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An Interview With: Roger Federer

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Q. For those of us that aren't familiar, could you discuss some of the changes you made in your regimen to get some of your explosiveness and quickness back?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, it's pretty simple in some ways. There's no rocket science behind it, really. As long as you can train you're gonna feel all right. As simple as that, basically. But because of the issues I had last year I had to be unbelievably careful what I did. We had to cut back on a few things I usually would do but were scared to do. That was not what I wanted to do. Sometimes if that's what it is and it means don't run on the treadmill or don't do jumps or whatever it is, well, there's other ways you can train that. I'm happy that basically today I can do whatever and I don't have any more setbacks. Once you can do that, then you really start to feel the benefits down the road. Clearly it's going to take a few months. Because of my experience with my fitness coach and my, you know, coaching staff, I think we really were able to come up with the right plan. Now I have my confidence back. It's as simple as that.

Q. What goes through your mind when you watch Monfils play, about his style and what makes him a successful player?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, he's got easy top 10 potential, you know. He's a great mover. He's got a wonderful serve, really, which nobody really talks about because of his athletic movement which stands out so much, you know. His issues have really been just his fitness and his setbacks he's had because of injury. Then sometimes, you know, maybe not wanting to play sometimes because of reasons only he can explain, you know. I think that's where he's been put back in the rankings, and because he's back in the rankings he's got tougher draws. From there it's harder to win tournaments and so forth. It get that much harder. I think I can speak on behalf of so many players: We love watching him play. It's nice seeing him do well again. He's going to raise in the rankings now, and maybe that's exactly the steppingstones he needs to make it back in the top 10.

Q. He says he considers you the greatest player of all time and he tells us this is an opportunity he will tell his children about.

ROGER FEDERER: Okay, great (laughter). Is that a good thing? I don't know. I mean, I like the guy, you know. We always joke around and we always have a good talk. I think it's very fair once out on the court. It's tough but it's fair. I think our games match up nicely against each other. So, yeah, we played a good, tough match against each other just last week. Yeah, let's hope it's going to be memorable for everybody involved, especially the unborn children so far. (Laughter.) I mean, doesn't mean he needs to beat me 7-6 in the fifth, because that would be huge.

Q. Another Frenchman, Yannick Noah, says, Hey, I look at my tennis racquet and I sometimes ask myself, Where would I be without my racquet, without tennis.


Q. Where do you think you'd be in your life...

ROGER FEDERER: Deep question. I don't know. I'd be doing something else. (Laughter.) Pretty simple. Honestly, I said it all along: My dad was the first to tell me if tennis doesn't work out you go back to school and get an education. I was like, Well, yeah, totally. I totally understand, but I believe I can do this breakthrough. Really, Papa, you know. And he's like, Well, you better make it, then, you know, otherwise you're going back to school. That's what would have been the plan, and then I would have figured things out. Honestly, I don't know which way it would have gone because the train would have left the station, as well, with soccer, so sports wouldn't have been like an opportunity to this extent like it is now. I really don't know. I was young, you know, and I would have figured things out, I would assume.

Q. Looked fairly easy for you out there tonight. How did you find it?

ROGER FEDERER: I felt like, I mean, I had maybe some margin. I don't know if that was something I was trying to tell myself. He hasn't got the biggest game but he's consistent. He's fast. He can adapt. So he's got things that can make you feel uncomfortable, I must say. He can absorb pace well. From that standpoint, even though I did feel I had margin, because I never played him before, I was still pushing forward all along and trying to always keep a gap between him and me in terms of the result and the scoreline. I was very happy when the match was over, because like this I know. It's done. Next time I play him I know what to expect. Not like today.

Q. The other night I asked you about yourself as a player today versus, you know, yourself in 2004 when you first won the title. I wanted to sort of continue on from that and ask, as a man or a person at 33, how do you feel different from the 23 year old who won the title back then?

ROGER FEDERER: I felt like probably in 2004 I had to win the title, and I wanted to win the title so badly because I was having -- I had two Grand Slams at the time, was world No. 1, was playing very well. I probably had three slams, actually. I Wimbledon as well in '04. I had not unlimited confidence, but I really felt like as long as you haven't won at the US Open, you know, it's going to be a tough one to win if you don't win this year or the next year, because now I'm playing maybe my best tennis. I'm as confident as you can ever be. I'm happy I played really incredible tennis throughout the US Open in 2004. Didn't run into I don't think crazy, difficult matches that year. This year, you know, it's different. I have already won it, but clearly I would like to win it again. I'll give it all I have. I definitely feel like there is a big opportunity, and that's the mindset right now. So I know I can win it and I will try.

Q. Is there a way in which life experience puts the tennis court in perspective for you in a way that might be different from ten years ago?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. Like I said, it's just totally different times, you know. I have played probably, what, 800 matches plus by now. I have got so much more experience and know how to handle the pressure so much more. I know how to handle the press room. You know, the days off, the wind, humidity, a guy I have never played against, it all seems easy. But then it's harder to get it done sometimes, you feel like. But then I'm really in a good place right now, like I was back then, but it's just so, so different. You can't compare.

Q. From Peter Carter, you know, you worked with great mentors. Is there one or two pieces of advice that have been important to you?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. I mean, I have taken all the advice I possibly could and turned it upside down in my head and tried to make it work for my game, you know. Some things I didn't believe I let them go again, but I was always open for advice and criticism and all that. I think over the years I have done very well. One of my big, big strengths I think early on in my career was that I could learn very quickly. You wouldn't have to tell me the things ten times or fifty times until I would understand them. I would only have to tell me two or three times and I would understand what the coach would be talking about. So I have had always I think great advice throughout. Thankfully sometimes I could also choose who was going to be working with me, because in the beginning you kind of can't. You work with who your parents decide or the federation employs. But even then I was very lucky who, you know, my parents chose, which club they put me in, and which coaches the federation hired. I guess I must say it was a big time for me in my life back then, and I was thankful that I got great people around me. Later on I think the people, I was able to hire myself really great people along the way, and I'm happy with the progress I always made.

Q. You mentioned a moment ago whether or not Gaël wants to play tennis all the time. Just wondering, all the things in your success, your innate talent or hard work, your health, how important has your want to play tennis been? Where would you rank it in all of those...

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, very high, otherwise I wouldn't have played all these slams and all the World Tour Finals. I don't know how many seasons I have played in a row now, but I have always played, you know, from January to November every single year. And of course maybe I missed -- on purpose I missed, you know, a month here or one-and-a-half months there, but it's really not much if you think about it. So wanting to play. I think especially also a strength of mine has been wanting to play through pain, wanting to play through sickness, and wanting to play through times where I'm not feeling well or, you know, I'd rather maybe do something else right now, but I know if I come through this match or this practice I will feel better on the other side, you know. It's like a storm, really. I think that's something that for me has been not rather easy, but it's been something I could deal with quite comfortably.

Q. Why do you think you want to play so badly?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, because at the end of the day it's like I know it's one of the things in life I like doing most. I know not every day is going to be fantastic and easy and great, but the majority of the days are going to be like that. Those are the days that are going to make me happy. In trainings, I must say can always find a way to entertain yourself and keep it fun. Playing in a court like this, if you don't get up for it anymore like this, okay, maybe one match out of the year I understand maybe if you're a little bit like flat. Otherwise I feel I was very motivated.

Q. You have worn black quite often in the night sessions in New York. How involved are you in choosing? Were you tempted to keep the black racquet to go with it?

ROGER FEDERER: No, but I'm very involved with what I wear, with designs, and especially color wave, as well. Because I think color in some ways is very personal. I might not like some colors to others and some combinations just don't appeal, but for me, especially since the RF logo, the brand all started to happen, I have obviously been more involved. I always had more input. We try to meet on a regular basis. The racquet, that was always going to change once I definitely chose the racquet, that there was going to be cosmetic on it. That was also my wish with Wilson, that there was going to be a cosmetic change from the black.

Q. You have never played Bautista Agut before. Who is a player left on tour you have never played who you want to play the most?

ROGER FEDERER: Whoa, you have to go through the draw, through the rankings. I'm not going to do that. But I know Leonardo Mayer is one guy I haven't played yet who is in the top whatever, 30, 40.

Q. Is he someone you want to play? Anybody who is an up and comer, someone you haven't played you look forward to facing more?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I don't know. Who haven't I played? Who have I not played yet? It's late (laughter). It's not as late a Nishikori-Raonic. But anyway, I really don't know, man. Up and coming? Yeah, Dominic Thiem, I have not played him. Kyrgios, all those guys. But if I stick around, I feel like it's going to happen anyway. Don't wish for it too quickly, because next thing you know, next tournament, second round, there you got it, you know. But, no, I mean, anybody who I have not played, it's nice to play those guys. I remember how it was for me if, like, a guy who was on tour for 15 years and you have seen him on TV, so cool when you can play that guy. So I guess it goes the same way the other way. Yeah. Anything is all right.