Roger Federer came within just a few points of a record 8th Wimbledon title and 18th career Grand Slam. But the Swiss fell just short in a 5-set loss to top seeded Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday.
Federer, who turns 33 next month, was appearing in his first Grand Slam final since his 2012 Wimbledon title run. And he had beaten the Serb in the lone grass meeting and their lone Grand Slam final back at the 2007 US Open.
Afterward, an upbeat Federer who a year ago was battling a bad back, spoke to the press.
Q. I’d like to know what do you think about this match, if you think you played better than those two finals that you won versus Murray and versus Roddick? In my opinion, the level of the match today was probably better. I don’t know if you agree.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I cannot agree just because it’s totally different matchups, you know. With Roddick it was more of a serving contest; with Murray it went from outdoors to indoors, so much on the line, so much pressure. He’s a different player to Novak entirely that I can’t really compare.
I thought the match was a good one, you know. I thought it had everything for fans to like, I think. The swing of momentum in the first set, him coming back in the second, you know, staying even in the third, all the back and forth in the fourth set, and then the drama of the fifth.
From that standpoint, I thought it was an interesting match. The level I thought was good. I don’t feel I necessarily played my absolute very best because I couldn’t break for over three sets. For me that was disappointing.
But I thought Novak played well in those areas and on his serve and make sure that he didn’t have any letdowns there.
No, I thought it was a great match and I enjoyed to be a part of it.
Q. It was a high-quality match. Maybe men’s tennis is getting better and better. What do you think is the resemblance of those new guys coming compared to the four of you that have been there for so long?
ROGER FEDERER: The resemblance?
Q. Maybe I am saying the wrong word. How can you describe the up-and-coming guys compared to the four of you that are up there now?
ROGER FEDERER: We all made the breakthrough much earlier than most of the guys. Not just a match here or there. I mean, I can’t put myself in the league of Rafa because he was one of the best teenagers we ever had besides Bjorn Borg.
I wasn’t that guy. I was, I guess, better at 21, 22 or 20. That’s when I started to make my rise.
So there’s not that many young guys. There’s really only one teenager in the top 100 and we wish we had more. The other guys we’re talking about are all 22, 23 and have been already on tour for five years.
Nevertheless, it’s exciting. But you cannot compare them to Rafa, Novak, or Murray, who were incredibly good already at a young age.
Q. Can you describe what it’s like coming back from the almost dead a few times in this thing? What was going through your mind, the kind of fortitude you had to have to keep battling?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I just kept going, you know. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t breaking Novak’s serve or actually creating opportunities. You know, I think it’s one thing not to break. That can happen if the other guy plays well in the big moments and all that stuff.
But it was really not creating enough opportunities to put Novak under pressure, you know.
It’s really only until the fourth set when I was down a break that I started to understand more how to return him, which was a surprise for me because I’ve played him that many times.
I think, like I mentioned before, he was doing a good job on his serve, making a lot of high first-serve percentage, staying aggressive from the baseline, not making any easy errors, all that stuff.
I kept believing and kept, you know, and kept trying to play offensive tennis. I’m happy it paid off in some instances. As you can imagine, I’m very disappointed not being rewarded with victory.
But it was close, you know. Novak deserved it at the end clearly, but it was extremely close.
Q. What does go through your mind when you see Mirka and your family there? What was your switch in terms of returning Novak’s serve and putting pressure on him later in the match?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I just felt like I changed, you know, the way I approached the return, then also how I played the rallies from the baseline because I felt like there was opportunities and options for me to do different things.
You know, but for some reason it never ended up being 15-30, 30-All, putting Novak under pressure enough, so he could always free serve, free swing, and take chances on his second serve.
Yeah, so I felt like that was my biggest problem really overall. I think that’s where I lost the match. I served well myself throughout. I feel like if I would have returned better or would have understood it earlier or if he would have helped me out just a little bit things could have been quite different, you know, today.
But, like I said, credit to him for, you know, doing it also for as long as he did, until the fourth when things got a bit crazy, you know.
Like I said, it’s wonderful playing in front of not family because they weren’t there till the very end, but it’s nice sharing that moment with friends and family on such a big stage really.
Q. Rightly or wrongly, many tennis fans will be wondering whether that could be the last time they see you in a Wimbledon final. Do they have a point, or does a performance like that give you renewed belief in yourself as you go into the 30s?
ROGER FEDERER: You could have asked me exactly that question in 2003.
You don’t know. Totally the unknown. That’s the disappointment of an Olympic result, of a World Cup result, Wimbledon result, whatever it is. You’ve just got to wait and see.
There is no guarantee that you’re going to be ever there again or not. Or maybe there’s much more to come. It’s really impossible to answer that question.
I’m very happy to see that with feeling normal I can produce a performance like I did the last two weeks. That clearly makes me believe that this was just a steppingstone to many more great things in the future.
Q. How much did you feel like you had the momentum in the fifth set, and how big a moment do you think the breakpoint he saved was?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I thought it was an even match in the fifth. I didn’t feel like unbelievable momentum in the fifth. It was big, you know, to get it.
I think once he held once or twice I think that was important for him, but it also was important for me not to be broken, because that’s exactly when one of the players can have a letdown. I don’t think we both had that.
So it went, I don’t know, step for step for both of us. I do believe I had my chance there when I had breakpoint. Maybe if I make the pass and make him hit a dink volley, I mean, you know, I would have liked to see what would have happened.
But credit to him to hit the big first forehand, hit another big forehand, follow it to the net, and be brave on it. I tried the same, to come to net, when it really mattered. Unfortunately at the very end he got me.
It was a tough finish, but it was extremely close.
Q. What is the most positive thing that you bring back home after a final like this: The fact that you’re physically fit again, no problems with the back? You served fantastic?
ROGER FEDERER: You know, I think that’s it. To be able to play consistent great solid tennis with some really nice things to look back on, you know. Good emotions again, even though it was rough at the end clearly.
Very happy to see that I can do it week for week, match for match, you know, point for point. It’s all right there.
It’s been a very positive last couple of weeks for me when I won Halle as well. I’m looking very much toward a vacation and working out hard again to get myself in shape for the American summer.
Q. You have a positive attitude in the match. You did lose, but you lost on your own terms in a way because you kept coming in and you tried to create opportunities. Do you feel like that?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I did feel that way. You know, I mean, I think Novak tried as much as he could to play offensive, as well. I don’t think he can play much more offensive than he did, and still I felt like he was on the edge of things, as well.
So from that standpoint I’m very pleased with the way things went throughout the match, you know. So I thought it was a high-quality match and it was good stuff from both players out there. I think clearly we both walk away happy from here. I mean, him more happy than I am.
But still, I’m happy overall.
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