Roger Federer on Stolen Towels: “My Friends All Want Them” [Interview]
Some more hilarity ensued during the post-match on court interview involving Roger Federer and Jim Courier. As televised on ESPN2, Courier asked Federer how many tournament towels the Swiss stuffs in his bags after each match. An embarrassed Federer replied, “Four”.
Of far greater importance than towel-gate, Federer creamed his countryman Stanislas Wawrinka 61, 63, 63 tonight to advance to his eighth straight Australian Open semifinal. Federer will play either Novak Djokovic or Tomas Berdych Thursday night.
Here’s more of what Federer had to say in his post-match presser.
Q. A very impressive win today. What did you like about it?
ROGER FEDERER: That it was a win (smiling).
No, uhm, I think it was a good match for me really. I started off well. Was able to serve and return really well. Really serve, which I didn’t expect myself to do, because last time I played him he was really able to get the free points he was also getting in the match against Monfils and against Roddick.
I expected him during today to even serve bigger, because the ball travels faster through the air. For some reason I was able to return him well. On my own service games I was really good, too. I think that really set the tone for a good match for me.
Q. Did his performance disappoint you a little bit as a fellow Swiss?
ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, no. Look, I mean, I play Stan obviously very different to what Roddick or Monfils or what other players might do against him. Clearly it’s not an easy match for him also. I’ve been in so many quarterfinals, in this situation so many times before, that I have the experience and I have the game to, you know, be tricky for him.
Then once obviously when the first set goes quick, maybe, you know, he’s a bit under pressure there. He actually played a good second set. He had the first chance to make the break. Then he doesn’t make it. The next thing you know, I get it. It’s two sets to love.
It wasn’t an easy match for him. The scoreline suggests maybe it was easier than it looked like. I thought it was a pretty tough match. He really got into the match, especially in the second set. But I was able to mix it up well and just keep him on his toes.
Q. Can you talk specifically about what you and Paul have been working on the last six months.
ROGER FEDERER: We didn’t have that much time, to be quite honest. I was playing a lot of tournaments. I guess it was more talking about tactics, how to play in the matches. More also getting to know each other.
Maybe down the road here we’ll have more time to work in the off season. Honestly, I haven’t really had an off season, to be quite honest. So it was more just getting to know each other a bit more.
Q. The results have been very good since you started working with him.
ROGER FEDERER: That’s true. There was also obviously a surface change. I think I was really able to work really well with Severin and Paul in Switzerland after Wimbledon, which was I think really important for me. I felt good. Didn’t have any back pain. All those things were a thing of the past.
Finally I had a good buildup again. I think that one really carried me through in a big way for quite a few weeks and months. And then the confidence came back. Then it’s obviously no surprise that I do play well. But I’m happy that since Paul has been in the team, my success level’s gone up again.
Q. Just a question about you and Rafa. Can you remember your first impressions of him? How do you think your relationship has developed over the years? You have this friendship and strong respect, which is quite unusual for great rivals.
ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, first time I remember him I guess was when I saw him play I don’t know. I don’t quite remember what tournament it was, but obviously the first time I played against him in Miami. You know, I knew he was very good already, and then I lost also the first time we played against each other. I think I must have been world No. 1, too.
So a teenager who can beat any world No. 1 obviously I knew is going to become a future champion really. Even though it’s just one match, there’s still so much work he has to do, which clearly he did.
So I think he’s always been quite respectful. Obviously he’s younger than me, maybe looked up to me at the very beginning. So I think he was always very respectful. I’ve always been the same to any opponent really.
So I think, uhm, from the start it was just mutual respect. Didn’t speak much at the very beginning, was shy. As time went by, we had to spend more time together, and we played more against each other. We started to I don’t want to say hang out more together but we saw each other more and started to speak more together.
It was always friendly and it was always very nice. So from this standpoint, we never really had any issues together.
Q. Do you talk about tennis with him?
ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, depending on the subject. We talk about many things. But tennis probably being one of them at times, yeah (smiling).
Q. Assuming that you agree that you’ve gotten more aggressive, what went into the thinking that you thought that was necessary in your game plan?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I think I was always aggressive. People make it sound like I was just pushing the ball into play. I don’t think that’s how anybody ever saw me play. I think just at crucial times it haunted me to play a bit passive instead of trying to take it to the opponent a bit more.
You know, with success sometimes you get a bit comfortable. Because it’s working, why change it? Sure, I was always trying to look for new ways. But there’s times, you know, it didn’t work against a few players. I ran into a few players at the wrong times maybe. It just stuck in my game plan. Instead of changing it, I got a bit unlucky at times, too. Who knows.
But I prefer to play aggressive. I don’t overdo it either, because that’s not the point, just storming to the net, hit clean winners on every shot. It’s about building up the right plays and, you know, having the right game plan. That’s what I seem like I’m having.
Obviously with the many wins I’ve had in the last sort of four or five months, it’s been much easier to play again, as well.
Q. How special would it be for the game if you and Rafa got through to Sunday?
ROGER FEDERER: I’m not sure really. I don’t know who really expects it. There is attention on any player right at this stage really. I think many players are playing extremely well, like I mentioned the other day.
Uhm, obviously, you know, it’s normal to follow Rafa in a big way because he’s going for something particularly very special. My focus is not playing him in the finals quite yet.
I mean, he still has to win a few matches against really tough players ahead of him. I got my hands full with either Djokovic or Berdych. I’m not quite there yet.
Q. Can you reflect back on the two losses to Djokovic, both here three years ago and the US Open. Obviously you have a great record against him. Those are arguably the two biggest wins of his life.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, the US Open was a close match. I think I had two match points. I’m not sure how many I had. Maybe three. I guess I should have won really. I mean, I was playing good enough to win.
But I was a bit confused mentally maybe, you know, because we played the second session, it was a back to back with the was Super Saturday, which I’m not a huge fan of.
Maybe I just felt like I have to get out of this match as quick as I could to save energy to play Rafa the next day. I think it ended up hurting me losing the match at the end.
It was unfortunate. Novak and myself both played a good match. In the end, it was a shot here and there. He whacked those forehands in the corners the way he had to to get around, turn the match around.
Here was the year I had mono really. If I look back, I think Novak played another good match. He was very confident. He played a great tournament, which he also ended up winning. Both times he beat me, he played really well.
It’s not the only two times he beat me. He’s a quality player who plays really offensive, he takes it to the opponent. I enjoy playing against him because of the shot making we are able to create really.
Q. Just a question about all your languages. Do you ever wish or regret that you speak so many languages, you have to spend so much time? Compared to Tiger Woods or Beckham or those guys, you give a lot more to the media. Why do you do that?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I don’t know what they do. I know what I have to do in the tennis world. It’s become a lot. I wish it was less sometimes. Sometimes I wish I never told anybody I learned French or something like that (laughter).
I’m happy to speak it. It’s a language we speak in Switzerland. I’m proud to have learned that language. At least I can communicate and have friends as well from that part of the world.
English, I grew up speaking English, and obviously Swiss German. German we read and write. So for me it’s been nice being able to have so many friends around the world really.
That it comes at a cost, sure. But I don’t mind it. I try to have fun with it. I have almost I don’t want to say characters but I have different humor in all the different languages, which is kind of fun for me, too. Getting to know myself through different languages is actually quite interesting for me.
I really enjoy it, even though it sometimes takes a bit more time out of the day. It’s not every day I have to face the music like this, so it’s not so bad.
Q. Many players are saying that the atmosphere in the tour is relaxed and friendly. It was never like this. They say this is your merit and Rafa’s merit, not just because of players, but as a person. Are you aware of this and proud of achieving this?
ROGER FEDERER: I guess when I also came on tour, I felt it was pretty friendly, especially also Agassi towards the end of his career. I only know that part really. He was always very friendly.
Pete was maybe not speaking as much, but he was friendly, too. You obviously had Moya, Henman, so many other guys who stuck around for such a long time who really were very welcoming for the young guys as well to be on tour.
I always thought it was actually quite nice to be nice to younger generations coming in instead of making them feel like this is going to be hell for you.
I just think it’s nice to respect each other and be friendly to each other. I’m sure it rubbed off on Rafa. I think when they see the two of us being the biggest rivals in the sport actually to speak to each other and be somewhat friendly, I think that rubs off to other players as well, actually thinking, you know, tennis is a fierce sport, a tough sport, but at the end of the day it’s only a sport. There’s so much more to life. I think maybe that’s a little bit what I’ve been able to show many other athletes.
But then again, once you’re out on court you play tough and fair. That’s how I do it anyway out on center court.
Q. What do you do with all your free towels that you get?
ROGER FEDERER: Give them away ’cause my friends all want them. I might take one, if that (smiling).
Q. You were talking the other day about the single handed and double handed. Would you be surprised to know that you haven’t lost to a single handed backhand player for seven years in a Grand Slams?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, in Grand Slams, okay. Not every tournament is a Grand Slam.
Q. Do you know any idea as to why that might be?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I don’t know. I wish there was more better ones around. Even though there’s very good ones around already, I wish there were more. I think they’re nice to watch. It’s fluent movement.
Like Stan’s backhand is wonderful, too. I just think it brings a bit of a different dynamic, too, to the points that are being played because naturally you do slice and, you know, spin the ball a bit more or you have to move differently to the ball having a one hander.
Yeah, we’ll see what happens. Maybe it goes in phases again. Maybe in the next 10 years we’ll see many more again.
But, sure, I’m happy the record in slams is that way. But I don’t know if there’s one handers around anymore. Maybe not. So I’ll survive one more tournament. We’ll see. Who cares.
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