I'm still in the tournament. I'm in another quarterfinal. Got all the chances to make it to the semis again, so I'm very pleased. It's been a tough first week with a bit of heat the last couple of matches I played in.
The match against Simon was a great first round. Pretty happy how I'm hitting the ball. Had sort of a tricky draw with guys with experience or great return players. That's why I'm happy I was able to beat all those guys and give myself a chance to get into the second week.
Q. You took a coach, Paul, and now you're having another type of game. You're trying to improve. Do you see that here in Australia?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it's Paul Annacone actually. No, I'm looking always forward trying to improve as a player during a tournament or outside of the tournaments. It's obviously always a busy schedule. Always something happening, but little things can sometimes make a huge difference. I always try to find ways, and I always also did that when I was hardly losing at all. It's important to question yourself and that's what I've always been doing since I got to word No. 1 in 2004.
Q. Is there a sense that Rod Laver is a little slower this year than before?
ROGER FEDERER: Is it? I think at night it's a bit slower. It's hard to put the ball away it seems like. I don't know if that's because I played Gilles Simon. I definitely felt like after when the sun was down and it was cooling off a bit, you know, I think the court was playing slower.
Now, during the day today I think the ball was flying again and it definitely takes a kick and the spin and all those things, so I think it's pretty much the same to be quite honest. I just think it was because the nights were quite cool at the beginning of the week. That's changed again.
Q. Do you think it plays to anyone's advantage?
ROGER FEDERER: Depending against who you play on the day and then day form comes in. So I wouldn't know who I would favor in a night session or day session. I wouldn't really know. I think we can play on all the surfaces anyway and conditions. That's what we're made for really.
Q. What do you prefer to do deep down as a player: Attack or sit back and have long rallies and play baseline tennis?
ROGER FEDERER: I prefer to come forward and force the issue. I've always played that way since I'm a kid. Try to run around my backhand. I used to have a horrible backhand before so I had to find ways to get around that and use my forehand so they couldn't find my backhand or the rally would end.
That how I grew up playing. Then I grew stronger and my serve got better. My forehand had more topspin, and my backhand started to improve a bit. That's how I always enjoyed playing. But I really was able to improve sort of in 2001 and '02 my defensive game as well. My mental part of the game also started to kick in a bit. Obviously being able to play defense and then right way change to offense, that's something I was really able to become good at. Definitely learned that from some players. And footwork helped me in a big way as well.
I can do it all today. But deep down I guess I'm an attacker more than a defender.
Q. Do you think if you play offensively, which you have been here, and you said yourself you play your best tennis that way, that the unforced errors, you have to almost accept that that's going to happen?
ROGER FEDERER: Clearly. I don't care about unforced errors. The guys that love the statistics, they love those things. I don't care if I make 20 or 60 unforced errors, I don't care. As long as I'm doing the right things and staying true to my game plan and it makes sense. If I'm just making errors and I can't hit any winner any more, then I'm in trouble clearly.
But it's about setting up the plays right. That's why for me those kind of statistics don't mean a whole lot to me. It's sort of more how many points do you win on second serves and returns and all those kind of things. So it's not just winners and error count that matters to me.
Q. When did you have a horrible backhand? Or were you being a little bit modest?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I couldn't come over the backhand. I didn't have the power, so I would just chip it in. I remember when I joined the National Tennis Center, we were playing on a really quick supreme tennis court there indoors. I was like obviously I had to play to make it to the National Tennis Center. They had to still choose me.
I was just like, I have to come over it. I have to prove that I can hit it over the backhand drive and stuff. I think this is how it kind of all started. Because with the slice again on a really quick surface you don't get very far.
So between 13 and 15 I really was able to improve a lot. This is when all the results came in the juniors really.
Q. Do you think if you were starting off now you would have a double handed backhand? That's all the coaches seem to coach these days.
ROGER FEDERER: When I was 12 years old I went to a junior tournament in France, and I remember with the brother of the Patty Schnyder I started working on my double hander. I was like, You know what, I can't even do that, so I'll just stay with my bad one hander. Yeah, thank God I did stay with it, you know.
But, I don't know. Look, obviously it feels very free. Two hander, it hurts me everywhere: My chest and my wrist. So I'm happy I play with a one handed backhand now.
Q. Who or what can could stop this being another Federer/Nadal final?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think Andy and Novak are playing extremely well, and that's why I'm not really looking very far ahead here. Rafa, myself; Robin is playing well; Roddick seems like he's in form; Stan, same thing; Berdych hasn't dropped a whole lot of sets or games.
I think really the top seeds here again are showing that they're above the rest a bit at the moment still. Interesting second week, I think. Yeah, I don't think I'll be looking too far ahead here.
Q. There may come a day when you are not the No. 1, No. 2 with Rafa. Do you see yourself having the same motivation, the same attitude, fighting in the tour as a No. 5, 6, 7 in the world?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, wouldn't change much. I would say 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Doesn't really matter a whole lot to me anyway. Sure, it's better to be No. 2 so you don't face No. 1 in the semis or already in the quarters or the last 16.
That's what Lleyton's little problem is at the moment. When your ranking drops and it's not a priority anymore, you get hit with tough draws at times.
This is where the seeding does help you. But I don't think the ranking will change my outlook a whole lot.
Q. One more sweet victory today. One more small step towards the ultimate crown.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, it's a step in the right direction. I'm happy I'm still alive and going strong in the tournament. It's a tough match. I knew Robredo was going to come out and hit a lot loopy shots and make me earn it. He wasn't going to just give it to me.
I thought he was really able to play strong midway through the second set. I really had not many chances on his own serve, like he didn't have on my serve in the first set. But I found a way. I was able to play a bit more aggressive and sort of not make some stupid mistakes I did at the end of second set, which really cost me the set, I thought.
I was able to battle through.
Q. You looked relaxed today. What was the secret?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm pretty relaxed usually. I hope it's not the first time you've seen me play. (Laughter.) You should ask them if I'm relaxed or not. I think I am. It helps me to save energy at key moments during a tournament or match actually.
Q. Just on another topic, you seem to be aware of a lot of different sports. Just wondering if you know that the Rugby World Cup is on this year.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah.
Q. What sort of support would you have? England, France?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, the Swiss, are they playing? (Laughter.) I think they're starting to get into it a bit. No, who am I supporting? I'll probably support the South Africans, of course, because my mom is from South Africa. So I would always support them.
But I just like good matches. I really enjoy was it the last World Cup that the South Africans won actually? I think it was. Yeah. I was just following that. It's a great sport. So especially World Cups and stuff, I try to follow those.
Q. Which other sports you would play if you were not a tennis player?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I don't know. Soccer, basketball, skiing. I don't know. Not swimming for sure. I can swim well, but I wouldn't want to swim. Too hard. Yeah, those kind of things.