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Roger Federer pre-Wimbledon

Sunday 23 June 2013

Roger Federer gives his pre-Wimbledon press conference.

Q. As the defending champion here at Wimbledon, what are your feelings, what is your state of mind, taking into consideration that you have not won one of the big ones this year?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, there's only been two to start off with. It's not like there's been 20 (smiling).

I'm very happy to be back, no doubt about it. You know, it's always a privilege and with big pleasure I come back here, especially with the memories I have from this place - not just from last year but the last 15 years.

I'm excited that the tournament's about to start. I'm happy to be playing. I'm fit. That's really what matters now sort of 24 hours before my match tomorrow.

Q. How would you describe your thoughts on what Rafa has done since coming back from his knee injury?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I expected a fully fit Nadal to return, especially the length of time he was out of the game. He was not going to come back half fit.

So for me, his return has been great. Not totally unexpected to me. But, nevertheless, super exciting for the game and very impressive. He's played, what, nine tournaments, made nine finals and clearly winning the French Open again and so many others. It's clearly very, very impressive.

It's nice to have him back on tour.

Q. Novak yesterday talked about how much slower the courts here had got compared to, say, a decade ago. Have you noticed a significant difference? Do you regret it in terms of the style of your play?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I regret it more across the board at many tournaments. It's not just here. It's happened all around. I also believe playing styles have changed in the process. But they were, anyway, about to change.

There was more and more baseliners in the game 10 or 15 years ago I thought than ever before.

And then the tournaments started slowing down conditions, as well, significantly. Then that really doesn't give you a big incentive to move forward anymore. It becomes a bit more predictable.

I think it's a bit of a pity, yes, because I think it would be nice to see more players out of their comfort zone more often, as well.

Now you can just play the same game on clay, on grass, on hard courts. That was not really the idea about having different surfaces in the first place.

Q. Just wondering if the conditions stayed the same as they were when you beat Pete in 2001, how do you think your career on grass would have been different maybe? How do you think the list of contenders for this year's tournament might look different?

ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. I mean, I think we would have had more dangerous draws overall, you know. Because the way it is now, you always feel physically or with consistency you can still get to the goal; whereas before it was a return here, it was one passing shot there that would decide the outcome of the match.

I would probably be a different player, as well. I would be probably serve and volleying more often today or at all times. I would have evolved, as well, totally different.

But I realized rather quickly that serve and volleying against great return players on a regular basis was just too hard, so I had to improve my baseline game. That's what then brought me some success really.

Then many, many players realized that, as well. Lleyton Hewitt was a driving force behind that kind of play. It's interesting how it's all evolved now.

Then today it's hard to pick any guy within the top 20 where you say, This guy cannot play on grass at all. You feel like everybody can.

Before you had maybe five of the top 10 where you thought, Hmm, this guy is definitely uncomfortable on grass, and then the other five are very uncomfortable on the clay.

Today you don't have that anymore, which gives everybody a better opportunity to play well and win. At the same time, it's a bit of a disappointment, as well.

Q. The last match you played here was actually the Olympic final where you lost against Andy Murray. Can you draw anything from that experience?

ROGER FEDERER: Not so much from the finals, but from the rest of the tournament maybe.

Had a good grass court season last year overall. That's kind of what I look at. Then I look at what happened last week in Halle, that I played well there.

I don't look at just the Olympic final or last year's Wimbledon finals. It's not how it goes. You look at the big picture, how you feel. Where does my game need work right now?

Once you get underway, then you can think back more in detail about certain matches. You know, if I were to play Andy, you will revisit that match, but not right now.

Q. Andy talked yesterday about last year's Wimbledon final being a big moment for him because he finally managed to play how he wanted to in a final. Did you sort of sense that was the case, that he would then go on to win a big one really soon?

ROGER FEDERER: I thought Andy was going to win a big one anyway at some point. He's too good to always keep losing semis and finals. You know, he's put himself too often in that position time and time again. His game's very good for all surfaces now, you know.

He's physically superb. He plays well. He's got crowd support here. He loves the US Open, Australia. He's grown up on clay, as well. Everything seems very natural for him. He doesn't only give himself one or two chances throughout the year to win Grand Slams, but multiple ones.

I always figured he was going to win one. Somehow I thought it was going to be Wimbledon before the finals last year. I thought this was going to be it for him. I was able to fight that off and play a good match and not believe that it was his time now.

I was happy with the way I played, but I was happy with the reaction that Andy showed, as well. Because in previous years I have spoken about it, or the one time I beat him in the Australian Open final, he went on a sort of a bit of a disappointing run after that.

That wasn't the case after Wimbledon this year. He actually got much stronger. That's why he increased his chances now by winning big tournaments. He did so at the Olympics, the US Open. Now he's the favorite every tournament he goes into around the world.

Q. Can you remember how you felt after you won your first Grand Slam going into future Grand Slams, how Andy might come in here after winning the US Open? Will he cope with that better now that he's won a Grand Slam?

ROGER FEDERER: I would think so. I would think he has less pressure now. But as long as he wasn't won Wimbledon, the press will always bug him about that. But who cares about that really?

I felt great. I felt like, Here we go. This is a great time in my life. I achieved a lifetime dream winning a Grand Slam, winning the World Tour Finals, reaching No. 1. For some reason you feel invincible, but then again you have to prove it time and time again, clearly.

How did it work for me? I won the Australian Open and then I lost early at the French, but then was able to win Wimbledon again. After that, I was able to play super consistent for a long period of time.

But then again, every player reacts different. I would think it takes pressure away. Once you win your first one, you can enjoy it a bit more and you feel like the hard work's paying off. You feel like you're doing the right things.

If you keep doing that, more often than not you should come out as a winner in the matches.

Q. How would you describe your thoughts first on Rafa being the No. 5 seed, and then on the power that's in your half of the draw?

ROGER FEDERER: For me, I mean, there's been a debate on the clay that Rafa was going to be fifth seed. For me, it's not even worth the talk because it is what it is. It's not like he's unseeded. He is seeded within the top eight.

He is seeded, so you don't face him in the first round. Quarterfinals are still a long way away, if you like. It was never supposed to be easy winning Grand Slams.

I'm ready for the challenge. I like tough

draws. I don't shy away from them. There's, anyway, no control over it. All you can control as a tennis player is who you play and who you face. That's up to the draw to decide.

I have a very difficult draw with Rafa being in my quarter. My focus is on the first round. If you want to win the tournament here, you anyway have to beat the best. That's what I'm here for.

Q. What kind of feeling does that bring - it's been 10 years since you won your first one here - when you look back at the journey?

ROGER FEDERER: Yes, it's been an unbelievable 10 years. I can't believe it's been this successful and this nice in the process. I really enjoyed myself on tour. I made many friends. I started a foundation.

I've continued to be successful. I've played so many matches where I went through so many incredible moments. I'm forever grateful to this first Wimbledon title I was able to achieve here.

It's all happened a bit too fast for my liking, but I'm happy I'm still playing and continuing to give myself opportunities to be contending for the title here. And being back as well 10 years later as defending champion is quite unique at the same time, so I'm very excited to be back playing.

Q. Can you describe what the feeling is like to be the first to step out on Centre Court on the opening Monday as the defending champion? You've done it a few times. Has it changed all over the years?

ROGER FEDERER: It's a special moment. It doesn't really change, no. It's very special. You feel very unique, clearly, because you are the one opening the court. I think it's a big deal for also the players I've played who got the unluck or luck of the draw to play me in that first round.

It's something you look back on. It's just something that you were able to do. That I was able to do it that many times is fantastic. I feel very proud.

As much as there is pressure and you don't want to lose, I also enjoy it because it's something very, very special for a tennis player.

Q. You've always been very respectful of the history of the game, but you also talked about how much it's changed in terms of the physicality of it. What is your feeling about a fifth-set tiebreak for all four slams?

ROGER FEDERER: So only the US Open has a fifth-set tiebreak at the moment. I'm not sure if that's what I like, to be honest. I quite like the long-set situation.

But then, of course, you have the Isner/Mahut match, and then you're like, It isn't such a good idea. It then jeopardizes your chances to win the title somehow after that. I wonder why (smiling).

It's a big debate, you know. I guess a tiebreak is like a bit of penalty shootout in soccer for us. You know, anything can happen. I don't want to say necessarily the worst or the better player wins, but it's sort of a bit open. That's why the long set is a good idea sometimes, you know.

I don't know what I think about it (laughter). Let's just go with it and have someone else decide if they have an opportunity. It's anyway up to the slams. I have no power there.

Q. Still regarding the 10 years since you won here the first time, I'd like to challenge you for an exercise. Can you pinpoint 10 moments in this decade, be it matches, wins, shots?

ROGER FEDERER: Here at Wimbledon?

Q. Here at Wimbledon.

ROGER FEDERER: It's going to take too long for me to think about all this. I don't think they're in the mood to hear it all.

I mean, I guess it all starts for me with the first win here. My idols and heroes playing here, winning here, inspiring me to play the game of tennis, and me making it here and the first time I was able to lift up the trophy, this is when the dream began of having an amazing career, you know, really.

Then I've had many shots, rivalries, I look back on memories, emotions, reactions.

Yeah, I've had a lot of things happening, but I have to think more in-depth and I need more time, unfortunately.

Q. Out of the top four, which one of them do you think will pose you the most challenge, the most problem here at Wimbledon?

ROGER FEDERER: Here? I haven't thought about it a whole lot, but I think Murray played great last year throughout Wimbledon and the Olympics, and now again at Queen's.

So for me he seems like maybe most natural on this surface, you know, of the other guys. But then the other guys are already

Wimbledon champions, Rafa and Novak. Ferrer's in the top four. He's also very good on grass.

But to me Andy sort of stands out a little bit over the others.

Q. We all here know, I hope, the legacy you will leave to tennis. Is it possible to teach to play like you?

ROGER FEDERER: I don't think you want another guy like me, you know, because you want another personality, another game. Might be somewhat similar, you know.

But I think the diverse characters and playing styles is what really drives this game.

At the end of the day, I wouldn't want to see another guy like me, another guy like Nadal, another guy like somebody else. We're all very different, and that's good that way.

So fans or media have their players to root for, you know. I think it's always a bad idea to base your game after someone. I had a little bit that situation with Sampras. Everybody compared me to him. If you look and analyze the game, the character, we're actually incredibly different.

So I didn't want to be known as a second Sampras, like others don't want to be the second Federer. They all need to create their own identity. I think that's also important also that the media always respects that and don't always look for that second someone.

There's always a first of everything for everybody.

Q. In this amazing decade that you've had here, what is the biggest thing psychologically, the difference in how you approach a match today versus 10 years ago?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, 10 years I was incredibly scared to lose again in the first round because I lost in 2002 in the first round here. I lost in the first round of the French Open, as well. So I came in with a lot of pressure and having to prove myself.

So every year that has gone by and every year I did well here, my nerves calm down. I knew that actually grass is my best surface or one of my best surfaces, where early on in your career you're not sure because the grass court season is so incredibly shot.

You get a rough draw, you lose early, and it doesn't mean you're a bad player on grass. It just means that the other guy is better and has more experience.

I do believe grass, the more you play on it, the more you learn about it. That's why I was very excited for our entire generation of players, that we had the opportunity to play the Olympics here last year.

That gave us three weeks more on grass, which doesn't sound like a whole lot, but I think is a big deal for many players to learn a lot more about the surface.

Today I know what it takes, which is a good thing. The excitement is the same. Still hungry and wanting to win and wanting to prove how good I can play. Then you want to relive those incredible moments you've had ten years ago, nine years ago, eight years ago, where you have that honor to play on Centre Court maybe either on opening day or on finals day. You can play for the championship. It's really something that means the world to me.

So today I feel much better, a little bit better, than I did 10 years ago.

Q. What do you think Serena Williams' place in history is?

ROGER FEDERER: What do I know about the women's game? I know a lot; not everything. She's clearly a different type of player than how the past generation of players were in the sport, as well. In the women's game, it's even more dramatic the change that's happened, how it's all gone towards power playing, hitting the ball hard, all from the baseline, all that stuff.

Her serve is better than anybody's in the world, right now anyway. In history I guess it is, too. I'm not sure. But I'm just happy to see her still playing. Both sisters. Not just Serena but also Venus.

For a while we all thought they were just going to fade away, lose interest, and that would be it and they would be amazing players.

But I think now she's really playing for being one of the best in the world of all time. I think it's nice to see how driven she is today to be successful, 'cause I think that's how you want to be as an athlete. You want to have no regrets.

It seems like that's what she's doing right now, so I'm very impressed by her somewhat comeback, if you like.

Q. Do you see a renaissance for a single-handed backhand, or is that purely down to playing on grass?

ROGER FEDERER: Purely down to?

Q. Playing on grass.

ROGER FEDERER: I think we had eight of sixteen one-handers as well at the French, so we can also play on clay, believe it or not

(smiling).

I think it's a good time for one-handed backhands. I don't know how many are really up-and-coming. One I think is clearly Grigor Dimitrov. There's not that many coming up. I don't think that's going to be the trend, to be quite honest, that we're going to see more and more one-handed backhands.

It's nice to see that we can still win and compete at the highest of levels. I always prefer to watch a one-handed backhand over a two-handed backhand somehow, even though two-handed backhands have much more incredible technique.

They're more comfortable hitting a slice, hitting a volley. All these things 10, 15 years ago, double-handed backhands didn't know how to play that shot. Today they're much more natural and much more better.

We'll see what the future holds, but I do believe the future is a double-handed backhand.

Q. If you are able to defend your title, you would be the most decorated male player in Wimbledon history. How much does that legacy mean to you? Does it add any extra pressure?

ROGER FEDERER: Haven't thought about it a whole lot, to be honest. I'm just happy to be here and happy to be defending the title as of now. That's going to be the theme for me, you know, is taking it round for round, but trying to defend my title playing my best.

Then, okay, we'll talk about eight. I can talk about that if I've won the tournament, but not right before. I know the road is hard, but it is possible. I'm looking forward to the challenge really.

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