Roger Federer lost this afternoon to Novak Djokovic in a 5-set thriller in the US Open semifinals. Here’s what the five-time champion has to say after the match:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. If you can just describe how disappointing is this. You’ve played such great tennis in that fifth set. To have double match point and not to be able to convert, that’s not very common ground for you.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, this year it is. (Smiling.) I lost a couple more with match points this year, so they all pretty much feel the same, you know. They feel somewhat empty at the end because you have tried everything, and maybe it was luck. Maybe it was he played well. Maybe you didn’t pick the right shot; maybe he did, you know.
Can’t turn back time, but, look, obviously had to come up come up with a couple of good shots on match point, so I don’t feel I have that many regrets in that regard. Obviously you feel like you left something out if you lose the match having had match point.
Yeah, it wasn’t the final, so I’m not as disappointed it would have been the final. That’s the only positive news to enjoy anything out of it.
Q. Can you speak to your fitness today, how tired you were or not?
ROGER FEDERER: No, not really tired. Just, I guess, tense, you know, from the situation and from the crowd. It was, you know, electric. It was good tennis at the end, so that was the tougher part.
And the fitness, I mean, I don’t think it was the longest match, so I really didn’t have the longest rallies. So from a fitness standpoint, I came into this match perfectly ready, didn’t drop any sets, didn’t waste any time on the court. I felt good out there.
Q. As we got into the second week, could you feel the hopes of people around you looking forward to a Federer/Nadal final?
ROGER FEDERER: Around me, do you mean like my team?
Q. Just in New York, the atmosphere and the buzz around.
ROGER FEDERER: Um, I mean, not from my team, no. You go match by match, and you don’t want to look ahead. Just can’t do that with the caliber of players around you.
I had a tough draw with Soderling and Novak in my section. I knew I had my hands full with those kind of matches. Then the wind was being tough on us, so that was an equalizer and that made it really unpredictable.
Today conditions were fine, you know. The only tough part was when the shade came in and the sun was on the side.
Yeah, of course, the excitement ‑‑ I mean, I don’t read too much press once the tournament starts, but I can only try to imagine the excitement around the two of us maybe playing.
Q. Once you saw that Rafael had won, did you even have in your mind at all that you wanted to play him tomorrow? How much would you have been looking forward to that match? A lot of the fans obviously wanted that match.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, it happens all the time. Every other week when you make a final, you either see who’s won before you or you go ahead and try to make it there. It’s not something I’ve never had to deal with.
I would have loved to play against him here. I mean, I did my hard yards the last six years making it to the finals, and he was unfortunately never there.
That’s obviously disappointing. And now one point away from this happening, obviously it’s a bit of disappointment. But just being there and losing, that wouldn’t have been nice either.
Now we’ll never know how it would have gone, but if I would have made it to the finals I would have obviously wanted to win.
Q. Was there one aspect of your game that broke down today, or was there one moment where you thought, I do have this?
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, it was close in the fifth. Unfortunately the second and fourth just kind of snuck away from me, I guess. The 1‑All 40‑15 game for me was a tough one to take in the second set, because I thought momentum was completely on my side.
I tried to play aggressive, not to give him too much rhythm, and it all came back at me. I let him back in the match like that.
At the end, it’s not easy, you know. 3‑All, 4‑All, 5‑All in the fifth, anything can happen. That’s the good part, not the bad part, because it’s not purely in your control.
Sure, now looking back I missed a few too many forehands at the very end, but the match won’t be decided on winners only. You can also see mistakes, and he pushed me to make those. Credit to him.
Q. As somebody who’s made plenty of history yourself, what are your thoughts on the opportunity that Rafa has to make history with a few straight slams and creating the career Slam?
ROGER FEDERER: Fantastic. It’s great for tennis, and it’s great for him at the young age, you know, he is to have that opportunity already.
I don’t know when I had my first opportunity in Paris, how old I was, but my guess would be that he’s younger, you know. It doesn’t really matter if he’s younger or not. It’s a matter of can he make it, and chances are good now, especially that Novak is so tired and Rafa has been playing so well.
But it’s exciting for tennis that we’re doing something very special in tennis at the same time. Yeah, I won’t watch, but I hope he wins. (Laughter.)
Q. Why won’t you watch?
ROGER FEDERER: Look, I’ve been around tennis for weeks and weeks and weeks right now. Last thing I want to do is watch another tennis match where I’m not a part of. I will spend some time with my kids and take it easy, maybe go shopping.
I don’t know if shops are open here in New York Sundays, but I’m sure something is open. We’ll see.
Q. You began by saying that maybe it was luck, maybe it wasn’t. Could you go into that a little bit more and amplify that, what you meant by that?
ROGER FEDERER: I can’t, no. I can’t. I think I explained it.
Q. Could you talk a little bit more about your forehand?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I don’t blame it on my forehand. I played a good first match point point. Second one I tried to be more safe on it, because you never know if you’re gonna get another one; I didn’t.
Played a good forehand under pressure. It’s not easy to hit a winner. So that’s the way it goes.
Q. You played a pretty epic game at 4‑5 to hold. Sometimes when you lose a match like that it seems like you lost your opportunity. Do you feel like he rose to the occasion and snatched the victory from you?
ROGER FEDERER: Don’t know. It’s really hard to explain. I wish I could say he only hit winners to get back and whatever and I played my very best tennis, but it wasn’t the case.
It was just a case of a tough situation to be in for both of us, and someone has to win. It’s just the way it is. There’s no draws in our sport. Obviously I like to see a match like this being two winners, but one guy had to win. It won’t be written that way, unfortunately.
It’s a tough loss for me, but it’s only going to fuel me with more motivation to practice hard and get back to Grand Slam finals, which I haven’t been in for the last three slams. I feel like I’m playing well, and I would have deserved to be in the finals tomorrow.
Novak has the shot, and I wish him the best.
Q. Was your backhand any kind of issue today? Did it bother you at all?
ROGER FEDERER: No. No problems.
Q. Secondly, on Novak, you’ve handled him well here before. Was he a different player in some ways today? Everybody in the crowd wanted him to go down because of the prospect of you and Rafa, and yet he held up under great pressure.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I was the favorite, so there was not that much pressure on him. But he played well under the circumstances, playing the semifinals of a slam.
Honestly, I think he played already well against me the last three times we played here in New York. So it was not like the guy can’t play under pressure. He’s proven his point, and time and time again. I knew he was gonna be a really tough opponent. The guys who overlooked him don’t know anything about tennis, unfortunately.
Look, he played a good match. I kind of felt like the racquet was in my control, and I just let those couple of sets slip away too quickly instead of maybe making him work extra hard.
But, again, I did have match point, and I was, you know, a couple of points away, like I was ‑‑ a couple of points away from victory last year at the Open. So it’s two tough losses in two years.
But anyhow, I feel like I played good tennis. That’s positive, at least.
Q. How much of a shot do you think he has given…
ROGER FEDERER: I’m sorry? I didn’t hear.
Q. You said Novak had a shot tomorrow. How much of a shot do you think he has given the Super‑Saturday, since you’ve been through this a lot, and the fatigue factor?
ROGER FEDERER: Ask him how he feels. Yeah, I mean, it’s tough. We played second, so that’s not an advantage.
I’m not gonna start saying bad things, but it’s a tough setup, Saturday and Sunday finals, you know.
Yeah, we will see how he feels coming out tomorrow. It’s a big question mark.
Q. You lost with match points with Berdych and with Baghdatis this year. I remember you had two match points with Nadal in Rome; match points with Gasquet Monte‑Carlo. Even a champion like you has some sort of different attitude when you have to play match point? You play differently than in other situations? I mean, do you feel some more pressure than normal, or not?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, if you’re not serving, you’re, I guess, somewhat gonna play safe on it, you know, and not just donate an error, because you don’t know if you’re gonna get another match point.
When you’re serving you’re playing aggressive. So I guess in many matches I didn’t have match points, you know, in those matches. But it’s tough, you know. Don’t know what else I need to tell you.
It’s not a fun thing losing with match point, that’s for sure.
Q. Did you have an opportunity to speak with your team, coach, wife? Maybe they find some right words for you?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t need the right words. I’m old enough. I didn’t speak to them much, no. I went to do doping and here I am.
So, look, everybody’s a bit disappointed, but after the shower I feel okay. It’s all good.
Q. The guy’s been on top of the mountain for years, and then the guy who’s coming up challenging and winning and so forth, what is the emotional ride of that?
ROGER FEDERER: Um, it’s normal, because you can’t go through 10‑, 15‑year career thinking you’ll always be at the very top. I think I did incredible work staying so long in the top 2 in the world.
I never would have guessed in ’04 when I got to No. 1 for the first time that it was going to carry me for so long and that I was always going to be part of quarters, semis, finals of slams, and get a shot over and over again.
I struggled to get into my first Grand Slam final back in 2003; whereas everybody predicted I was gonna win many and get to No. 1. It’s just not as easy as it seems. You can see with other players who are trying it. There’s many tough guys out there, and it’s gotten very physical, very mental.
But I think I’m doing really well under the circumstances with as many challengers. I got a few guys back who were able to beat me, and many times when I lose I feel like it’s on my racquet. That’s a good thing, you know.
I wouldn’t want to feel the way that I couldn’t compete with the new generation, but I can. It’s not a problem for me.
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