Roger Federer spoke to the press today, touching on Hurricane Irene, his preparation, his memories of 9-11 and his thoughts on Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin Del Potro and Andy Murray.
Federer is scheduled to play Santiago Giraldo in the first round on Monday. Federer has won five US Opens.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How do you feel about this US Open regarding your form and your expectations?
ROGER FEDERER: I feel good, you know. I have had plenty of practice. I wanted to say plenty of rest. I have been resting a little bit, but I will rest tomorrow more. I had a good hit, no niggling injuries, and everything is under control. I went right back on the practice courts after my last match in Cincinnati. Conditions have been somewhat okay here in New York. Seems a bit slower, the surface, actually, I thought really when I was playing now. But I don’t want to say it’s a slight adjustment, because it’s not a crazy difference to previous years, but it is slower. That’s my opinion. So that has maybe an impact rather than who you play and how you play them. Other than that, my preparation has been good and I’m excited for the tournament to start. Clearly it’s always a great event to be a part of. Was a success here obviously. It’s nice to be back.
Q. How does turning age 30 affect your outlook and expectations?
ROGER FEDERER: None, really. I mean, hasn’t changed anything. I’m still as professional. I’m still as hungry. Everything’s still completely normal. You know, it’s just a number that’s changed, you know. So, no, I’m ready to go.
Q. What is it like for you trying to get prepared for the start of the Open and your first round matches and having Hurricane Irene bearing down on the city?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I kind of usually always take a break anyway shortly before the tournament. So, you know, I’m not anxious now having to hit tomorrow, but if my schedule would have been to hit, I don’t know, let’s say noon, it would have rained at noon, maybe then I wouldn’t have gone indoors at all, you know. Maybe I just go back and relax instead of trying to hustle around and trying to get an indoor hit. I’m not 18 anymore where that’s the kind of stuff you do then to show how badly you need it, how professional you are, you know. But at my age you kinda know what it takes, you know, to get ready, and you don’t panic. So, yeah, I won’t be playing tomorrow. It’s not an issue, you know. I’m not even going to try to. It wasn’t on the plan anyway to do so. But sure it’s somewhat scary, you know, because we don’t know how hard it’s gonna hit us. I’ve got family. We’re in New York City, you know, it’s not just a regular city. It’s quite something with all the buildings. So it’s unusual, but we’ll follow the news closely and we’ll try to stay as safe as we can so we get through it.
Q. Andre Agassi had a lot of success in 30s. He won Grand Slam titles. Do you inspire from him physically or mentally?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, well, I played him here in 2005. I think he was 35, I think, so I was like, wow, that was his 20th US Open I think in a row. I’ve got a ways to go. This is my 13th time here, 12th time maybe in the main draw, so it’s definitely an inspiration seeing guys being around for a long time like Ken Rosewall, Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, and then there are tons of other players who were there for a long time. I feel my game allows me to, you know, still play for many more years because I have a relaxing playing style. I have almost played a thousand matches on tour and that leaves its toll, but I’m very professional when it comes to massages, stretching, diet, sleep, all of that stuff. So I have always looked in the long term as well for a long time. I have never been chasing stuff around since, you know, I turned world No. 1 seven years ago. That’s why I’m confident I can still play for many more years to come at the highest of levels.
Q. Del Potro came back to the US Open. Do you think that he’s one of the favorite to win the title, like you, Rafa, Djokovic?
ROGER FEDERER: I think it would be unfair to put him into one of the favorites position for him. I think he’s playing well good enough to win for sure, otherwise he wouldn’t have won here in the past but maybe does he need a bit more tennis? Probably. I think as long as he’s feeling physically fine and gets deep into the tournament, once he gets into the quarters I definitely think he’s a threat to win the tournament. But to pick him first like that, it’s a tough one. I really think Novak, Rafa, myself, we’re all playing extremely well at the moment. I don’t know his draw. I haven’t checked it. I think for him it’s really important for him to get through sort of the first three, four rounds without being physically too beat. I played him last week and he was playing well, I thought. It was a good match and it was nice to see him back. I hope he does really well here.
Q. This tournament marks the 10th anniversary of the tragic attacks in 2001. The final, ironically, will be played on September 11, the men’s final. Can you recall where you were on September 11, 2001?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I do. I was at the National Tennis Center in Biel, Switzerland and working out in the gym. I heard something was going on. You know, I was one – I don’t know if I got a message on my phone or someone ran down and told me and I started to tell all my friends to turn on the TV and see this incredible news. That’s how I heard it, you know. But I was long gone from New York.
Q. What was your state of mind?
ROGER FEDERER: Because I think it was two days after, and I lost the first week, I think.
Q. What was your state of mind when you saw those images on TV?
ROGER FEDERER: It’s hard to understand and grasp it, really. I mean, I couldn’t believe what was happening, you know. I guess I didn’t quite understand it almost until I came back to America the next time, or when I came to New York the next time, that this is it was such a shock. Yeah, it was almost surreal that something like this was possible that someone would want to do that. So that was very heavy.
Q. Does it change your perspective on how you view the world today, especially now that you’re a father?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I think you’re never quite safe. Doesn’t matter what you do. There are so many car accidents around the world. That’s something you can control to some degree, right? But I guess what you try to do in life is try to be as safe as you can be without living in a golden cage, either. You have to go out there and live life, right? So then you have unfortunately things like this that don’t help the cause, you know, of getting more frightened and scared of going out and maybe travel and all those things. For us, it left a big impact, because as tennis players we don’t really have the choice not to travel, right? We are a part of, you know, the traveling circus with planes and so forth. We didn’t really like to see it, I think all of us. You guys need to travel too to come see us. It was tough, yeah.
Q. What are your thoughts about how Novak has achieved what he has this year and your general impressions of the year that he’s put together?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, impressive to say the least. He’s done amazing to have a run like that, especially after losing here in the finals last year. I think the rebound for him to come back and not to be disappointed about losing against Rafa in the finals of the US Open where he probably figured he had a good chance to win was a tough loss for him. But the rebound, it shows, you know, when you’re down like that and, you know, take the right decisions and, you know, come back strong and believe you can do it, he made an incredible run this year. It’s been wonderful to watch, even though I have probably seen just probably guessing 10 to 15 matches of all those 50 whatever matches he’s played. So for me it’s hard to say how well he’s really played. I have seen him play some matches and they were all really good, but I’m not courtside for every single match. The record speaks for itself. It’s been an amazing run, and he’s still playing really well and he’s definitely one of the favorites here, if not the favorite.
Q. Andy Murray coming into this tournament having won in Cincinnati. This is also his favorite Grand Slam. How would you assess Andy’s chances this time?
ROGER FEDERER: Very good. I would have said the same regardless of Cincinnati. So for me, I’m sorry I don’t look at I don’t go day by day or week by week, you know. You have to look at more of the big picture. He’s had a good season. He’s played an amazing Australian. Unfortunately he ran into Novak, who was just playing incredible tennis, in the finals, I felt. Meeting Novak in the semis, which I thought was a very close match. Could have gone either way in some ways. So I knew how tough Novak was playing and expected Novak to win that, even though I thought Murray was playing equally good, I thought, throughout the tournament. Just got maybe a bit down on himself. You know, like when I mentioned before about Novak taking the right decisions after losing in the finals, maybe Andy didn’t quite do that after Australia. But he rebounded strong on the clay season, played well I think on the grass, and then for me was normal that he was going to be in form coming into the US Open. So to me he’s also definitely one of the big favorites, yeah.
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