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Roger Federer, US Open, September 8, 2008
   

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Roger Federer

US Open

September 8, 2008



Q. When you came in to this tournament, for whatever reason you were brimming with confidence. Is that really true?

ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I was coming here happy being an Olympic champion. I think that's what really made the big difference. If I wouldn't have played doubles at the Olympics, say, you know, I would have come here with three sort of maybe tough losses, you know.

But with the Olympic gold in doubles, it really sort of made me forget about it, and just sort of come in here and enjoy this tournament.

I mean, I'm always going to be confident, you know. I'm a four‑time defending champion. So I was always going to believe in my chances, and especially at the Slams, I knew I was so close at Wimbledon that my chances were always going to be good here.

So that's why I came into this tournament quite confident.


Q. If you compare when you won in 2007, what things have changed in your confidence and your tennis and the way you feel now?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, in the finals, I mean, I thought last year's was obviously more difficult, you know. I mean, we had a really tough match, even though it was straight sets, but today I think I really chose the right tactics against Andy who himself is a great tactician, I think. It's always important to play him the right way, otherwise you lose.

And I think I did a good job today, and I really felt towards the end of the tournament, like last year, actually, that I was playing my best as the opponents were getting more difficult. So for this reason, I'm very happy, actually, the way I'm playing right now.

The Andreev match was key, you know, to the whole US Open, and I'm very happy with where my level is right now. I believe I could still play a little bit better, but it was enough to win the US Open, so that's what counts.


Q. I know your priority is Wimbledon, but how sweet is winning the US Open? This is No. 5. Could you compare both?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, kind of. I mean, it's nice to compare five Wimbledons to five US Opens, you know, no doubt. Not many guys ‑‑ nobody can do that, you know. (laughter.)

So it's quite nice, you know. I'm quite proud obviously of my achievement. It takes a lot out of a player, you know, always trying to go from one tournament to the next and trying to do your best, you know, but I mean, it's been a tough summer.

I think the French Open loss was brutal, but I got over that one pretty easily, played great on the grass, and had a really tough loss at Wimbledon which ‑‑ you know, I was proud to be part of such a great match, but at the same time, you know, it just sort of made me sad, you know, not having won that great epic match. Maybe I was always dreaming about it and not winning it, you know.

I was always positive, you know. I knew that if things go my way, and this year hasn't always been the case. You know, I lost quite a few matches I should have never lost, and they hurt. Now, getting the fifth US Open, it really means a lot to me. I really thank the fans, as well, the crowds. They were great.

I mean, from the beginning, that's really what I was hoping for.

And losing my No. 1 ranking, that's also what meant a lot to me this season. So to bounce back straightaway after losing the No. 1 ranking, this is the best scenario ever.


Q. You were showing more emotion in this tournament than I personally have ever seen, even in the earlier rounds ‑ fist pumps throughout the whole tournament, almost like Jimmy Connors right there. What was it about this tournament that you really had an asterisk next to it? You wanted to win it almost more than I've ever seen.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, like I said, I came in with good spirits from the Olympic Games, where we had some crazy celebrations there ourselves. I guess, I stayed in that cloud and just kept it going here. I actually beat some really good players in tough conditions, and the relief was enormous as I was progressing in the tournament.

And I think those were the reasons that, you know, emotionally I was much more alive than ever.

I think towards the end, especially today, I felt in control all the way. So I didn't have to go, sort of crazy, emotionally, which was good. I could save energy and stay very concentrated for the entire match today.

I played great, you know. I felt like I was invincible for a while again, and that's exactly how you sort of want to finish a tournament, I guess.


Q. Now that you have your first major win and your third major final of the year, how would you describe your year?

ROGER FEDERER: Good. Pretty happy, you know.

It's been maybe a year with little less titles than usual, you know. Especially struggling Masters Series I think this year, you know, but I still have a couple left. Other than that, the Slams went okay, you know. Considering the year I've had, I'm very happy right now.

I always knew that if I were to get one Slam under my belt, especially the last one, things weren't looking that bad like everybody was talking about. Anyway, I was always positive, like I mentioned before, and for this reason, I think this is really ‑‑ I mean, a great effort from my side, you know, to people saying I was under pressure. I didn't feel I was under pressure to prove myself in trying to win here, but this definitely feels very sweet, and I think it's key for this season, obviously.


Q. How do you expect it to carry over for next year? What do you expect of yourself next year?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, first, I'd like to get through the season healthy and playing well. I mean, there's still a couple of highlights for me. I got Davis Cup at home, I got Basel, my hometown tournament, where I used to be a ballboy. I got the Masters Cup, Shanghai, I'd like to defend that title, as well. So I still have many, many highlights for me. I'm looking forward to those challenges. Then we'll see how next year looks like, but I'm obviously very confident.


Q. You had that huge reception on opening night, and throughout the fans have been by your side. Today was incredible. Even afterwards, the throngs didn't want to let you go. Talk about the connection between this town, odd, brash New Yorkers, and a pretty sophisticated European Swiss guy. How is that chemistry working and what's happening that's so wonderful?

ROGER FEDERER: I think also opening night on Monday, getting the reception I got, I think really touched me a lot, actually. You know, after making the trip here to play at, you know, Madison Square Garden against Pete, seems like it was very worthwhile. I think I've gotten even more fans in New York here for making this trip and making that night very special.

So to come here at the US Open and getting continuous support throughout from New Yorkers, means a lot to me, because I'm not the type who wants to win over the fans. If it comes naturally, I think that's the biggest compliment a player can get. That's I think what I've been able to achieve not only here in New York but here but also worldwide.


Q. So you feel like a little bit like a New Yorker now?

ROGER FEDERER: I guess so, yeah.


Q. Can you sort of tell us what you've been doing the last couple of hours to celebrate?

ROGER FEDERER: You really want to know? It's not that bad.

No, I mean, I've gotten in the habit of, you know, if I win a Slam, I want to enjoy it first with all my friends and family who came here and supported me throughout. I used to make the error of going into doping control and press right away, and I wouldn't be back for two‑and‑a‑half hours, and then people had to leave and I wouldn't see them.

I give myself a chance to soak up the great moment and enjoy it with them ‑ glass of champagne, be myself for an hour, for a little bit in the locker room.

Everybody's so happy, you talk about the match again, about the tournament, how great it is to be sitting here now with the trophy, take all sorts of pictures with the trophy, all your friends who are there and family and everybody's happy and proud.

It's a nice moment. I'd like to take my time with that.


Q. An argument could be made that you had the mono early on and it's taken you all this time really to fully recover. Do you think that's possible?

ROGER FEDERER: Possibly. I mean, I didn't feel like I was moving all that great still, you know, for the last couple of months. I thought it was okay, you know. I think I was okay on clay and on grass. Then when I came back to hardcourts, I think just my coordination was missing a little bit, because first of all, I haven't played on hardcourt for a while, and usually that comes back quite automatically, without me having to force the issue. But I didn't feel like it was all that great moving, especially in Cincy and Toronto.

I think there were some good moments at times, occasionally, as well as the Olympic Games. And I think here as the tournament went on, I started to feel like I was moving better and better. I think that was a good sign for me, and that also gave me a lot of confidence being able to know I could play defense and offense, because sometimes I just had the feeling I had to play offense because my defense was just not acceptable in my standpoint.


Q. You mentioned you lost a few tournaments. Did that bother you that there seemed to be this growing conventional wisdom that Roger Federer has had a great career but he may have peaked at this point and he's on the downside. Did that ever get to you?

ROGER FEDERER: No, I don't think it got to me, but I was aware of it. I mean, I'm a bit disappointed. Sometimes to a point a bit annoyed, because all sorts of crazy people started writing me and trying to reach me, telling me I need some help either mentally or physically. (Laughter) You're laughing but it's the way it goes. People come out of closet and think they can start helping me now. It's just a pain.

For me, this sort of puts them to rest a little bit, and calms down the phones at my parents' a little bit, which I'm happy about.


Q. The tactics that you used against Murray, could you describe that a little more, the second serve attacking, attacking the net?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I'm not going to say things here because I need to keep beating the guy for many years to come. But I think he's improved a lot the last year or so. I think he had a tough draw at the Australian Open, actually which would have put himself in an even better position for this year, but he drew Tsonga I think first round, and that sort of kept him under the radar for a little bit.

But I think winning Cincinnati and doing so well here again and, you know, doing also I think well at Wimbledon I think he's really picked his game up.

He's got many different opportunities to play any player, I think. That's what makes him dangerous. He's got the good slice, he can come to net, he can stay back, he can stay very far back.

So he's got three different options, and not many players have that out there. For this reason you need to adapt a little bit on how he plays you. I think that's where I'm the best at in the game, is try to figure out how to beat the guy.

I had a game plan going in, but then also had to adjust it throughout the match.


Q. How much of a factor do you think experience was today? You have all the Grand Slam finals and he had none.

ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I was obviously aware of that. You know, I mean, I know what it takes to win here. I know that usually I do play my best on the big occasions, especially here in New York. I've had some incredible matches for my standard, and I knew that it was always going to be difficult for Andy, but this was the reason why I really wanted to get off a good start in the match, you know, and be able to control him, you know, especially winning the first set I think was key.

And then after that, you know, you can try out a few more things, and I realized coming in against him, chip and charging in the third set was going to be a good solution, you know. Then just playing patient as well for a while was important.

But I think important was to serve well, as well, and I served well throughout the entire tournament. So I'm very aware that was key today, as well, was the ‑‑ what do you call it?


Q. Experience.

ROGER FEDERER: Experience, thank you. It helps.


Q. Can you say specifically what Andy has to do to take that extra step actually to win a Slam?

ROGER FEDERER: I don't think a whole lot. I think he's got himself in better physical shape. So from that standpoint he's better than ever.

I think with finals like this, you know, he knows now what it sort of takes to get very far into a Grand Slam. I think it's something that's unusual. You know, once you get to the semis or finals, you're celebrating your first quarters, celebrating first semis and first final. It takes a toll on you emotionally, as well, because all of a sudden there's all the attention you ever wanted, but what you really want to do is focus on getting the title.

I think by putting yourself in those types of positions, giving yourself opportunities, you know, he'll only get bigger. I always thought he was a big match player. You know, give him the biggest court in the world, he will have no problem handling it. I think that's what he's shown anyway throughout his career.


Q. On that note, you always seem to speak with tremendous sportsmanship, especially about some of the younger players coming up through the ranking. Is that something maybe as a statesman now you feel a responsibility to do?

ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, it's up to me to be honest, you know. I'm a very honest guy. If I think a guy is good, I'll let you know. If I think the guy is average, I'll let you know that, too. I think the guys coming up right now they've sort of broken through, and I was maybe expecting them to break through maybe half a year or year earlier. You know, but it was only really Rafa and Novak who broke through from the group earlier, you know.

I mean, Rafa I always knew he was going to be a great player from the first moment I played him on. And I think Novak's done a incredible job of improving because I wasn't that impressed from Novak in the first place when I played him in Monaco. But Rafa, from the first moment, I knew he was going to be unbelievable.

So with Murray I always had the feeling he was an incredible talent, as well. And it was going to take him just a touch longer than the other guys because he had to figure out some things, you know, in his life and I think now it's all looking good for him.

Then new guys like Del Potro or Baghdatis. There's a bunch of guys around. So I think the men's tour is looking great. They also have good sportsmanship, which I think is important I look forward to playing them more often.


Q. When you started knocking down the Slams very quickly, Sampras with 14 was out there. Now you're right there at 13. Does that do anything to your head now, and will it do anything to your head in the next year?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I would have been disappointed, you know, losing today and having three finals and one semis of Slams. You feel like you missed an entire year, you know, being so close but yet so far, because semis and finals don't help me a whole lot anymore in my career. It's all about the wins, and that's why this is huge. This is massive, really, and I'm very, very happy about this Grand Slam obviously. It's a different type of flavor, this one, to me, no doubt.

And I can definitely go into the rest of the season more relaxed now, and then also looking forward with great spirits for next year.


Q. How much of a priority is now regaining No. 1? And how easy or difficult do you think you've got it?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, we'll see. Rafa has had an incredible season, as well. He's gotten everything last few months, you know ‑ Olympics, Wimbledon, French Open, Toronto. I mean, he's been playing so well. On clay, he dominated again. I know it's going to be difficult to get it back, but this was definitely a major step forward for me, trying to defend this title.

I don't know what it takes to become again No. 1, but my focus is just try to finish the year in style, and then next year I'll attack it again. I'll have many more opportunities, especially at the Masters Series and also at the Slams. The ones I wasn't able to win this year, I'll have again a chance next year.


Q. Two questions: Are you still playing Stockholm first? And second, can you talk a little bit more about your parents and Mirka helping this year, especially with all these doomsday scenarios sort of came out, what impact they've been on you?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, the schedule is to play Davis Cup, couple weeks off, then Stockholm, Madrid, Basel, Paris and Shanghai, a couple of exos in Asia. So that's what the plan is this year. It's been a crazy schedule this year.

So stayed fresh all the way sort of to the end. Here at the Open, very happy that it sort of all worked out.

No, I mean, my parents and Mirka, they're obviously very important to me, you know. They've been helpful, you know. I don't think anybody had to really talk to me and sit me down and say, Roger, it's not looking that bad, because I was never down and, how do you say, sad or disappointed or frustrated in any way. I'm always basically the first guy telling the guys not to be disappointed or sad, you know. It's really me pushing the group and them pushing me. So that's always very important, as well, I think.


Q. I'm not sure if you heard this, you finished the match, and the group started playing You're Still the One.

ROGER FEDERER: Third time this week.


Q. Sorry?

ROGER FEDERER: That's the third time already.


Q. I know, but this time it meant something to you. What did it mean to you?

ROGER FEDERER: It's great. The guy putting on the music being my fan, right? (laughter.)

It's nice. I really do appreciate it. People are happy when they see me. It's incredible the amount of people here in New York that just come up to me and recognize me now and sort of wish me luck; cab drivers screaming out, I'm still the guy, and you can do it. It's great, you know.

I mean, I really feel like this city has really warmed up to me, and so have I to them. So this is huge victory for me, and, you know, enjoying it with other 23,000 people in the stadium was an unbelievable feeling today.


Q. On a similar theme, Roger, you have this crazy situation where you only got two finals and the semi and a gold. And you set a standard that was so incredibly high, so all the questions were there, hey, what's up. If you had to boil down the two weeks you had here at the US Open and your experience, do you think the best word is "redemption" or is there a better phrase or word that comes to you?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I don't understand "redemption" quite that well, but I don't think that's what it is. I don't feel like I needed this win particularly to prove myself, you know. I don't think I'm at that point anymore. Of course, if I lose four straight times in majors in the first round, then obviously I have the point to prove.

I was that close to winning so many of the big tournaments this season, that like I said, I was never really anxious trying to win a particular one. I was disappointed not winning the Olympics. I was disappointed losing the epic at Wimbledon, but this was as big of a goal maybe this season, you know. I mean, going for five US Opens is probably the last time ever in my career I'll have that opportunity, so to keep it alive and actually just keeping the streak like I did at Wimbledon is something I'm very, very happy about.

It's just being happy to be on top, you know. I mean, that's what it's about for me. All the hard work paid off. I was never down, you know. I was just trying to figure out the best way of ‑‑ in this tough season, really was tough schedule for all us players. Trying to find a way to win during these last three weeks, where we all came here incredibly tired from Beijing. So to get the victory at last was an unbelievable feeling.

So things are not looking that bad like everybody's talking about. That's just what I'm happy about.

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