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An Interview With: Roger Federer (Round 2)

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Q. How would you rate your performance tonight? It was pretty easy. How would you compare how you're playing this year, especially tonight, to the last few years at the US Open?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, obviously '13 was difficult. Other years were good as well. I don't remember the opening rounds from the last two years right now. Very often I started this tournament quite strong. It's always gone quite well for me. I've always enjoyed conditions here, the balls, the speed of the court, the atmosphere in the arena. It's always worked very well for me.

I think this year is another good year. Doing the right things on the court. Like you said, it was pretty on the easier side, you know, so I was able to mix it up, was attacking, was also staying back some. I was pretty much all-out attack as much as I could. Obviously I have to manage that against different players when the scoreline isn't maybe so one-sided.

Q. Would you vote for Marcelo Rios if you were a voter for the Hall of Fame?

ROGER FEDERER: I don't know what it takes, to be quite honest. He was one of my favorite players to watch, so I would vote yes.

Q. You said the other day you've been around for 17 years now. There were a lot of changes. There were players playing serve and volley and chip and charge. You're trying to do that now. Do you think that style that you try to impose again and being successful may be a rebirth of those days?

ROGER FEDERER: Who knows. Maybe. I hope so. It would be nice to see more players doing it 'cause I think the mix of the different players and characters of those kind of players makes it cool and fun to watch. Not that these unbelievable baseline rallies are not cool, but it is nice to see a guy at net and a guy trying to pass, a good net player. It's always been a fantastic thing, like Sampras and Agassi is one of those classics, or McEnroe and Borg. It was epic to watch those guys play against each other.

The good thing for me is that I saw that play growing up. Sometimes I did it myself and sometimes people did it against me. It's something I feel comfortable doing and something also comfortable to defend against.

I've always actually enjoyed that kind of a play. I'm obviously clearly quite happy that I'm able to bring it back to some extent and that it's actually working.

Q. Have you given a thought to how long you want to play?

ROGER FEDERER: No, not really. I wish I knew. It would make my life easier. But I don't.

Q. It wasn't the case tonight, but you've had many matches where you've had to come back from being down. How would you describe what it is that's most crucial to being able to come back, and what are your observations of the way Serena Williams continually does that?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, like Andy today, I mean, I think it's important to stay calm. It's tough to stay calm in the eye of the storm, if you like. Everything's not working for you. You're under pressure. You see sort of yourself booking the flight and all that stuff.

So it's not so simple to just stay in the moment and trust your game and your strength that you can turn it around. Sometimes you just cannot because the opponent's too tough.

Sometimes the opponent lets you in, and sometimes you play well to get back. So you need sometimes the combination.

I think focusing, really, you break it down to point by point. That's what it comes down to, much more than if you're in the lead. If you're in the lead, your mind can wander. But when you're down like that, depending on how far down you are, you really have to focus extremely hard.

So clearly that's why, even if you do come back, the match can be very draining even though maybe the match wasn't as hard physically, but because of the mental effort you have to play different.

Q. And what are your observations of the way Serena does all those things?

ROGER FEDERER: I haven't seen all of those matches, to be quite honest. I'm sure she does it well, very well. I heard she won a lot of matches when she came down to the third set. Of course, I've seen sometimes when she lost the first set how she's able to turn it around.

I guess there's two things: start better so you're not down or then like she does it, she does it perfectly. I don't think she needs any advice whatsoever. When she is down, she always finds a way, seems like. And confidence helps, let's be quite honest.

Q. Retirements a record number for men in the Grand Slam. Does that tell you that the heat rule is inadequate?

ROGER FEDERER: I missed the beginning. Not quite sure where you're going.

Q. There's been more retirements today. Record number for men in a Grand Slam. Does that tell you that the heat rule is inadequate or that maybe some players' preparation is inadequate?

ROGER FEDERER: How many pulled out because of heat?

Q. I don't know. But we're up to 12.

ROGER FEDERER: All heat related? I mean, you got to compare with the right things.

But clearly I'm surprised to hear that players are retiring because of heat. I mean, if you're injured, it's different and all that. But I'm sure from the 12 or 13 players that have retired, I'm sure there's involvement with heat.

What I don't understand, if that's the case, we've been here in North America for some time. It's not like, all of a sudden, hot. I mean, it was more on the warmer side, but it's not like impossible, to be quite honest.

Really no excuse for that. I think everybody should be well-prepared. I know we don't play many best-of-five-set matches all the time, so of course the body can react funny once you exceed the two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half hours of play. Mardy Fish, that's an exception. He's not been that well-prepared because he hasn't had the matches in his body.

Other players, I don't know where they come from. So there are exceptions to those players. Maybe some guys already came in too tired, whatever it was.

I think you have to analyze case by case. But I think other players should be so fit that heat really shouldn't matter at that point, the ones we've been playing in.

Q. (Indiscernible.)

ROGER FEDERER: I've had reactions. I think many players think it's quite funny, actually. Especially the guys who I practiced with and I tried it against, they tell me to clearly keep doing it in the match, so not only they experience it, but it's really more Severin, my coach, who has been coming back to me and says, It's unbelievable. Everybody comes up to me and talks to me about it and thinks it's the coolest thing.

It's good, you know, I guess. I don't know.

Q. Lleyton Hewitt lost a five-setter. What are your thoughts about him and your generation?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, obviously I wish he could have won today. But then again he goes out, like at Wimbledon, on his terms. Five-set thriller again. Full stadium, I'm sure. Just the best atmosphere. He deserves it.

He was smiling at the end from what I saw, so I'm happy for him. Hope he could have gone further in the draw. But, you know, for me he was a big challenge in my career, to understand how in the world can you be so tough physically and mentally at such a young age, it was for me the impossible thing to understand.

So I think he really changed things around and showed me how it's done. He made me, I guess, work harder in practice, get my act together on the court, play tough but fair. We even played doubles together. I look back at that and think I can't believe we didn't do it more often. We had a blast doing it at Wimbledon. We still talk about it when we see each other.

Yeah, I thought he changed the game to some extent. I think he can be very proud of that because he was the player which just wouldn't miss, best counter-puncher we've ever seen almost at that point. I think he really was. He would just grind you down. You would attack him and he would pass you. He would do it time and time and time and time again. It was just fascinating to see.

He did things that no other player's ever achieved. He should be very proud. I'm happy it's not the end yet. We'll still get to watch him some. I wish him the best at the Davis Cup and then of course at the Australian Open when it comes down to his last tournament.

Q. Athletes tend to be stubborn. You've made changes in the last few years, equipment and coaches. How important is it for an athlete as they get older to make changes?

ROGER FEDERER: I think both work. You can be stubborn and successful or you can give it up a bit and change things around. For me it's important to have a bit of both, to be quite honest. I think you need to be stubborn, believe in hard work that somehow down the stretch is going to pay off, or in a match you say, Okay, the guy beat me three times in a row with a backhand down the line. Let me see it one more time. He'll hit a fourth one. One more time. He'll hit a fifth one. All of a sudden it won't happen anymore.

You need that stubbornness to succeed. Also I think the idea of change is really important because otherwise it can become a bit boring to some extent. I think you need to challenge yourself and try out new things, maybe where you practice, how you practice, who you practice with, the advice you receive sometimes, equipment, you name it, maybe a grip, maybe a string, maybe racquet technology. Everything keeps evolving and changing.

I've always been quite open about it. Maybe it's not something I've talked about much throughout my career. But I've always been very open and relaxed about all these things. Maybe now we see it more than previously. But clearly the back issue in '13 gave me the opportunity to look at the picture more in a broader scale rather than just think I need to get my back straight and then I'll be fine again and we'll go back to status quo.

No, it was an opportunity to change things around. I'm happy I used that time when maybe I wasn't winning as many matches to figure things out for myself.