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Roger Federer, Wimbledon, June 22, 2009
   

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Wimbledon Interview

Roger Federer

Monday, 22 June 2009

Q. Is it every bit as special to walk out there another year, even if you're not officially the defending champion?

ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, yeah, it is very special. It will always remain this way, you know. It's a very privileged spot, you know, Monday, 1: 00 p.m., so of course I feel honored.

I know that Rafa deserves it obviously more than I do this year. But somebody had to do it, so I'm very happy that they chose me, of course. Yeah, gets your heart beating, that's for sure.


Q. If you had a chance to tell Rafa what he missed in terms of playing on that brand‑new court, what would you tell him?

ROGER FEDERER: No, it's just being the first guy out on Centre Court, you know. Of course, there's been exhibition matches, you know, to test the roof and stuff, but it's not the same. I think it's already excitement when actually matches start at 12:00 or when the gates open at 10:00, it is, or 10:30. So when the people start coming into the grounds, it's just very special moments, you know. Obviously also the one when the first players walk out on Centre Court.

I mean, he's been part of incredible big matches, you know. Of course he wouldn't have a problem handling it, but it's still something he might obviously regret as well a little bit. That made his decision so difficult, I'm sure, as well.


Q. What about the feel of a perfect court that never has been played on before?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, when you get here early, too, you play on many great other grass courts, too. So, I mean, you can relate a little bit to it.

But it's just like the atmosphere out on Centre Court, you know, it's so different to Paris, for instance, or so different to what we just went through, the whole clay court season. It's just such a ‑‑ it's just different, you know. You've got to live through it to really be able to talk about it.


Q. There were times during your match today when I was reminded of an essay by the late American author, David Foster Wallace. It's called, Roger Federer as Religious Experience. I'm wondering if you have heard of this essay, read it, or what you think of it?

ROGER FEDERER: Sure, I remember his piece. I remember doing the interview here on the grounds up on the grass. I had a funny feeling walking out of the interview. I wasn't sure what was going to come out of it, because I didn't know exactly what direction he was going to go.

The piece was obviously fantastic. You know, yeah, it's completely different to what I've read in the past about me anyway.


Q. Can you make some comments on Lu's game?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I thought he played excellent, you know. He's a wonderful player. He has got a nice forehand, a nice backhand, very sound game all around. He's good all around. Seems like can he play well, especially on the quicker courts, hard courts and grass courts.

I knew the danger today. He's beaten good players in the past. I knew that as well, too, obviously. That was a tough first set. He actually remained tough throughout the match, which was good to see, in a way.


Q. What did you think of what it looks like now with the white roof there in place? Was there any part of you that secretly thought, Maybe I'd like to see what it looks like closed?

ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, well, sure. I mean, I guess the moment will come that I'll play indoors here, as well, you know. But you don't really hope for it during the match. Maybe before it's kind of nice so you play the whole match in the same way.

When I changed to, you know, not the Royal Box end, but the other end, and I saw the structure for the first time, because this is really where it stands out the most, it was different, you know.

But, you know, I've played in different Wimbledon Centre Court stadiums in the past few years now. Ones that didn't have a roof, ones that had the roof. I've been through all of those, but this one felt very much at home again. It felt great. It looks good, too, I think.


Q. Do you ever feel that you don't get as much credit as you deserve for making it as deep into tournaments as you do, not necessarily winning the tournaments, but winning these early‑round matches that some might take for granted?

ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, not really. I mean, I think I get the respect I deserve, you know, and people know ‑‑ I hope at least they know how hard it is and difficult to play against all these guys.

Because you have a little slip here or there, you know, or you don't play maybe as well on those important points, you see how good all these guys are, like Lu for instance today. Makes it hard, you know, to win all the time.

But, you know, I think people are okay with it. Maybe there was a time in 2006, 2007 where people just thought everything's easy, but it never is. It might look easy, but it's not.


Q. What is the mental challenge of these early‑round matches for you?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, the first one is different, obviously, to, let's say, round two, three and four. First one you hopefully want to get off to a good start, get it out of the way, find your way into the tournament, get the atmosphere, you know, of a tournament.

Once you're in it, I think things kind of are just a little bit easier just because you've been able to watch a few matches, your mind's right in the tournament; whereas before you're trying to be in it. It can be over quickly. I mean, thank God it hasn't happened in a long, long time that I've lost in the first round of a slam.

But it's not so easy, and then you've got to stay concentrated for a long time. Two, three weeks is a long time.


Q. You spoke about the difference between the Roland Garros clay court crowd and the crowd here, the difference in that feeling. Could you talk about the difference in the feeling? Are you more comfortable here in front of this crowd?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, obviously it's fun playing in front of a crowd that's so respectful towards, you know, every point you play. If it's an error, you know, they don't like to really applause it too much. If it's a great point, then they really come out, you know; whereas in other places, you know, it's all about a good atmosphere, waiting for that big moment to happen, you know, just building it up slowly, you know.

That's what I like also about the US Open, for instance, or the Australian Open. You have day sessions and night sessions that make it very different atmospheres.

Honestly, I don't know which one I prefer the most. I think the change is good, you know. Because if every single tournament had the same atmosphere, that would be a little bit boring, you know.

But it's not the case. Every country has different cultures, so it means different atmosphere, different people sitting there. Sometimes they're younger; sometimes they're older. That also changes the atmosphere a bit.

Obviously here you have no music on the court, whereas in America you have a lot of music, even publicity. It's different, you know. I like that.


Q. Since you had no grass court warmup tournament like usual, did it make today any different for you?

ROGER FEDERER: It's funny, I actually didn't even think about it I didn't have a grass court match yet this year. It's something I completely forgot about. I just felt good in practice the last few days.

I had some good practice matches, you know, with Safin and Youzhny and Wawrinka. Some good quality players. I felt like I was, you know, in good shape for my first round. That's what I remembered, not if I did play a tournament or not before.

But actually I'm very happy with my first round. I thought it was a very solid performance, because that's what it took today against Lu.


Q. As the champion two years ago, you set an unofficial record for the length of time you graciously took all the media requests for interviews and were here late into the night. It seems like you did that at the French this past year. What makes you feel compelled to be gracious that way, to fulfill those requests to this point more than anyone else has done that?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I guess it already starts that I speak a few different languages, you know. Then you have the papers, the radios, the magazines and whatever, you know. It ends up being a lot.

But, honestly, especially after I've won a tournament or if I think it's a big match, there is something, you know, that needs information, I don't mind giving time, you know. Half an hour more, one hour more sometimes, it's not the end of the world for me, you know.

I like to tell a good story. If it's ‑‑ the spectators who were in the stadium or there are people that couldn't be there, at least get something good to read about or to hear about.

I guess I was anyway well‑educated in this regard. I just think that it's important to take that time. It's part of tennis today, and I guess with the different languages, you know, that's something different, too, than what has been in the past with other No. 1's in the world who always had one or maximum two languages. That's changed obviously with me coming around.

I've always enjoyed it. It's not the most fun part of the job, but I also have my good time.


Q. Last year wasn't as much fun?

ROGER FEDERER: It was a good year. I don't know what you saw.


Q. Last year at the finals here is what I meant.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, you lose, you leave. It's pretty simple. You don't want to hang around (smiling).


Q. Did you feel any nerves at all today coming into this tournament after the French? Is there a sense that history is behind you propelling you rather than in front of you?

ROGER FEDERER: I missed the question. I'm sorry.


Q. Did you feel any nerves today different than other years?

ROGER FEDERER: No.


Q. How was it different than other years you came on? Is there a sense after having won the French that history is behind you?

ROGER FEDERER: No, nothing to do with the whole history part here. Honestly, I felt the same ‑‑ this is six times I've done it now, opening Centre Court. I always pretty much felt the same. Or five times.

Just that first moment walking out, you know, visualizing, you know, what's gonna come walking down the corridor. Warming up for the first time here at Wimbledon, it's just sometimes not an easy thing to do. But it's a fun thing. It's what you dream about.

Yeah, so it's actually always felt the same. Then you forget about everything that's happened in the past, you, know. If you're a great champion or not, you just want to enjoy the moment and hopefully get off to a good start. You just put your head down.

So there's always nerves in every match, every first‑round match at Wimbledon, I would say.


Q. When is the baby due?

ROGER FEDERER: I'm not saying. It's a pity we're moving on with language right now. So sorry (smiling).


Q. The one thing you haven't told is when the baby is due.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I won't tell you.


Q. Is it going to be this fortnight?

ROGER FEDERER: What did I just say? I'm going to repeat myself: I'm not going to tell you (smiling).


 

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