A very interesting read here where Federer was interviewed on the phone by Time on his AO win. The whole piece is a gem. Tennis: Read Roger Federer's Q&A With TIME | Time.com
I should highlight that, in Federer's opinion his style of play overshadows his mental toughness.
In your matches against Nadal, the narrative has always been that he has the superior mental toughness. Do you think your mental game is under-appreciated?
I know the way I play is more visible than my mental toughness. I really had to work a lot on my mental toughness. Early on in my career, I was quite unstable. If people were going into a match with me, they knew if you could hang with me for two hours, after two hours, you’d probably be the favorite. Because I would run out of gas, or start checking out. It didn’t come naturally for me, the whole mental toughness.
I wanted to create a kind of aura that if people played against me, I was not going anywhere mentally and physically. That took me years to build up. Only when I started to win consecutive Grand Slams, and I was able to show that tenacity week in and week out, that’s when I felt like the locker room was actually starting to respect me. Before that, maybe I had that image [of mental inferiority] sometimes. In the years since, I don’t really think I’ve had this.
My mental toughness has always been overshadowed by my virtuosity, my shot-making, my technique, my grace. That's why when I lose, it seems like, "Oh, he didn't play so well." And when I win, it looks so easy. I had that already when I was a little boy. You know, "Why don’t you try harder?" I mean, honestly I tried everything that I possibly could. Just because I don't sweat like crazy and I don't grunt, I don't have this face on when I hit the shot like I'm in pain, doesn't mean I'm not trying hard. It's just how I play. Sorry.