Federer: “The dominance surprises me”'
With the French Open, next Sunday, we have the kick-off of a unique summer of tennis. With the Olympic Games, as well as the battle for the lead in the world rankings, the coming weeks will get even more explosive.
Roger Federer is looking forward to the coming months.
Especially for Roger Federer there is a lot at stake. Can he win for the first time since the Australian Open in 2010 another Grand Slam tournament? Will he once again be the number 1? Will the dream of Olympic gold in singles be fulfilled at Wimbledon?
sport.ch was there, with a small group, as Roger Federer looked into the future, drew a conclusion of his clay season so far, spoke about the never-ending dominance of the top four and also revealed how closely he follows the ranking.
Rafael Nadal won in Rome, again a player from the Top 4. Since Robin Söderling’s victory in November 2010 in Paris, the winner of the Masters 1000 tournaments is always named either Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray. Are you surprised by this dominance?
Yes, very much. I'm surprised in general, how long we have already dominated on top. It is not self-evident that we end-up in semi-finals and finals all the time. Even though we have a bye in the first round of major tournaments, we can get a tough draw. In Rome, I was somewhat spared, in Madrid, however, it was brutal. But again, it always amazes me that another player doesn’t come through now and then.
Why could this be?
It is currently very, very difficult to get into the Top 4, but slightly easier to crack the top 10, because we on top win practically all points. It often happens that a player beats one from the top 4, but then fails the next. Therefore, it is difficult to get to the title.
How big is then the pressure for the top players?
Very big. You do not win, then another of the top four wins - that is, of course brutal. If you are eliminated before the semifinals, it's like a first round defeat.
How much is a player like Robin Soderling, who can upset the big ones now and then, currently missed?
Sure, he is missed. But we have such players at the moment as well: Del Potro is coming back, Nalbandian is playing well again, Hewitt and Roddick in top form can also for sure achieve something. Soderling had what it takes to beat good players and to win tournaments on faster surfaces. He is the only one who has been able to defeat Nadal in Paris. It’s a pity that he is not on the tour at the moment.
You lost in Rome in the semi-final against Novak Djokovic. Even though you have already played so many times against him: Did you get new insights?
No, there are no secrets between us anymore. It was a special situation for me: I played nine matches in a very short time, so I felt something. Djokovic had already been on clay longer and was well prepared. I'm happy with the run I had. Of course it's a pity I lost that game, because a victory always helps. At the same time, however, I'm glad that I've got a few days break.
How long does it take you, each time, to recover after a match?
This varies greatly. After a quick victory like against Seppi, for example, it’s of course easier.
Do you have sleepless nights?
No, I never have those actually, because at some point you have to shut down. During the tournament, it’s easier, it’s more difficult after a tournament victory, when you have so many pictures in your head. But it doesn’t matter whether you fall asleep quickly or not.
The clay season is just about to reach the high point for you, the French Open is coming. What conclusion would you draw from your clay season so far?
It could not have gone better, because I knew I would not win both tournaments (Madrid, Rome, editor's note). I would have signed at the outset for these results. I was expecting that Rafa and Novak would be in the final in Rome. Especially after Madrid, when the two had more time at their disposal to prepare. The fact that I was able to win the title in Madrid soon after a long pause - after we had been playing on hard court - is incredible. I am very happy.
Talking about Madrid. In particular, Nadal and Djokovic have repeatedly expressed strong criticism there. You have kept out of these discussions in large part. Has the experience helped you to better adapt to the special conditions?
Maybe. But I also have reiterated several times that Rafa should have never lost against Verdasco. Then he would still have been the big favorite for the title. It said much for him: We were in Madrid, in Spain, on clay. It may have been slippery or blue, but Rafa is, on this surface, the favorite. He lost out of 100 games maybe three or four. But of course the experience helps in these situations. Maybe I also benefited from the fact that the 1998 conditions, when I came on the tour, were everywhere different. (...) Today, almost anyone can play well anywhere. Sure, we have to adapt, but it's not as crazy as it once was. Maybe they are not used to that, whereas I am.
In the coming months, there is a pile to do with the French Open, Wimbledon, the Olympic games and the U.S. Open. Is it feasible due to the tightly packed schedule that these titles get divided among multiple players?
Yes, maybe. It was already always difficult to win Paris and Wimbledon one after the other. It will not be any different this year. The double Wimbledon and the Olympics would be more logical: Same place, just three weeks apart. Whoever triumphs at Wimbledon will be super motivated at the Olympics. But there, until the final, "Best of Three" will be played - we know how dangerous that can be on grass. A few points can be decisive. The US Open is a little later. We will see then who is in good shape. For me, this was true in the past: When I played well at Wimbledon, I've also played well at the U.S. Open. But it is also quite possible that the titles will be divided among several people. It's hard to imagine that someone is going to win all four big tournaments.
The battle for the No. 1 in the summer will be very exciting. How exactly do you study the ranking?
I do not follow it very closely. I would not even know how many points I currently have. I check this every now and then, but look at it more where, for example, my friend Stan Wawrinka is, because there the players make bigger jumps than we do at the top. I have long stopped to study the ranking on a constant basis.
To become number 1 once again is your big goal. Would it be even more special to take over the top with a Grand Slam victory?
We're talking here about big problems. Quite honestly, it doesn’t matter to me. We'll see how it goes. I've won the World Tour Finals, for me it's a big tournament, which is often forgotten beside the slams. For me, it is equivalent to a Grand Slam tournament. I feel that I am in possession of a major title. It’s a very interesting time at the moment and the ranking is a big issue. I know that I will have a chance up to the US Open. Right now I'm just glad that I'm healthy.
Thanks to cromar from rf.com for the translation