I translated an interview from the current issue of the German tennismagazine:
„We need a summer break“
In this interview the Swiss talks about the weakness in the calendar, his rival Rafael Nadal and the luck to be able to travel with the family. Also that he doesn’t think about a retirement.
Mr. Federer, this year you haven’t reached for the first time since 2003 the final of Wimbledon. You already lost in the QF against Tomas Berdych. How much did this loss pained you?
Of course it was painful. It was frustrating. My game didn’t worked. I had problems with my back and my legs. I didn’t played well in the deciding moments of that match. I was dissatisfied as I couldn’t play freely. But it isn’t the end of the world. On the contrary: I’m looking forward to return to Paris and Wimbledon next year.
A lot of people said it would be the end of the era Federer.
I don’t think so at all. I’m able to dominate again. That’s what I play for. When Federer loses in the QF people say that this is shocking. People aren’t used to this, me included. But I know that I can beat the other guys when I’m fit. It isn’t the case that they invented the game new in one year.
How do you explain the physically problems you had in Wimbledon?
On grass the balls are going deep and you have to bow a lot. It’s normal that this stresses the back. The back felt stiff, which happens to a lot of players. It wasn’t something really serious.
Injuries are a constant topic on the tour. Are you satisfied with the calendar?
It surely isn’t perfect and it won’t ever be perfect unless you would start at 0. But that’s not possible. There are too many contracts which have to be coordinated. Even with a perfect calendar a claycourt specialist would say: I would like to have one week more. And the grasscourt player says: Me too. And the hardcourtplayer in the States demands: We need to have two more weeks.
You are the president of the players council. How do your visions look like?
There are reflections to shorten the tour. I’m in favour that there is a month without any tournaments in the summer. Everyone could heal their injuries. The problem is that players could play showmatches then. There is always someone who would like to play. Maybe we can agree on having a 2 or 3 months break at the end of the year. You would have the time then to work on your game. That’s something which we professionals are extremely lacking. We always play tournaments. In the short breaks we only practice a little bit. But on the other hand you can’t really work that much on your game anymore when you are 20 years old. That leads to stagnation. Therefore I like it to have 2 or 3 times a year practice sessions for 3 or 4 weeks. That’s how I can develop as a player.
Nadal critized the tour calendar a lot lately. Rightly so?
I was surprised about it. He is part of the decisions as he is the vicepresident of the players council.
I think his critic is against the calendar when he for example has to cancel Barcelona. It’s more an apology to the tournament organizer. I would like to play 15 tournaments more, but the body and the calendar don’t allow. The great thing of tennis is that everyone can chose where to play. I can understand it that Rafa wants to play more on clay. I would also like to play 3 months more on grass, but I don’t complain.
Did you expect that Rafael Nadal would be able to play so consistant this year again?
Yes, but I thought he would be in better form already earlier. I was surprised that he wasn’t able to win a tournament for 11 months. He wasn’t able to beat top 10 players. Therefore it was an advantage for him that he barely didn’t had to play against any of the topplayers on the way to his titles in Monte Carlo and Rome. On clay Rafa is incredible strong. I was sure that he would win 2 or 3 of the Masters tournaments on clay and then go to the French Open as the main favourite.
He has displaced you as the #1 in the rankings. Meanwhile you slipped down to #3. How difficult is this drop?
Rafa hold steady his position as #2 or #3 in his crisis. I knew that he would have a chance to get back to #1 when he would play well. He used this chance. At the latest in Wimbledon, where he didn’t played last year, he would have overtaken me anyway. I really see this relaxed.
What makes you confident that you can reach the top again?
That I was able to go through difficult situations quite often already. I only won one title this year so far, but the victory in Melbourne was extremely important. It was groundbreaking. I lost the supremacy on hardcourt after I got mono. There were players who came up strong like Djokovic, Murray and Del Potro. In Australia I didn’t just won, I dominated there.
Afterwards you got a lung infection and returned to the tour in Indian Wells with moderate success. Was it part of your results that your focus is mainly on the Grand Slam tournaments anyway?
Absolutely not. I’m surprised that people say this. I don’t overplay and don’t appear at 25 or 30 tournaments. On the contrary. I’m playing selectively. That means when I play I give everything. I lost with matchpoints in Indian Wells and Miami. In Rome against Gulbis it was 5:5 in the 3rd set. I don’t lose on purpose.
In 2009 everyone was talking about the „Fab Four“, you, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray. Now there is a Söderling, a Berdych and other players who push forward. How do you see this development?
I was surprised how constant we four have played last year. At nearly every tournament we reached the SF, always the same players. Then there came Del Potro. He made a huge step. I should have never lost the US Open final against him, but he was incredible strong in the end. It’s pity that he is forced out of the game for such a long time. I think he would have had the chance to compete for the #1. Söderling has played very well, just as Verdasco, but Del Potro has won tournaments. Just like Davydenko. Roddick also played well. 2009 was a very interesting year.
Söderling beat you in Paris. But he didn’t belongs to the topplayers for you?
He has played at the limit a lot. He has learned how to be able to handle different situations. When you are that strong as he is you are going to win. He has lost against me 12 times. I beat him in Paris, Wimbledon and the US Open last year. But he didn’t won any of the big tournaments. One step is missing for him. The final in Paris (which he lost against Nadal) would have been the day of truth for him.
You are always seen as very balanced. When did you went wild the last time?
That’s a long time ago. I smashed a racket last year in Miami against Djokovic. But that’s not really a rage for me. That’s just a moment of a second.
Are you never angry?
Really, really seldom. I can get angry when I look like an idiot because someone has kidded me. But I’m able to defend myself.
You are travelling with your wife Mirka and your 1 years old daughters Charlene Riva and Myla Rose. How do you manage the balance between family and job?
Very well. I only spent 3 days without my children so far. It’s one of the most beautiful things ever to see how they are growing up. I also need the change from tennis. In former times I enjoyed the time-outs with Mirka, now with the twins.
Children also mean stress…
I wouldn’t want to change a thing though. I want to have Mirka and the kids around me when I play.
Of course it doesn’t have to be too much for the little ones. But we have the luck to be at the same place for at least one week. That makes it easier to settle in. Financially I’m in a very good position and that makes lot of things easier. I can invite friends. Often the girl-friends or wives of my coaches are there. I’m only 1 ½ months at home in Switzerland or Dubai the year. Therefore it is important for me to have a feeling like “home away from home” at the tournaments. Meanwhile we have lots of friends in New York or Paris which we meet for dinner. I need these kind of things to feel well. It would be difficult for me to travel alone, like many of the players do.
You could play as long until the children would go to school, which means 5 years.
Yes, that could indeed happen.