Roger Federer pre-tournament press conference - 14 Jan 2017
Roger Federer 14-01-17 - Australian Open Tennis Championships 2017 - Official Site by IBM
Q. How does it feel to be sitting in that chair? Were there any moments in the last 12 months when you wondered whether you might not be sitting in that chair right now?
ROGER FEDERER: No, 12 months ago I was always going to come back because my knee wasn't so bad, so I never thought to miss the Australian Open a year later. But, of course, after Wimbledon, the race was on for Australia really, trying to make it for here.
I mean, I knew I had plenty of time. Probably in actual fact, if I would have kept everything short, it would have taken me four months then. That was pushing it. I would have had to take chances, test the knee earlier than what would have been good. But by giving myself six months, I had enough time, except if I had some setbacks. I never had that. So actually at the end I had plenty of time.
But so I always felt like I was going to be here. I'm happy I'm here, though. That means the job was well done. I can thank my team for that.
Yeah, was an interesting last six months, to say the least.
Q. What did you miss most?
ROGER FEDERER: Miss most? From here, you mean?
Q. Generally, when you were out. What was it about tennis that you missed?
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, from tennis.
I guess you do miss the matches at some point. You miss the feeling of winning, walking onto a stadium, seeing the guys. You know, it's like an extended family to some extent anyway. You walk around here, it's probably the same for you. You see faces you haven't seen in a while. It's just nice to see everybody again.
Plus I have a lot of friends on the tour, you know, because I'm the returning guest for like 20 years everywhere I go. It feels good to see those familiar faces every single year. It's something I couldn't quite enjoy the last six months. That's probably what I missed the most.
Q. Are you happy how the body has reacted, the preparation, you feel everything is in order?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it's under control. I felt great. I felt Hopman Cup was great preparation. We'll see if it was perfect or not. But conditions felt virtually identical to me. Center court in Perth was sort of similar size. Court speed felt the same. Obviously same continent, all that stuff.
It felt really good. Then practice was more about just managing, maintaining, not overtraining, but nevertheless still play enough to get used to the conditions here again, even though it's the same. You know how it is, you just have to put down the hours, play the sets. I did that.
Yeah, it's just more quiet now, whereas in Dubai I was really forcing the issue. I was training extremely hard. I don't have to do that anymore this week, so I feel like it's been a light week.
Q. How do you know you're going to be able to handle the long four or five sets that the Australian Open brings up?
ROGER FEDERER: I guess it's slightly the unknown. You could then argue that it's the same for everybody. We don't play four-setters, five-setters every single week. You only play them in Davis Cup now and in Grand Slam play. I went through a year where I didn't play any five-setters, an entire year.
You could think that's a good thing for longevity, but it's not a good thing because you don't know how it feels to play a five-setter anymore. Yeah, a lot of guys haven't played four-setters or five-setters in a long time, or never in their life. From that standpoint, I don't feel like it's a huge advantage or disadvantage for them.
I trained as hard as I possibly could, so I will be ready for it. I did numerous sessions where I trained over two and a half, three hours. I feel I'm ready.
But, like I said, it is the unknown. It's the part that I can only once I've been there.
Q. There's a lot of unknown for you in your draw because you play a qualifier, then another qualifier. Does any of you sneak out today to watch the qualifying matches, guys you don't know, or is it not worth scouting until you know?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean Severin and Ivan, my coaches, are out and about checking it out.
Yeah, it would be good to know who I play. I guess I could tell you what I think. Like this, I'm waiting to find out. Once it's out, it's actually a good thing because then you can start actually mentally preparing for the Aussie Open. Is it a lefty, a righty? It's a big deal. Is he a big server, a grinder? A bit of an unknown here the first round because that's the part of the draw I care most about because of having not been playing.
Q. Do you feel you have to play catch-up having missed six months, more new faces you're unfamiliar with than usual?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really, I don't think. I've never known all the guys in qualifying. There's always new faces coming up every season. The guys, a lot of them, who played futures or challengers a year ago may be 300, next thing you know they're in the top 100. It's nice to see those new faces. It's nice to see the changes. It's no different this year, I don't feel.
Q. You will remember what it was like to first become world No. 1, which is what Andy is obviously experiencing this week. Does it feel any different? Do you get looked at differently, do you feel? Do you have a different sense of perception?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I think it definitely feels different, yeah, because everybody comes up to you and says, You're the best. You start walking around a bit differently. Just feel more confident overall in your shots without having had to play. It's a good thing. Usually when you win, you know, it solves everything.
From that standpoint, there's only one virtually the last four months. I'm sure things have been very smooth for him in his life, family, everything is great. What is there to talk negative about? The negativity goes out of the door a little bit, which is a good thing in tennis. When you can think and feel positive, that rubs off into match play.
Then I guess you come to a point when you just can't let it affect you, you just have to remind yourself how hard you had to work to actually get there. It's going to require that plus more to stay there.
But I feel like because Andy is not 18 years old. He knows all about that. I don't think the ranking in this regard changes him in a big way. I think he's too laid back for him to also change in terms of attitude towards us.
Yeah, like I said, I'm super happy for him. He deserves it. He's been in there for a long time. He's had some tough losses, some great wins over the year. He never kind of strung it together that it would pay off. This time it did, so it's great for him, great for the sport.
Q. From your perception, somebody who played the role of No. 1 player in the world, dominated many years, in many ways this year you're kind of an underdog. You talked about the unknown. Are you looking forward to being that, the underdog?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, why not for a change? I mean, I prefer to be the favorite. Underdog is okay. Yeah, no, it's fine. As long as I'm healthy and I feel like I can go four, five sets, I can go many matches in a row, then I think it's going to be fun. If I feel like I'm in pain in the matches, then obviously it's no fun. Then it doesn't matter what your seeding or ranking is, it's always the same.
But, no, it's a great draw because I'm in the draw. So for me I'm super pleased that I made it here, that I have an opportunity to win matches. How many rests to be seen. I'm cautious myself. So, yeah, clearly an underdog this time around.
Q. Do you like the new logo of the Australian Open?
ROGER FEDERER: It's okay (smiling).
Q. You were here last year when the headlines about match fixing were in the news.
ROGER FEDERER: I thought we were going to finish on a good one (smiling).
Q. There's been 12 months of debate, a lot of people calling for money even in the qualifying of Grand Slams. What do you think of that notion? Is there anything left undone, something else we could be doing to address the problem?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, some guys who have been called for match fixing are ranked extremely low. That's at the very beginning stages, I mean you can't be offering -- I don't know how much prize money is there. You're playing in futures or tournaments they're playing in.
I think it's important that the tournament does the utmost. The Integrity Unit is analyzing the situation. I think we're going to get a report back in a couple months, what I heard, which I think is great. That's going to change the sport for the better.
Clearly we have no space for that kind of behavior in our sport. The good thing is that it's really only zero point something percent of players that actually have done something over the course of so many matches and so many players. I think we've done actually okay.
Like you said, there can always be more done. But I think also through experiences, you learn through those mistakes, whoever did them, the tour, the player, the Federation, I don't know. It's tough. But I think important is to support players and educate them the right way to make them aware of the dangers potentially, also what lies ahead as a player you don't know. That's where it's good to have a mentor, older brother on the tour you can lean on and ask for advice.
I felt I was lucky early on in my days that I had that. I had a great coach who was on the tour before. I had guys like Marc Rosset, former players that I could always ask for advice, sound advice, because they'd been on tour for 10 years. Or just ask my parents. But they didn't have a tennis background, so it's more tricky there. Maybe the Federation, as well. I think it's very supportive in a tough environment sometimes.