Federer Sunday Press Conference
R. NADAL/R. Federer
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Do you look at this as completely the end of 2013, you'll forget about this tournament, start with a clean slate, or is there anything from this you'll carry over into the new season?
ROGER FEDERER: I think always the end of the season carries over in some way, shape or form, good or bad. Clearly you look at the whole season as a whole. But then again, it's just about hard work, about relaxing a little bit, recover from all the inflammations you might have in your body, because those also need to disappear a little bit because you try to start the next season as physically good as you can, sort of mentally refreshed, I'd say.
You're going to look back a little bit, but once you actually start the off‑season, I think you're just happy to be playing tennis again after a bit of a break. Then you kind of start sitting down on what would you like to work on, where do you feel like your game's got to go. That's really only later in the later stages of practice.
Towards the end is where you maybe start talking about future opponents and that stuff. In the off‑season, you take a break from all that stuff, the tactical maneuvering.
Q. You said you hoped you'd be able to play with a little bit pressure than usual, an underdog situation. Were you able to play in the way you wanted to?
ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, at times, you know. Not throughout. Went for it when I had a chance for a breakpoint in the first set. Maybe I shouldn't have, but I did. No regrets there, I guess.
You know, I just struggled to stay consistent enough throughout the match, and that's why he deserved to win. You know, he was better today.
Q. At the beginning of the match your serve was fluid and you had breakpoints. It could have gone another way?
ROGER FEDERER: Could have, yeah. But also could have not, and it didn't at the end. That's all that matters really.
I very rarely go through matches where I had no chance and no opportunities. This game is a game of, you know, making or missing your opportunities. Today was a little bit more of that, again.
But I thought, you know, the margins were more on his side. He was playing more consistent. He was playing more solid. He plays the way he always plays. I just couldn't come up with the shots when I needed them, forehand or serve, moving forward.
It's unbelievable that he gets away with playing so far back indoors these days, but that's the conditions. So credit to him for making that work for him.
Q. You seem to really hit over on your backhand a lot in the returns, also hit it down the line. Do you feel you were hitting it well? Was that part of the plan? Can you also talk about what it is about Nadal that makes it so difficult to slice effectively against him.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, he's a lefty, number one. That makes everything different. If you compare to yesterday's match and today's match, it's like I have to play two different ways. So for me it's much more of a change. It's not an excuse. But I definitely have to play totally different.
He can play pretty much the same like he plays against Berdych and Stan, so forth. It's definitely more up to me to getting used to the lefty spin quicker. Coming over the return very often instead of chipping it, which I've been doing it all week.
There's always going to be a bit of an up and down from that standpoint. But I thought it was okay at times, you know. But just my court positioning, getting used to knowing exactly the dimension, how things are going to work out is sometimes a bit tricky. That's why I either chose the wrong side or I can't get the read I usually get like you get with del Potro, Gasquet or Djokovic for that matter.
That's why it really changes everything around. He does a good job picking up the slice. He does a good job staying on the baseline when he needs to. He can also play from the back. He has multiple options. That's what makes him so difficult to play against.
Q. I know 2013 is only just finishing. At this stage, if you look at 2014, what would be a satisfactory year for you? Would it be one where you didn't have any physical issues? Where you improved your ranking? Would you still very much feel a Grand Slam is what makes a satisfactory year for you?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, winning titles, winning five titles or something, I guess, something exciting, leaving the tournaments as winner. That's what keeps things exciting.
Rankings, if it's not world No. 1, then I'm not that, you know, interested in. Even though you kind of look at it, it would be nice to stay in the top four, top eight, that kind of thing, for seeding purposes more than anything else. Other than that, it's either world No. 1 or tournaments or big tournaments in general.
Q. How important is it to you next year going in to have a ranking that going to get you in positions where you might not have to face these top guys early on, playing Novak or Rafa early on in tournaments? Is that important to you? Secondly, where do you assess yourself after the last few weeks of the season here?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it doesn't matter if I play them in the last 16s or quarters, to be honest. The points difference is minor. Losing in the quarters is like losing in the first round for us at the top. That's why either you're good enough to make it to the semis and finals, and then especially wins. It's really a tour of winners.
If you look at the points difference from the points I'll make during this tournament and what the winner's going to make, it's like I never even played this tournament almost, which is fine. The winner deserves it all.
It's very extreme. That's why when you don't win tournaments, you're not at the very, very top consistently, your ranking definitely starts slipping.
But, you know, I think something's possible for next year. I think it was a stronger finish than I thought it was going to be in Basel, Paris and London. I'm more positive now looking ahead than I would have been a few months ago where I wasn't quite sure what to expect after the US Open.
But, you know, I'm back confident and excited, you know, going into the off‑season and starting again next year. Like I mentioned, the rankings are secondary for me. It's important to stay within a certain ranking. But after that I need to make sure I stay competitive, I can hang with the best, and particularly beat the best.
Q. What have you learnt specifically from this week and how confident are you that you'll be back here again next year?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, what I learned is that I can play three weeks pretty easily. I played a lot of matches, you know, as of late, a lot of three‑setters, a lot of tennis. From that standpoint, that's very satisfying, knowing that the body can do it, the mind can do it, life allows it to happen.
I'm happy that I have that option, as well, that I know I can play three weeks in a row because I remember Agassi didn't do that at all any more towards the end of his career. He used to play one, maybe two, he would always pull out the third week if there was something planned.
For me I was happy I was able to play Basel, Paris, here in London, through extremely tough conditions with a lot of running, tennis, traveling, so forth. From that standpoint, I'm very pleased.
You know, just again beating two top‑10 players is a good thing for me after not having beaten any for almost seven or eight months. Considering the back issues I've had, I'm pleased that I'm pain‑free for a long period of time now with a lot of tennis. That's definitely also going to give me confidence physically and also mentally.
Q. (No microphone.)
ROGER FEDERER: Nobody is. It's not a free ticket. Not like you guys (laughter).
Q. You played Rafa 32 times since the start of 2004. Do you feel like he's substantially improved since then or do you feel like you have, since you first played him?
ROGER FEDERER: Who improved more?
Q. Just talk about his level of improvement and then your own.
ROGER FEDERER: Hmm. Well, I think he definitely starts to play better, naturally better, on the quicker courts, you know. There was no way around that because usually 70% of the tour you play is on hard court. So he just had to get used to that more, I guess.
The good thing is, in the beginning stages, how old was he when I played him first, 18? That is still young. The improvement you're going to make from 18 to 22 is always going to be an extreme one, especially in his situation, because he was on tour. He's a quick learner. He's a great player.
Everybody played to his weakness. Everybody played the backhand, like everybody played at my backhand at first. That becomes more consistent. Then they go harder to your forehand. Then you improve that. Eventually you become that well‑molded player he is today, which we know. I think he improved lots.
For me, in 2004, I was already established. For me, it was about maintaining, staying injury‑free already. I was in a totally different phase of the career. For that reason I don't think you can compare it actually.
Q. About Rafa, do you think he has arrived at the moment when he is going to win this Masters Cup? If he does it, what does it mean for you winning everything, all four Grand Slams, Olympics, Masters Cup?
ROGER FEDERER: What does it mean? I would be very happy for him. In general, I'll be very happy for him. I think he would deserve it because he's improved a lot on all conditions. He put himself in a position to win this tournament before. Here he is again after missing it last year.
I think it's nice for him. His season, finishing world No. 1, almost you would expect the world No. 1 to be in the finals of this tournament. That's the case. I think it's great for the tournament.
Clearly have to wait and see how the match goes tonight. Don't know if he would be the favorite against Djokovic, but he would probably be definitely the favorite against Stan.
It's an interesting night for him, and he's probably hoping that Stan's going to win tonight.
Q. What is it especially about this sport and your love for it that wants you to keep coming back year after year?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know. What do you like about writing?
For me, it's pretty simple: this is what I used to do as a little boy, you know. It's something that always is there in your DNA. It's almost like I started walking at the same time I started playing tennis in some ways, you know. It's like one of those moments where you're just happy out on the court, you're happy improving, happy trying to change things, adjusting now.
Clearly today it's different than when I was 12 years old, you know, trying to just I don't want to say have fun, I was trying to make a breakthrough on some certain level back then as well. It's just something I enjoy doing.
The thing is that when you stop, you're still so young that why stop so early? Why just walk away from it because, I mean, I have many other things to do in my life than play tennis, but because I can still choose, I pick to play. As long as I have this choice, I'll keep on playing.
Q. Clearly the older you get, the harder it is to bounce back from tough matches. You've spoken about that quite a lot. One of the extraordinary things about Rafa and Novak is this ability they seem to have to bounce back in a very short space of time from a grueling match. From your experience, how much longer will they be able to do that at 26, 27? At what point for a fine‑tuned athlete does this become more of an issue?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I don't know. I mean, I don't know where the game's going to go. They're clearly in their prime right now in terms of age and the way they're playing and rankings and so forth. So from that standpoint you would think that's going to still be for some time they'll be able to do that.
Rafa started earlier on the tour. He was unbelievably successful as a teenager, like Bjorn Borg was. I think they're the two most successful teenagers we've had in our sport already. So for Rafa maybe, you almost have to consider him a little older. Plus he's had more severe injuries than Novak has. I don't know how much that plays into it all.
I think for them it's more about commitment, wanting to do it, wanting to bounce back, wanting to take the pain day in, day out. That's the grind that's more difficult than I think the actual bounce‑back.
I just played three weeks in a row. It's fine, you know. Of course, I was a little tired today, but you can block that out to a degree. From that standpoint, I think the way they play, the way they do all of that defending, it's just something you really want. If you don't want it any more, then retirement probably comes in very quickly.
Q. Are you planning to play next season more tournaments than this year? Is there an 18th Grand Slam title, a chance you might have next year?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know if I'm going to play more necessarily. I'm just going to play a full schedule. What that means, I don't know yet. I mean, it's pretty much planned through my season.
Clearly Grand Slams are going to be part of my highlights, hoping to sort of make sure I play my best there with some selective other events that I consider important to me, some of the Masters 1000s. Then hopefully I have something left for the World Tour Finals at the end of next year because that's clearly a goal. Then just some personal goals because there's a big gap, as well, between Australia and the French Open.
I just still have to decide what the goal is there, then I'll just attack and try to play good tennis.
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