Monday June 20 , 2011
Roger Federer's interview before the start of Wimbledon 2011
LONDON.--(LadyDragon.com)20/06/11--Q. You might get to see what it's like to play under the roof, forecast for the next couple of days. What is your view on Wimbledon under the roof?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it's something unusual, which we don't get. I mean, I'm not so used to it, even though in Halle I got an opportunity to play in some of the grass court matches under the roof. I think even one of them was the finals. During the finals they closed the roof while we were playing. So I've been there.
But then again, Wimbledon is a different centre court, so definitely take some getting used to in the beginning. Be interesting to see if once they close the roof it stays that way even if it becomes beautiful again in the afternoon, if they just use it to finish the match, so forth.
It will be interesting to see. I honestly thought it was going to be a bit of a rainy Wimbledon this year. The spring was just too nice all over Europe it seems. We'll find out the next couple weeks how it's going to be.
Q. How would you describe the strength of the top four seeds compared to any year that you've been here?
ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, well, I just think all four guys at the top right now feel very comfortable on grass; whereas maybe in the beginning Rafa was still looking a little bit for how good he was on grass. We all knew he was good on clay, you know, excellent on clay really, very good on hard courts, and grass you just never really get a chance to really prove yourself.
I think as time went by, he showed how good he was; won a couple times here in the meantime. And Murray's game is very natural for this surface. I think Djokovic has always been great, but nothing extraordinary yet. But with the run he's on, obviously there's a lot of possibilities for him as well here.
I think that's maybe something that's a bit different than maybe in the past, where maybe one of the top four guys wouldn't feel so comfortable on grass. But this year it seems like all of us are, which is a good thing.
Q. If you're not here, if you close your eyes, what images come to you of Wimbledon? What has etched itself in your head after all these years at Wimbledon? Is there nook or cranny or a favorite place here that you love more than anything?
ROGER FEDERER: For me it's the moment when I lift the Wimbledon trophy really. That's the picture I see. Like if you say, if I close my eyes and stuff, that's the moment I see and I feel the strongest.
All the hard work, you know, during the year almost, and then also, you know, in the preparation and just staying focused and strong till the very end, to be able to lift up the trophy is a wonderful feeling. That's the picture I see.
Q. What does that trophy feel like? Is it heavy?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it's just the right size and the right heaviness really. Doesn't feel too light or impossible to lift. It's really good. It's very nice (smiling).
Q. Another record could loom here this year for you. Is the setting of records something you actively pursue, or do you let other people be concerned about something like that?
ROGER FEDERER: Which record do you mean?
Q. If you win seven Wimbledons, could be level with Sampras.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, there's always something on the line at this point when I play the Grand Slams just because I have the record already. So I could push it one forward or I could tie with Sampras here. It's obviously something very special and important at this point really.
I feel good about myself, about my body. I've recovered. The last week, you know, was vital for me to recover from my groin injury. I feel like I'm almost back at 100% again, which is a really good sign for Wimbledon.
After that, you know, I hope I get into the tournament a bit better than last year where I almost lost in the first round. That's the concern I have right now, not trying to break all these different records.
I mean, it's nice they're somewhat close, but still they're far. I still have a lot of work to put in these next couple of weeks.
Q. Having said that, you have the best record at these Championships than anybody of the contemporary players. One imagines that when you come here after the French Open you had, you have a real sense of prospects and destiny this fortnight.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I don't know. I think I've been playing well for the last year really. I mean, I had a wonderful end of the season last year. I started well at the beginning of the season.
Clay went fine. You know, I thought I played well, but didn't play maybe extraordinary sort of in Monaco and Rome.
Madrid was good, and Paris obviously was very good. I think I've always played at a very good, high level all the way through. I didn't have sort of terrible matches. I mean, I missed a few matches, like maybe the Rafa semis in Miami or the Novak finals in Dubai. That's against world-class players, who if you don't get a good start to the match, next thing be you know it's over in a hurry.
So I've had a very good year last year. I'm happy about my game, and I am happy it showed in Paris. I played a wonderful match against Novak, and also all the other matches before that were good. Obviously I come into this tournament very confident.
Yeah, it was funny. The first time I hit here on Monday, very easily, like right away after 10 minutes, it feels so natural for me to play on grass. I hope that feeling is going to pay off by going deep and then hopefully winning the tournament here.
Q. What are your thoughts on the rematch of last year's marathon between Isner and Mahut?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, obviously everybody, from all the players, couldn't believe that was the case. You're like, Is that really the draw? You really want to see in black and white if it's the case. I guess now it's tricky because many people are going to expect something similar, which is basically impossible.
I mean, so there's a big burden on them right now. In some ways, I wish that was the only match they played. Right away there's this rematch; it's a bit awkward. Still, I think it's great for tennis. It's a great buzz. It was an amazing story last year.
They would have had a bit of a focus this year anyway coming back, but with the rematch, it gives Mahut a chance to redeem himself from last year.
I mean, it will be followed very closely from the players' side.
Q. What do you remember most from last year's match?
ROGER FEDERER: It was a classical match that went the distance. It's a big serving contest; that's it. I remember -- I think I went on court when they were midway through the fifth set. I finished a tough four-setter on Court 1, came back, and they were stuck at 30-All, 30-All.
Then obviously I watched a bit at the end, did some press, came back, and watched again. Then it got interrupted again. Then the following day we were all glued to the TV at that point obviously. But the first sort of five hours nobody cared too much. It's the next five that made the news.
Yeah, it was something very special and unbelievable. They know that. We know that. It's nice that it's possible in tennis.
Q. If you play as well here as you did against Djokovic in Paris, can you see yourself beating him again on grass this time and going on to win the whole thing?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, I do. But I didn't necessarily need to prove my point in Paris for my mind or for my confidence. I know I can beat Novak on any surface. I've done that in the past. Just because he's on a great winning streak doesn't mean he's unbeatable.
That was my mindset going into the match in Paris. I played really well. I was able to play well in the key moments. Here at Wimbledon anyway I'm even more confident. I think I'm a better player than in Paris, so I expect myself to do really well here, even better maybe.
Q. You just practiced with Tommy Haas. I know you're good friends. I want to know, do you think he will make it back to the top where he had been after such a long injury?
ROGER FEDERER: Back to the top would be No. 2 in the world for him. I mean, that's obviously a long way to go. At this point, I think it would be nice for him to get back in the top 50, back in the top 20. That would be something very nice.
I think he told me now this has been like the first week he's actually been feeling better again in a long time. He's had aches and pains all around since Munich really when he played the doubles. So that was nice to hear.
I think if he's able to play without any pain for the next few months, then obviously there is a chance. If that's not the case, then it's going to be extremely hard. With all the rehab, the injuries he's had, it's going to be very difficult I think mentally.
But he seems happy. I think his wife is a great supporter of him. I think that's already a good thing. He's got a nice daughter as well, so I think that can inspire him, too. I think things are much better for him than they were a year ago.
Q. You play here with the expectation of being the champion for all those years. Can you imagine with what you see and witness here what it's like for Andy Murray with the expectation of an entire nation here at Wimbledon?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, he's not the defending champion, so he doesn't face that pressure. Even though that would be a nicer pressure to face, I would think. That means you've already won the tournament.
I think he's done well. I think the people expect him to sort of make the semis. It would be great if he were to win the tournament. I think that's the mindset of many people, and himself as well.
So I don't think people are getting too ahead of themselves. I think it's more the media expecting him to finally win a Grand Slam. Lendl lost many Grand Slam finals before he won his first.
To me, I think he's way good enough to win a Grand Slam. To me it's just a matter of time. He'll definitely have, what, another eight years, ten years of chances to win Wimbledon. It would be nice if he won it this year for him and the British fans.
Right now it's all tough because the top five, six guys are playing well. You have all the other guys moving around in the draws. I didn't see his draw yet, to be honest. I'd be surprised if he falls early. That's just my opinion.
Q. You said that after your first-round match last year you began to entertain a few doubts about your game. How rare is that to happen to you, and kind of what goes through your mind?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it's rare in a Grand Slam really, especially early on in a tournament. I mean, I can struggle sometimes and come through and not make a big deal about it, but obviously last year I got very lucky.
Actually ended up playing well, you know. I thought my opponent played really well, too. But people unfortunately never gave him enough credit for that. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to close it out.
For me, I actually played some good matches after that, but realized there was just something missing in my game, was just a bit passive, just not believing enough for my shot-making. That's something rare to have in Grand Slam play.
Look, I still made the quarters, had chances against Berdych, and could have gone through. It wasn't meant to be. I had a few things I had to battle with during the tournament. That was the case.
Hasn't happened since. That's something I'm happy about.
Q. Remember earlier in the year when you were talking about Andy having a slump after the Australian Open, you said to us, Relax, he's way too good a player not to come back. Do you see anything different about him now that makes you think he's a real challenger to you and to Rafa and Novak here?
ROGER FEDERER: No, not really. I think he played amazing tennis in Australia. I think he probably got a bit down on himself after losing in the finals again. I think he wasn't that close to Novak in the finals. I think that really crushed him.
To some degree that's understandable, in some ways also it's not what you want to see, because Novak also lost a tough US Open final against Rafa, which you really think that was a huge opportunity there for him to beat Rafa there on a fast surface. Instead of going in a slump, he went on a tear. You can take it different ways.
I think Andy just struggled a little bit after that. Look, I mean, once you start losing you can lose a few times in a row; and then time goes by, you play no matches, you're lacking matches, and it's something you're not that used to, especially being the top five in the world, you know, having to deal with a lot of practice and no matches. Especially when you play, you lose.
I think he did well. I think he played -- well was it in Monaco, as well? And then he played well all the way through to the French. Now he's again in great shape. He played great. Queen's I didn't see, but I'm sure he played well. Now he's got the perfect preparation for Wimbledon, so it's all good. I'm excited to see how he goes.
Q. How do you think the absence of the Williams sisters has affected the women's tour for this past year, and what does it mean to have them back, especially Serena, the defending champion?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, we don't have to play them, so it's all good (smiling).
It's been hard. It's been tricky I think for the tour. I mean, definitely gave a chance for other players to shine and to, you know, make their move, to win bigger tournaments, to rise in the rankings and all those things.
And as good as it's been, it's also been somewhat tricky for the tour to really understand who is the real world No. 1, who is the real world No. 2, No. 3. If the Williams sisters would have played, if Clijsters wouldn't have been injured, a lot of those things would have been question marks.
At the end of the day, world No. 1 is the one who plays basically a full tour and wins the biggest tournaments, and rankings should not be lying. It will be interesting to see how they come back. I think it's interesting for the tour. It's a good story. But obviously you wish they'd be able to play 15 to 20 events a year. But if the body doesn't allow it, then it's tricky.
But, yeah, so it's been an up-and-down, bumpy road for the women's tour as of late. But we'll see now how it goes here with the sisters back in the game.