Four-time tournament champion Roger Federer met the press to discuss the upcoming Australian Open. Here’s what he said.
Q. What is it about this Grand Slam which you particularly like as compared to the other three?
ROGER FEDERER: Sort of it’s laid back, you know. The city, compared to the other three, clearly is more small, you know. It’s easy to get around. Everything’s pretty convenient here. It’s really well-organized. Not saying that the other ones are not, but this one seems just like it’s very nice and relaxed, super helpful. Yeah, and the weather clearly helps by it always seeming to be rather quite nice. I guess the three courts with the three roofs now is something quite special for us, the players. You can see that the tournament can still go on regardless of the weather. It’s just good to know for all of us, so you’re not that dependent on the weather as a top guy, which is nice. Yeah, a lot of good things. Many good things to like about this event.
Q. Novak Djokovic had a crack at the Aussie accent. Can you do anything?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I’m not very good at that. I’ll let him do that (laughter).
Q. No g’day, mate?
ROGER FEDERER: I can do that, but not on command.
Q. Do you feel any different coming into Melbourne this year compared to last year?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, clearly things are more calm this year, I guess, coming in. Last year, you know, having the new racquet, having gotten through the back issues, having gone through the off-season, you know, feeling good but still not quite sure because I needed matches to see how it was going to cope. I came here also with Stefan Edberg helping me out. You know, there was many changes that took place in the six months leading into, I guess, the Australian Open, whereas this time around I’ve played so well. Also was able to win Brisbane last week. Makes me feel more secure, I guess, this year coming into the Aussie Open.
Q. Did Stefan do a bit more in terms of time than you expected? Do you have any idea how much he’s going to do with you this year?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, he might have done a couple of weeks more, but nothing significant. It was basically the time we spoke about. And we’ll probably do something like 10 weeks this year. Yeah, he just arrived. He’ll be here for the tournament. Severin is clearly doing most of the work. I’m excited that Stefan is willing to do another year with some weeks for me.
Q. How close are you now to your career-best form?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I would hope that over the years I’ve always improved. I think I’m serving more consistent and stronger than I ever have. That’s my opinion. I definitely think the racquet has helped me with that as well, a little bit. But, you know, my concentration I do believe is there, better than it’s ever been, at least I hope it is, because I feel over time you always want to improve. I think my backhand is working better than it has in the past as well. The question is confidence, forehand, movement. But clearly when I was winning almost everything, everything was so gold that nobody was even questioning anything. Maybe if there were different opponents, different times, it would have changed. But for that particular time, I was playing exactly the way I needed to. I had to adjust my game a little bit over the years. I feel I’m playing very well. If it’s the best ever, I’m not quite sure. But I’m definitely very pleased how things have gone now the last six months.
Q. I think you won more matches and played more matches than anybody else on the men’s tour last year. Do you expect to play as full of a schedule this year?
ROGER FEDERER: Possibly. I said it a few times, I’ll reassess the situation after the Australian Open when I go on vacation really. I need a bit of a break after this because the year end was short. In a way, it’s not so bad. Usually you start the Australian Open not quite knowing where your game’s at. But because I didn’t take that much time off, I got right back into practice. I played some XO’s. I kind of knew right away when I picked up the racquet again, you know, feeling good, and the back problem has gone away, I can play XO’s, I can travel. I practiced actually very hard, to be quite honest, because I played so many matches I didn’t have enough practice. So I came out of it a bit tired. But that’s normal, you know, when you practice hard. That’s why for me it was important to not overtrain when I came to Brisbane, not overtrain in these middle weeks, so I maintain the freshness. But the bigger break is going to come after the Australian Open. That’s when I’m really going to decide how much I play, where I’m going to play, even though I have a rough idea how it’s going to go. This year’s different than last year. So we’ll see how it is on vacation.
Q. You practiced with David Goffin in Dubai. He said he learned a lot about how you prepare for a competition. What made it interesting for you to practice with him? Any advice you have given him?
ROGER FEDERER: I saw him when he was somewhat coming up I guess when I played him in the fourth round, I’m not sure, at the French Open. I was very impressed how he played then. I think he had already gone through six matches before he played me. He sort of ran out of gas at the end. I was able to take advantage. Would he have been fresh and everything, maybe I would have lost that match. Then he might have gone through some ups and downs, some injuries, some loss of confidence, which I guess is good that he went through that. Gave him a lot of experience. He had an incredible last six months. I think he’s got a lot to play for now in the next few months. I was very impressed about his work ethic. You know, he’s a really nice guy. On the court you see how calm he is. In practice he’s very serious, but still he’s a fun guy to hang around. I am impressed how the right way and how well he was practicing, you know. It was good fun to practice with him. I hope we can do it again in the future. But I think he’s definitely got top-10 potential, no doubt.
Q. Has your fitness become more of a priority moving forward in your career over the years?
ROGER FEDERER: Hmm, I wouldn’t quite say that. It’s changed just because you’re more careful not to get injured. So sometimes less is more. Quality is more important than quantity. Whereas when you’re younger, you got to put in the hours, you got to put in the work. Doesn’t matter if you’re tired, all these things, you just got to get through it, you know, get match tough, go through the grind. Eventually you have experience, you know what you need to get ready for a tournament, in the off-season what you need to do. So clearly I’ve, you know, made mistakes and made right decisions over the years. You try to put them all together, assemble all those pieces, make it work for the off-season. I mean, I definitely work a bit different. But at the end of the day I really believe in good quality practices now rather than too much. Yeah, I mean, I am 33, so things are a bit different today than they were 10 years ago.
Q. You said you will need a break. Does that mean you will not play Davis Cup this year?
ROGER FEDERER: Davis Cup is way after. I didn’t say that. I probably also will decide that once the Australian Open is over. I’ve been talking, you know. Clearly it’s hard to get out from the chair after finally winning Davis Cup. It was always a goal of mine, for Swiss tennis, the guys on my team, for myself, after playing for 15 years. Yeah, I’m just talking to the captain right now, see what the plan is for him, for me, for everybody. After that, I guess I just need a little bit more time. Probably make a call after the Australian Open.
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