March 9, 2007
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Can we start with the English questions, please.
Q. You're pretty close to Guillermo Vilas' record in consecutive victories. How mad will you be if you don't come up with it?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean it's only one week I know about it so it's not the major record for me, you know. But so it's always nice to be close to the all-time great records you know. Obviously 160 strong weeks is very, very special.
Now, this consecutive winning streak record, you know, would be very nice, but it's not my focus here, to be honest.
Q. We were talking to Tommy Haas earlier about you and one of the gifts that he says you have is seizing that moment, the breakpoint, whatever it is that breaks a match open. Is that something that you can practice on or is that just something, an instinct you have?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I think it's -- it comes from belief, confidence, but also knowing the opponent's weaknesses and strengths and same game, you know, I'm playing, the right shots at the right time, and then believing that you can do it, you know.
And I was very good actually on bigger case, in juniors, then when I started on the tour. I was just struggling to actually win the finals. I'm, like, "Why didn't I continue to win all the finals in the beginning."
I'm obviously back on a roll in big occasions, especially the last few years. It's not something you can practice. I always believe in putting yourself into the position as many times as possible and eventually it's always going to go your way, you know. Up there. I think you've got to work on it know when you're on the court that you should win for some reason, you know, just because you worked so hard to get there.
Q. Since you played in the division, how do you feel coming back to the tennis courts of Indian Wells after being the No. 1? How do you feel about that?
ROGER FEDERER: It's always exciting to come back to a place I've won. Very, very successful over the last few years where -- it was tough when I came into first place, I didn't have so much success. But I played really excellent tennis over the last few years. I thinks this is a very fair surface. You can play all kinds of styles of play, and it really suits my game. And also I always, especially in the finals, I've played really well here.
So I have great memories and fans and, you know, the stadiums are great here. It's kind of a relaxing week. On top of that, if you're playing good tennis, it's even more enjoyable, so I'm really happy to be back, that's for sure.
Q. In the past, you've spoken about turnaround moments or points in your career, like Hamburg. But now your whole position on scene is more than a tennis player. You're really an international figure beyond tennis. Do you sense that things have changed somewhat since the Open and was that a key tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think since maybe a year or one and a half years, I feel, you know, I was not only compared to other tennis players because I've been able to control, you know, my on points, but then I was starting to be compared with other great athletes, you know. Maybe the first time I won the Laureus Award. When you get thrown into the greats like Tiger and Rossi and Shumacher and everybody. And then that story came more and more, especially in the states, about Tiger. People would say who's dominating more and so forth.
And of course with the success I've had, the continued success, it's helped me to kind of go outside of tennis and some ways go outside of sports. You know, it's been very interesting and enjoyable for me actually to get away from the whole tennis thing all the time.
Q. You mentioned Tiger Woods. He says his biggest motivation is W's, wins. What motivates you most?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, for me, it's, yeah, the matches, you know, the battle with your opponent on center court, the fans, you know, the excitement. That is it for me. If I come through with a win, that's great, you know. But I just try to give myself the best possible chance. I always like the form of the knock-out system in tennis. Bad day, you're out. Good day, you can be in. But there's never guarantee.
So for me, this is what drives me most is the battle with the other players.
Q. You and Tiger have this bond of being great champions, but during your conversations with him, was there something he said to you, you said, wow, you know, I feel the same way?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I mean, it came right after the U.S. Open when I won, we sat in the locker room and he kind of wanted to know how I felt throughout the match and everything, and, yeah, we could relate very much to one another. You know, now I saw him play, what he goes through on the golf course in Shanghai and Dubai, he saw me at the Open, he might come out to Miami. I think especially in our sports, we have four majors each. We have a lot of expectations from everybody, so, I mean, we have a lot of common ground and it's good that we kind of know each other and can talk to each other about it.
Q. I've heard that he will be at Miami, he's playing the Doral the same time. Will he be at one of your matches there probably or --
ROGER FEDERER: Well, he's saying he might come by, so...
He might come on the opening Saturday night, so we'll see.
Q. When you guys are together, do you ever tell a joke about, you know, like I could dominate golf because there's not that many people or any kind of joking rivalry there at all?
ROGER FEDERER: A little bit.
Q. James Blake was just in here. He was kind of thrilled about getting a hole-in-one recently?
ROGER FEDERER: What's that?
Q. He had a hole-in-one the other day.
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, really?
Q. Yeah. He was pretty happy about that.
ROGER FEDERER: Nice.
Q. Have you had a good win in sports outside of tennis? Is there one -- have you had anything of -- what's the best you've done?
ROGER FEDERER: I won a soccer tournament when I was about 12. That was great. Seriously, I played soccer when I was 12 years old, yeah. I mean, played against my friend who is also a tennis player now. We played in the finals against each other two years. Once I lost in the penalty shootout, but I scored mine. He scored his, too, but we ended up losing. In the following year, we crushed them in the finals, so that's my --
Q. Your best attribute as a young soccer player was?
ROGER FEDERER: A striker. I liked scoring goals, of course, yeah.
Q. Why don't you play Davis Cup for your country.
ROGER FEDERER: Why I don't? I do play every year. But I'm going to play in September, so it's not like I'm not playing.
Q. In spite of your accomplishments, what keeps you grounded as Roger Federer? I mean you've accomplished pretty much everything in tennis.
ROGER FEDERER: Look, I don't know, friends and family. You have your own way of life. I mean, I've went through very interesting phase in the last ten years, tried to get to the top and staying at the top and facing many different things, you know. Media, sponsor, fans, big occasions, you know. And for me, I've never had a reason to kind of get crazy about it. I kind of had enough time to grow into the position, you know, because I didn't come up through juniors and then right away won Wimbledon. It took me a few years. Maybe that was the time to allow me a lot of time to grow as a person first.
Q. Which is different, getting to the top or staying up there? Which is harder?
ROGER FEDERER: For me, it was harder to get there.
Q. Imagine just a short while ago about the No. 1 ranking and breaking tournament records. Since getting there, have you had an opportunity to see him or exchange words with him or did he send you any message on breaking the record?
ROGER FEDERER: No. I haven't heard from Jimmy, no. Yeah, I mean, I don't expect anything, to be honest, you know. That was a record that belonged to him, you know. I heard of Sampras, you know. He wrote me a message. I saw him the other day, practicing together. But nothing from Jimmy, no.
Q. In Australia, your father was very entertaining when he was talking about your behavior as a junior, and then you made a major turnaround and he said at the tournament it was very relaxing now to watch you as opposed to when you were a junior. It was kind of a funny thing. What turned you around, because now you have just the opposite image, that you're cool, easy, comfortable? What turned you around?
ROGER FEDERER: I was too much of a perfectionist when I was young. I could never accept any mistakes. I would always commentate every point, you know. It was just terrible, you know. I couldn't control my emotions, you know. I would be very sad person on the court, very down on myself all the time. And eventually I just got it together, you know. But it took me a long time. I thought by the end of my teenage years I would figure it out, but it took me till the beginning of my 20s to really get to understand what I had to do.
Q. I'm not sure I heard you correctly. You say you practiced with Pete?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, we hit together for two days.
Q. How did he play?
ROGER FEDERER: Very good, surprisingly. Very good, you know. Not good enough to beat me.
Q. With the new system, with the round robin system?
ROGER FEDERER: Huh.
Q. If you agree with the new system, the round robin system?
ROGER FEDERER: I disagree with it. From the start, yes. So I'm happy something happened.
Q. Why? Can you just explain why?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I was against it from the start. I knew that that was going to happen, you know, that with somebody pulling out and something. You know, I'm not at all in favor of it. I think it's never gonna happen, but maybe one player helps another player to get maybe the top guy out, who then eventually could win the whole tournament, the whole thing.
I just thought there was too many problems with the whole system, and so I'm happy it kind of arise a problem. And unfortunately, you know, it always takes a few players involved that everybody kind of wakes up. It took a half a year, not even, to get the problem because they already start in the beginning the year.
Q. If you could describe a little bit about playing with Pete. I mean, you get some flashes of his great shots, the winning forehand. What was it like?
ROGER FEDERER: That was great, you know. Well, I knew I was coming to L.A., you know, so I'm kind of thinking, you know, who's around in L.A.? So, I mean, I rang up Pete and said, you know, "Any chance?"
He was like, "Yeah, sure."
I'm totally excited. So right away, you know, I had the idea, you know, anyway seeing how good he plays, you know, because he was one of my favorite players, you know, when I was growing up and, you know, beating him in his backyard in Wimbledon was so special to me, so, you know, I wanted to try to -- I wanted to beat him in his house, you know.
So it was very enjoyable to actually hit with him, you know. It would be kind of cool to maybe play an exhibition against him. We'll see. But he was playing very well.
Q. Did you play some sets or?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, we did play some games and sets and tiebreaks and --
Q. What was the score?
ROGER FEDERER: Can't tell you. But it was good fun.
Q. Would it be fair to say right now that having the streak going on, would it be fair to say that almost you've raised confidence yourself getting ready for these matches? Do you find yourself now seeking out new ways to keep motivating yourself?
ROGER FEDERER: No, not at all. I mean, motivation is so high at the moment because that's what I've always been dreaming about, you know, talking about coming in as a favorite, maybe. Winning tournaments, being excited, traveling the tour, you know, the hard work has all paid off.
And now I get asked if I'm motivated. It's so silly. I'm happy. The motivation is as high as ever, and it's not going to go away any time soon, that's for sure.
Q. We're aware that one of your major objectives this year is the French Open. Is it possible to do anything during a hard court tournament to prepare for a clay court tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: Absolutely.
Q. What can you do?
ROGER FEDERER: Work off court. Off-court work. You know, get yourself in physical shape, because points are played differently on clay court. Rallys are longer. So here I'm working, or before I was working more on the explosives, you know, so I'm really playing well on the hard courts now, already kind of preparing for the clay court season by actually practicing differently. And I think that's one thing, you could try and play like on clay, but I'm not the biggest fan of that.
Q. You talked about relations you had with Tiger Woods and now you've spent some time with Pete Sampras. Is there any similarities in the conversations you've had with the two guys, them both being legends?
ROGER FEDERER: A little similarities, but still very different, you know. Because with Pete, I can speak so much of that, you know, how is it for you, how it is for me, you know. And played the same tournaments, we even played against the same opponents. There's many more similarities with Pete than I had with Tiger, you know, off court. So you know, when we -- when I came up, you know, I never hardly spoke to Pete because you know, first of all, he was never around at the club, you know, hanging out. And when he would come into the locker room, everything was quiet, you know, because it was such respect from all the other players, you know.
And I only practiced with him once in Hamburg, and it started to rain. I was so disappointed. He was happy to get off, you know. You know, I'm happy now I played against him and it was great. And I'm happy to see that he's actually still enjoying tennis. He's actually back into tennis after probably being golfed out and the whole thing, so, you know, we'll see.
Q. Congratulations on the win last week in Dubai. And a couple questions about Mikhail Youzhny.
ROGER FEDERER: Sure.
Q. Were you at all surprised to see him in the finals and --
ROGER FEDERER: No, I wasn't surprised.
Q. You were not?
ROGER FEDERER: No, because he's an excellent player and I played against him at the Australian Open. I played a very good match against him, actually, the third round, and I didn't think he deserve -- or he got enough credit. You know he deserved people just saying, you know, another routine, kind of a low seed in the tournament, but this guy just beat Nadal at the U.S. Open, played the semis and almost beat Roddick, you know, and here, we are in the third round, nobody's talking about it, so I was a bit disappointed.
To see him win Rotterdam, I wasn't surprised that he backed it up so well in Dubai. That was a great effort. I knew it was going to be tough and it was. He's an excellent player and I hope he can crack the top 10 shortly.
Q. You spent a great deal of time traveling on your own without a coach and seemed to do pretty well. Now we're seeing on the WTA tour they're allowing some coaching on court on the coach side to come down to the court. What are your thoughts on that? Do you think it's damaging to the players in their pursuit to become a more independent thinker and learn to figure things out on their own?
ROGER FEDERER: For some reason, I'm always against all these ideas. I feel stupid, but seriously, why have it, if it's unnecessary. It's okay if it's in Davis Cup because that's a team competition. It's totally different. But whereas in a tournament, I don't see the reason to put in a coach now for the lime light to add excitement, whatever. It's not going to add anything.
I like the idea of -- it's like in school, you know, you work hard, you know, to be ready for the test and then in the test you can't call your mom up and say, "What's 2 plus 2?" It just doesn't work this way, you know.
So I just think it's a good. It's good the way tennis has been, and, I don't know how much they test on the women's side, if it's all over or not, but I don't like the idea at all and I hope it's going to stay away in tennis.
THE MODERATOR: Last question in English.
Q. Again, going back to last week but a different tournament, Vegas, there was a controversy. Do I understand correctly that you actually took part in the discussions with ATP that you called that you had to come back, on behalf of Korolev, on behalf of the rules maybe, did you take any part of the in that personally?
ROGER FEDERER: No. I got a phone call from Etienne de Villiers, who explained me the situation. I mean, I was far away, you know, so there was the whole time difference, the whole thing was kind of happening. I just remember going on the Internet and checking out the scores of Vegas and I saw that Blake was through, but I couldn't figure it out, because I thought Korolev should have been through, even though Blake was about to win, you know, the whole thing.
So I thought, okay, well, I guess I miscalculated or whatever, and then I got a phone call on the way over to the club, you know, from the de Villiers explaining the whole situation, kind of the whole back and forth, you know. I said okay. Well, let's see where -- your problem, you know. I'm over here, you know.
But I'm happy to see that finally we had a problem in this round-robin system, because I always told you I was against it in the first place. So, you know, he apologized and the whole thing that something like this had to happen with other players. You know, I think it's terrible, you know, what happened. So, no, I didn't decide anything here I was just listening.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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