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An Interview With: Roger Federer

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Q. How would you describe the situation you were in and how you got out of it?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, it was one of those moments where you got the back against the wall and hope to get a bit lucky and you hope to play exactly the right shots that you need or that he completely just messes it up. Either way works as long as you get out of it. But clearly it's not a great feeling, because you feel it's not in your control anymore really. So I'm very, very happy to have found a way tonight.

Q. You were talking the other day about how dangerous an opponent he [Gael Monfils] could be. Obviously, as you said, he put your back against the wall. To be able to come back, two match points and to have a match like this under your belt going into the next phase of this tournament, I mean, how good does that feel?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, it's just unbelievable to win matches like this at slams. You know, I have won other big ones in other places. But over best of five, saving match points against Gaël in an atmosphere that it was out here tonight, it's definitely very special. I'm. Not sure I have ever saved match point before in a slam. If that hasn't happened, I'm unbelievably happy that it was today, because I knew I could play better after the first couple of sets. I believed I could turn it around from the get-go when the third set started, and I'm so happy the crowd got into it. The rallies were incredible at times, and my game really picked up. I served great in the fifth when it mattered, and just overall an enjoyable match also to play, because it had all the ups and downs similar to the Wimbledon final.

Q. As a follow-up, what was the turning point? Obviously first two sets you maybe didn't have your best game, but you were able to find it.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think my game got better as the match went on, you know. I was able to play throughout at a high level physically and mentally. Mentally I'm not ever going to go away, but physically I was right there. I felt great in the fifth against Djokovic and great in the fifth against Monfils. I'm happy tonight it paid off. I felt I had more chances throughout the fourth than he did, so it would have been an unbelievable letdown for me to get broken at 5-4 and lose a match like that. It would have been not very cool, I must say. (Smiling.)

Q. So 74 net approaches; five-set match. That's a lot of time at the net. Just talk about your mindset with net play right now and how Stefan has influenced that.

ROGER FEDERER: Don't forget it also always depends on how the other guy plays. I played Bautista Agut now and also Gael who defend really well and make you play that one extra approach shot. Either that's a volley from me or that extra approach shot that I can hit rather than the other guy in defense going for it big and killing the point with it. Today I don't think I was able to come in enough really because I was just not hitting the ball well enough off the baseline. I started to serve and volley some more as the match went on. But I don't know if I can keep it up, you know. It's going to be a day match now against Cilic. I played him in Toronto in also equally fast conditions. That was a night match. No, I mean, I'm happy I'm spending some time at the net, because that's going to keep giving me confidence to keep on doing that as we move along in the tournament. Against Gaël particularly always in the back of the mind you're always aware that one more passing shot could happen, like on the match point that sailed past me, and you just hope it's not going to land inside but outside. I'm happy I kept on pressing, and that I got a reward for it tonight.

Q. I guess you just kind of answered that, but I think you won 53 net points and 57 from the baseline. Do you think to win the tournament you have to keep attacking the net so much?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, it depends against who it is, but there is different ways to come to the net. It's serve and volley, it's serve one shot come in, or throughout the rally. So I think it depends a little bit on who I'm playing. I know that Cilic is going to stay on the baseline and dictate play as much as he can. Otherwise he's actually quite similar to Gaël: he's tall, got a big serve, can return well, got a big reach. From that standpoint, I guess it was actually good playing Gaël tonight ahead of the match against Cilic.

Q. We're talking about the crowd. Said the crowd got behind me and it really helped. Could you just take a moment and break that down? How does that work? Does it sort of kick in on adrenaline? What's that like when you have 23,000...

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I felt they definitely wanted the match to go on. (Smiling.) Didn't matter who he was going to be playing, I believe. Still I felt very much a warm support for me, wanting me to go out, you know, fighting and believing that I could turn this thing around, because that's the feeling the crowd gave me. I think when the crowd gives you that and, you know, like you said, there were thousands in the stadium, it grows your belief that you can hit better shots, you can dig out more tough balls, you can serve better. All that just helps solidify your belief. I must say tonight was actually quite emotional for me. I really thought the crowds were incredible. They definitely got me through the match out here tonight. I really enjoyed it, and I can't wait for the next match to come around.

Q. And Ashe is just exceptional, that crowd, there is just nothing like it.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. I guess so. I mean, New Yorkers, there is nobody like New Yorkers, and this stadium here is phenomenal. I think once they clamp down and get into it it really is truly special. I have played some amazing matches here, but maybe not enough over the year. I'm happy I got through one tonight. Regardless if I won or lost it it was really special.

Q. With how well he was playing first two sets, did you ever feel the match was out of your control?

ROGER FEDERER: Not really. No, because I was getting on his serve, you know, and I had opportunities, but I was just not hitting my forehand very well. Then on the serve I started to either overserve or whatever I was doing. It wasn't working. But I think definitely something to do with Gaël, the way he was playing me. But I knew I could play better tennis, and I knew that once I started to play better I would be in control again. Even though I felt like I was, I had my opportunities, I just couldn't get the big hit in, you know. And then every time it was a close point, you know. Deuce or whatever, I would miss a forehand by this much. That was making the difference really. It was a tough first couple of sets and it was actually quite frustrating. The wind was blowing so it wasn't helping finding the rhythm. I'm happy I got off a good start in the third and calmed things down a bit, the nerves, and I was able to find my game. As the match went on I started to play much, much better.

Q. All your experience of Grand Slams over the years, when you face the two match points and brink of going out of a Grand Slam, do you feel tense at all? Are you purely focused on how you're going to win that point?

ROGER FEDERER: That is a very frustrating moment to be in. You know, being down match point, it's just not fun, because you're so close to leaving the court and, you know, head hanging down and going to take a shower and going to have to do press and all that stuff, which is so annoying after you've lost. I don't want to say I see all that, but it's like I played so well, you know. And then you're like you came so far and here you are facing match point. All this stuff just like goes through your mind. It's hard to block it out, because you snap right back in because you don't have that much time. You're like, Okay, let me try and hit a good serve. Let's hope it works, because I don't want to hit a second serve. All that kind of stuff. The same things that you probably think go through my mind just I can't escape it. I have to face it and embrace it. Sometimes it works, but very often clearly it doesn't.

Q. I guess you have been through that before in the past, gotten through match points. How much strength does that give you, that kind of memories in the past?

ROGER FEDERER: You mean in terms of experience?

Q. Yeah, down match points and winning.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, but it's not something you ever get used to. The margins are so, so slim at that point that, like I said, it's not really in your control really anymore. He needs one net cord or something so silly. When guys wish you good luck before the match, that's when you hope it's gonna kick in. (Laughter.) Because normally in other sports good luck is bad, but in tennis we like to say good luck to each other. That's when you hope it really, really is going to kick in. But you know it's probably not going to happen. And, yeah, today I definitely got lucky some obviously. But I felt like I was forcing the issue, so maybe there was some merit from that standpoint.

Q. Marin said today that he used his time last year to really develop his game and feels like he's playing the best tennis of his career.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I agree.

Q. And Tomas, who has played him a number of times, also said the same thing. Talk about him. I know you played him this year, but talk about the challenge that Marin will present and, you know, the way he's playing right now.

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, he's playing really nice, you know. I must say he's really cleaned up his game. I mean, he's done well in the past. It's not like, you know, he's come from the top 50 player to all of a sudden knocking on the top 10 door. He's been there before. Let's be honest. But it just feels it's not so much in the other guy's racquet. It feels like he also has a say in the outcome, and that's kind of what you want, especially against top players. I thought today he played great, you know. I thought, start to finish, closed it out, came back, all that stuff. That's what you have to do, you know, especially in a Grand Slam and beating Berdych in straight. Maybe he's not the most confident player now, Berdych, but nevertheless, I think he's doing all the right things, Marin. And I played him in Toronto. Funny match, you know. I didn't play great in the first set but somehow got it done, and then I think I wasted like eight match points in the second set; had to go three. It was late at night, and -- but that's maybe exactly the kind of matches I needed to win. You know, second-round, 12:30 at night. I mean, do I really have to do this? But that's exactly what got me through in Toronto to win Cincinnati and be in the situation today and facing Marin. So it was good to beat him, you see. That's sometimes how you have to get your ways. I think he's doing great. I know it's going to be a tough match.