Roger Federer Interview
March 16, 2011
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA - BNP PARIBAS OPEN
R. FEDERER/R. Harrison
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Were you suitably impressed with the match tonight? I mean, the opponent, and what do you feel you got out of it?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I thought it was tricky conditions: night session, a bit windy, against a player I have never played against. So that's always gonna play some tricks on your mind, but sort of dominated the first game.
So I knew I didn't quite deserve the lead -- other than because of what I've done in the past. I guess, you know, he was a bit nervous.
But I kind of -- that's maybe why I wasn't able to right away play my best right off the bat. I kind of struggled kind of sort of in that first set because I knew that lead wasn't real because it was more because of his nerves.
So I think that's what made the whole match be a bit tricky for me early on. When I won the first set and I felt like I played a tough breaker, got out of some tough situations, is when I felt like, You know what? Now I can play more freely. That's how I played in the second set.
Look, I thought he played really well under the circumstances. It's not easy coming out playing a night session against a top player, and I thought he did really well. He competed great. Believed in his chances. That's exactly what he's supposed to do.
But he bounced back after a tough first game, and that was impressive to see.
Q. Are you happy with where your first serve is at the moment?
ROGER FEDERER: Hmm. Why my first serve? You didn't like it? (Smiling.)
Q. I thought you might not have liked it towards the end of the first set.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I have had worse, so I have been there and done that. What I didn't like was that I served too many double faults. I guess that was just a combination of many things tonight.
But, no, I thought it was there sometimes when I needed it. Had a tough game sometimes where I would miss four straight serves down the T on the deuce side, and that kind of stuff should not happen.
But, look, he also put the pressure on it. I didn't know what he was gonna do at key moments. I think that's kind of what kept me guessing, as well, a bit, and made it tough tonight. I thought I was pretty happy overall, actually, at the end.
Q. The other night you made a brief comment about the new generation of players. Here in America we're obviously pretty desperate to get the new great player. Ryan has a long, long way to go, but big picture, talk about his potential and his game, please.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it's always nice playing against younger players. I don't know exactly how old he is, actually.
ROGER FEDERER: 18?
So, I mean, I just think it's always so nice to see how much more room of improvement they have and how much more they can learn. But even though, without all those things they're still very dangerous. And, okay, maybe they're not gonna win the tournament right away. Lleyton won a tournament at 16; I don't know when his second tournament came along.
But it's just nice to see that they have so many great weapons already. Then you just have to work with the right coaching, and the more matches you play, you know, the more you're able to fine tune your game and find ways to improve, really.
He's got those, I think. On defense he did well. Offense he's got a lot of potential, as well. He's got a wonderful serve. That's going to allow him to control sort of 50% of the match.
Then it's the rest. How fit is he? I mean, he put his heart in there in every match, and I guess he's a good practice player, too, which is obviously a key at that age right now, because that's the age I struggled with in practice really, to get myself motivated for practice sessions.
I don't think he's the kind of guy who has issues with that. Now he's gone through a few big matches at the US Open. I guess he's gotten a couple wildcards already. It's nice to get that experience.
I said it before this match, that whatever the result is tonight for him, he's going to be able to build on it. Obviously if he would've won, my God, it would have been just unbelievable.
But even if it would have been straight-sets easy loss for him, still, it's going to teach you a few things, because I play different tennis than most of the guys with my one-handed backhand, with my slice, with my defending.
I thought he did really well. I'm sure he's gonna be a good player.
Q. Whenever you play an American on a home court, you know what the crowd is going to be like. Is there something you do to take the crowd out of it?
ROGER FEDERER: Only way to take the crowd out of it is to get the lead. That's hard to do sometimes, you know.
And then obviously if you're in the lead you don't want to let them come back, because that's the worst. Then they really get into it and the momentum can really shift.
There's no real trick to it other than really concentrate and don't let yourself get rattled from it. Obviously the toughest situation I've ever been in was when I played Agassi in the finals of the US Open, which I really felt was most extreme -- it was just nice to be part of such a, for me a historic match, really, and thinking maybe it was going to be Andre's last match of his life.
Then he still came back obviously for another year and played a few tournaments. But people kind of expected that if he won maybe he could retire and all those things. Crowds were just absolutely amazing.
I have always enjoyed playing over here against Americans. They've always respected me and even been behind me at times, you know, which has been nice to see.
They're good tennis fans, and I enjoy playing in this country.
Q. Speaking of Andre, is he sort of an inspiration or a model for your own philanthropic activities? If so, how?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, I definitely think so. I had a harder time appreciating Andre because I was Becker, Edberg, Sampras oriented. Obviously Andre was a double-handed backhanded guy, you know, the rival to Pete, so that kind of didn't work for me early on. (Smiling.)
The more I played him and the more really what a nice guy he was really, and he was always so gracious always to me and so respectful, I kind of really appreciated that a lot. Because at the end of the day, I think we did play over 10 times. I think 13 times in all.
And then obviously I started to admire also very much to -- as I was growing up, to see what a great job he was doing in, you know, in the philanthropic part, and that definitely inspired me. Because I remember him saying once that he felt like he should have started his foundation so much earlier and so forth.
That definitely inspired me to, you know, to start sort of younger and sort of learn my way into it and then try to make it bigger so I could help as many kids as possible now in the situation with my projects I support in Africa.
It's been a great inspiration for that. That's for sure, yeah.
Q. How do you differentiate Stan the doubles partner from Stan the quarterfinal opponent over the next two days?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it's different because he's on my side tomorrow and not against me, so that's a good thing.
Look, we have played against each other on a few occasions now. Every time it's been pretty tough, even though in Australia was straight sets and I was able to come out and really take it to Stan, not expect something completely different.
We have been kidding around already what happens if we did play each other in singles. We have the doubles beforehand. Are we going to both stay at the baseline so nobody can hit each other at the net, and so forth? We'll see how it goes tomorrow.
I think we're both excited for each other that it's going well in the singles. He asked me if I wanted to play doubles here and I wasn't really sure if I should do it. And now we're doing so well, and he's ecstatic that I said yes and that it's going well. So it's good times this week. I'm really happy for him and I'm looking forward to the match.
Q. How do you explain that the first set was very tense somehow once the first set is over, second set maybe relaxed a little more and play a little bit better and naturally?
ROGER FEDERER: What happens?
Q. Tension in the first set, once it's over, even if you lose it sometimes you sort of loosen up. Why can't you be more relaxed in the beginning?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know how to explain. It feels like you're running to the first finish line, the first checkpoint and you're gonna be there first. Like in sailing, you get to get around that first buoy, and it just feels like, Okay, now you can relax and either you go south or you go, you know, better.
So, I mean, I don't know why that is. I guess you sit down, you think about it, and then -- you know, the crowd, maybe they all calm down a bit after a tough, you know, first set.
And then next thing you know, you get maybe that stupid early break, or you do it -- you don't know what happened. You didn't even play so great, you just got to donated in a way and you just played solid. From then on it's a different match.
So that's why you have to be really able to focus hard and get the early lead. Sometimes it's just not possible. Sometimes the other guy just comes out really well early in the second, but it is a bit of a phenomenon, as well.
Q. In the ads for the bank that are running for America, you talk about charity work and how you have been inspired by your mother. You have two daughters, and as you said, there is a certain focus on girls and women. Can you just talk about your charity work in that aspect?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it's been something that's been a lot of fun for me to do, to have the opportunity, first of all, with my fame and my fortune, to be able to give back to others who need it so much more.
It's quite incredible. In the beginning you don't think about it that much. You just try -- like at Ryan's age you're just like focused on getting the forehand and backhand into play and try to live up to all the expectations around you.
But then later on you realize there is so many more things to just hitting tennis balls. And if all of a sudden you do get the opportunity to give back, it's a wonderful feeling.
I took the choice of having my own foundations instead of just donating, you know, shirts, racquets, and money to other foundations. I said, you know, I'd like to start my own and really focus on a key area, which was South Africa in the beginning.
We've expanded towards Africa in terms of all those projects. And some projects I do, you know, support more women, for instance, because, you know, they become moms. They are the ones who take care of the kids and so forth, and it's important to have education, I always felt, because education is something you cannot take away from someone, you know.
That's why I always felt like that was really important to me. And my mom, like you said, even my dad, as well, obviously, have been very helpful. They work extremely hard today still for the foundation. It's a lot of fun.
Last year we had that fantastic event for Rafa where we were able to almost generate $3 million, and we have multiple meetings during the year, you know, deciding what we're gonna do, you know, what the time frame is for all those future projects.
I really take a lot of pride and joy in doing those things. It's really something very nice I enjoy.
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