Roger Federer 13-01-19 interview

Interviews

Q. I want to ask you about Andy Murray retiring. What are your thoughts on the decision? How hard is it the decision he's had to take?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I think his body took the decision, unfortunately, in this case. Well, I think it must have been a very long couple of years for him now. I remember when I played with him in Glasgow, I know how not well he was. I couldn't believe he actually played. But it was for a good cause. He felt like he could do sort of the two and a half sets that we played.

I guess everybody can understand where he comes from. At some point when you feel like you're never going to get back to 100%, you've had the success that Andy has had, you can only understand the decision.

I was disappointed and sad, a little bit shocked, to know now that we're going to lose him at some point. But we're going to lose everybody at some point. It's just now that it's definite.

Of course, I hope that he can play a good Australian Open and he can keep playing beyond that, really finish the way he wants to at Wimbledon. That's what I hope for him.

Of course, it hits us top guys hard because we know Andy very well. We like him. He doesn't have many enemies, to be quite honest. He's a good guy, Hall of Famer, legend. He won everything he wanted to win. Anybody would substitute their career with his. He's a great guy.

It's a tough one, but one down the road he can look back on and be incredibly proud of everything he has achieved.

Q. You told us you made several changes in the kind of preparation you do in the off-season. Did you make any significant changes in the preparation you did before this season, also regarding the clay?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, yeah, so I didn't change my schedule depending on the clay. I just had a normal buildup. I think it was more about how was the body going to be after vacation. Did it allow me to do all the sessions, work as hard as I wanted to. I was able to do that. I think I was probably even able to work a bit harder than I thought I was going to. I didn't miss any sessions. I think I added on top of it. I came out of it actually strong.

Throughout my career, I've been very lucky that in the off-seasons I never had any setbacks or any real setbacks that took me away from the court another week, and all of a sudden that off-season was no off-season, it was more managing pain or managing a schedule. From that standpoint, no, it was not based on clay in any way. I still haven't taken the ultimate decision on that.

What I can say is the off-season was great for me. I think maybe it showed a little bit at the Hopman Cup already. Again, look, I'm playing tomorrow. We'll see how it's going to be here in Melbourne.

Q. What you were saying about Andy, he was describing how these days there's certain things day-to-day he can't do, like putting on his socks and shoes without feeling pain. As somebody who is 37, compared to 10 years ago, what are the differences? Are there notable differences about you as an athlete, you as a body, that has changed?
ROGER FEDERER: Hmm. I think everybody is a bit different, you know, how they react to recovery or how they react to a hard match. Probably every player has some sort of weak spot in their body. For some it's the foot. For some it's the hip. For some it's the knee. For some it's the back. For some it's the elbow. For some it's the shoulder. Whatever it may be, that's then their ongoing problem probably for a long period of time. Once you have that, that part of the body probably takes the longest time to heal or recover. That can be at one point, well, it just doesn't get that much better.

Q. Does age change things?
ROGER FEDERER: I think what happens with age maybe the most is that certain things take longer to recover from. Let's just say, whereas in the past, I don't want to say 27, because 27 you're already like 15 years or 10 years into your career, but when you're, like, young, let's just say you have, I don't know, a pain in let's just say the elbow, sort of next day you can play with it, two days later it's like you never had it.

All of a sudden at maybe 30, 35, 40, depending on who you are, what problems you've had, you will just feel it for two weeks. You can still play, but now you're playing with pain. It just takes longer to get rid of.

Again, everybody is very different. Everybody takes the pain differently. I think then that's also where you have to be very wise what kind of schedule you're playing with, what problem you're dealing with.

Q. Do you think Hopman Cup right before coming here adds to the confidence at the Australian Open?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, for me it worked very well. The last couple years I've had wonderful Hopman Cups. I think it's a good way for me to just feel good, play well. Team environment, you know, with Belinda, as well. I enjoy playing the mixed, as well. The stadium feels great. The crowds are unbelievable. It's on the way from Dubai over, so the jetlag is not too crazy for me.

There's many positives to take away from the Hopman Cup in Perth. It was successful, the preparation, also paying off here in Melbourne. That was obviously a bit of a surprise because I never expected to win the last couple of Australian Opens.

This year, again, we'll see what happens, but I'm very happy with the preparation thus far. Yeah, super excited that it's just a day away now from my next match. This is going to be exciting.

Q. I remember you saying after winning last year that you kind of had the feeling all the way through the tournament that you weren't going to win, something was going to happen. How are you feeling kind of this year? Are you more confident this time or...
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I don't want to overanalyze how I played in the off-season, how I played at the Hopman Cup. That's exactly how then I might not recover if I have a bad start in the match tomorrow, let's say. So I think the focus really is on those early rounds, especially tomorrow has to be.

I know what Denis did to Novak. I watched basically the entire game a couple years ago when he beat Novak here. I've had some tough ones against him in the past. He can play well in fast courts, and that's what it's going to be a little bit here as well.

Look, I'm playing good tennis. I'm confident that I think it needs a good performance by my opponent probably to beat me. That's always a good thought. But then again, I think I'm playing well.

Depending on how you match up with your opponent, who is going to win the big points, the margins are so slim nowadays that I'm just not thinking too far ahead. I don't think I should because I think that would be a mistake. I hope I can put myself in contention as the tournament goes deeper, but we'll see.

Q. I have a question about ATP politics. There's a group on the ATP player council who are keen for change of leader. There's also a board member who is awaiting criminal charges in the U.S. Do you have any views on where the political situation is at the moment?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I don't know about the council situation. You apparently know more than I do, so that's good for you.

Anyway, I was going to speak to some of the council members, I'm practicing with one of them this afternoon, Robin Haase. I would like to hear a little bit from him how the council meeting went.

Where their general feel is about leadership in the ATP, I think we've had a good five, six years now under Chris' leadership. Obviously it's an important role. We need to look at it very thoroughly. I need to speak with Novak, Rafa, and Andy a little bit just to get their take on it all.

Yeah, with the board member, we know the situation. It's pending. We're waiting to see what's going to happen. I know him well. So we'll see what the situation is there.

But it's definitely interesting times, I'd like to call it, not bad times in our sport. I think it's maybe also a bit of a transition time. So it will be interesting to see what's going to happen. I think with the ATP Cup and also the Davis Cup, we need to wait and see what happens, really to be quite honest, to be able to give a true opinion.

Yeah, a lot is happening. But, you know, it's all okay, whatever. I don't think it's bad.

Q. Back on fitness issues, what you were saying about age. I know you've had your own fitness issues, particularly the last two or three years. Overall over your career it's probably true that Rafa in particular, Andy maybe, Stan, have had bigger, more serious issues. Do you have any thoughts as to why it is at your age you're still so fit, able to carry on playing?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I definitely need a little bit of luck. If you look at how unlucky things were with the incident here a few years ago when I ran the bath, I guess the knee, that part of the body was ready to go. Could have happened easily in the match against Novak, but it didn't, maybe because I was warmed up. I have no idea what happened. I think you also need a little bit of luck.

Then I think I really understand my body very well. I know when something hurts and I can play with it; I know when something hurts and I should not play with it, but I can still play maybe a match, maybe a week, a month, whatever it may be. Sometimes that helps. But I feel like every player has that.

I can only speak about my team. I think my team also, they know when to push me, when actually they are happy that I don't practice so much.

I've always also believed I can play tennis when I don't train so much. I think that's been maybe one thing that for me, the confidence I have in my game, even if I don't play so much, I still feel like I can come up to a good level. Maybe takes away some pressure.

Maybe also the way I play tennis, maybe it's smoother than the other guys. It just maybe looks that way. I work extremely hard in the matches as well. It just maybe doesn't come across so much. I don't know if that's also something that maybe is part of the equation.