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Old 06-05-2009, 10:08 PM   #253
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R. FEDERER/J. Del Potro

3‑6, 7‑6, 2‑6, 6‑1, 6‑4

An interview with:

ROGERFEDERER

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.

Q. How tense was it?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it was a tough match, no doubt. I thought he came out of the blocks reallystrong with his serve and the way he was setting up his shots, especially withhis forehand, which can, you know, miss sometimes.

It wasn't the casetoday, so it was quite a bit of pressure. I also thought he had the upper hand from the baseline. He was serving better, so he obviouslydeserved the lead.

It was important for me to stay with himthrough the second set and save myself into the breaker, because I wasn'tgetting many break opportunities. Thankgod my serve started to get better as the match went on.

I think once I got that second set,you know, I knew I was always going to be in a shot. The longer the match went, I was alwaysconfident with my, you know, with my physical abilities and my mental abilitiesthat I was going to be able to turn it around in a tough situation.

So I'm very happy to have made it,once again.

Q. Twothings: In years past you've kind ofdisdained the dropshot. Today it playedvery well for you. You maybe hit 20, 25winners off that side. In the final twosets, it seemed in the more athletic, physical points that it played in yourfavorite, also.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I thought the conditions definitelyslowed down midway through the fourth set or so when the clouds came in, thecooler weather came in.

I also think that mighthave helped me, you know, as well as getting more into his service games andinto his rallies. I knew if I were ableto break him that things could definitely fall my way, and that's exactly whathappened.

I think I definitely started to play a bitbetter. I was able to play moreconsistent and also mix it up well. Thenalways, again, use the dropshot. It'sdefinitely been an important shot for me this tournament so far.

Q. Youhad a huge match in the second round against Acasuso and another one againstHaas and another one today. Is it evengreater satisfaction for you to be in the French final this time given thehardships you've had to endure along the way?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, absolutely. It feels great coming through tough matcheslike this, you know. It's moreemotional. It's more satisfaction, eventhough I'm ‑‑ I love matches when I can really dominate an opponent.

But this is also agreat feeling of coming through this way, you know, not the easy way, showingdifferent qualities. It's not alwayssomething I've actually had a chance to show, because matches were over tooquickly sometimes. It's good for me, somy career hopefully is going to be longer because of those matches, in the longrun.

I still feel fine, you know. Going to rest up tomorrow, practice a littlebit, and get ready for the tough final.

Q. Thefact is, picking up on that, almost all your matches, apart from Monfils, youhave played better and better the longer the match has gone on. Is that experience? Is that finding it more difficult to get intoa rhythm early? It's happened about fivetimes now.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. Look, I don't know. I think I'vedefinitely had a tough draw. Lookingback, I've played against quality players who play well on clay. It's maybe their best surface. They always got out of the blocks prettygood, you know, which made it hard for me.

Against Monfils it wasobviously key to win that first set, so it was again today. It's in every match the same thing, but it'simportant that, you know, I canreact now. There was a time when I waslosing quite a bit of three‑set matches. You know, obviously they're not physical or anything, but for somereason I wasn't able to come back in those.

Here we are in the best‑of‑five setscenario. Maybe I'm just more relaxedknowing that, you know, as time goes by I'm only going to get stronger, and thehard work is paying off.

It's nice, because I practice forhours and hours and hours and I don't get tired, you know. So then to be able to show it also on a matchcourt in a big opportunity like this, it's fantastic.

Q. Yourlast hit make you win the match and you go to the final on Sunday. Your last hit hit my camera really hardly.

ROGER FEDERER: I hit what?

Q. My camera. I was taking photo ofyou. I was in the hole behind thebaseline.

ROGER FEDERER: I hope you're okay (laughter.) Risky job.

Q. On Sunday you will play with Soderling, so your opponent is not RafaNadal anymore. What do you feel aboutthe match on Sunday? Will that be mucheasier for you, or what do you think?

ROGER FEDERER: Um, look, there's no easy Grand Slamfinals. It's very simple, because theone who is on the other side of the net has also won six matches and isdefinitely in the shape of his life.

I cannot obviouslyunderestimate Robin, even though I've beaten him I think in the five matcheswe've played against each other. Butobviously it's nice to see someone else for a change in the French Openfinals. I've been there before. I don't know if it's an advantage or not,because I've never been able to win.

I'm sure, you know, pressure is big for bothplayers, you know. Not only for me, butalso for him. It's his first big step ina Grand Slam. I'm sure we're going toplay some good tennis, because I thought he played we will really well todayagainst González.

Q. Howdangerous is Soderling? In what way ishe dangerous for you?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, he was pretty famous for beingdangerous on indoor court, you know, just because he had a big serve. He has big shots off both sides, forehand andbackhand. I always knew also he hadcapabilities on clay, you know.

But maybe because hewas so dangerous on indoors you never really give him maybe the respect on aslower courts. But he's beaten suchquality players here during his last couple of weeks that you've got to givehim credit for coming through those. They were not easy matches, especially mentally for him, and alsophysically.

The way he came through today was impressiveafter being down a set and being able to just to turn around like this. He is definitely ‑‑ he's playing the tennisof his life. I'm sure it's going to be ahard final, but I'm ready for the challenge.

Q. Youtalked to us in Romebefore that tournament started about the physical work that you've beendoing. You're a little bit secretive,but you said you had been doing a little bit of physical work. Could you just perhaps give us an impressionof what you were doing there and how important that has been in this clay courtrun?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean I've always been workinghard. It's not like it's the first timein my life I've started to work hard. People sometimes overreact. Butat the same time, it's also I think important to let the people know what youare actually doing, you know, when you're not at a tournament, you know.

I work extremely hardwhen I'm away from the tournaments. WhenI'm at the tournament I pace myself, because most importantly is that I'mrested in those events. That's you whenyou se me warmup. I'm more laid backbecause I've already put in the hard work once I get there.

It was a lot of getting used to the sliding,the longer rallies, the four‑hours‑in‑a‑row practice sessions. Those kind of things. Just getting ‑‑ serving for a long time,running around for a long time and just making it really a match situation in afive setter of a French Open.

That's what I'm trying to do, andit's nice obviously that's been able to pay off. It's been a good clay court preparation I'vehad, and I thought I should play well in Romealready. Unfortunately I didn't beatDjokovic in the semis, which I think I should have.

But ever since, I haven't beenlooking back at the defeats. Also I'mvery confident right now.

Q. Whenyou get into a five setter against Del Potro who has been firing the ball well,very promising, doesn't have the experience, do you go out in the fifth say,Show me what you got; I've been here; let me see what you have?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I definitely feel more confidentagainst a younger player. I rememberwhen I was younger going to a fifth set is always a bit uneasy, you know, justbecause you haven't been there that much. You're hoping so much to play well, and I think in a fifth set there'snot, how you say ‑‑ you can't just start hitting crazy shots. There is much more mental and physical thingsthat come into a match like this.

Obviously at this age Ido feel better going into a fifth set than I did before.

Q. You have a good relationship with Laver. I wonder in you've talked to him lately before the tournament?

ROGER FEDERER: Rod Laver?

Q. Yeah.

ROGER FEDERER: Don't have his phone number. I didn't see him here, but, I mean, we getalong well when we see each other. It isso rare, and it's usually once a year. Ijust guess it's common sense that, you know, when you've been at the top of thegame, for him and for me, that you relate and you like each other.

I'm very respectfultowards the older generation, you know, everything that they were able toachieve. You know, when people reach astatus like he did, you know, who get massive stadiums named after him and therespect that he gets from his other players. You only hear good things about him. A legend like he is, it's understood that I have the biggest respect forhim.

Q. He admires you greatly. I talkedto him the other day.

ROGER FEDERER: That's nice. Well, you have a connection. That's nice. I wish I had it.

THE MODERATOR: French questions, please.

Q. Isit one of the most moving and difficult semis that you've ever played?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, yes. I can't remember a five‑set match that I've played that was somoving. Well, maybe. I've played several five‑set matches. You know, Safin was one of those, but thisone I won. So it's important to me tostay calm, yet it's all about emotions that tend to overwhelm you.

It's this feeling, thisincredible feeling to win this match. You know, I was down one set and then down two sets to one. It's incredible to get into the match andthen end this way.

Even though I was sad for him, because, youknow, he's a young player. You alwaysthink that there aren't that many opportunities, that many chances for youngerplayers, you know. So I was a bit sadfor him when I won.

I respect him awfully because hemade considerable progress, and I'm certain he's going to be a great player inthe future.

Q. Whatabout the support of the French crowd? Do you feel something special this year? I have the impression that everybody is for you.

ROGER FEDERER: Yes, of course. They were really great with me, and theyprobably waited for this moment. They wantedme to do something magical. It took me acertain while before I did it. It wasprobably due to Del Potro's game. It wasan incredible match, I can tell you.

I had to wait longbefore I could do this, because when I needed the support of the French crowdthey were here with me supporting me. AsI said before, the crowd was very emotional.

Q. Several days ago you talked about 2006 and 2007 when you were totallycontrolling the game. You weredominating the game. This time I had theimpression it's a fight for you. Haveyou learned something from this match?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, yes. As I said in 2006 or 2007 when I had to play five‑set matches I said, Ican't remember when the last or latest five‑set match was. You know, when you go from practicing tomatches, it's difficult to know where you stand.

I always knew I wouldbe strong physically and mentally, as well. But, you know, it's a test. Afive‑set match is a test. When there aretough moments, quarterfinals, semifinals, finals, when it's a five‑set match,that's when you can find the answers you need to find.

So I've never really tried to play a five‑setmatch on purpose to know where I would stand. But today with experience, I'm older, I've got more information, I knowwhat I can do physically and mentally. So it's simpler for me today than in the past, even though of course itis a fight.

I like it, because there weremoments when I thought it was quite easy.

Q. Now,you've said you know where you stand today. So is this more reassuring?

ROGER FEDERER: Yes, of course. You know, to end a match or rather to endthis, you know ‑‑ when you are playing a Grand Slam match, what happenedbefore no longer counts. It's thefeelings that count.

When you reach thefinal, all questions have been answered. You know where you stand. Thereare no pending issues. I know thatphysically I have zero problems on Sunday, and this is what counts. This is what's going to reassure me I feelgood.

Q. Soderling is totally fit here today in Roland Garros. Is that something that would worry you herefor the finals? Soderling is reallytraining and practicing. He's fit. Is this something that's bothers you?

ROGER FEDERER: No, I totally respect what he's done sofar. What he's done is that he's playedgreat matches. I watched some of those,you know, the big matches he played. Well, of course, it is a surprise.

You know, it's not justa quick win and then you reach the finals in a Grand Slam. It's an incredible tournament he's had sofar.

But it's still open for both of us. It's not ended yet. So I'm really happy for him, because he'smanaged to come through, to stand out. SoI hope I'm going to stop him now.

Q. Now,today you've played against a very big server, and what about this? What about the break points?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I had two break points at the beginningof the match. I thought that's a goodstart, and then no more break points during two sets. Usually it happens on grass or hardcourts,but on clay this was a bit frustrating.

So that's true. I've gone through difficult moments today,but I had to remain calm because I knew the public was waiting for aturnaround, a moment for me. But Icouldn't do it, because as I said before, you know, Juan Martin was playingreally well.

Q. It was 3‑All in the fifth set, and then he didn't serve very well. He couldn't serve his first balls. Do you think that physically something wentwrong with him, or mentally?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, this might happen, you see. You can't practice on this. Well, of course it is surprising. I think he couldn't play eight first servesduring this game. Well, maybe I couldhave broken. It wouldn't have been eightpoints but four points.

But anyway, it issurprising; that's true. But this mighthappen. The conditions were slower. Perhaps he felt pressure. Perhaps he was tired. These things happen. I don't think he should worry about this.

Q. Will you not miss Rafa Nadal on Sunday?

ROGER FEDERER: No, not really. Not really. Maybe for you you're going to miss him, but not me.

Q. Well, this was like a meeting, a special appointment. It had been the case for three years.

ROGER FEDERER: Four years. Four years.

But I've played againsthim 20 times, so it's always nice to play against somebody else. You know, I'll still play against Nadalseveral times in the future, so that's okay. I'm happy to play against someone else.

Q. You've said that Sunday's match is going to be very open, but could wesay that you are the favorite for the finals?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, it's up to you. Well, yes, it's up to you. I've never lost ‑‑ I was never defeatedby him, and I was there during other Roland Garros finals but I never won.

Well, yes, of course Ithink that clearly I'm the favorite, but this doesn't mean much. You know, such a final with pressure on bothsides, you see. He doesn't know what aGrand Slam final is, but I know, and I've played so many times that this couldbe good for us.

But also, you see, he's got nothing tolose. This is a very open match.

Q. Duringthe tournament, there were very tough moments. You've played against Monfils, against others. Do you have the impression that this year isyour year? There are signs outthere. Don't you think so?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, ask me the same question again Sundayevening, because for the time being ‑‑ well, yes, it's okay for me. I've gone through very hard moments duringthe tournament. I've overcome them, yetthere is a leap forward to consider.

I was very happy toplay all these matches on the central court this year. This is something which is not really usualor normal. But, you know, it's also dueto the opponents I was playing against. I was playing on central court. So this is good for me, because I could practice. I was prepared for each match.

I knew that this was the central court I wasplaying on. This is something I liked, Ienjoyed, and I hope I'll play a good match on Sunday. But as I said before, please ask me the samequestion Sunday evening.

Q. Sundayyou can go down in the books if you win the only title that you've not yet wonfor a Grand Slam. You can go down in therecord books. What do you feel aboutthis? Is it fear? Is it that you're excited?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, not fear. Excited, yes, of course I'm excited, becauseI know that these moments will not happen every single day. Yet I'm quite relaxed. I've played so many finals, you see, GrandSlam finals, major tournaments, major finals. I've seen that several times already, so I'm not going to get tooexcited over this.

You know, I'm not goingto say, Okay, if I don't win this year I'm never going to win. You know, I've always done my best here atRoland Garros. I have all my chances inthe future, as well. So what I'll tryand do is focus on the match. I'll do mybest, play my best tennis on clay, and I hope that I can win the cup.
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