R Federer interview
Sunday, July 4, 2004
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen. Could we have the first question for the Wimbledon Champion.
Q. You were waiting for the sun to play your best tennis or what?
ROGER FEDERER: It looked like it, yes. You know, I'm just very happy. You know, I came out of that rain break, you know, where I was down 4‑2 as a better player because up until then I thought Andy was playing good tennis. He was putting me under pressure. I couldn't really play, you know, the way I wanted to. So I had to change some things. I came to the net more.
You know, this is when the sunshine came at the same time. I'm happy I had such a great reaction.
Q. What are your thoughts when Andy goes to the net more, when he serves and volleys more?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I played him once, I think he was injured a little bit in Basel, he was serving and volleying first and second serve. I mean, I've played him when he was serving and volleying. I think obviously he should do it occasionally. With that great serve he has, he gets a lot of easy volleys.
I wasn't too surprised to see it because I knew that he will maybe change some things up to play me.
Q. How did it affect you?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I didn't have a problem because I was actually ready for Andy to do so. You know, when he did it, you know, he was just actually serving too big. He was serving 10 miles an hour quicker in the beginning of the match than he actually was in the rest of the match. I think that was the key to success in the first set, because he was just serving too big. You know, I missed that one chance I had at Love‑40, and that was it.
Q. It seemed like it was a completely different match after you found your backhand. You had so much trouble with your backhand early in the match. Where did it go and how did you refind it?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I don't know if the backhand was really my problem, you know. I just thought it was the combination of Andy really playing well and him not allowing me actually to play the way I wanted to.
You know, he was hitting off both sides, backhand and forehand, very hard, and deep into the baseline. All I could do was actually block the ball back. I couldn't even slice. So that is a credit to him.
Definitely, you know, my backhand got better. Luckily for me, that backhand went in at 30‑All. That was important.
Q. Was there any adjustment you made in the way you hit the backhand?
ROGER FEDERER: I thought, if you look at the match also, he was serving second serves also at 120s in the beginning. In the end, he was hitting them at 100 to get more kick on them, which maybe I prefer a little bit.
But, you know, he's playing it safer, but it's also better for me obviously. I think this is why also the match turned.
Q. Can you pinpoint the moment where you decided to serve and volley more?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, after the rain break. You know, at 4‑2 I thought about what was going on. I thought maybe that will allow me to get some more free points and not to have to go every time in a rally, because that was actually the thing that was killing me. Because from the baseline, you know, on my serve he was taking a lot of risk. That was very dangerous for me. I decided to do so.
This makes me extremely, you know, happy and proud that I actually did take the right choice in such a moment.
Q. You've become such a great big‑match player. What has been the key of the development of your fighting spirit? What do you say when you're down and need to come through?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I've always told myself, and it's always been like this since I've played Juniors, that if I get to finals, you know, I just don't want to lose them. I do not accept. This is why for me in the beginning of my career on the ATP Tour, it was very difficult to actually get to know defeat in the finals because I had a bad record in the beginning of my career in finals. And really since now quite a long period of time, I've been winning a lot of the finals.
You know, maybe I lost one or the others here and there. But I have a very good wining percentage in finals. It seems like I can get my act together at the right time and even stay calm in finals where it's all about.
I've said this, you know, I think after the Australian Open, or after this win last year, that, you know, for me winners stay and losers go. I don't want to be one of them who goes.
Q. Do you think not having a coach in some way helps you and toughens you, gives you more resolve, knowing you have to do it yourself?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I wouldn't say so, no. Coach or no coach, you know, for me, I've learned so much through the last few years. I've been with Peter, obviously he helped me also in the way so I could actually travel alone. I mean, that's also to his credit.
For me, I felt already like I've been a grown‑up man already last year on the court. I was feeling ready actually to handle it on my own.
Q. How different does it feel this year than last? You were outwardly less emotional. Does it feel a lot different to your first win here?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I have to say very similar, you know. Both matches were down to the wire, until the end, until the last point. Of course, I was up 6‑1 in the tiebreaker last year. But still, you know, I have felt the pressure on my serve at 6‑3. This year I had to serve for the match, which is also not the most fun thing to do in a Grand Slam final, you know. I was very nervous at 30‑All.
But somehow the reactions after the match were very similar. You know, I fell to my knees and started to cry again because, you know, I couldn't believe it. I didn't cry this time in interview, because I kind of learned from what happened last year.
But it's very similar. Somehow I feel even more joy this year because I had so much pressure going into this tournament. Now to see my name on the board twice in a row, I kind of, you know, get more joy out of this. It's strange.
Q. Are you looking forward to dancing with Maria Sharapova at the ball?
ROGER FEDERER: You should know there's no more dancing going on at the Champion's Ball.
Q. A year ago if you had been sitting here having won the tournament serving and volleying on 80% of your first serves, would you have imagined that a year later you would play so dramatically different on your first serve? What's the explanation for it?
ROGER FEDERER: I think the explanation to this is what happened to me a few years ago here in Wimbledon. Remember I came here in '99. I've only played from the baseline against Novak. 2000, I came here, I was on serving and volleying against Kafelnikov. Against Ancic, you know, I was also almost only serving and volleying in the beginning, then I couldn't because he was playing too well. Also in 2001, I was serving and volleying all the time. I always felt I put myself in such difficult situations all the time, and I had to be so confident to serve and volley on second serves, on first serves all the time. And this was for me very difficult.
So I started actually last year also to play much more from the baseline on grass. Of course, I was serving and volleying more at that time. But, you know, this tournament started me playing from the baseline. So I thought, "Why change something now because I'm playing Andy?" But, you know, I had to because he's a better player than all the other others I've played. Luckily for me I actually had a rain break to realize I had to.
Q. You came very close to being broken in the fourth set at 2‑3. Two breakpoints. On the second one, Andy hit an inside‑in down the line. You made a spectacular get on the first ball. You may remember he hit wide on the second ball. Could you go over the importance of that shot in getting the first one back and saving that breakpoint?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, he had two huge chances in the fourth set really. Twice he missed a forehand which, you know, maybe normally he doesn't miss. But, I mean, I had to really, really fight hard to actually stay in the rally. Already I thought I hit a couple backhands which I was really under pressure. Forehand the same, you know, because he hit one unbelievable inside‑in forehand. These are the moments where I think I got a little lucky today, because who knows what happens again. You know it's similar to the Grosjean match. It was very close. This final has been played on a couple of points and I was lucky enough to make those.
Q. Last year you were given Juliet from your government. Would you like to expand the herd this year?
ROGER FEDERER: It wasn't from the government. It was the tournament of next week, of Gstaad.
Q. Would you like to expand the herd?
ROGER FEDERER: She got a baby. I already have two. We'll see what happens tomorrow. Tomorrow I'm getting there. Then we'll see what happens. I'm fine with two for the moment.
Q. You are going to the Olympics. How important is this tournament for you?
ROGER FEDERER: Very, very important. Yeah, I've had such a great time in Sydney already four years ago. It's always been a dream for me to represent my country, you know, to win a medal there once. I came so close four years ago. I'm really going over there to maybe do one step better.
Q. During the rain delay when you figured out you wanted to change your approach, are you pretty much by yourself or are you talking to somebody about this?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, you know, the people who were in my box, you know, Pavel and Reitan (phonetic), one is a physio, one is my friend who also to used to play tennis a bit. I just asked them what they think. I told them, "I think I have to serve and volley," because I remember playing serve and volley the year before, and I thought Andy was just getting too many returns back. I thought he improved on the return, so this is also why I prefer to stay at the baseline in the beginning.
But I just thought, you know, I will get more free points. He will maybe feel the pressure a little bit more and cannot take as many chances from me at the baseline when I'm serving. This is exactly what happened. I had to take chances today because otherwise it wouldn't have worked.
Q. Do you feel like you're reaching your peak or do you feel you're already there?
ROGER FEDERER: If I feel like?
Q. As though you're reaching your peak.
ROGER FEDERER: I feel like I can, you know, serve and volley more. Definitely, you know, I think this is something I can improve. I've always ‑‑ it's always been my dream actually to play better at the net. I'm definitely not bad, but I still feel there is room for improvement at the net.
But it's just so hard for me to do so because I feel the opponents are so incredible tough on returns and second passing shots. This makes it hard for me.
But, you know, I think if there's really room for improvement, it's in this area.
Q. Can you update us on what the situation is with the Swiss Defence Ministry, what ‑‑ any commitment you would have to serve?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't understand.
Q. Military service.
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, military service. Well, as long as I'm in the Masters at the end of the year, you know, I have no time. They know that. So we'll see what happens when I'm not in the Masters.
Q. How much was nerves a factor at the beginning of the match? How nervous were you? You didn't seem to be playing quite as sharply as you were.
ROGER FEDERER: Cold hands walking out on the court once more. You know, excited actually to be in the finals. You know, more of that. I felt from the start it's going to be a very dangerous and difficult match for me. Like I've said, he didn't allow me to play the way I wanted to. You know, I couldn't run around my backhand because he was hitting them too hard and too deep all the time. And I was very surprised how consistent his backhand was. That put me under pressure in the beginning.
I thought also he was making a lot of returns and also playing good returns, and this is why he totally deserved that first set.
Q. Do you think you had a mental advantage today? He showed quite a bit of frustration during key points. Did that help you? Do you think in all honesty you were the stronger mental player today?
ROGER FEDERER: You know, he always shows a lot of emotions, if it's positive or negative. I mean, I think this was very similar, his emotions, to last year. Last year I thought maybe he was a little bit more frustrated because it was straight sets and I was more dominant in that match.
But it's normal he gets frustrated. Because like in the fourth set, he had so many chances, he didn't make it. I get one chance and I do so. This is very difficult mentally. I just knew that my only chance actually to win today is if I stay very calm, and if I get a little luck, I could turn it around. I knew I wasn't far away from winning.
Q. Ultimately do you think that was an advantage for you?
ROGER FEDERER: Today it was, yes.