With just two days before the start of the Australian Open, Roger Federer met the press today in Melbourne.
The four-time winner discusses his confidence (very high), Rafa’s sickness (Rafa got it from his trainer?), the flooding in Queensland, the Rafa Slam and more.
Here’s the transcript:
Q. Your performance in Qatar you described as near flawless. You’ve been here for a few days. How would you describe your preparation to this point?
ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, well it’s been good. I’ve been trying to relax from a busy end of the year, also busy start to the year with the XOs with Rafa, going to Abu Dhabi, more XOs there, then playing Qatar. I didn’t obviously want to overplay.
I practiced well, good quality. I’m feeling well. It’s been all under the roof, so I’m looking forward to playing outdoors hopefully this afternoon.
Q. Has that been a little disconcerting: you haven’t been able to enjoy the conditions you’ll be able to enjoy during the tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t think so. I think it would be really difficult if the first day it would be 40 degrees, let’s say. That would be somewhat of a shock for the body, just getting used to. But I’m not worried about that. I don’t think it’s going to be 40 degrees either.
Look, it’s been humid. At least been sweating a lot while we were practicing also indoors. I’m feeling good. The point is starting the tournament rested. If I’m hitting the ball well, you know, things look good. But then again, I need to really play well obviously to get through.
Q. Do you set a certain goal for the first Grand Slam of the year for your entire calendar year, how many Grand Slams you’d like to win?
ROGER FEDERER: Not necessarily. I mean, I try to see this period here just trying to defend my Australian Open title, trying to play really well. Last couple of weeks was just trying to stay injury free really, being fresh, ready and motivated and ready to play, because I played so much down the stretch at the end of last year.
After the Australian Open, I’ll have some good time off, actually more time off than I had after London. This is where I think I’ll really start thinking about the rest of the season. So in essence my focus is purely on the Australian Open right now, and then I’ll go for the rest after that.
Q. Obviously all Grand Slams mean a lot to players. Melbourne has good memories for you, but it sets you up for the rest of the year, doesn’t it?
ROGER FEDERER: Clearly. It’s a big gap, if you speak in terms of Grand Slams, between the Australian Open and the French Open. It’s obviously nice when you play so well here because it kind of slows down after that, Indian Wells and Miami being two tournaments, but only played over a one month period. If you don’t play well there, like me last year, it just gets a bit slow, people start talking faster than they should. Thank God last year I won the Australian Open, but still they were talking.
That’s why the Australian Open is really important, depending obviously on how your schedule all works out. I tend not to overplay usually. So we’ll see how it goes.
Look, the Australian Open is huge in terms of many reasons: I’ve had coaches from here, I used to come vacation in here back in ’95 or ’94. I always had great times here. Never had a bad tournament here in Australia. Loved my first time here as a junior back in ’98. Obviously the great memories from being here and playing some epic matches also, let’s say, in Davis Cup with Lleyton, the finals here with Rafa, or the semis with Safin that I lost here. I’ve had some amazing matches here. This is also where I got to world No. 1 in 2004. It’s been an amazing tournament for me really.
Q. You mentioned Rafa. He has been struggling a bit of late. Do you read much into that? Do you think he’ll be good come Monday?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, look, I don’t know. I was not with him the whole time. I saw him a lot through Zurich, Madrid, the matches we played in our foundations, then Abu Dhabi. He was fine. I saw his physio was sick from Abu Dhabi. That’s never good, a guy that’s working on you is sick. That it caught him was no surprise. I was sick, too, before and after Christmas. Look, I think something going around a bit.
But he’s been practicing again. I’m sure he’ll be ready.
Q. Despite your record here, pretty impeccable, for us to think if you don’t win the Grand Slam, it would be the first time you wouldn’t hold a Grand Slam title since 2003. Hard for us to believe. How does that sit with you?
ROGER FEDERER: It is what it is. It’s not easy to win slams. That means I’ve done something quite extraordinary for many seasons. The season’s not over after that. Maybe you’re not holding a slam, but you still have three more chances to win a Grand Slam.
At the end of the day it’s not only about Grand Slams, like what people make it out. We all know that these tournaments are massive and this is where normally the top guys are being measured. The World Tour Finals is equally important; other tournaments are very important. I don’t just purely gear up for the slams, you know. It’s not how I work, otherwise I wouldn’t play Qatar, Stockholm, Basel, Halle, you name it, I would be saving myself all over the place, but I’m not.
I play a full schedule from January to November. I’ve done that for 12 years. I will keep on doing that, listening to my body, trying to be smart about what I need to do to play well when I really want to play well. That doesn’t always mean always just majors, but obviously it’s a big part of our game, and that’s why I feel my game is exactly where I want it to be before the Australian Open. That’s all I can really ask for.
We’ll see how it goes. I’d love to win. If I don’t win, look, someone else was better, and that’s okay.
Q. Given that situation, there’s an intriguing debate as to whether four in a row at any stage of a player’s career constitutes a real Grand Slam. What is your verdict on that? Do you perceive four in a row at any stage across the calendar is a Grand Slam?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I don’t know. I haven’t heard the debate, to be honest. For me it’s the one during the year. Then the other one, if Rafa were to do it, doesn’t matter if it’s Rafa or someone else, it’s amazing in itself as well. It’s just a different order.
But shouldn’t take much away from it. It’s very close, but it’s not the calendar Grand Slam. But it doesn’t matter. I mean, if anybody complains at that stage that you have four in a row, in which order it is…
Obviously, the classic one is the one that Rod Laver did twice. That will always be that way. That’s why it’s a very exciting Australian Open, to see if Rafa can do it. He sure has all the opportunities, having won three Grand Slams in a row on three different surfaces. Quite spectacular. So I’m excited to see how he goes.
Q. The big relief matches tomorrow, there’s been a lot happening in Australia, in Queensland. Why did you put your hand up? Must be quite distressing seeing what’s happening up north.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I was in Qatar and was seeing the news. When I saw it hit the city of Rockhampton, I right away thought of Rod Laver, you know. I tried to reach out to him and see if he wanted to do anything, if he needed my help. Obviously very excited, but said probably can’t come down to Australia this year, which is unfortunate, but was very happy if I do something. Didn’t really know then how big the devastation was going to be.
Once I came down to Australia, I spoke to him. I told him, Look, I’m really trying to get something going like we had here going last year, but this time we have more than 24 hour notice, so I think we’ll be able to generate more money, especially in a country where we’re playing right at the moment. I think it’s very appropriate and a must for us to do something as a tennis family really.
I’m really happy we’ve been able to do it again. I mean, I always knew it was going to be possible. The question was, did all the people want to do it, as well. Here it is. I’m really excited that it’s happening tomorrow, will be able to really raise a significant amount, which is going to be fantastic to help all those people who lost so much.
Q. With the attention on Rafa, whether he could get the Rafa Slam, whatever you want to call it, the focus has been on yourself, the records you’ve been setting. When you see the attention on Rafa now, does that set the desire to be the man on top again?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I don’t read much press, so I don’t know where the attention’s at right now. I hope it’s on him. He deserves it. He’s world No. 1. He’s going for four in a row. I always knew that is going to be big news, like it is big news that I’m the defending champion, that it’s big news to follow Sam Stosur, see Del Potro coming back. I know what makes headlines. I don’t necessarily need to go read it.
I am excited when we’re talking about tennis in the media in any shape or form, as long as it’s positive hopefully. That’s important.
But, look, I think it’s unbelievable what Rafa’s been able to do. That in some ways makes him the favorite for this tournament. I mean, he’s been playing incredible, an incredible run through the French, sort of the clay, French, Wimbledon, US Open. It was incredible to see. Then obviously it’s hard to maintain. But he’s going to be for sure ready for this. I’ll follow it very closely. If I get a chance, I hope I can stop him, obviously.
Q. Do you feel he should be favorite or you should be favorite, in your own mind?
ROGER FEDERER: No, he should be favorite. He’s holding the three slams. I hold this one still, but just, so… Of course, I won the World Tour Finals, I’ve been playing really well on the hard courts right now. But he’s been the one dominating the slams. Had hardly any tough matches in the last three slams. That makes him the favorite.
I don’t have any problems not being the favorite really.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
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