With a quick 64, 64, 64 win over Milos Raonic, Roger Federer advanced to his 9th career Wimbledon final. The 32-year-old will try to become the oldest player to win the Wimbledon men’s title in the Open Era.
Last season proved difficult for the Swiss, but this year Federer’s turned it around as he thought he would.
After the victory Federer met with the press to discuss the win and the big match against Novak Djokovic.
Q. How important was that break in the first game.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it’s big in the moment itself because you just don’t know how many chances you’re going to get. I think he was in the lead maybe, 15-Love, 30-15. I didn’t see it coming necessarily, but I grabbed it and then ran with it.
Because clearly I’m also looking for rhythm on my own serve, so holding for the next couple service games was important for me to stay ahead and somehow get the first set under the belt, which I did, because I don’t think we both necessarily played great in that first set.
So it was good for me to get it that way. I just felt like I created some good opportunities when I was in his service games. Yeah, clearly looking back it’s always going to be big, any break you do, you make against Milos.
Q. You chose not to serve at the toss?
ROGER FEDERER: Why did I do that? Yeah, I think wind was coming from that end, so I felt like I’d rather start from that end even though then your first service game is always going to be against the wind.
That’s why I said my first service game was important against the wind to hold. It wasn’t like blowing like crazy, but sometimes that can make a minor difference, you know.
Q. You returned to the Wimbledon final again. I think this is a positive sign for working with Stefan Edberg. What do you think about that?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, look, it’s going really well. My game’s back where I hoped it would be, you know, from one year ago. Things were difficult all of last year, most of the year, so I’m happy I worked hard off the court, you know, to get myself back into shape and back into contention for tournaments.
This year’s been very solid. I’ve reached a lot of semis and finals. I also got two titles already. So I think that really gave me confidence to believe that I could go a step further.
Stefan is clearly a piece of the puzzle, so is my fitness coach, Severin, and everybody around me. They make it possible for me to wake up every morning motivated, healthy, fit, and eager to play.
It’s clearly also a team effort to a degree.
Q. All fortnight we’ve been talking about Wawrinka, Kyrgios, Dimitrov, and Raonic as being ready to step up and smash open the old guard. Does today show that you aren’t quite ready to let go yet?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know who said it. I didn’t read any press here really, to be quite honest.
It was always going to be hard to get rid of all four guys at the same time, let’s just be honest. It was probably going to inevitably going to be one guy around, maybe two. Really, there’s none, it’s a big shock. That was the case in Australia. There was one left in the final; here is again two; at the French it was two.
From that standpoint, I said it before the tournament, it’s probably going to be one of the guys we expect to be in the finals. Novak did his end; I was hoping I was going to be the other one. So I’m very happy with that.
But Milos and Grigor both have been around for a while. It’s not like they came about just this year. They’ve been on tour for five, six years now, so it’s not somebody entirely new.
But with Kyrgios, he’s a totally different situation. We hope we have more of the Kyrgios type, you know, the teenagers coming through.
But I am happy to see that Grigor, Milos, all those guys are knocking on the door now more consistently. Also Nishikori and other guys.
We’ll just see how the year plays out, if one of those guys or a few guys can make it to the World Tour Finals at the end of the year.
Q. You said this week you don’t have any confidence issues to deal with anymore. How are you feeling now that you’ve gone through your semifinal in straight sets?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, look, confidence is always a bit up and down, but it’s important to reach a certain level where you trust your game, you play and trust yourself in the big moments.
Then also physically, you know, you can do five sets, you can do seven times five sets. That’s what the mindset has to be before a Grand Slam. I felt this way before this tournament.
Especially now things get easier just because you know you have one match left. I have a lot of energy in the tank.
From that standpoint I clearly am very excited for the finals because that’s how you want to feel before a finals, totally energized and eager to play.
Q. I appreciate you just had a match so you’re not going to feel fresh right now.
ROGER FEDERER: I’m okay.
Q. Can you imagine how you’re going to be at lunchtime on Sunday? When were you last going into a Grand Slam final feeling as fresh and ready as you will be then?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I don’t even remember when my last Grand Slam final was because you don’t give me much time to think (smiling).
Let’s just say compared to here this time two years ago, I didn’t feel as good, for sure, because I was carrying a back problem that I occurred during the Malisse match. So that’s the one I remember. I don’t know other ones.
I must say this year has been very solid. Now this tournament as well has been very good. Also with Halle, you know, just backing it up and getting sort of the small rest you get in preparing for Wimbledon. I was able to get through that, as well.
Clearly my matches have been pretty quick, you know. Clearly a semi like this is a perfect result before a big match in the final.
Q. You’ve had this incredible run for well over a decade. What do you think the key has been to your professionalism over all these years? Was the back problem you had a while ago the biggest obstacle you’ve had or was it something else?
ROGER FEDERER: No, inevitably you’re always going to have some problems along the road. I twisted my ankle in ’05; I had groin injuries in 2001; you know, other things, little niggling things around.
Back has always flared up from time to time. That’s just stuff you have to deal with.
But I think it’s just keeping sort of the motivation, dealing with press and sponsors and fans, scheduling, flexibility in your mind. I’ve really never missed any parts of the season. I always played the indoor season. I always played the World Tour Finals since 2002 now.
I played all the slams, 50 plus now. I don’t know what it is. From that standpoint I never had a five-month break or anything like that. I think for that you need to be, first of all, healthy physically, but also mentally ready to do it.
You’ve got to love the game, because if you don’t love it, then it’s just going to be too hard. I think that’s kept me going quite easily actually, because I know why I’m playing tennis. Deep down that’s really important.
Q. How would you describe your history with Novak and the key aspects of your game and his when you play each other?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, we both like to be close to the baseline. We both like to take charge, especially on quicker courts. He has a wonderful way of either redirecting or taking the ball early, you know, taking pace from the opponent, even generating some of his own.
So I think that’s what makes him so hard to play. There’s not really a safe place you can, you know, play into. Like back in the day there was many guys where you just knew, Oh, this guy is a bit dodgey on the backhand. Let me play that and then build up the point from that.
Novak can hurt you down the line or cross-court on both sides. He’s really improved now through the years. I’ve seen him come through the ranking. His forehand, his serve, his movement clearly is what stands out the most at this moment now. He’s really been able to improve that and make it rock solid.
I think for me it’s really important to stay aggressive against him. And especially here at Wimbledon it’s more simple how we need to play against each other. It’s not like on a slow court where you can maybe maneuver the other guy around so much.
I think on grass it’s a bit more straightforward and I think we’re both aware of that.
Q. If you had to summarize your history against each other in this long rivalry, how would you best describe it?
ROGER FEDERER: Athletic. It’s been good. I must say I’ve enjoyed the matches against him. We didn’t come through the rankings together, so I was established while he was coming up.
I think it was totally different for both of us. You know, we saw each other in a different light than we see each other today when we’re both ranked high, we both achieved a lot. Things have clearly changed over time.
But ever since he’s won Grand Slams and became world No. 1, it’s been a cool rivalry, in my opinion.
Q. All the other semifinalists seemed to have trouble with their footing today. You handled it quite well. Are you happy with the surface? Do you think it will be a factor in the final?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I was watching the match, too, a little bit. It was unbelievable how much they were sliding around. Anyway, some players. We look at these matches sometimes of Novak or Grigor and any surface they just keep sliding. We were watching going, I can’t almost watch this, because you’ve got to be very confident in the slide in what you do.
I think they are the most extreme guys, besides maybe Monfils, of doing that. I think that’s as extreme as it’s going to get, as well.
When I came on court I realize it is somewhat slippery but normal, nothing major. Because I also thought it looks crazy slippery, but it’s clearly not. It’s a normal worn-out grass court like it’s always been in previous years here at Wimbledon.
Q. You were always a purist vis-à-vis other members of the top four regarding the body serve. Your average is always lower than the other three. Today your average was higher than usual. Was that a specific strategy versus Milos?
ROGER FEDERER: Did I serve to the body more or not much?
Q. A bit more than usual, 13%.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think it’s definitely not utilized enough, the body serve overall. But it’s just easier to feel like to go for the corner and think that if I hit it perfect it could be an ace.
Whereas with the body serve, you always feel if you don’t hit it right, it’s right in the slot to be hit. So you’ve got to be confident to hit the spot on the body serve, in my opinion. But especially on the grass, you know, you can use it well, especially second serve as well.
But clearly it depends on who you play against. If you realize a guy is not so good on the stretch, you clearly go there more. If you feel like a bigger guy has a harder time in the body, you go there more often.
The goal is always to try to make it as difficult as possible for your opponent.
Q. How do you explain your average is lower than the other three? Just because you’re more of a purist?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, yeah, for me back in the day it was normal facing body serves, and also body serving, because you could sort of handcuff the guy with a body serve if he wanted to chip-and-charge a lot.
Let’s say Henman, for instance. You had to body serve him, otherwise he was always going to come in on you. I did face that generation of chip and charge players. I guess it’s in my DNA having to do that.
Q. You mentioned the love of the game. The fun factor, how much does that come into play in what you do, how successful you are, especially at this stage of your career? How much fun are you having and are you able to have fun?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. Today I think I had to be very focused and concentrated, even after match point. Don’t get me wrong, I’m unbelievably thrilled to be in another final. I was very pleased the way I played today because it was always going to be a difficult match against Milos.
Yeah, the fun for me is being able to do it, at this age, with a family, with the team I have. We have a great relationship. I know so many people over time now on the tour, so it’s really something I really, really enjoy.
So the fun is not just after match point when you see somebody, it’s the entire package. I really enjoy it. For that matter, it makes everything so much more worth it.
Q. Among all your achievements, where would becoming the oldest male champion here in the Open era rank, were it to happen?
ROGER FEDERER: Is that a possibility?
ROGER FEDERER: Not so important (smiling).
I would know it if it would be really important to me, but it’s not.
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