Roger Federer met the press yesterday in Miami, where he’s won the title three times including last year. The Swiss enters the second Masters of the season following a heartbreaking loss to Juan Martin del Potro in the Indian Wells final Sunday.
But Federer has been pleased of late and was at least glad that del Potro had to play well to win that title.
In speaking to the media, at the end of the presser Federer said that moving to a bigger frame at the start of 2014 has made all the difference in the world.
Here’s what he said:
Q. You played about five hours Saturday and Sunday and then you flew to Chicago for the Laver Cup. How is recovery? How are you doing physically?
ROGER FEDERER: Feeling better today. You know, it always takes a few days, anyways, to recover from a busy and high-intensity weekend. Regardless of how difficult the match was physically, you still have a letdown emotionally, you know, because you’re drained from that perspective.
You know, honestly Chicago wasn’t very difficult. It was just a traveling day with four hours on the ground and it was fun. When it’s fun, it’s not a drag. So that was nice.
Tuesday I also had a busy day. I came to practice but then yesterday I had nothing going on. Went to the beach, went to the pool. And then today I had practice. So it’s been much slower. Slept a bunch. I feel much better today.
Q. Are you looking for revenge with Del Potro at the finals here?
ROGER FEDERER: Ah, yes. I’m very excited about that finals (smiling).
No, we’re not there yet so we have plenty of time. My focus is the first round, yes. Maybe he’s focusing about the finals; I’m not (smiling).
Q. Since you have been around, the color of the hard courts have changed over the years. When you came it was green here and indoors used to be red and now it’s blue almost everywhere. Is there any particular color from players’ perspective is better suited visibility-wise, and would you like to see more black hard courts like the one you have in Laver Cup?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know. I think most important for us, the players, is the color of the backdrop, you know, more than the color itself that we play on. That’s my initial feeling. But then I would have to think about it.
Almost most important is for the viewer at home and in the stadium, that it’s comfortable for them to watch tennis, not that they watch tennis on-the-court color. And I think that’s why it’s changed over the years because I felt like they maybe felt that blue and purple is more suited and black to see on TV. Because you don’t want to put the TV on and you can hardly see the ball. I think that’s why the changes were made.
Yeah, but you’re right. I have seen quite a few changes throughout my career.
Q. I wanted to ask you about that match against Del Potro. It just seemed like there was so much emotion on both sides, and you were annoyed with all different things that were going on outside the court. Can you just talk about the emotions of that match? You talked about being emotionally drained after that match. It seemed like very, very intense, not just physically.
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, you’re emotionally drained after every finals, regardless if you win or lose, because there is a letdown. That’s what I meant with it, not particularly more after that one.
So if you want, you can read into it. It’s not because it was a high-intensity match or high-emotional match. I wasn’t complaining about a lot of things. We just had some arguments with the umpire. Maybe that’s a bit more than usual, but at the end of the day it was a tennis match. And I enjoyed it.
The handshake was a good one, you know, so I’m happy about how I played and how I felt afterwards. Didn’t take me a whole lot of time to get over it, to be honest, because I felt like it could have gone either way. Unfortunately I wasn’t on the winner’s side because maybe I have had enough luck throughout the last 14 months on my side of the court, so it’s okay to lose some.
I felt that also Juan Martin had to earn it. He had to play good to get it. Then you kind of move on with it.
Yeah, the crowds were really into it. I enjoyed that. That’s nice to see that they were into it fully, and we care, too.
So you’re talking about the negative things. I see me more trying to pump myself up to play great tennis, and he was the same. I think we both did it trying to win the match and trying to bring the intensity to the court to leave the finals without any regrets.
Q. At this point in your career, what is your biggest motivation out there?
ROGER FEDERER: Winning tournaments, I guess trying to stay world No. 1, trying to get to world No. 1 at this point because I’m so close, everything is so tight. Stay injury-free, enjoy myself, try to beat the best players that are out there.
Yeah, that’s it. And just enjoy it from that perspective. Then obviously there is a lot of family and friends and that stuff, the more important things, you know, that I care a lot about.
Q. Del Potro has undergone four wrist surgeries to get back to where he is. Can you talk about how impressed you are as a fellow player that someone can fight through that and still play at the top level?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I can’t, really, because I haven’t been there myself. So it’s just — I can only look from far away and think, like, I wonder how it was for him, you know. Hard to imagine how — most important about having had surgeries, I guess, and being injured is the doubts you have. Are you ever going to come back, and overcoming that fear, you know, and gaining confidence again.
That seemed like it took a while. What I respect a lot from Juan Martin is when he did come back two years ago when I was supposed to play him here, and I eventually had to pull out because I was sick. He put himself out there, knowing very well he was not going to win tournaments. You know, he knew he was just going to try to play again with a slice and see where it takes him, and that takes some guts, to be honest. Or you just say, Okay, maybe that’s how I start and eventually hopefully I’ll find my backhand again and my confidence again in my wrist. That’s why it’s such a nice story because he finally did it, but he had to do it the hard way, put himself out there, knowing he was not going to win all the matches he was going to play.
It’s tough to do that, you know. That deserves a lot of respect, in my opinion, especially knowing what level he can achieve as a player.
Q. If you can think back to when you won the Orange Bowl here, I assume you didn’t envision the career that you have been able to have.
ROGER FEDERER: No.
Q. Do you remember at all what you thought, like, I’ll play a few years? What was in your mind?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I was excited that I guess — I don’t know when I found out that I was going to get the wildcard for the ’99 Miami Open. That was a big deal. Unfortunately I played a horrible match, terrible attitude in that match, lost first round.
But in the juniors, I played some great players, you know. I remember beating Nalbandian in the semis and Coria in the finals on this very court.
Yeah, my memories to Key Biscayne go way back, and then to Miami even further when I played the Under-14 Orange Bowl at the Biltmore Hotel. I have always enjoyed coming to Miami.
What did I think then? I guess I finished as world No. 1 juniors after winning that finals. I needed to win to clinch it. Then after that I figured, well, like, maybe who knows? I could become world No. 1 in the pros but still a long way away, but you start to have a dream, and I think it helped me to win the Orange Bowl here in that year.
Q. How do you feel about the move from the tournament from here to Hard Rock Stadium?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know. I don’t know the other venue at all. I mean, I know this tournament only like all the other players at this venue, have been coming here forever, ever since the juniors.
Yeah, it’s definitely going to be very different, you know, when it moves. Obviously got to give it a few years to really be able to tell, but I hope it’s going to be good, especially for the fans and especially for the people to attend and you guys and everybody, the players. I’m sure they will find a way, and I hope it’s going to be a wonderful event and that we look back 30 years from now and say, like, Thank God we made this move.
Right now, yeah, it doesn’t feel great to move away from Key Biscayne, to be honest, but they must have their reasons. And as players we have to respect those. We are not the ones calling the shots.
Q. You switched to a bigger frame three years ago and there has been a lot of talk about how it has helped you come over the backhand. How has the bigger, larger frame helped in your serve? That was such a weapon throughout your career. How do you compare the two frames for serve?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I just feel like — so there are three frames. The 85, the 90, the 97. I had the 85 to 2002, the 90 from 2002 to 2014, and the 97 from then on. I just feel like the one I play right now, RF97, is just easier to play on every single day. It gives me easier power on the serve, allows me to attack the backhand more, allows me to hit easier backhand half-volley as well.
I have had to do some minor adjustments maybe on the slice and on the forehand, you know, which were — it was always working, so I just had some adjustments to make there, but I feel like it’s helped me just overall on every single day that it’s just easier to play tennis.
The other ones you had to feel really good, focus, move your legs, you had to be on at all times to play with it. So this one seems a bit easier, and I think it’s helped me to keep my confidence up for longer periods of time maybe.
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