R. FEDERER/A. Agassi
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How did you think you played?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm extremely happy, of course. I played great off the baseline, great focus. You know, didn't only play against him, but against the fans tonight. They were really backing him up. I remember it was very similar to the year when I played the finals against him. Maybe not as extreme because this time he was losing and then he was winning, you know.
So it was a tough match tonight. I'm extremely happy with the level of play.
Q. Final point of the first set, a long rally, sets up has a choice between going up the line with a forehand or going crosscourt, he goes crosscourt and you're right there as if you knew exactly where the ball was going to be. How do you do that?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it was a long, long rally. Going up the line at the end of a point, you know, is always risky. Maybe I'm just kind of guessing ‑ guessing right, of course.
But I think if he would have hit it up the line, he would have had to hit it extremely hard to make a winner out of it. So the simple shot is to go crosscourt and, yeah, so I kind of was waiting there.
But I think, you know, to go on that long rally and to win it in the end was really good, and set the tone also for the second set.
Q. No matter how long the rally, your mind is still telling you, "Okay, you need to be here on this particular shot"?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, the longer the rally, you know, the more the pulse goes up and the slower you get, and the more sweat is involved and, you know, the afterburn of the point as well is in there, you know, and you know that. So there's many things going through your head. And then sometimes of course you want it to be over and done with, you know, so you take your chance.
But long rallies are always kind of interesting because it's like a boxing match, you know ‑ the tough one gets through.
Q. What is the emotion when you force the error off your return?
ROGER FEDERER: Off a long rally, yeah, it's great, it's great. Because I was always famous to win quick points, and people were saying, you know, "You just need to get the ball over three or four times and then he's going to lose his mind, go for a winner or an error."
Now you know that I'm coming through those tough rallies, also showing me that on the clay court it's really not a problem. I'm really looking forward to that challenge as well.
Q. You're getting better in this tournament. In my opinion, every game you played got better. Do you feel confident it won't be three in a row against Nadal, one single and one double you lost?
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, yeah, well, doubles you cannot really count, you know. That was last year in Indian Wells.
I'm looking forward to that match. It's going to be so different, you know, because he plays with much more spin than Andre, moves kind of different, of course, you know. He's a lefty, which totally changes everything. You have to get used to that.
I'm happy I got a day in between to, again, think about it. I'm used to these big occasions, so I hope that that's going to, of course, carry me through.
Also, again, once more, I'll play a great finals. But I know the tough opponent is waiting for me. He's got a great future. It's going to be a tough one.
Q. When you play with someone like Andre, his resume, his record, you get into a tight situation, do you feel there's an extra need to win that game or keep the genie in the bottle, or is it like playing someone else?
ROGER FEDERER: You feel like you're playing Andre, because he's one of the best returners in the game. You really want to make sure that you get that first serve in, you know. That's what I did, you know, on the big points today.
But you always feel like when you're let's say in a long game, on your own serve, you always feel like you have an advantage because you're serving; you should never forget about that. It's not you under pressure, it's him, because he already maybe missed a few chances. You always have the first serve, all you want to do is just don't double‑fault.
So you really have to stay very focused. And, of course, you know, when you got all those tough rallies and tough situations, you've got to stay calm. This is what I've been doing really well over the last few years now.
Q. Were you surprised that he went for such a big backhand on that Love‑40 moment?
ROGER FEDERER: No, it was the right shot to play. He missed it by just a little bit. He would have beaten me. After he missed that, then I hoped hopefully I'll get a couple good serves here, and back in the game and it's going to haunt him to have gone for so much. So maybe next time I play him, he will think twice, you know.
Q. You're not the sort of guy to dwell on defeats, but can you look back to what happened against Nadal here last year and say what happened then and what's going to happen Sunday?
ROGER FEDERER: What can I say? I was already struggling extremely hard, you know, in the first round against Davydenko here last year. It was the sunstroke I had from Indian Wells. I came through, and I think we should have played the one night and it got postponed, did it, I think because of rain.
I came back the following night, which actually gave me an extra day's rest, so I was happy about that. I actually felt pretty all right, you know, for the Nadal match, but maybe now I felt my legs weren't moving as they maybe usually do.
But, again, he played a terrific match and I never really got into the match. I think I never had a breakpoint. So that really shows you how tough he was playing on that night. I really had the feeling it was tough for me to hit winners against him because he moves so well. Against a lefty, maybe, you know, the adjustments were tough.
I hope that, of course, on Sunday it's going to be different for me. Because I got the matches, you know, under my belt now, I really like this court, you know, I don't mind slow hard courts, I give myself a much better chance than last year.
Q. One of the underrated things about Roger Federer is you played something like 49 matches since the US Open without any serious injury, going deep into the draw week after week. What is the key? How do you manage to stay almost virtually injury‑free all this time?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, to be honest, you know, I had a problem with my ‑ what was it? ‑ my thigh, you know, my leg, quadriceps after Madrid. I didn't play Madrid because I was exhausted from the trips I made. I came back to Europe, started preparing, and just before my hometown tournament in Basel, I felt my leg wasn't right. I went to do an MRI the day I was supposed to play, and I just realized I could play, you know, the match, but I couldn't win the tournament, so I decided not to play. Of course, you know, if I play there, you know, of course I'm going to lose a match, but I decided not to play.
Paris was impossible as well. So I was actually in the end hoping that I could play the Masters, and it actually worked.
So, you know, you got to, of course, now in my situation also, decide when you can play and when you cannot play. But once I step out on court, you know, I won't give up any matches. You're not going to see any walkovers from my side. Once I'm out there, I'm there 100%. That's what I've been doing, and since I'm No. 1 in the world, I figured that out.
Q. You've had an incredible season so far with your record. You're No. 1 in the world. You're in another finals. I don't know if there's a way for you to quantify this, but are you the most confident that you've ever been in your career right now?
ROGER FEDERER: I've felt better. I've felt better, to be honest. I'm playing great, you know. But, again, you know, I've had times where I felt fantastic maybe, probably even better. But today is very good as well. Had a great end to the season, start to the season now, and I'm back into a final after winning Indian Wells last week. I definitely feel great and I'm looking forward to this match.
Q. When did you feel more confident?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't remember, but I've had good times before (smiling).
ROGER FEDERER: Maybe Wimbledon, yeah.
Q. Do you see Agassi playing for much longer, because he's 35 now and he's still playing some great tennis. Do you see him playing on for a couple more years at least?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, a couple more years, it's tough to say. Because he doesn't play every, let's say, every second week. He makes very wise and good choices, I would say, for his age. I think that this is the reason why we are going to see him more longer. If he would play a full schedule with 20 tournaments, then he would burn out and say, What am I doing, you know.
But he's got family and he's got all he wants in his life. All he wants to do is just play a little more longer. So I think it's great he's still playing. As long as he can challenge the best and needs the best players in the world to beat him, I think especially then, he's going to keep playing.
Q. Looking ahead to the next Grand Slam, at Roland Garros you've won three Grand Slams thus far, how important is it to you to win that fourth Grand Slam in terms of your entire career and making a mark?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I felt like I made my mark last year. So of course three out of four last year was great. Now of course everybody says, Well, what more can he do, all he needs now is the French and then he's fine.
Wimbledon will always stay more special for me, no matter how badly I want to win the French. If I can win Wimbledon, I'm a more happy person. I know if I could win the French and kind of make it a whole, you know, to win the four, that would be fantastic; I know that.
But I have Tony in my corner this year, so I'm looking forward to that challenge, to attack the clay court season with him in my corner. He's going to come to the French Open, so I'm really looking forward to that. I know I can play well on clay, so there's no question about that.
Q. As aggressive as you are, with Rafael, who just refuses to miss a ball, are you going to have to be even more aggressive than you've been in this tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: I think the way I'm playing right now is okay, you know. Of course I have to think about it because, like I said, it's going to be very different. He's one of the guys on tour with the most spins on his forehands; it's crazy, you know. So it's going to be tough to control. I have to adjust to that and think about how I want to play him. So right now I can't really tell you.
Q. Have you been working, on the off days, a little bit more on your serve?
ROGER FEDERER: Haven't. I wish I had more time to work on my game, but...
Q. In preparation for Roland Garros, will you play first Monte‑Carlo, Hamburg, Rome, all of them?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, I will. That's the plan. If I'm not playing one or the other, it's a bad sign (smiling).
Q. Against Zabaleta and against Ancic, you had some difficulty; you made some unforced errors. Today you played much better. How much better do you think you have to play in the final to win it?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think if I play the level of today, there's a great chance, obviously. Because I really had the feeling this was, I mean, near to as good as I can play tonight. Because from the baseline I was hanging tough with him, I was serving well under pressure. So there's not much more I can do really.
Like I said, it's going to be a totally different match. We'll see totally different points against Nadal than against Andre tonight. Already this will change.
But the way I'm playing right now, of course, you know, leaves me very confident. I'm really looking ahead to that final.
Q. When you get down Love‑40, you consciously get a little bit more risky on your serve, hoping to grab a free point and come back?
ROGER FEDERER: If I take chances?
ROGER FEDERER: I took chances against Ancic, I double‑faulted on breakpoint, you know. So sometimes it also happens to me, you know.
Of course I hope for a good serve, and I just maybe focus an extra bit to really get that first serve in and to get off a good start to the point. Like I served at 15‑40, you know, the two aces; that was exactly what I needed. Probably going to need the same performance against Nadal.
Q. Do you rate the match you played against Agassi tonight as the one of the best you played this year?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, it's definitely up there. I can't recall all the matches I played, I already played so many. This was definitely one of the best of this year, I think.
Q. You took pains to mention, when you began speaking tonight, about how you had to play against the audience out there. How does the audience affect you psychologically?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it doesn't really affect you, you just feel like they're so much behind Agassi or behind their man, which they are supposed to be. Every close call gets commentated by them, and they're not happy if it goes against him. All this, the tougher the situation for you, they get into it more and more. So that makes it tough.
Q. Does it motivate you?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I'm motivated anyway when I'm playing Andre in front of no crowd or hundreds of thousands. The motivation is there.
I had a great time out there, you know. I wish they were all on my side, but we're in America against Agassi so I can't expect that (smiling).
But looking forward for also great crowds coming on Sunday.
Q. Do you have a relationship with Andre?
ROGER FEDERER: What kind of relationship (smiling)? He's got family. He's gone (laughing).
No, we joke around sometimes and talk, you know. Like I don't think you could do stuff like on the helipad in Dubai if you don't get along well off the court; otherwise, I would just refuse to do it if I will have to do it with a player I don't like.
Andre is a good guy. I really respect him over the years now, so... I enjoy playing against him, with him maybe in practice, even though we never do. I like to talk to him in the locker room, so it's okay.
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Andre Agassi forever