WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN
August 14, 2018
R. FEDERER/P. Gojowczyk
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Your first match here in Cincinnati since the 2015 final, which you won for your seventh title. After so many years away, do you find it easy to come back to a tournament that you won so many times to kind of get that positive magic back quickly?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, look, it doesn't feel like I have been away for so long here from Cincinnati. I guess the wheel keeps turning. It's not like I missed two years of tennis.
I feel like I have been here -- and I was here last year briefly, but I was here, so, you know, as much as I want to say I was not here, I actually was, even on-site.
So, look, I felt good in that first match, to be honest, walking out, hardly any nerves. I think I knew what I wanted to do, what I had to do. Game plan is very simple. It's straightforward. It's fast-court tennis. I think center court plays much faster than the outside courts, so you don't have much time. Plus I knew Peter, my opponent, was going to go for it and take big cuts at the ball, so there is only so much you can really do. That's why you want to play aggressive yourself.
It was a great pleasure to be back. I enjoy playing here because of my success, even more so, but I have always enjoyed coming here to Cincinnati, and now we do it as a family. That adds a different twist to it. Feels almost like I have had two careers, the one before and the one after. I'm having a great time and I'm very happy to be back.
Q. You have recently signed a fairly long-term endorsement contract with a Japanese company, and...
ROGER FEDERER: Which one? Maybe I have signed more. I don't know. (Smiling.) I get you.
Q. Okay. In two years the Olympics will be in Japan. Now, competitively you're having a good season, and chances are you may still be competitive in two years. However, given your decision not to take part to the Davis Cup, as it stands, you would be ineligible to play in the Olympics. Regardless of what's going to happen in Orlando in a couple of days or maybe because of what's going to happen in Orlando in a couple of days, would you reconsider your decision, with respect to Davis Cup, to keep the options open and maybe enter into Tokyo?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, what can I say? Well, No. 1, they never mentioned the Olympics, it being the No. 1 decision for them to sign with me, which has been great. It was more the person than the player, actually, which I thought was a major compliment to me, you know. I think it was also my team, my wife, my parents were extremely proud that it was more the person than the player, and they never mentioned the Olympics.
I don't exactly know the rules about the Olympics, to be honest. So that's how far away I have been, because I just don't know if I'm still going to be playing. But you're right; I should be more informed about it, but I just haven't.
I don't know what it takes. I don't know what the ramifications are. I have to figure it out. I don't think I will change my schedule regardless of what happens in Orlando. My career, my body is too important, you know. If I play Tokyo, great. If I don't, I don't. It's not like the first Olympics you want to really be part of. I just haven't thought that far.
But you're right. There is a process, I guess, to qualify, which is odd, but that's just how it goes in tennis these days, or always has been.
Q. How much of the culture of a place like Mason, Ohio, do you feel you absorb when you come here? I don't mean like weather or court conditions but really the way of life here, the people, the way the fans may be different here than other places? Do you think that plays a role in the success you have had here?
ROGER FEDERER: Hmm. I don't know. I mean, I guess it starts first with the playing conditions, you know. As much as I would like to say like I have won Wimbledon only because of the fans but not because of the grass courts, you know, I'm not sure if that's fair to say.
Same here. So I think it starts with the conditions, the playing conditions. I think they suit my game very well.
But I definitely think events are a reflection of the place you're playing at. I'm not sure exactly how many locals are in the stadium, but I have a feeling they are from around here or nearby.
So there is definitely a different charm, different vibe to this tournament than others. Definitely the big cities, you know, where you're playing right next to London or Paris or New York or Shanghai, you know, you feel like people really come to watch tennis here. It's not like, like I explained in an interview the other day, Oh, there is a tennis tournament? I didn't know. Let's just quickly go check it out because there are so many Broadway shows and so many other events happening at the same time and you're competing with music and other things.
So this is maybe not so much the case here this week. It's about the tennis. And you, as a player, feel that. I feel they are knowledgeable about the game, you know, which I always enjoy.
That's why I like to play in places that know the game, especially for the bigger events, but of course it's always nice if you can grow a market like Shanghai or other places in Asia, you know, Dubai, for that matter, that have not seen so much tennis, so their excitement level may be even higher because they don't get to see tennis as often.
Q. After Wimbledon, how important emotionally is this victory for you to return to the ATP World Tour?
ROGER FEDERER: To winning ways? Look, it's good, but not more than that. I feel good at practice. I feel like I'm in a good rhythm. You know, regardless if I win or I lost, you know, I felt like I'm doing the right things. I couldn't have worked harder, you know, in the practice, on the practice court. I couldn't have done more in the gym. Didn't have any setbacks. I'm only feeling better every day that has gone by after Wimbledon.
So it's nice to have played a match so my last match is not the Anderson match, so you've kind of turned the page, I guess, in that regard. It's a good thing.
But, you know, the goal is now to recover from this match, take the positives with me, and it's just nice to have sort of a day and a half where you can prepare for the next one, and you're really in the tennis tournament again and away from the practice sessions. And then of course the big goal is the US Open. That's got to be the goal now after not having perfect, you know, situations the last couple of years there.
You know, I wasn't 100% there. I couldn't even play the year before that. That's why I would really like to be at 100% for the US Open this year.
Q. Could you contrast the first and the second sets today? So the first set, as you say, he was taking big cuts at the ball, playing quite close to the baseline, couple of games where he had several break points? Second set it felt like you were a bit more in control on your own serve, pushing him on his service games? Can you talk about the way the two sets played out?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I think you analyzed it well. I think he had some chances in that first set. I could have been broken, because, look, it's the first round. If I don't maybe get service winners or he gets one chance to kind of go for a forehand or a backhand, you know, maybe you can't just dig your way out of trouble here so easily in Cincy.
It's a dangerous situation to be facing break point early in a tournament when you just don't know the conditions quite that well yet, you know, and you're maybe a bit afraid to go super close to the lines because you're not having got five matches under your belt yet.
So for that reason I was happy to get out of those games and sort of protect my lead. I think the second set maybe I started the games a bit better, had less, you know, little unforced errors and, you know, maybe also start to feel little better rhythm on my serve. But I think what I could be very happy about is I kept on pressing myself as well even on the return games when it was frustrating at times for him and me.
There is a lot of games where you feel like, oh, which side should I pick on the return, and bang, there is another ace or another service winner. That can frustrate you and then you start to play safe over time.
I didn't allow that to happen. I kept going forward, and I think that's why I ended up also feeling good at the end to also serve it out really nicely with a couple of aces in the last service game.
Q. First match since Wimbledon, obviously, and you've practiced with tour players between then and now, but how long does it take you to get match play under your belt like tonight? How far in the match do you say, Yeah, this is a real match, I now feel this is a big match, big stadium full of people versus practicing?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, it just feels different. I don't know what it is. I guess it's the, you know, seeing 10,000 people in a stadium and double faulting and go, like, Oh, I hope it's not going to happen again.
Whereas in practice you hit a double fault, like, Well, it's not going to happen again, or if it does, fine, you know. It's not the end of the world. Whereas in a match situation, you're like, If I double fault again, this means I'll be broken. Am I going to be able to turn the tide or not?
All of a sudden, these thoughts go through your head in a match situation, which in a practice really doesn't happen because you don't worry as much. That can make you play better or much worse. I do believe usually it takes two or three matches to get going, like what I explained, like, aiming for the lines, finding the rhythm on the serve, you know, being able to serve very accurate, you know, time and time again, getting used to the balls, how the ball flies.
That's why changing from day to night sessions sometimes can be tricky alone just because the ball travels differently and further in the daytime than in the nighttime. So that's why I'm always happy when I clear the first hurdle of any event, because it gives me an opportunity to actually play better the next time around.
Q. You have spoken about your rivalry and even friendship with Rafa and really how you made each other better over the course of time you have played. It appears that there is a new group kind of forming with Medvedev and Shapovalov and Zverev, Tsitsipas, several others. Do you sort of see that, as well, and that there is a similar dynamic of that group possibly coming up together and sort of having another magical era?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, look, Rafa's era was extremely strong. You know, the amount of tournaments -- did he win like 20 events by the time he was 19? So just give you a little bit something to think about there, how good he was, you know. Probably the best teenager we have ever seen in the game besides Björn Borg.
We are talking extremely high level. These guys unfortunately or fortunately are not; otherwise maybe I would not be ranked where I would be ranked right now.
But what's nice about this generation that's coming up right now is that there is a bunch of them, and I think that's, when I came up, also we had a lot of good players with Safin, Hewitt, Roddick, Ferrer, myself, Kiefer, Haas, Kiefer, you name it, Guga, there was a bunch of sort of very strong players, and you didn't want to be the last guy, you know. Okay, preferably first but not the tenth guy.
And I think that helps that group of guys to not want to be that guy. So I think on that weekly basis they push each other. That's what you see now. They make maybe faster improvements than if there was only three, because then three is, like, well, I'm the third best. Even though you're the last, I'm still the third best, which is not bad.
I think it fuels the hunger to succeed, and that's why it's nice to see Tsitsipas or Shapo or other guys doing, you know, great, very big moves in the rankings, great results, slowly winning titles, going deep in 1000s, going deeper in hopefully slams, as well, because we need that on the tour. We cannot just have older guys on tour all the time.
We need that new story time and time again. I love seeing especially teenagers break through, because, I don't know, it's like the dream coming true, and I like to see how they react to that and what they say about it, because I saw a lot of guys come through and it was always super exciting, seeing them doing it.
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WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN
August 17, 2018
R. FEDERER/L. Mayer
Q. Your thoughts on the day?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it's been more tricky, I'd say, for the fans more than anything. Waiting around all day and hardly seeing any tennis obviously is never fun for the tournament and the fans. So we're happy that the tournament is back underway.
Today I tried to really focus on just the one match, not thinking that there is possibly going to be two. But obviously I'm very happy with my first round today against Mayer.
Playing Stan obviously is always very special, especially after what we have gone through the last few years with my knee surgery but especially his, which was even bigger and more difficult.
So I'm very happy that he's back. You know, it's been just a bit over 10 years since we celebrated Olympic gold medals together. A lot has happened since.
And, yeah, I'm excited for a second match today. Last time I had that I think it probably was in Gstaad in 2004.
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WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN
August 18, 2018
R. FEDERER/S. Wawrinka
6-7, 7-6, 6-2
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Difficult day, obviously two matches in one day. Wondering how you went about planning, after you won the match, what you did prior to playing Stan.
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, well, I was happy, first, that the easier match came first, so like this, actually the break was fairly comfortable, fairly easy. We were renting a house here, so we went back to the house and I had dinner with the kids, which was great.
And then I watched a bit of Raonic against Djokovic, and then I eventually came back over. Actually, for me, it was quite comfortable. It was just odd, you know, sort of packing up again. I actually left my stuff here. So, like, Okay, I quickly go play a match. See you later, kiddies. It was just a bit of a different feel.
But I don't know. It was exciting, you know, to go through something new, only it was something I have done for the second time of my career maybe at the professional level.
Yeah, felt like two separate days, actually, because this morning it was daytime, or this afternoon it was daytime, windy and breezy, and then we came out in the nighttime and it was black, and sky, totally different. No wind at all. Different atmosphere. It was quite interesting, actually.
Q. Just Davis Cup for a second, two parts. Your thoughts on, you know, the vote, what happened, how it's going to be, they say. Also, do you think the fact that if Davis Cup goes to three sets that young guys --
ROGER FEDERER: Three sets?
Q. Best of three instead of best of five. That young guys, like Tsitsipas and Sascha, all those guys are not going to really now how to play many five-set matches?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, as we don't know what the format is going to be like -- or I don't know if it's best of five or best of three. Do we know? Okay. So I don't know what to tell you.
Like I said on The Tennis Channel, I'm for more five-setters from time to time at some key events, starting with the World Tour Finals. I think the finals has to be best of five. I don't know why we went back to best of three. I was in the voting room when it happened, and all the players were for best of three. I couldn't believe it.
I was the last guy to vote, so it was, like, Well, it doesn't matter what I say anymore, because all the other players voted for best of three. That was back in Shanghai in '06? I'm not sure how long ago it was now.
And then for players' health, and I understand we just said throughout, you know, across the board, we had to do best-of-three finals because we also had changes, as you remember, with the TVs deciding, well, we have a slot for best of five, so this year it's best of five. Next year you came in and we had a slot at 10:30 in the morning at Indian Wells. You're like, okay, we'll have only best of three then. And it was over in an hour. I remember the match, Hewitt against Henman, for instance.
It just couldn't go on like this. I think we just had to take a decision, and the tour had to take a decision. That's why I think we see no more best of five at that level.
But sure, it's not easy, then, if you only play best of three to all of a sudden show up and only play best of five at the slam level, because you do need some experience for that.
Then for Davis Cup, I don't know how the votes work, to be honest. But clearly the ITF has never historically involved the players, so that is saying -- but the federations, yeah, we're kind of there but we're actually not there. They decided to do that.
I'm still a bit surprised. I didn't get involved because I didn't know the solution. It was definitely flawed in some ways, you know, the Davis Cup, the way it was running the last few, you know, years, maybe the last decade or so, but last ten years. So for me, I don't know, I feel sad about it, you know, not to have the Davis Cup as it used to be. Will never be the same. So that will be just -- this is for the next generation, and I just hope that every penny will be paid of that mass of money that has been paid for the next generation, because we have seen a similar situation way back when with the tour and it set us back in a big way. I don't want that to happen again.
But, look, I'm all for innovation, and gotta give them a chance to some extent. It will be interesting to see how it's going to work.
Q. Looking at tonight's match, first two sets were super tight. You had couple looks at a break. Stan shut it down. Got to the third set and you kind of cruised last couple of games, nine points in a row. What changed for you to seize control of that final set?
ROGER FEDERER: I'm not sure. I think he changed his tactics a little bit in the third set. I think he was probably not so happy with his first-serve percentage because he was hovering around 50%. I think he wanted to get that up, and I think he was actually able to do that in the third set.
Maybe he came out a bit heavy after the rain delay. I also felt heavy for a second, because it has been a lot of tennis and a lot of focus we had to put into it. Maybe it felt a little bit easier for me and maybe it was a little bit clearer what I wanted to do also from the baseline. And I just didn't want to overhit, to be honest, because I felt like I did that quite a bit the first couple of sets.
But again, you know, Stan has the power, and I'm so glad he's back on the tour and playing well and moving well. So I really enjoyed the match for what it was. It's difficult, you know, to always play against him, but I'm happy I was able to find a way in the breaker in the second, because it was a frustrating night, you know, for me, for the most period, and in the third I was able to find a way.
I think it was partially because he maybe dropped his level, for sure, but maybe me, I also played a bit better then.
Q. Staying with the match, it seemed like you were creating most of the opportunities except for a very short period in the first-set tiebreak, which kind of got away from you.
ROGER FEDERER: A lot. It went away completely (smiling). I was not even there.
Q. But then again, you're creating opportunities, had a break point in the second set, and then you had break points in the third set. How were you keeping your attention and your focus, thinking that maybe this is going to get away from me and I have had all the opportunities?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, like I explained, I think, sure, it's okay to be frustrated, you know, but you can't let that dominate every single shot after that, because sometimes it's Stan who played well. Sometimes I did everything right but he came up with the right answers. So then it's very dangerous to see the glass half empty, and then everything you do after that seems wrong. And maybe I got a little bit in a spell like this especially during that bad period at the end of the first set where really I played terrible, you know. That first-set tiebreak just completely went away.
I just tried to remember the core of the match was focus on your serve and try to do what we talked with the coach beforehand on the return games, but it was just never really connecting at the right times, you know, my way.
So I just had to hang tough, not get frustrated, and hope that I was not going to throw in a horrible, you know, service game or that he was going to connect perfectly. So, you know, it was a close match today, so I'm just relieved that I got through it somehow.
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