Tennis legend Roger Federer met the French Open press Friday in Paris. The former 2009 champion reflected on his love for the event, his back issues and the pressure that Novak Djokovic will face in completing his “Djoker Slam”.
Federer won the Madrid title over Tomas Berdych then lost last week in the Rome semifinals to Novak Djokovic. He’ll play German Tobias Kamke in the first round.
Here’s his full presser:
Q. You won Roland Garros 2009 and made final two other times losing to Nadal. Again you are a great favorite for a title. What would this title represent for you in your career, and what the tournament has to be special and unique for you?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I’ve really loved this tournament for the last years now. I struggled early on a bit because I had up and down results. It was a tough tournament for me from the start, whereas Wimbledon and New York in particular all felt very comfortable from the start.
So this is, though, the place where I got my first wildcard into a Grand Slam back in ’99. I lost to Pat Rafter on Suzanne Lenglen, so I have great memories from back in the day, too.
Obviously 2009 was very, very special winning here. Just the emotions were, you know, ridiculous, and I got amazing crowd support. Same again basically last year, which was so nice to see.
Winning ParisBercy, even though it’s not that much to do with Roland Garros, it was also very, very special for those that were there. It was a similar atmosphere over there than what I had at Roland Garros, so I figure I have, you know, lived some special moments here in this town and in this place.
I’m looking forward to it again this year. It would mean a lot to me, because I have had some of those great emotions I was just telling you about. To relive those would be amazing winning the title here, no doubt.
Q. They say bestoffive matches are to the advantage of very good players because it gives them more time.
ROGER FEDERER: I agree.
Q. How do you feel physically before the start of this tournament, and what were your feelings on the center court?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, court is amazing here. It’s always in great shape. Groundsmen do a good job and we benefit from that. Of course there are some bad bounces. That’s clay court, and that’s what we like about it. It slides perfectly, so it’s a nice court to play on.
I have played on Chatrier and Lenglen the last few days. Everything feels normal. Obviously it’s a change of ball again from previous years and from the previous weeks, which makes it just a bit more complicated.
We have tried to solve the issue and have the same ball for the entire clay court season, but the French Open decided to change the balls again once we changed the balls in Rome and Madrid.
So that was tricky, but physically I’m fine. I feel really good. Much less problems than I had through Madrid and Rome. I took three days off after the Djokovic match from Rome and just came here and relaxed and started practicing Wednesday.
So I feel right there where I want to be a few days before the event.
Q. You’ve come close to winning four consecutive Grand Slam titles, an accomplishment that Djokovic now has a chance to do if he can win here. How significant in the history of tennis and maybe all sports would an accomplishment like that be? What do you consider the toughest part to try and do that?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, it’s an amazing achievement in itself to win three in a row. Four in a row is just another amazing step. I think the toughest part is the very end, the back end of it I think. I’ve been there twice I think. I was twice in the finals, twice a couple sets away.
Okay, I mean, I was playing Rafa here, which doesn’t make it a whole lot easier. But, you know, it’s easier to maybe start with the French in this era and then finishing it on the hard court.
But it’s amazing for tennis right now that we have Novak in this situation again where we had Rafa at the Australian Open last year, I think it was, and before that I had the chance a few times.
So I think it’s great for the sport. It will be interesting to follow Novak going for that. But the hard part is, you know, I mean, same for everyone. Every point you play, every game you play, the pressure you face, and just answering the questions time and time again, you know.
It’s fun because you’re talking about the highest of accomplishments. But at the end of the day, you just like to play the matches and not talk about it that much.
Q. At one point last year you sounded like you were thinking of cutting back on your schedule, but you’ve actually increased it this year. When and why did you decide to do that?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I’ve always wanted to play more of the sort of indoor matches through in Europe in February. I’ve tried to play Rotterdam for numerous years now. This year was the time to do it. I felt like I could, you know, put it in my schedule.
Obviously I haven’t played Rotterdam that often in the past because I sort of had a residence in Dubai eventually, so that made sense for me travelingwise, family, all that stuff together.
So this year I said, Look, I’d like to play some more, because in the past it’s been tricky going through Indian Wells and Miami. If you don’t play from Australia to Indian Wells and you don’t play well at Indian Wells and Miami, you go through three months you don’t play tennis.
You’re being judged on that, which is not fair, first of all. Secondly, it’s not good for me coming into the clay court season. Then thirdly, I might pay the price at the French and Wimbledon all the way through to the US Open potentially.
So I just said I want to have enough matches, and I can always cut back. I left my schedule completely open.
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