Roger Federer Interview: “I Don’t Know if I Could Have Played Any Better” [Video]
Roger Federer closed his 2010 season in the very best possibly way defeating Rafael Nadal to win the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.
The title was Federer’s 5th WTF and 66th of his career. It was also his biggest win under new coach Paul Annacone. Federer swept through the field with a perfect 5-0 record in wins over all Top 5 players (except himself!).
Here’s what Federer said after the match and his ATP video interview.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Fifth time you’ve picked up this particular trophy. How satisfying is it at the end of this week to have come through in the circumstances you have?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, obviously it’s fantastic. I’m really thrilled the way I played all week. To win a fifth time is obviously amazing, for the third time in a different place. Like I told you, it would be great to win in Houston, Shanghai, and also now here in London.
Yeah, I’m just really happy the way I was able to finish the season in style, playing some of my best tennis, really saving the best for last. Really playing a lot of, lot of tennis at the end of the stretch here, trying to really get myself geared up and ready for this particular tournament. Then obviously beating Rafa in the finals makes it extra special because of the year he had.
Q. At the end of the second set when he came back at you, what were your emotions then? Did you feel it was going to be a tough, tight third set?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think the game I got broken, I hardly made any first serves, if any. I don’t want to say I gave it to him. But obviously Rafa is good enough off second serves he’s going to win at least 50% off them usually unless you’re on a roll and he doesn’t kind of figure out your second serve.
But at that point, he was into the match. He knew the importance of it. He was able to find a way to break me in that game. So I just really tried to focus harder on my first serves to make sure I make them. You know, just focus even more of doing the right things. Then I knew that I could come through.
It was interesting the way he played. But I stayed offensive. I knew in the long run that could be vital, which it was at the end, so I’m very happy.
Q. Three games into the final set, did you sense his energy level dropped a little bit, and did you go more on the offensive then?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really. I mean, I thought obviously the game I broke him at 4-1 all happened real quick. But I returned a few times real good. I was able to stay offensive. Rallies were never that long. I think that kind of maybe frustrated him.
Obviously, this is indoor tennis. This is the way I grew up playing. So maybe it played in my hands. But I always believed in a plan from start to finish. Like at the first match I came out and played against Ferrer, I think I always stayed true to how I wanted to play. It was the same thing today.
Even though I lost the second set, I’m really happy the way I stayed positive throughout the match today. I thought it was clearly a very high level. I don’t know if I could have played any better, so I’m really pleased.
Q. What do you think of the way you started the match, were playing really fast, not giving him any time, any rhythm? Was that part of your plan?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, obviously I tried to be aggressive. I hoped sometimes I was going to make less mistakes.
Look, as long as I wasn’t down in the score, there was no need to panic. I was serving real well, hitting my spots well, hitting my backhand well, which is obviously key against Rafa, because obviously with him being a left-hander, he finds my backhand a bit easier than other players.
I always knew it was going to be an interesting match. I think we obviously have a huge amount of respect for each other. I admire his game. I think he admires my game. That always makes up for a good fight.
Today was another great match, I thought, with some fantastic rallies. I know it doesn’t take anything away from his great season, because it was magnificent. For me, obviously this was a huge tournament. You know, winning the last one against top-10 players is extra special.
Q. How have you changed or have you changed the way you prepare tactically for the matches and the tournaments since Paul joined your team?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, first of all, I guess I had to regain some confidence. That only comes through winning matches. After having somewhat of a disappointing clay, Halle, Wimbledon stretch, where I wasn’t able to win any tournaments, maybe didn’t play some of my best tennis, played a bit passive, it was important, once the hard court season came around, that I was able to pick up my game, start moving better, start feeling well physically and mentally.
I’m sure Paul has helped in this regard. So has Severin. He’s helped, as well, over the last few years. That’s why I’m very happy with my team at this stage of the season. I can obviously thank them for great work. It’s through their hard work and my condition trainer, my physio, my wife and kids and everybody, it’s been wonderful traveling with them.
It’s been intense at times obviously, a lot of sacrifices. But, look, it seems like we made many right decisions towards the end of the season. My body was able to, you know, cope with a lot of playing I did. I played five tournaments in seven weeks now. So it’s been real intense. Obviously, I feel quite tired and exhausted at this point. But who cares in 20 years, you know. So very happy how I feel right now.
Q. Rafael Nadal was 11 months without winning a title. You had ups and downs last year. Many people thought it was an end of the domination of Nadal/Federer. This year you won all the four slams, you and Nadal. Is this going on now? Do you think the domination, Nadal/Federer, will go on also next year?
ROGER FEDERER: Who is ‘they’?
Q. Many, many, many journalists.
ROGER FEDERER: I’m not sure it’s that many. After all, sometimes you just stir up stuff and there’s nothing really there.
Look, obviously with Rafa having won three Grand Slams in a row, seems like not many people stopping him. And now that I’ve found back to my best form as well, when I’m on, that’s a hard thing to do, as well.
Look, Murray, Djokovic had another great year, maybe lacking some of the bigger titles. Murray won two against me in the finals, too. That is a positive sign next year for him. Then you have other guys like Berdych and Soderling that had another excellent season and were able to beat me a few times. I don’t know if they beat Rafa this year.
Look, I think tennis, the men’s game, is at an absolute high right now, with a lot of exciting games being played, with a lot of respect. Also I think having had me and Rafa both made the career Grand Slam already at a young age I think is great for the game.
We’re obviously playing not only for ourselves and beating the other guys, but also for history. I think there’s a lot at stake always in all our matches we play in the future. I think it’s wonderful.
Q. I want to know if the gap was bigger and smaller, between you two and the others?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know. I mean, possibly. I don’t know what the rankings are these days. I haven’t checked in a while.
Look, I have pressure in Australia. Don’t get me started (smiling).
Q. Some of your battles with Rafa were tough. Today you performed fantastic, especially the last set. What makes you give us such a good performance and how do you feel winning the championship?
ROGER FEDERER: It feels great. Look, I say I’m very happy to have won such a prestigious tournament. You ask all the top guys, we love this event. How do you say, the importance of it is obviously as important as any other tournament around the world. For me to come out and play and save my best tennis for last is an amazing feeling.
I played from start to finish fantastic tennis. Couldn’t be more happy right now. So I’m very, very pleased.
Q. I know money is not important, but you’ve won £1 million in eight days. Got your eye on anything particularly special?
ROGER FEDERER: I need holidays. Time is money these days. It’s nice to get money. Sure helps. But this is not why I’m here. Look, the memories I take away from this are much greater than all the money I won.
Q. After the magnificent form you showed today, do you have any plans how long you’re going to carry on playing or are you just going to do it as long as you can?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, as long as I can, as long as I’m healthy, eager, motivated, which I clearly am. I’ve played, I don’t know, 10 full seasons in my career really. Nine of them I made the World Tour finals. So I’ve had obviously always long and exhausting seasons. But I seem to, you know, enjoy it and take pleasure out of traveling the world, playing against the best, challenging myself in practice and so forth.
So it’s been an amazing career for myself. Yeah, at the moment I have no plans at all stopping, quitting, whatever you want to call it. Hope I can play for many more years to come. It’s a goal anyway. I think it’s possible.
Q. A question about the semifinal match with Novak. How would you compare this semifinal to the US Open semifinal? Was Novak really playing much better then or did you start playing better in Basel and here?
ROGER FEDERER: Possibly. Maybe I learned my mistakes in New York. But as I mentioned once before, I thought it was quite tricky mentally to prepare for that kind of a tough match knowing it was best-of-five sets and Rafa had an easy run through to the finals, that he was going to be completely fresh on Sunday. I didn’t know rain was going to come on Sunday. I didn’t plan with that. Maybe that’s why the second and fourth sets kind of were over in a hurry. That’s one thing that’s never going to happen to me again. You live and you learn.
I thought Novak played a great match. I could have won, should have won. I ended up losing because Novak played great. That’s the way I lost some matches this season. It’s been unfortunate at times. But I always believed that I still had a good season, which I did. I proved it again today, so I’m very happy.
Q. For some people you open a dictionary and your picture would be under the entry for gentleman.
ROGER FEDERER: Your call. I don’t know.
Q. In a certain way, do you think this tournament is also a message sent to people sometimes who question your form, your mental status, et cetera? As far as I’m concerned, you showed some flawless displays, saying 2011, watch it, I might be back?
ROGER FEDERER: Depends on how you see it, how negative you watch tennis. I think the fans I have, they believe in me regardless if I’m winning or losing. Obviously winning helps.
Look, I’ve had a good season. I don’t see how someone can say it’s been a bad season. I had some tough losses, sure. You’re not going to win every tournament you play. Obviously I can’t play every season, make 16 out of 17 finals like I did back in 2005. It’s just not realistic.
I’m happy I made another I think it’s been my ninth final this season. I’ve won five titles, won a slam. Everything was there. I think physically I was better than the last two seasons I’ve had. That obviously makes me be very positive for next year, that I believe I can have another great season in 2011, which is important to feel.
Q. On that point, how important was this title for you as you look ahead to defending the Australian Open in a couple of months?
ROGER FEDERER: Ask me after my first-round loss in Australia how important it was (smiling).
I don’t know. Look, the goal is obviously not to lose first round, but trying to win it again. I like the pressure of being defending champion. The memories for me back in Australia are very emotional, very nice. I love playing there.
I’m excited starting in Abu Dhabi and Qatar, gearing up for the new season. Looking forward to some rest and practice, too.
I’m sure I’m going to play well. That never guarantees success. But I’m sure that the confidence I took away from this tournament could help down the stretch. And beating fellow top-10 players could always have some mental play at some stage of the season. So there’s many positives to take out of this tournament.
Q. Most of us in December have to watch what we eat and drink because or waistlines get bigger. Do you have to watch what you do over the Christmas period? Can you indulge yourself a little bit, get crazy, have a couple nights out?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I can eat biscuits and everything, have fondue and everything, no problems, deserts 10 days in a row. I don’t know how it is with you. It’s a good thing to work out and to eat healthy. That’s what I do.
I never have to be too careful. I think when it gets dangerous is when you get injured and you can’t practice as much and all that stuff and you keep on eating the same amount, which you usually eat, because that’s what you kind of need to be able to perform well.
No, I eat very healthy to start off with. That helps to cause from not getting any bigger and heavier, even though heavier means stronger, but not all the time.
Q. A technical question.
ROGER FEDERER: I’m a technical guy. We’ll see (smiling).
Q. I would like to know what kind of string tension and weight of the racquet you were using in this tournament? You change given the surface and everything.
ROGER FEDERER: The weight has been pretty much the same for years. I have honestly forgotten the weight I have in my racquet. You should ask my guys there.
The string tension I do know, because that’s what I request on a particular match. But this week I played the same tension, which was about 22 kilos. I play half synthetic, half natural gut. I’ve been playing that since 2002. So I’ve had pretty much the same strings for quite some time now.
Federer’s official ATP Interview:
Here are the match highlights:
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