Former World No. 1 Roger Federer sat down for an interview Monday for the ATP.
Federer, who is the third seed at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, talked about turning 29 on Sunday, his form since Wimbledon, his bid to return to the No. 1 ranking and new coach Paul Annacone.
Federer says he “feels good”. After some “aches and pains” during Wimbledon his back, body and legs are good, especially so after a six week break. He said the Wimbledon injuries were “bad timing” but he got over them in “six days”.
On now ranking No. 3 Federer says, “It was always going to happen that you are going to drop down”. But Federer said he is now “very, very motivated” to win Slams and return to the top.
On new coach Paul Annacone, he said Paul and him are on a “test period”. Paul came over to Switzerland, met Roger’s “other coach” Severin Luthi. He said he’s known Paul a long time through his friends Pete Sampras and Tim Henman and feels it was almost inevitable that he and Paul would try this out. And this was a good time to do it. Luthi will join Federer in Cincinnati.
Federer plays tonight in Canada against Juan Ignacio Chela.
Here’s the interview:
UPDATE: I’ve just added the transcript from his press interview below:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You’ve been quoted of saying in the past that you’ve created a bit of a monster when it comes to expectations that fans and the media have. After Wimbledon, losing in the quarters, you seemed obviously frustrated. Do you feel that sometimes you’ve created this monster in yourself, or do you think the expectations of fans and the media might be a little much?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I don’t think I was frustrated after my loss from Wimbledon. I was disappointed that my body wasn’t holding up and that Berdych played such a good match and that I couldn’t defend my Wimbledon dream again.
So that was the point for Wimbledon. Obviously with all the success, you know, I got spoiled. Everybody around me got spoiled. So it’s obvious when I don’t make — when I don’t win the tournament basically or to the finals also not sometimes good enough for people and myself that it’s normal that everybody talks a different way all of a sudden. That’s something I have to deal with, and I’m looking forward to hopefully change that again and play well again here in the States, for instance, and in Canada.
Q. Could you just talk a little bit about the situation of actually hooking up with Paul Annacone and how it’s going and what your expectations might be?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, Paul came to Switzerland after Wimbledon at some stage. I had vacation first, which is obviously key for me to just get back on my feet and feel normal again. It took me about 10 days to get over the aches and pains I have had over the three-week period from Halle until the end of Wimbledon.
I’ve always gotten along very well with Paul, him being obviously the coach of Sampras and Henman who were sort of friends to me and I know very well.
So I thought it was a good time to do a test, and this is our first test tournament we’re doing. We’re taking it slow, and we’ll see what happens next week. We don’t even know yet. He’s got still some commitments with the LTA, and I respect that, obviously, and I want him to fulfill that, as well. He wants to do that, too.
We’ll see how it goes, and we will take a decision maybe after the US Open and see what I’ll do.
Q. Severin still…
ROGER FEDERER: Severin’s coming to Cincinnati, yeah.
Q. Obviously you’ve been working with Paul. What else have you been doing with your time off?
ROGER FEDERER: Like I said, I had a great vacation after Wimbledon. Beautiful weather obviously in Europe, and we enjoyed that, and then it was nice to be home for like three weeks which is, for us, a very long time. I know it’s not that long, but three weeks for us is a big deal.
So that was nice, you know, just get away from it all. Did a couple of sponsor things. Didn’t do any media whatsoever. So it was nice to get away from it all, you know, also, just the people, like the whole scene I know throughout the whole year, and then, you know, you get very excited again to go back on tour and pack your bags and go on a trip again. So very happy to be back on tour obviously again.
Q. It’s a big change for you to hire someone like Paul. What do you hope to get out of him? How do you hope to tweak your game to get back to the No. 1 ranking again?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, the goal has always been for me to improve as a player, and, you know, I won’t just be happy of playing the same way for years and years and years. I’ve always questioned myself in the best of times and in, you know, in the worst of times, even though there were not many worst moments, bad moments, the last seven years or so. But I always look at new ways I can improve on. Paul, I think, with his experience can bring something to our team, and that’s what we’re exploring right now.
Q. Could you just maybe assess your season in general? You obviously got the Australian Open win off the top, but it’s been a few struggles throughout the year. Can you just talk a little bit about what you want to do to move forward, and have you done anything to your game, any changes, any major things you need to work on?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. I mean, I think it would be great to have more time off to work on my game, but it’s the same dilemma for all the players. You know, the season is long. It’s the way it is. That’s why it, for me, was important to take a rest and really work on my game again.
I think, by doing that, I’m confident that the results will come back eventually. I’m doing all the right things with the last years and stuff. I was definitely disappointed, as well, that I couldn’t play better right after the Australian Open, which I thought was some of my best tennis I ever played in my life, you know.
But I think the lung infection threw back a bit, lost a bit confidence, only played two tournaments in a three-month period and I got to clay and had a couple tough losses early on. I started to play better only when Rome came around, and I actually played okay in Paris and ran into, you know, Soderling who played great, and also at Wimbledon I ran into Berdych who played great.
It was a bit of a disappointing obviously Grand Slam run there as well for me. I thought the guys played great, and I have to make some adjustments just to make sure I stay ahead of the pack, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do in the practice. I haven’t played that many tournaments, after all. It’s hard to judge.
Q. Can you tell us why you’re not entered into the doubles here in Toronto this year? What’s your take on the pairing of Nadal and Djokovic, the world’s No. 1 and 2 players together?
ROGER FEDERER: Um, yeah, I think it’s always fun when singles guys enter the doubles at tournaments. You know, I do it occasionally. Now having, you know, Paul around, I didn’t want to spend extra time on, you know, warming up for doubles or thinking about it. I just wanted to focus on singles and getting back onto the tour, even though usually after six weeks’ break or so I do come back and like to have that extra doubles match maybe.
But I didn’t choose to, but I think it’s great Nadal is playing with Novak. They know each other. We all know each other. We’ve been on the council, and they have the same guy who handles the press. So I’m sure they’re very friendly and it’s great for the fans, good for the game, so I’m for it.
Q. It’s only been a short period, but have there been one or two things Paul has said that you’ve found insightful?
ROGER FEDERER: Sure. We’ve been spending two or almost three weeks together. It’s been interesting, you know, with all the experience he’s had with all the top players, and just hearing someone else for a change is good, too, you know.
It’s also been interesting with the combination with Severin in Switzerland, you know, my coach who has been with me the last three years who has been looking at ways to adjust and play differently or play more aggressive or more defensive, use the right shots and also just handled the tour, you know, the daily routine that I’m doing. It’s interesting that we’re going through all the different things. It’s been a long break.
It also gave me a lot of time to think about how I now want to approach and attack the end of the year and the next following years after that.
Q. You have had probably the most extended dominant run that any athlete has ever had, and you’ve been doing it for an awfully long time. You’re 29 now. I think Pete Sampras only ever won one Slam after 29. You have talked during this kind of struggle that you still believe you can do this. Has there ever been a moment during this last year, year and a half where you don’t think you can be No. 1 again and don’t believe you can be the best player in the world for an extended period again?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, the last one-and-a-half years I’ve won like three or four Slams, and I got to No. 1, so I felt I could get to No. 1 because I was No. 1. So it’s a funny question.
But no, I mean, obviously Rafa came back very strong. They wrote him off, too, which was to me surprising, especially because he couldn’t play Wimbledon last year. There was a bit of negativity hype around him being awfully injured and stuff, but he also only missed six weeks. I missed about the same at the beginning of the year, too, but I only missed Dubai but he missed Wimbledon.
Sometimes, you know, the press gets too carried away too quickly. It’s understandable with our success we’ve had, Rafa, myself, you know, but I think, you know, the last couple years I’ve been a bit — especially when I wanted to practice, you know, I had mono, the lung infection, I had back issues a couple of times. So I just had to — I was maybe lacking some practice and maybe all of that, then, you know, came together. Seems that I was not playing so well when I really wanted to, but at the same time I still had a great run I think in the last two or three years.
I did pick up a handful of Grand Slam titles I got back to No. 1 and had an amazing streak in Paris, to win that last year, and Wimbledon, as well. It was unbelievable what I was able to experience, you know. Now it’s, you know, coming from behind again, you know.
Being ranked No. 3 in the world is something I haven’t been in a very long time, so also gives me motivation and a drive to come forward again, and I’m doing all the right things and it’s, to me, just a matter of time. But guys are getting good and it’s inspiring for me also to get better.
Q. Just to add on to the doubles question quickly from earlier, do you feel you’d ever play with Nadal if he asked you to play doubles together, or like a Djokovic, or do you view that as a conflict of interest?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, Rafa asked me a few years ago to play doubles in I think it was Madrid indoors or so, but then I think our rivalry was so intense, I just felt like it was the wrong thing to do. Like you say, could be like a conflict and not something we should be doing.
It would have been great for the game, but I think it would have been a bit of a curveball for everybody. It was fierce rivals, now all a sudden they’re being friendly. I don’t think the press would have enjoyed that so much. They want to put us against each other, not with each other. But today I think we’re much more laid back, me especially, too, because I didn’t have a rival for a long period of time, and then Rafa came up and there was — it was great, you know, but I just didn’t feel like we needed to play doubles together.
No, I would see myself playing with Rafa. It’s just, if I do play, I want to play with my friends from Switzerland, help those guys out, and I don’t know, play with other top guys. I could imagine myself doing that.
Q. It’s been a very long time since you’ve gone into a tournament ranked No. 3. I’m just wondering how that number specifically affects you mentally sort of preparing for your play this week.
ROGER FEDERER: Not at all. I didn’t even know I dropped to 3 until I looked at the rankings once. I was like, Oh, didn’t even know it happened. So it doesn’t change my life if it’s 2, 3, 4 really. Doesn’t change much in the way that the draw is set up, you know.
Of course you could maybe play No. 1 in the world in the semis, but that’s something I did in Cincinnati last year, too. I played Murray in the semis. He was No. 2 in the world, and that’s just sometimes something that can happen, you know. Yeah, as long as you’re not No. 50 in the world, there’s no reason to be concerned.
Q. I’m interested in your thoughts on the importance of the tennis coach you’ve just started with, with Paul. Andy Murray is looking for a new coach. Interesting dynamic, isn’t it, in tennis? Because in football the coach is the boss, but in tennis it’s almost the other way around. What is the goal of a coach? How important is it as a coach?
ROGER FEDERER: Depends. I think it really depends on the character of the player. Some give coaches more weight; some don’t, you know. I obviously have a very special sort of a career, you know, obviously from success itself, but also, I became No. 1 in the world having no coach, really.
So I went through a period of time which was very interesting almost at the peak. I didn’t have a management company; nor did I have a coach. I thought that was a great learning experience for me, and that’s why I think I’m super-stable today, you know, regardless if I do have all the stuff around me.
I know I can handle a lot by myself, but obviously at this stage now I do need help from all sorts of sides, you know, because my family has grown. You know, the business is much bigger than it has ever been. The success has been massive over the last few years.
I think it’s interesting for players. They need to know for themselves what’s most important for them. Sometimes it can be just a friend traveling with them, making them feel good, you know. Then maybe having the coach or a conditioning coach or a physio, I think the player needs to know for himself what that really is. Obviously if you can afford all of it, great. But also that can put a pressure on you thinking you have to make like a semis of a tournament to break even, you know, in terms of the financial part. You know, you do sometimes think of that, too, as a player.
So it depends on what kind of a personality you are. I like to give my coaches — some people think I control everything, I’m a control freak. That’s not at all the case. I like that actually the coach does have a lot of say, a lot of input. I never have arguments, have ever had arguments with my coaches, because I like them to criticize me. I need that, you know, to become a better player.
That’s why I think all my relationships with all my coaches have been great. I have been very fortunate having great coaches over the years. We’ll see if something is going to happen with Paul. I don’t know yet.
Q. A year ago you were at your first tournament with the twins, and now, looking back, how have they changed your lifestyle both when you’re on the tour and at home? One or two ways.
ROGER FEDERER: It’s always been kind of busy at home, but now it’s even more busy. I didn’t know that was possible. We got that going, so it’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot of work. But we love doing it on tour, honestly. We’re lucky we’re staying at great hotels, so everything makes it a bit easier.
But, sure, the traveling is getting a little bit harder now with the kids wanting to run around. But obviously, now coming over here, the kids were great on the flight, and that’s obviously a good sign for the future, too, knowing they can travel still a lot with me in the future.
And it’s nice, you know, knowing that there’s definitely something else, as well, than just tennis. I always knew that, because I had a very stable and great relationship with Mirka and we love spending time together. I knew tennis was just a part of, you know, sort of a short period of my life, you know.
But now with the kids it always has a great meaning and it’s wonderful. They’re doing great. I love spending a lot of time with them. Honestly it hasn’t kept me away from hitting the practice courts and going to all the tournaments. I thought they might actually — not pull me away but maybe just make me play maybe less tournaments, or maybe I will have to always practice in the morning and stuff, you know, but it hasn’t happened. I’ve been able to follow my normal routines, and as a team and with Mirka, we’ve decided family and tennis come first, and we’re able to juggle it because we have great help and it’s been possible. So I’m very happy.
End of FastScripts
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