An interview with: ROGER FEDERER
August 26, 2012Q. The last time you sat here, about 50 weeks ago, it was after a very difficult loss. Since then you have had one of the most amazing years in tennis. Did you take anything from that match that led to this amazing year, or would you attribute it to some other factors that you want to tell us?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think it's not only last year's match that made me get back to world No. 1. There's been a lot of sacrifices done before this match here.
Remember, I also had a tough loss at Wimbledon. That also shook things up a little bit. And then when it happened a second time around after being up two sets to love, I took a bit of a break after going to Sydney for Davis Cup the following week after here.
I took some time to assess the situation and how should I move forward. And then of course it was great to start off with a win in Basel last year in my hometown. Then the rest we know. So it's been a great last 12 months.
I was able to stay injury free. I mean, I always did believe that if things, you know, turned for the better for me I was always going to be very near to world No. 1. I wasn't far off, but I couldn't plan on Novak going on a 40 match winning streak or Rafa going for almost four Grand Slams in a row, as well.
Other guys also have their part to play in it. It's not only up to purely myself. That's where you have to be patient sometimes and just keep working hard and believing that what you're doing is the right thing as well.
Q. I believe your twin daughters who are turning three years old were at Wimbledon when you won this year. I heard you quoted saying that having a family has helped you become a better player. I know in years past there were champions that sometimes got distracted getting married or juggling family and career. Do you think that having children, being married, has made you a better player?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, not worse. I mean, I'm back to world No. 1. (Laughter.)
Honestly, I think, was it 2009 when the kids were born? I think I won Cincinnati I think the second tournament back; and when I turned 30 I also right away won a tournament where people thought now I'm old.
I think it's always worked out well for me. Of course it's not been just easy cruising either.
You know, having twin daughters and traveling and trying to manage the situation with my wife and the kids and just seeing what's best, what can we learn. It was a hard process, too.
I mean, not that we're through it, but it's definitely getting a little bit easier now that they're three and not newborns.
Also definitely had its role to play with them. Happy I have been able to combine them, because first up when I heard Mirka was pregnant with twins I was worried about my practices. I was worried about the playing schedule, that it was never going to be the same again.
But my wife has made it work for me. She's made incredible sacrifices for all of the family. I couldn't be more grateful or thankful. It's been a great ride. Yeah, for that reason, having that Wimbledon victory plus seeing my kids in the stands after the match, yeah, doesn't get any better than that. It was a dream come true for me.
Q. Last fall the term 1%er became part of the American lexicon. The Occupy Wall Street movement were 1%. Seems like in your business, 1% of the ATP Tour wins 99% of the tournament. Is it good for the industry?
ROGER FEDERER: I think it is, you know, to be quite honest. It's great people follow tennis, that they know most likely who they will see, you know, in the final rounds. It's been incredible to see the top four guys for so long now.
Let's just say it's at least five plus me and Rafa, we had more years than that, I guess eight or so with just how consistent we have been. It wasn't always like that. Back in the day you had good hard court players, the good clay court players, the good grass court players, and then obviously throughout slams it wouldn't match up.
Now everybody shows up at the slams and plays so well. That's why there's such a shock to it now that Rafa pulled out. People almost can't believe it, but back in the day people always used to pull out from time to time from Grand Slams because of injury or being tired or scheduling.
So things have obviously changed in a big way in the last years. Then you always go through transition periods as well, which was the case end of the '90s, maybe in the beginning of 2000 until 2004, I'd say.
And then some like it different, that there is a different champion every week, and some prefer continuity. I think the combo is a good one for sure.
Q. As you return to No. 1, Serena Williams has returned to a dominant position. What are your observations of the ways she's playing and maybe the place she has in the history of the game now with her coming back to this dominant form?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, it's just nice to see them still playing. They have been around for a long, long time. I think they maybe started three years earlier than I did on tour. Both Serena and Venus are the same age, if not older.
So, I mean, of course women make the breakthrough earlier, but they have much more tough teenage years than I had because I was still playing the juniors. So you can't really compare that. Just longevity is already nice to see in a sport that in the past maybe has retired many greats early, you know, at 23, 25, 27.
You name it, it's all happened. It's nice to still seeing them playing really, really well and almost a full schedule, you know, because we know she's had some issues. I think that makes the return to the top of the rankings and to the top of the game even more exciting.
I think it's great what she's done over the last 15 plus years, but it's been an amazing summer for her like for me as well. I don't know how well exactly she's been playing because I am not the expert of women's tennis even though I'm married to a former women's tennis player. But from what I saw, I thought she's played great.
Q. What sense do you have of how she's dominated?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, we all knew if she's on she's very hard to beat. I think she just proved that point again.
Q. Can I get your thoughts on the Lance Armstrong saga?
ROGER FEDERER: Don't know enough about it, to be honest. I didn't follow it from the beginning till now. I heard the story come out that he's not going to pursue anymore the whole process, so I don't know what to say about it because I didn't follow it enough to be honest.
Q. Can you talk about how different you feel coming to the Open this year as opposed to last year as world No. 1, if you feel different at all?
ROGER FEDERER: How did I feel last year? I think I felt good last year, but probably felt that maybe at times the matches were not always in my racquet, whereas maybe this time around I feel like if I'm playing well I can dictate who's going to win or lose.
It's going to take something special from my opponent to win. That's kind of how it feels right now; then again, I might walk away from Monday and lost the first round.
You have to always be very careful how you say it and how you then play. I will take it one match at a time. There's no doubt about that. I will never ever underestimate an opponent ever again. I did that enough when I was a teenager. Those times are long gone.
I'm just happy how I'm playing. I already reached my goal for the year becoming world No. 1 and getting Wimbledon again and getting a medal for Switzerland. It's been incredible.
But I do have this one left for me this year where I really, really want to do well, and I couldn't be more happy returning here as No. 1. It's super exciting.
Q. You have been working very hard and you have had very consistent results. You
had to believe that you could win another Grand Slam and you could be No. 1. Did you ever doubt like that you could achieve what you have achieved lately?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, doubts? Maybe you believe less maybe or you believe more, but doubt, not really. I knew how close I was. I know sometimes the press or people start to paint the picture I was very far off.
If you look back at the results I had the last, let's say two years, doesn't matter how far you look back, I was actually extremely close on many occasions to give myself chances to win slams.
Sometimes it was a close call that didn't work; sometimes the opponent played too well; sometimes the opponent came with momentum; sometimes I didn't play a good match.
So it was just a combination of many things that set me back at times, but I never gave up. Mentally I was always ready to do the work and willing to travel and give it a shot.
At the end it all paid off. I'm extremely happy. Right now I know obviously people think I can win every Grand Slam that comes up, and if I don't win the US Open I will never win one again. It's always the same story. I'm just happy I was able to get Wimbledon. It just shows what I kind of knew, is that if I do play well I can win Grand Slams.
Q. What changed last year to make you think that matches weren't on your racquet?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I was playing great at the French last year; I was playing great at Wimbledon and had that tough loss. Then I had a bit of a dodgy Canada and Cincy where I felt like, That didn't go the way I wanted it to go. I lost to Tsonga and Berdych who were ranked between 4 and 10.
That's the kind of guys you definitely want to beat to give yourself the chance to the 1 and 4 ranked guys. So if you start losing to those guys all too often that will play tricks on your mind how are you then going to beat the best, even though it's not really related.
So maybe I did come into the US Open with a few losses that already maybe shook me up a little bit. But I knew US Open I usually play so, so well, and then everything went great. I had a great campaign into the semis and two sets to love up and you name it, a match point as well. It was just not meant to be, I guess somehow.
That's maybe what I meant with saying that it was just a tough stretch and maybe I believed a little less at times that it was on my racquet.
Q. Both McEnroe and Agassi said in the World Team Tennis match this July that tennis right now at the top, men's tennis is the toughest ever. Do you think you four guys are the toughest maybe in history in terms of competing against each other and winning events?
ROGER FEDERER: I'd say no, but I don't know. Just because you look back maybe 15 years, then you have Sampras, Edberg, Becker, and Agassi, I don't know who else. Those guys weren't good or what? Do you know what I mean?
You look back, further back, 20 years, and you have the Connors and the Lendls. Those weren't good either? I mean, I don't know. So for me I think that's respectful.
It's just different times and definitely more athletic, there's no doubt about that. But then again we don't play doubles. We don't play mixed. Maybe we play less matches today because it's more taxing, but we do play less best of five set tennis than they used to play.
You can't compare really, but we have somewhat of a golden era right now. I feel that truly. It's nice to see Andy making his move at the Olympics, nice to see Novak having an absolutely ridiculous year last year, and then Rafa and myself still being around.
It's definitely good times. Past that you still have great champions as well. It's very interesting at the top right now, and the depth I think has never been greater than right now. There's no doubt about that.
But then best ever? The four of us? That's a really difficult call.
Q. Can you give us a little sense, if anything, of what came from the meeting yesterday, the ATP meeting? There has been some mixed messages, rumors flying around. Can you give us a sense of what you thought emerged from the meeting yesterday?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it was in four meetings, so I don't know which one are you talking about?
Q. Players had theirs first.
ROGER FEDERER: Exactly. I was there too. Look, it's about just getting back to the players, making sure everybody is on the same page and understanding what the situation is. There are obviously different processes in place right now, different things we're working on.
It's not only the Grand Slam issue, but many other issues always pending. We're working on these and trying to inform the players. One thing I think has been the case is we have always wanted the players involved.
Finally we really have engaged players, and I think that's a very good thing. Other part is managing that. It's not always the easiest thing, but you really do see that players don't feel like, Oh, no, another player meeting. I don't want to go to it.
We weren't going to do a mandatory player meeting, but it was requested. That's what the ATP set up. I thought it was a good meeting. Obviously always going to be rumors flying, but as long as I'm president of the player council it's always going to stay behind closed doors what exactly has been talked about.
I think we're on the right track for many things. Obviously we try to solve it the best way we can for all parties involved on all issues really.
Q. Do you miss Rafa's presence here in sort of that odd way that rivals miss each other?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, it would be better if he would be here, but then again, it's good to see him maybe giving it a chance to heal and taking tough decisions like not coming here.
It's been a brutal process for him, I'm sure, missing the Olympics, which I'm sure was also a big goal for him. Then the North American swing and now this? I mean, this is significant, but it's not been six months yet.
So I think it's not the end of the world, but it's obviously much better if he were to be here. There's no doubt about that. But he's had a great run in Grand Slams as well and playing so many tournaments.
Many people thought he was going to break down way earlier, and he has played I think four years longer than people already expected. People thought four years ago the end is very near. None of that.
I just hope he's taking a little rest right now and hopefully coming back strong for the end of the year.