R. FEDERER/T. Haas
6‑7, 5‑7, 6‑4, 6‑0, 6‑2
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.
Q. The question for the last month or maybe more has been, What does Rogerhave to do to beat Rafa? You don't haveto answer that anymore, I guess. Are yourelieved?
Um, he didn't retire, right? (Laughter) No, he'll bounce back strong. I'm convinced about that. Sure, it was a big upset, but I mean, thefocus wasn't really there, to be quite honest.
Of course, my dreamscenario is to beat Rafa here in the finals, but I gotta concentrate on my partof the draw and make sure I come through like today.
Tommy Haas was very good today, so this iswhere my focus was, and will be also in my next round.
Q. Beingtwo sets down is difficult for any player on a five‑setter, but especially whenDjokovic and Nadal had lost, did that put extra pressure on you? In the third set at 4‑4, he made a doublefault when he had an advantage. Didthat...
I don't remember. No, I mean, I thought actually I wasplaying ‑‑ serving all right, especially for a set and a half. You know, I was down a set but up in thesecond set. Unfortunately I got broken,I think it was 4‑3. That definitely mademe a little bit nervous, you know, just knowing that I still haven't reallyfound my range and my rhythm from the baseline.
Tommy was also servinghimself extremely well, you know, and mixing up his game very well. So I definitely felt under pressurethere. He played another pretty goodgame to break me and get the set and stuff, but I tried to remain calm.
In a situation like this, you don't reallythink about whoever is out of the draw or not. You just try to come through yourself, and it's hard enough, you know,to stay positive when you're down two sets to love and a break point.
It was a great battle for me, andI'm thrilled to be through and given another chance here.
Q. Itgoes without saying that you're a fabulous professional, and you're known foryour focus. But you're a human being,too. Can you share with us what yourthoughts were when your great rival lost? What went through your mind in terms of your opportunities and what youwould have to do just with the whole psychological situation and the realsituation of Rafa not being here?
Well, I mean, I watched ‑‑ I only sawthe last bit because I was practicing and in transportation. Soderling certainly played great when he hadto towards the end. He didn't getnervous. Didn't look like it,anyway. He came up with the right playsevery single time, especially in the breaker when it really mattered.
I mean, it just showsthat it's hard, you know, to win day in, day out at a particulartournament. His incredible run stretchesback to a few years ago. He won over 30matches in a row here.
It's a phenomenal achievement, but it justshows that we're all human. We all loseat some stage, and people always make it sound so simple since like five years,that it's normal that he wins on clay, I win on grass, and then we share thehardcourts. It's not just the way it is.
I speak firsthand, you know, knowingwhat it takes to dominate. You know, Ithink he knows that, too, already since quite a while. But it's I think the press that blow it up orhype it up a bit too much that you are invincible, unbeatable.
Tennis is not like this. You come out and you always have guys goingafter you, like Tommy Haas today, like Soderling yesterday. I think it only gives them extra motivationknowing that you're the guy to beat or ‑‑ they have nothing to lose, because ifthey lose, it's a normal result. If theywin, it's an incredible achievement.
That's what Soderling was able todo, and it definitely creates some mind plays, I think, in some of the players'minds. You know, knowing that now theirsection is open. Mine hasn't beenaffected in a big way because I'm on the other side of the draw.
But I think for a lot of playersover there, I think it must be quite a big opportunity, and their heads must bespinning right now.
Q. Howmuch of this newly‑opened scenario is an opportunity, and how much of thatopportunity is a burden?
Well, I mean, I'm used to any kind of asituation, so it doesn't affect me in a big way.
Sure, you're aware ofit. You try and stay in the draw, but,you know, at the end of the day you're focusing on your shots and your matchand on how you play and the game plan against that player.
Not a whole lot more. I think if you make it to the finals thenit's a different scenario. Becausewhoever I play in the finals I probably have a decent record against, you know,which wouldn't be the case with Rafa, knowing that he has all the experienceand the confidence, you know, of winning here.
Definitely changes it up if I wereto make the final. But we're not thereyet, so honestly it hasn't changed a whole lot for me.
Q. 3‑4in the fourth when you have break point against you and you hit the inside‑outforehand for a winner. I asked Tommyabout that. You know that much, maybe itgoes out and it lands in. I said, Longcareer. How do you feel about pointslike that? He says, That's just RogerFederer being Roger Federer. How doesRoger Federer explain a shot like that at a crucial moment?
Well, I mean, I was struggling throughout thefirst two‑and‑a‑half sets from the baseline. I was serving all right, and that was keeping me in the match. Again, swirly winds made it hard for both ofus to keep the ball under control, especially that we both play sooffensively. You know, the rallies werealways going to be short.
That thing can stretchthrough a longer period of time not having any rhythm. I thought almost that it was my first goodshot of the match. It came on a breakpoint on the third set. I knew thesignificance that have shot, because I knew if I come out of that game I cancreate some opportunities later on and in that set.
I knew I was going to look back on thatshot. That saved me on that day, youknow. That's exactly what happened, andI was able to turn around the whole match. It's a great feeling, because I was in quite some danger right there.
Q. Couldyou just take us through your level in the fifth? For some of us, it was as good as we've seenyou play on clay for some time. Were youvery satisfied with the way you finished off the match?
Yes, and, you know, like I said, I think Iplayed actually pretty well against Acasuso to come out of that one.
I think the conditionswere rough against ‑‑ with the daylight, the sun, the shadow and the windsagainst Mathieu. I came out of thatmatch not knowing exactly where I was. That's kind of how I felt also in the first couple sets against TommyHaas.
Now that I won the last three sets, youknow, that I just played, I feel much better. I think it would have been different having, let's say ‑‑ had Ibeen up two sets, lost two sets, and then winning the fifth.
But like this, you know, I reallyfelt like I was getting stronger as the match went on. Of course, he didn't put up maybe the ‑‑he didn't play his best set in the fourth set when I won 6‑Love.
But still, I was able to put himaway there. And when I really needed toplay well, I really found my A game in the fifth set. That was a great feeling to get, and I hopethat can inspire me to play actually really nice tennis in the next round.
Q. Onthe other side of the draw now, Andy Murray is now seeded to get through to thefinal. Do you see him getting there, anddo you see him as your biggest individual threat now?
Not really. I mean, sure, he has a good chance to make the finals, you know. But then at the same time, I think Davydenko hasit, you know. I mean, he's been writtenoff a little bit. I've been disappointedthat I haven't heard much about him, you know, because he's a great player.
He was in the top 4 fora long time. He was unfortunate withsome injuries. So he couldn't keep hisranking because of that, not because he was losing first rounds all the time. Ithink that's why he's actually got a great chance of going forward.
Then we have other players, too. But I think the draws are wide open on theother side right now.
Q. Foryounger players, how difficult is the pressure to deal with, the fact that whenplayers like Rafa have gone out, that maybe people are now expecting Andy to goall the way?
Well, I mean, I think it's the same for allthe players right there, you know, to be quite honest. It's like if you've just beaten a greatplayer, and then you have to back it. Like Kohlschreiber has to do or Soderling has to do.
It's not an easy task,because how often does it happen in your life? It happens just a few times, and it's hard to back them up. I went through it when I beat Sampras at Wimbledon and then lost to Tim. I didn't play that bad against Tim, but youjust realize that not only Sampras can play tennis, but Henman can and thereare so many other players that play so well.
Just because you beat this one particularplayer, it doesn't mean you're going to now beat everybody easily. That's where it's hard mentally to be ableto shift. Yourself you have tokeep on playing dream tennis, and that's a hard thing to do sometimes.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.
Q. I'd like to know about Mirka or Séverin Luethi. How did they react to the fact that Nadal wasousted? What did they say? Did they say this was your year?
No, they didn't really say something likethis. You see, I watched the match withmy physiotherapist. Like any othermatch, he was down two sets to zero, and I watched the end of the match.
That's all, because I'ma fan of tennis. We were impressed bySoderling's game. But Séverin, Mirka,and the others never came to me saying, Now you have to win this match,otherwise you will never do it, ever.
No. By the way, this is not what I wanted to hear, and this is not theirreaction. I'm really happy, because westayed calm. It's normal, because I havea very harmonious team, which is what we need.
Q. Todaythere was this first set when you didn't lose any points on your serve, excepttwo points when there was a tiebreak. Onthe contrary, there was the very important tiebreak during the third set. Would you say that mentally it was the mostimportant thing?
Well, mentally it is very important; that'strue. But it's a combination of manythings. You know, you can't learn how tohit the ball this way on a break point. It's because I've practiced; I've trained. It's also a bit of luck.
But I had to stay calmat the right moment and try and go for it. You know, you can be more of a defensive player, but then if you dothis, what's going to happen is that the opponent is going to have thechoice. He's going to choose his shots.
As, you know, I try and attack more. I want the luck to be on my side, and thegood thing is that I hit the ball really normally and well at that moment. I managed to remain more or less calm. I was very much relieved afterward, becausethen I served well and managed to gain the first game point.
But mentally, it's very important,you know, to be strong, to go through these moments, and then reuse thisexperience later on. That's what I wasthinking about. It's even more difficultthan winning any other points.
Q. Whatabout this break point, you know, this forehand that was really close to theline? A few millimeters from theline. What would you say aboutthis? Because sometimes it's a questionof millimeters.
Well, we know that, for instance, ongrass. But also on hardcourts,sometimes. It's a question of a fewpoints only, few centimeters to finish a match.
On clay, it's less thecase, you know, because we have more margin, more leeway, so things could havechanged. You know, there are more breakpoints on clay than on any other surfaces, so there's always this thing.
You always think that the match couldchange, even though the other one is leading the match. It's more difficult to break if it's 5‑4 andthe other one is going to serve for the match. It's more difficult to win the breakpoints.
Q. Haveyou got a cold, a runny nose?
Just a little. Not much.
Q. Is it because of Roland Garros?
I've always had a cold, you know. I've always ‑‑ caught cold in mylife. It goes and comes and goes andcomes very quickly. No, it's not veryserious.
Q. You said it would be a dream to play against Nadal during thefinals. Now, if you win today or if youwin Roland Garros, would you say that there would be less intensity comparedwith Nadal?
No, never mind who you're going to play inthe final, and as long as you win. Socan you ask me the question another time.
Q. I have another question that has nothing to do with this match. Mirka is very important in the life ofFederer. How important is it to havesuch a wife as a player?
Well, Mirka, you know, the first two years wewere together she didn't really travel that much with me because she had herown career. We met in Miami and the Grand Slam tournaments ormatches, and then unfortunately she was seriously injured. She had to wait.
You know, there was aperiod of rehabilitation. Then when shehad to go through the surgery or operation, it was not easy for her. But frankly, she decided very quickly todedicate or to give up her career to focus on mine, even though today she stillhurts.
I mean, her foot operation didn't go onreally nicely, so it was easy for her to give up and say, Okay, I'll stop mycareer and I'll have my husband.
Now I think she is supporting me atthe right moment, because, you know, I won Wimbledonin 2003, and that's when she didn't really know what to do with hercareer. She didn't know if she would tryit or not.
That's when she started helping mewith the hotels, the plane tickets. Ihad no managers at the time. That's whenshe started dealing with the press, as well. It was a lot for her, I know, but she would protect me from many things.
And now, afterwards, it wasbetter. It was easier and she was withme day in and day out, throughout the world, and she helped me considerably, asa person, you know. I developed faster,grew faster with her. Thanks to her Iwas very calm in the important moments in my career. She was always here, always supportive. I owe her a lot. It's normal.
Q. Youmight play against Gaël Monfils who you defeated last year. Would you say this season he plays better andstronger? And how would you explainthis?
We'll see if he manages to defeat AndyRoddick, but I think he's fit. I've notseen or watched all of his matches, all of his sets, but I think he playsreally well.
He was injured, youknow, considering this. I know Gaëlnow. I've played several times againsthim. He's always got his ups and downs. You know, his attitude, as well, is up anddown. You never know what to expect withGaël.
But his game is quite solid now. He's calmer than he was in the past when hewould play his first Roland Garros tournaments.
I think this is going to help him,because it's not five sets each time for him for the first two rounds. I think he's fit. But what I saw is that it's going to be toughfor Roddick today.
Q. Todaythe crowd was supporting you, whereas yesterday they were supportingSoderling. How come?
I was not here yesterday on the stadium, so Idon't know. It's difficult to explainthis. Well, maybe Soderling was verymuch into the game. He was dictating thegame, which is always something that people like. He would take the risks, so maybe that's oneof the reasons. I don't know.
And then, you know,unfortunately sometimes when someone is too much of a winner, then people arenot really against you but in favor of the other player. You know, I saw that in 2006 and 2007 when Iwas not really losing at any moment.
When I would lose a set, then it was like abig show for the crowd. This issomething that you have to experience one day or another. But this time I don't know why they weresupporting me, even though the other player was doing better.
Q. Whendid you realize there was a turnaround in your favor?
After this big forehand, the inside‑outpoint. I said, That's a turnaround. That's a turnaround, the inside out. The forehand. Otherwise I was not thinking about this. I was not really playing well from the baseline and I didn't have enoughpace, but that's due to Tommy Haas.
His game was reallygood. I was in a very tricky position, Imust say this. But that's when I thoughtI have all the assets in my hands to change this match, and that was the case.
No "these kind of matches are fun" comment... I'm surprised. I wonder if that means he was actually really scared in that match?