Roger Federer played some great tennis in a 75, 64 win over Novak Djokovic to place his spot in the Shanghai final tomorrow against Andy Murray.
Here’s his post-match press conference and ATP video interview in which Federer says taking four weeks off from tennis isn’t such a big deal.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You said at your first press conference earlier this week that it was too soon to judge your season because you still had a lot of tennis to play. Do you feel having a few weeks off has given you a fresher perspective going forward?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, yeah, clearly. I mean, obviously victories always help the cause of showing that you’re doing the right schedule ’cause it makes a huge difference if you come here and then lose first round. Then you’ll have completely different conversations for the next week or so because tennis is very brutal in the judgment, you know. People never believe that you play a good match when you lose. It’s just the way it is. It always is apparently your mistake when you lose and never quite the opponent’s good play.
So I think today was a good match. I don’t think Novak should, for instance, walk away from this match and say this was a terrible match. Maybe he did, I don’t know. Sometimes you have a tendency to overreact.
Look, I think I’m playing really well. I’ve had a great buildup. Here I’m playing well right off the bat. Then again, like I said, the season is still long. After this, I have four more tournaments to play. I’ll take straight sets any day and I’m happy the way I’m hitting the ball.
Q. Yesterday you were succinct in how you said you would modify your match to face Novak with certain specifics, and you pushed it onto him today. When you face Andy, is that a completely different situation?
ROGER FEDERER: In terms of?
Q. Just in terms of your approach, how you modify it.
ROGER FEDERER: Yes. I mean, I guess against the best players you have to stay aggressive. My game anyway is not to let the other guy make mistakes. That’s not how I play.
They are very different players in terms of their defending. Novak stays on the offensive when he defends, whereas Andy has much more let’s say feel or he plays with his slice. He finds a way into the point very different than how the way Novak does it. That creates a different type of an attacking plan for me the way I need to play.
But the rough game plan needs to be the same. Needs to be offensive, take it to your opponent and play well because these guys don’t give you easy victories anymore. I think back in the day when I was coming up against the best players, you could still sometimes sneak away with good offensive play. Because today everybody plays from the baseline, you have to beat everybody. Nobody’s just going to hand it to you. That’s the difference today. That’s why I guess it’s hard for youngsters to break through.
Q. Andy was saying there are distinct similarities between the court and the pace of the surface to that at Toronto, where he beat you. Would you go along with that?
ROGER FEDERER: Very much so, yeah. I mean, the speed to me seems the same, maybe even a touch slower I have to almost say because of the heat. The heat is not as much here as it was in Toronto, which then makes obviously the ball travel faster through the air, maybe gives it a bit more bounce. We played during the daytime there. I think tomorrow is 4:30. Sun is setting. Won’t be the heat we had over there. We had sort of a hot and muggy finals I remember.
Yeah, so conditions are pretty much the same, which is going to make it for a very tough and physical match really.
Q. Has anybody told you have a talent in languages?
ROGER FEDERER: I try hard.
Q. How long did you learn the sentences?
ROGER FEDERER: One hour. Then I had to repeat them many, many times.
Q. Maybe you can think of doing your speech tomorrow in Chinese.
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t think we’re that far yet. I need to come back for that many more times.
Q. You served and volleyed a lot during the first set. You had a lot of long rallies. Was that something intentional that you did?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t remember serve and volleying much, to be honest. He’s one of the best return players in the game. He’s dangerous. If he catches the ball in the proper place on his racquet, it comes back like a bullet.
You have to be smart and selective on how you play, how you serve and volley. It’s pretty much the same against Andy.
I think first set could have gone either way today. It was really an open battle. I got the better of him at the end of the first set. I think for 10 minutes he was a bit out of it and I was able to take advantage of that. I think that cost him the match looking back because, of course, he was playing a bit more relaxed at one point which made him somewhat more dangerous.
But I was able to serve it out because I’ve been in that position so, so many times in the course of my career, I don’t get too rattled through those kind of things or his play.
I’m happy the way I was able to finish it off. It was a good match overall for myself.
Q. You defeated the world No. 2. Now you’re the world No. 2. How do you feel about it?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, 2, 3, 4, as long as I’m in the top four, it doesn’t matter. I’d rather be 1 than 2 and rather be 2 than 3. This doesn’t have much of an impact. This isn’t why I’m here in Shanghai, to get back to No. 2 in the world. That’s a nice bonus. But the focus is trying to win the finals tomorrow. Obviously if I want to get back to world No. 1 at some stage, I need to win tournaments and get deep into tournaments. That’s why I need to beat the best to get there.
Q. You cooperated with Paul for several months. In your opinion, what is the biggest weapon Paul brings to you?
ROGER FEDERER: Thank God I had a few before he came in. Look, it’s been fun working with him. Still ongoing process. We’re looking at different ways the way I can play, more offensive, more defensive, using my strengths to my best possible abilities, obviously tactical, making the right decisions.
Things have been going well. Severin is not out of the picture. We have a good team. I like the way things are going for me right now.
Q. Back to Andy, the US Open. Did you see any of his match against Stan, which was by his standards one of the most disappointing performances in a very long time?
ROGER FEDERER: In terms of his level of play?
Q. Level of play, approach. Everything really.
ROGER FEDERER: I saw the end a little bit. Honestly, I didn’t see the whole four sets. I know looking back now he shouldn’t have lost the match because he served for the second set, didn’t he? But I think Stan served for the first set.
Q. Stan played very well.
ROGER FEDERER: I could have gone bad for Andy in the beginning. He was able to turn it around. Shouldn’t have lost the match. But ended up losing it.
Look, for a guy like Andy who is so good on the hard courts, played so well in Toronto, obviously disappointing. But I think he knows the talent Stan brings to the table as well. Tough match. That’s why I wasn’t happy to see Stan in my section in Paris. I think I had to play him in the fourth round over there. That was a tough match for me as well. I almost lost that second set in a breaker, too.
But, look, I don’t think Andy played really poorly. I just think Stan had a good day. It was one of those matches that could have gone either way and it didn’t go Andy’s way.
For me, I was obviously watching it with different glasses on. I was carrying the Swiss flag, supporting Stan. Every point Stan was winning, I was happy. I knew how much it meant to him, that victory.
Q. Have you spoken to him about it at all?
ROGER FEDERER: Not that much. I saw him the next day, hoping that he was physically fine. I was happy he had these breakthrough results. He had a good match against Rafa in Madrid, beaten me in Monaco. He’s had some close ones against Djokovic. For him to beat some of the good players, it’s important for a player to be able to move forward, on, learn from those incredible experiences, especially beating a top four guy in a slam in an atmosphere that it must have been, it was a great effort for Stan.
But after that we didn’t speak much about it, no.
Q. Also about the US Open semifinal against Novak, which aspect do you think you learned from that and made you win today against Novak?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, completely different conditions obviously. It was more windy back in New York. A different center court. Different game. Best of five. Longer tournament. Faster courts. Obviously, there’s a lot that’s different back then to here.
I think the biggest problem for me back in New York was obviously missing match points. But that goes without saying. I think I had too much of my mind focusing maybe already on the upcoming match I had to play the next day if I were to win. I think just mentally, it wasn’t just Rafa who won that match before us, I just think the short recovery time made it hard on both of us to focus on what we really had to do.
I think I maybe let a game here or there go a bit too quick and next thing you know, it’s the second or fourth set went by in a hurry. That at the end came back to haunt me. I think that was the biggest problem for me. Overall I still think it was a good match. I could have won, should have won. Obviously, that was the disappointing part. Who knows, maybe we’ll get to change the Saturday/Sunday format at the US Open. We’ll see.
And here’s a quip from Novak Djokovic on the match: “I don’t know. It was a very intensive first set and I didn’t use the chances that I had. When he got his first or second breakpoint, he used it and finished off the set 7 5. The start of the second set, I lost my focus a little bit, my energy dropped. Yeah, in a blink of the eye, I was two breaks down with 4 1. So it was very hard to get back from that situation. Yeah, I’m just disappointed a little bit because I think I’ve played quite well in the first set. He played some great shots when he needed to. So, you know, he deserved to win.”
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