Roger Federer 2R interview

Interviews

Q. Did Dan Evans surprise you, the level of tennis he plays?
ROGER FEDERER: No. I have high regard, you know, in Dan. I think he's a good player. I've seen him play some really good matches over the years. I see why he can cause difficulties to players. He's got a nice slice, defending the court well. He has the variation, which is always a hard thing to play against. He was feeling it today, I thought. He was very sort of cat and mouse a bit. Very interesting. I liked the match. I thought he was playing well. It was enjoyable, yeah.

Q. The new Dunlop tennis balls, some players have made comments they're a little bit too hard, not easy to put good spin on them, especially at night. How have you found them so far?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, they definitely play a touch different to the ones we've had the last couple years. I do see what they're saying. At night the spin is not taking off tremendously. I think, yeah, for me, I definitely have to go through a minor adjustment maybe from Perth, which was a faster court.

Look, one year ago it was too far back. It's hard to out-spin guys here. As they changed the finals also to a night session, and the semis also night sessions, I just feel like it's really important to have fast enough courts for night session conditions as the main matches are being played there. If you keep it slow, slow, at night the ball doesn't move.

From that standpoint I think they have done a nice job of speeding up the courts. Now the ball, honestly still early in the tournament to exactly tell you how it feels exactly. I still feel like you can serve your way out of trouble from the baseline. You can spin and slice, all that stuff we saw today.

It is true, you can't out-spin a guy here. I think that's clear.

Q. Dan was top 40. Quite a long way away from that now.
ROGER FEDERER: What is he now?

Q. 189. Do you think he can get back to where he was, push on higher?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes. I mean, for me, I didn't even know his ranking. For me he's a top 100 player. Once you're 80 or 60 or 40, you can be all those things, and beyond probably. I just think it's in the details at the end of the day. How much can you give to the sport? How much are you willing? Can you stay injury-free? Get your ranking up, be really there for the crucial moments? I think he can be top 50 again, no problem, yeah.

Q. What was the joke you had with him in the second set?
ROGER FEDERER: Joke?

Q. Something about a baby crying.
ROGER FEDERER: Really? I didn't see that.

Q. You and Dan were chatting.
ROGER FEDERER: About the rain. There was a baby crying?

Q. Yes.
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, we were not joking and there were no babies. I don't know which match you were watching. You were watching centre, right? I'm kidding.

I think it was maybe he made a joke, but I couldn't hear what he actually said, to be quite honest. I asked him: ;Do you want to keep playing?; The first time we decided not to play because the lines were already slippery. The second time around, I looked at him again, if he doesn't want to play, we won't play. If he was willing to play, I was willing to play, too. I wanted to give the choice to him.

He was laughing because it was deuce, not 40-15 that time. He was maybe feeling like I wanted to take advantage of the situation. I really didn't. Then I didn't hear what joke he said. Maybe he said something about a baby crying and something else.

Q. He said he was doing all the running anyway.
ROGER FEDERER: Okay, so yeah, that was the conversation. Nothing else. I don't know where that came from.

Q. As it's working out this year at the Grand Slams, every match is going to end a different way if you get a tiebreaker, seven points, 10 points, after 12-12, the regular way they've been playing at the French. Do you think that's good for the game or do you think it should be more uniform?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, you would think that uniform would make sense, wouldn't it? At the same time I think it's also exciting this way at the end of the day. They told us in the last five years, two per cent of the matches have finished this way here at the Australian Open. It's really that little amount of matches that actually go the distance.

I feel like, I said this also in the past, if you get to 6-6 in the fifth, you've had your chances, and so has your opponent had chances. I think it also gives you an opportunity to keep on playing in the tournament if it ends like here or at the US Open in a tiebreaker in the fifth.

At the same time I like tradition, I like the long sets. They even had them in normal sets, not just in the fifth set back in the day, when the likes of Tony Roche played, so forth. From that standpoint, it's a bit disappointing.

At the same time I understand where the game is going. It's getting more demanding potentially. But we don't play doubles or mixed any more like the old generation did. They were incredibly match tough, as well. I can't even see like we are fitter or tougher than they were because I feel like they were tough as nails.

Actually I think it's quite funny that we have four different endings to slams. But it's all good from my side. I hope I won't be there anyway (smiling).

Q. Novak said at the start of the year that the top three, the fab four, are the favourites to win slams this year. Do you feel that way because you all have greater experience, know when it comes down to five, tough situations? Do you feel that way, too?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, I guess so. I mean, look, I think we know how to win slams, Novak, Rafa, myself. I mean, Rafa has to be the No. 1 favorite, I don't care how he feels, before the French. Novak is always a favorite on the hard courts, basically any court of his feeling, 100 per cent, if he plays like last year. Maybe just because of my amount of titles I have at Wimbledon and other places, maybe also have to put me in the mix every time, as well.

There are other guys, no doubt about it. I think also with Sascha holding the World Tour Finals, I think it's fair to say that even though he has not ripped through those slams yet, he will go deep this year definitely at one of them, maybe even here. We'll see.

Q. You've said in the past when you were younger, you planned to have a longer career, so you played less maybe. At any point in the past, was it difficult to not overplay when you had setbacks or when you lost?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I remember vividly a conversation I had after I became world No. 1, after here actually in 2004. I got back to Switzerland, had a conversation with Pierre Paganini, my fitness coach. He said, Just do me a favour, please, and don't chase appearance fees and play every tournament. Because we got the appearance fees in the 250s and 500s.

I was like, No I won't. I will try to play the best schedule possible. I will always tell you if I have an amazing guarantee, maybe I would like to play it because it's also a nice place, it works out, we can work it out beforehand.

I think I can be very happy that I didn't do that. The problem is, I was 23 at the time, you don't know how long you're going to be at the top. You don't know how long you're going to see these guarantees. You don't know how long you're going to be successful. You just don't know.

That's why I think a tennis player's life, it's very short-term planning. It makes it kind of difficult because we don't have a five-year deal in some club, like team sports. We have to live a very normal life, which I think keeps us very humble and normal, to be quite honest.

I'm happy I was able to stay injury-free, stay true to that plan of not overplaying, taking the time off. It's hard going into a fitness build-up for five, six weeks during the season while other guys are winning tournaments. Oh, I could win maybe one or two tournaments in that spell, as well. But I'm doing it for my own game and for my own health, for the future.

So, yeah, it's tricky. But I can only advise a lot of juniors and younger guys coming through to do something similar, yeah. Depends on where you come from, where you're training. It all matters a little bit.