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Old 07-07-2006, 07:52 PM   #71
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J. Bjorkman Interview - Day 11
Friday, 7 July, 2006

Q. Roger described his performance as flawless. What was it like playing against someone like that?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Tough. What can you say, you know. I felt actually pretty good today. I was very relaxed. You know, felt I will enjoy it. I still did, in a way, because I just felt it was in a way nice to be around and see how someone can play the nearest to perfection you can play tennis, I think. He just made it look so easy.

Q. Can he make it look that easy in the final, do you think?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, if he can do that most of the games, why shouldn't he be able to do that in the final?

Q. What did you say to him afterwards? You're friends, aren't you?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Yeah, I just asked him, you know, how he felt, if he saw the ball like a bowling ‑ what do you call it ‑ like a bowling...

Q. Bowling ball.

JONAS BJORKMAN: Thank you. Like a bowling ball or a basketball ball. He said, yes, it was almost like that.

I couldn't more than just ask a little bit how he felt. He obviously said he felt good. I just wanted to check so he didn't have a bad day, because that would have scared me a little bit (smiling).

Q. You've been around so long. If you were asked, Hey, describe briefly the genius of Roger Federer as a tennis player, how would you frame your answer?

JONAS BJORKMAN: I mean, it's hard to describe. I think today it was just I felt like I played a guy who was as near as perfection you can play the game. I had the best seat in the house, in a way. He just makes it look very simple, obviously.

I think his serve ‑ he doesn't get enough credit for his serve, I think. Everyone talks about him with everything else he got, but his serve is very effectful (sic). He has the same toss in every serve more or less. That's why it's so hard to read. He hits his spots really well with good spin, with a mixup.

You know, like Pete, he had that pure power with hitting it perfect in the corners. But Roger can mix it up, but with the same toss. I think that's what makes it so hard, especially on grass against him, because he hits his spots very well. Just so much harder to return his serve on grass, I think, than another surface.

Q. Can you say what his greatest asset is? Is it legs, his hands, his mind?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, I think he just got everything, most of it. I always felt Stefan Edberg was one of the greatest movers out there, you know. He looked like he was a cat, just so smooth.

I think Roger is almost above that, you know. He also in a position that he always looks like he doesn't look that he's moving a lot, but he's always there. It looks like he has a lot of time to hit his ball all the time.

But obviously his wrist in both forehand and backhand, he can create so much power with it. That's probably what amazed me most, how he can generate so much power.

Q. In your era, obviously Pete was sort of the gold standard. How do you compare him to Pete? The debate is basically starting now, especially if he wins here.

JONAS BJORKMAN: Yeah, I felt Pete, like we all think and believe, that he is the greatest because all the records of Slams and everything, but it always felt that you can find a way to get some games here and there against Pete. And against Roger today, I felt I had to do whatever I can. He didn't give me any freebies. Didn't have couple of shots here that it looks like he was a little flat or lazy. He was looking like he wanted to win every point. That makes it so much harder to play Roger than maybe against Pete. That would be the difference, I think.

Q. How many times today did you say with a shot, I've got him with that, he's not gonna come back with that one, and he did?

JONAS BJORKMAN: A lot of times. I mean, if I compare, it's just the difference, obviously, because I played all the other guys I played. I actually felt good. You always have that little tension, but I think you need that when you go into a big match. But I felt very relaxed and good out there. I didn't feel that I was hitting the ball that bad.

But, you know, obviously the ball came back much more often than it has done in all my other matches here in Wimbledon.

Q. In your mind or in theories, what do you think how somebody has to play to beat Roger Federer here in Wimbledon?

JONAS BJORKMAN: I'm not sure. I think the only one who has an idea is probably Nadal at the moment, and even though it's gonna be a different matchup, because I'm not sure if they have played on grass before. He still managed to get into the head of Roger a little bit with his head‑to‑head record, obviously. That's going to help him going into a final.

But maybe with a lefty spin, he can also get Roger out of position a little bit more often than other guys can. And he also have this that he can generate a lot of power as well, with his forehand, so.

Q. It's been a while since I first saw you play, in a satellite in Portugal in '91. Can you pinpoint a time in your career that you think jump‑started your career since you became No. 4 in the world? Can you pinpoint one moment in your career that made you jump to the top, looking back?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, my breakthrough was probably US Open '94 when I beat Edberg second round. I just the year before, I started to do really well in satellites and challengers. But, obviously, that was the big moment for me to beat my idol that I been practice with a lot and learned a lot from, both on and off the court.

So reaching the quarters there was probably the step forward to something good for me, and I learned a lot from that experience.

Q. If Stefan was your idol, why didn't you do just like him, drop the second hand of the two‑handed backhand?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, he became my idol a little bit later so I already had that two‑handed backhand and I couldn't do the switch like he did. I still hit a few one‑handers during my matches here and there. I have to say, I managed to hit a few good winners once in a while.

But I think my two‑handed backhand was a good choice, because that's been my best shot for a while.

Q. Looking for weaknesses in Federer is like looking for flaws in Mother Teresa. You said "near perfection." Is there anything he doesn't do, is there anything you could point to that the guy could possibly upgrade?

JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, I didn't feel that today, obviously. No, it's probably his mental approach going into matches. I don't know, but maybe sometimes he can feel a little off. I think that's probably what guys would hope for, to feel that he's not really there hundred percent. But most of the time he is there hundred percent, which is very impressive to be that sharp every single match when you keep winning like he does. You would normally see some matches that these big players are a little off and then will lift themself up when they need it but still not play that perfect match all the time.

But he does play really, really solid. I mean, if you look at this tournament, he hasn't looked like he had any times during matches where he's been off.

Q. So stroke‑wise?

JONAS BJORKMAN: I think stroke‑wise, you know, his forehand is obviously great. You know, he got the backhand. His slice, he got massive spin on his slice, which no one else has. So I'm not really sure if he has a weakness.

Sometimes maybe he can miss a few volleys at the net, and technically it looks good, but I don't know if he still can miss a few there. That would probably be the only weakness that he comes up sometimes with a couple errors there.

Q. What was the strangest thought you had going on in your mind at some point during the match or something that surprised you that you were thinking just about the whole situation?

JONAS BJORKMAN: I didn't have any weird things going on. You know, I was just trying to hang in there and, you know, hoping for a momentum that he will switch off a little bit and drop his level and try to get back in the match. I was just hoping, you know, to have that opportunity to get back into it. Didn't really have anything weird, you know. Just had to enjoy the moment of being out there still.

Q. About the rise and fall of serve‑and‑volley tennis, what is it? Is it the equipment, including the strings? The courts?

JONAS BJORKMAN: That makes it harder to play serve and volley?

Q. Yeah, the balls, the mindset? Is it more difficult for your confidence if you lose a point at the net or lose a point at the back courts?

JONAS BJORKMAN: No, no, but it's impossible to play serve and volley all the time these days because the balls is much heavier. You can see them, they almost ‑‑ they way bigger than 10 years back. It just makes it so much harder because the ball doesn't skid away, it just sits up. And with that, everyone returns better, everyone is physically stronger, so if you don't hit your volley perfect, then you gonna get passed.

Q. The role of the strings?

JONAS BJORKMAN: The strings have helped, as well, for guys to play ‑‑ to be even stronger and hit better shots.
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