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An Interview With: Roger Federer (Round 3)

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Q. In your post-match interview, you spoke a little bit about facing John Isner's serve. How would you describe that serve and the biggest challenges about it?

ROGER FEDERER: For some reason I feel like I don't know it as well. I don't know how many times we have played against each other. Played Karlovic more and Roddick and Raonic it seems like almost. But John it's been once every two years maybe, so I don't know it that well. He's got the power. It needs to be, and then clearly because he's so tall clearly he finds the impossible angles for us, really. And he's got a great second serve, as well. Obviously best-of-three-set match he's even more dangerous. Best-of-five you feel like you have a bit more time, but clearly he can also run three, four, five sets serving great. It's going to be a tough match.

Q. And how does that power affect your newfound strategy, and to what degree you might employ it?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, the idea is not to use it very much against a player like that. I have done pretty well over the years against big servers, so, I mean, clearly I will think about it, but I don't think that's going to be the turning point of the match, to be quite honest. I need to make sure I protect my own serve first.

Q. On the court Pam Shriver addressed this. If I may address it again, you're keeping a balance with family, social, sightseeing, and playing these great matches. How relaxed do you feel right now?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I feel good. I have had a nice schedule. Played, what was it, early the first day. It was a fast match. So also afternoon and nice evening there. Then the other day when I played at night I played the first slot. Also fast match. Didn't get to bed too late. I'm still in a normal schedule, which is good to be. Because if you finish a match like Fognini and Rafa like last night, it's hard to go to sleep right away. Plus you need treatment and press and everything. It can be 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning until you fall asleep. Thankfully I haven't had that. And then today again we are running early, which is great. Plus, still in the tournament, so clearly I am very happy.

Q. Your own serve has been wonderful, and it's a great contrast to John's serve. How do you think it can help you in a matchup against him?

ROGER FEDERER: My own serve you mean?

Q. Yes. The way you have been serving, what can it do for you playing him in terms of being able to take care of your serve?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, it's focusing, you know, point by point serve. It's in a way that simple. And then clearly taking the right decisions and understanding as you move along in the match. Same for him or for any good server, is to sort of understand the percentages, what has and hasn't worked so well throughout the match. You know, in the beginning you try to find the rhythm. Then once you found it, how much do you mix up speeds and slices and big serves, you know, to keep him off balance. Yeah, I mean, I tend to like the body serve as well. Sometimes against John maybe that's not a bad play just because he's very long, and if he picks the right side he has long arms so with easy contact he generates a lot of power. But like I said, I haven't played John in a while. I have to look back a little bit at what I have done against him, what he likes to do, and then I can go from there. I still need to talk about it with Stefan and Severin.

Q. The way you serve, can you put pressure on him with your ability to hold, do you think?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think that's always the goal. Obviously John can hold easy, that we know. That I can hold my serve a lot and stay very focused, that I know as well. That's part of trying to beat him, as well, is just to stay with him. He also wants to break, and he gets frustrated. Like any other big server, as well, if they can't get a break, because they also dont want to play breaker after breaker. We will see how it goes.

Q. I haven't had a chance to ask you about this new rushing forward on returns.

ROGER FEDERER: Right.

Q. Can you explain about the derivation of how you came up with it, whose idea it was? I have also seen some people worried about what you all called it, if you could explain that a little.

ROGER FEDERER: So when I arrived in Cincinnati, I arrived, I don't know what time it was, maybe after lunchtime, and then I went for a hit. It was Benoit Paire. He had like an ear problem. I was tired from jet lag. We were tired and practicing on center court, which was great. Last year I couldn't practice on center court before my first match. This time I had plenty of time. I think it was Friday and Saturday, I guess. So I put in a lot of hours on center court. But that time I was very tired and he was tired, and at the end we said, Well, let's still play some games just because it feels like it's the right thing to do. I was going to stop already, but Severin said, Play a few games get used to the conditions. I said, Whatever. Let's play some games. And, yeah, at the end we were just kidding around almost, and that's when I said, Okay, I'm going to chip and charge and just keep the points short. I'm tired. I want to get off the court soon anyway. That's when I started to run in and hit returns. I hit a couple for a winner. They were like ridiculous. He laughed, I laughed, Severin laughed. Then I did it again in the next practice just to see if it actually would still work again. Then I tried it the next practice and it still worked. That's what Severin said, Well, what about using it in a match? I was like, Really? (Laughter.) So he pushed me to keep using it and not shy away from using it on big moments, and not just because you don't know how you look with a full stadium. He was actually the one who pushed, you know, pushed me to it. And because we were always talking about that tactic, as well, we sort of came up with that name, you, know, sneak attack by Roger, ^ saber. I don't know. Call it Fed attack, call it whatever you want, but I thought it was kind of funny. And, yeah, today again it worked a couple of times. I didn't get that many second serves when I thought I could use it, but moving forward it's an option. Clearly I'm very happy it worked so well in Cincy.

Q. We have not talked about today's match that much. You had some difficulty with him the last time you played against him. Tell us what you did right or better today against him on court.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, last time was grass. First match on grass for me, and I think he had played Stuttgart earlier. He was more in a grass rhythm already, which made it difficult. Of course it was the first round for him, as well, in Halle, but he had some matches on grass. Yeah, it was just a close match there. Today I got off with a good start and held my serve throughout the first set. Then, I don't know, I lost a little bit on my serve. There was hardly any rallies anymore. I couldn't play as many rallies as I was hoping to, especially on the return games, because I thought he was doing a good job doing the 1-2 punch. Then that's not much rhythm, to be quite honest. I think because of my serve and no rhythm, I might have gotten broken as well a couple of times in sets two and three. It's exactly those kind of matches I need to win. Especially if I drop serve, I still find a way and I don't want to say comfortably, but I get maybe a little bit lucky at times, but also push luck on my side. When I had the opportunities I was effective again. I think I won the big points better than he did today. He's a quality player, so at the end of the day it's a really, really good win for me.

Q. You're always such a big fan favorite here in Flushing, but considering the terrible state of American men's tennis, do you think it will be even...

ROGER FEDERER: Possibly. I don't know. I'm looking forward to find out. Played John here in the past. Also I think it was Labor Day weekend. Third round maybe? The crowds were really pumped up to see how massive he was clocking the serves. It was a joke in the first set. I remember that. Yeah, I expect the crowd to be on his side. If they are on my side, clearly very happy and appreciate that. That goes also into my preparation, to be quite honest. But I love playing here. People know that. We will see how it's going to be.

Q. I'd like to know if you had the chance last night to watch a little bit of Fognini and Nadal, if you know that Fognini played 70 winners, and what is your reaction about it? Are you five years younger or five years older than Nadal?

ROGER FEDERER: So the longer the match the more chances to hit winners. That's No. 1. I'm sure he did a great job, you know. I mean, we know he can hit forehands and backhands huge, you know, Fabio. Same crosscourt, especially when he steps into the court. I'm sure he did that a lot. I saw, like I said I said on court, I went to see Hamilton. I came back and saw some of the third and then the break in the fourth. So I came I think when Nadal had just broken to go up 3-1 in the third maybe. I didn't see that much. When I went to bed clearly thought Rafa was going to bring it home and that was it. Then I heard the news when I woke up. I wish I did see the match because I didn't expect it to be this thrilling, but that would have been bad preparation for my match today. So sometimes you have to take those decisions, you know. (Laughter.) Last night I decided to get an hour more sleep or one and a half. I'm happy I did. Yeah, from what I heard it was very exciting. Yeah, tough for Rafa, but what a great win for Fabio, you know. He's a great shot maker.

Q. I will ask the same thing. You had said once that Hewitt-Baghdatis taught you never to go to bed during a match.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I missed the end there, too, because at 3:30 I bailed, I think. We do travel far away from home to come here. I love watching tennis, but sometimes you just have to decide, you know, to be professional. It hurts, but just gotta do it. You don't want to lose the next day and have regrets. I have done mistakes when I was younger, you know. Play, I don't know, video games until too late and feel tired the next day, whatever it was. So I don't really want to do that anymore. (Smiling.)

Q. When you beat Darcis in the second round he said afterward he felt a bit ridiculous on the court because you reached such a high level. What do you do to challenge yourself to keep improving to reach that level?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, for me it's about then varying my game, enjoying myself out there. I mean, you know, honestly that's very important to me, as well, see how aggressive or not can I play, and then really just also work on the concentration. Just make sure you get through the match, no surprises anymore. Because of the unique scoring system we have in tennis, there is always a reset after each set. You always feel like something could happen and you're only safe once you get over the finish line. Everything before that you have to be careful, and that's kind of how I see it, even sometimes the scoreline is in your favor. It helps to play more freely, but not more than that, really.

Q. Is it also in practice that you really focus and say you don't get...

ROGER FEDERER: Well, in practice you can do a lot of things. You can actually train harder than what the matches are in terms of -- you know, you can decide on the exercises you can do, but you can never quite recreate the intensity. That's why you see sometimes guys cramping after two sets or after one set in Davis Cup or in a Grand Slam or in their home tournament, just because they are so excited and they are so tense that it's not about fatigue or anything. That's mental stress, you know. That you cannot recreate in practice, and that's why it's important for players to play matches. Even if it's an exhibition match, sometimes that can just help have people in the stadium, linesman, umpires, ball boys, the whole thing. It creates this unique environment really we like so much.

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