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An Interview With: Roger Federer

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Q. Michael Jordan said he loved the way you moved out there on court, you were so smooth. What are your thoughts about hearing a comment like that from Jordan?

ROGER FEDERER: It's nice. I didn't know he said something. I mean, number one, I'm just so happy that he came into the world of tennis a little bit, you know, got to see some tennis, that it was me, sort of being the character in the whole show, you know, was kind of cool with the collaborations of the shoes, which is very special to me I must say. He was one of the smoothest movers out there. So for him to give me that compliment means a lot. Meeting him yesterday for the first time was a big deal for me. It was a special sort of last 24 hour plus.

Q. What impressed you the most about him? Can you share about what the two of you had to say to each other?

ROGER FEDERER: I think it's what you said, his longevity, the way he made it look easy, his will to win, wanting to be the best, delivering under pressure, being a superstar in a team sport, carrying his team for so many years. There's so many things that he did well and represented the game really nicely, I thought. That's why he also became my idol. And then, yeah, I mean, I guess he wanted to know some things about tennis, you know, how I prepare, all these things, how much I play, where I go next. Yeah, these kind of things, you exchange each other's ideas about your respective sports and that's kind of what you talk about.

Q. Compared to last year, you're serving four miles per hour faster on the first and second serve. Do you think that's sort of the key to your success on hard courts?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, part of it. I mean, just serving is not going to win the point every time. You have to back it up. It's how you back up especially your second serve, I think, that is key and crucial in the matches against the best players. I definitely feel like I'm serving better overall with the new racquet. I think it's definitely helped me in this regard. I do feel easier power. I've never heard the stat before, but I guess it also depends how much you're going to slice or kick or if you go big more often or not. I think tonight I tried to go bigger because I tried to hit through the wind. No, I think I've definitely had a very consistent, solid serving year as well, whereas last year, because of the circumstances, I just couldn't do it.

Q. Not a usual match these days having your opponent come in twice as often as you did yourself? Were you expecting yourself? Did you find yourself adjusting your game because of that?

ROGER FEDERER: I knew he could serve and volley that some. He did that against me a little bit in Brisbane. That he did it first or second serve or almost after every serve starting I think in the third set, the numbers are going to go up quickly coming to net. I didn't change my game from my perspective on my serve. I definitely tried to change things around a little bit on the return. I guess it's a good thing that I played someone like him, because my next opponent is going to be a serve-and-volley player as well, which plays different than any baseliner out there, that's for sure.

Q. I'd like to ask you about Wimbledon. The last point, I turned off the TV and promised myself not to watch any match again.

ROGER FEDERER: But here you are. What are you doing here?

Q. Had you lost in the first set, I would feel much better. Would you prefer to lose in four sets, knowing you had no chance, or do you prefer the way it was?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, even if I would have lost in four, I don't feel like I had no chance. I was close. The match was close. Even if it would have ended in four, the press would have made it sound like, Yeah, somewhat routine. But it wasn't if you would have asked him and me. I prefer it to go five and know I was a breakpoint away, potentially one point away maybe, of rallying, putting myself in the driver's seat in the fifth. But I got over it quickly this time. That's why it was okay the way it was. I just didn't win the match.

Q. You said you're a big Jordan fan. Did you actually have a Jordan jersey? Were you a Chicago Bulls fan or just a Jordan supporter?

ROGER FEDERER: He was just my hero of all sports. That's what he was for me growing up. Besides Edberg and Becker being my tennis idols, I had Jordan as my all sports idol. I don't remember having a Jordan jersey, as such, really. I just remember when I was younger, in Germany it was really big on the German TV stations. I think every Sunday they had unbelievable big NBA highlights. That's where I saw him doing all his moves. I wasn't necessarily a Chicago Bulls fan or anything like that. It's just I was into him, into like the incredible athlete, you know, just being that guy who was carrying basketball at the time. So I guess that's what inspired me.

Q. I don't know how many times you've been on the practice courts thus far, has it been weird with crowds like that watching?

ROGER FEDERER: It's quite different, no doubt. I didn't think it was ideal the last years. I must say, it's pretty tough on the fans to get a glimpse of the players when we don't play matches. Kind of come in there, we leave there. It's also hard signing autographs. It's really a tight space for people that really squish themselves. I don't quite like it the way that it's set up. But at least now people can watch and they don't have to break all the rules possible to walk over trees and look through the fences. I must say this is much better. It makes the court smaller. You don't feel as much privacy and all that stuff. But that's fine. We're at the US Open.

Q. It's not necessarily a distraction for you?

ROGER FEDERER: It's not a distraction in any way, no. I think it's actually more positive than anything else.

Q. If you were in charge of the sport and you could change any rule about the way the game is played, add a rule, what would you like to make your one change?

ROGER FEDERER: I think it's pretty much good the way it is right now. You know, I mean, as you move along, you always have to keep adjusting, I guess, you know, to what consumers want a little bit, but also stay true to what tennis is all about, you know. I think we have full stadiums, these great stadiums around the world, because of exactly how it is right now. You can always improve things and all that stuff, but I think it's actually very good as it is right now. So I wouldn't change a whole lot.

Q. I realize you didn't play a five-set match tonight, but I was wondering how physically and mentally harder it is for you to play a five-set match over a three-set match and if you would prefer to play three sets at the Grand Slams?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I think it's good avoiding the five-setters. Even though they're a lot of fun playing them, you learn a lot out of five-setters, you kind of get an unbelievably lot of information out of five-setters because you go through these momentum swings, you come out on top if you do win with unbelievable energy. But clearly every hour or every step you take that you're on the court longer, you'll feel that down the road. Not necessarily right at the tournament, the next day, but next week, next month, next year, it starts piling up. That's why I think it's always good avoiding five-setters when you can. The thing is we're not quite used to them anymore as much these days, because back in the day when I came up we still have five-setters in finals, other than the Grand Slams, in the 250s, 500s, and 1000s. That's all gone away completely. Five-setters only exist in Davis Cup play and Grand Slam play. I'm happy when I avoid them, but it also gives me great information when I do get stuck in one.

Q. Michael said he felt there was a real similarity between basketball and tennis, footwork, athleticism. Could you talk about what your thoughts are on comparing the two sports.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I think in terms of movement it is actually quite similar. You have to go side to side, move forwards, backwards, be able to stop on a dime, redirect. I think maybe we don't jump as much, but we slide more, I guess. It's more extreme side to side. So, yeah, it's very similar in this regard. We can relate to one another. They're just all bigger and stronger than us. I guess we need more endurance overall, where they need a lot of explosivity and all that. There are some changes there, but still, at the end of the day, I think we can really relate to one another. That's also, I guess, one of the reasons I really enjoy basketball. It's a fun game to play. All you need is a ball. It's like soccer a little bit. It's very easy to play with friends and all that stuff. I enjoyed always playing myself.

Q. How is your jump shot?

ROGER FEDERER: Not great. It's okay. Looks good, but results are not the best.

Q. I don't know how superstitious you are, but if you meet any Australian player during the US Open, you always reach the final.

ROGER FEDERER: There you go. Perfect (smiling).

Q. Compared to Novak, he has fatherhood ahead of him. Do you think Novak has a handicap during the tournament because of these things, a lot of things happen with the family, a lot of positives, but it's affected his performance?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, number one, I'm not superstitious. From that standpoint, we can skip that part. Then about Novak, I don't know. Did he say it makes him struggle? I don't remember hearing him say he didn't play so well the last few weeks because of that. I don't think that's the case. I just think he didn't have the best days and the opponents played well.

Q. Maybe under the surface.

ROGER FEDERER: Maybe. But now we're starting rumors and we don't want to do that. I think he's going to be totally fine here unless his wife is really not doing well, which he would never tell us anyway. I really hope that's not the case. I expect Novak to be in great shape. If I look back in '09 when I won the French Open, Wimbledon, my wife was pregnant, and it inspired me to great performances. I believe it's rather an advantage than a disadvantage in my opinion. Then again, he's a different guy, different background. My wife was with me. She's not here. Totally different situation. It helped me playing well.

Q. You are a big soccer fan. What were your thoughts on the Germany-Brazil in World Cup?

ROGER FEDERER: It was not fun to watch just because you feel bad for the one team. You're so excited about it, and then 40 minutes in you just want it to be over. I think everybody felt that way. Even the Germans didn't feel comfortable anymore at one point. It was just hard to watch, you know. But that's sports. It happens. Thankfully the grass grows over it and kind of gets forgotten a little bit after a few decades maybe (smiling). That's the problem there. Then the hardest part for me was they actually had to play for the third spot, not just go to the beach, relax, get over it.

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