Press Conference with ROGER FEDERER
Federer – Nieminen 6:1, 6:3
FEDERER: I think I had a good start today. I am happy with my serve and the way I played from the baseline. He is a tough player, even though I have a good success against him. He can cause difficulties. I played him in the final in Basel a few weeks ago. It was a tough match. I am happy with my first round here.
Q: Is it a special feeling for you to come back here?
FEDERER: Obviously when I come here and go on the Centre Court I think of the success I had here. And then when I played the first point, a forehand down the line, I thought it obviously works for me here. And obviously to come back as the defending champion, that’s pressure, but it’s nice because you have good memories from the year before.
Q: Could you give us a word about the news of Justine Henin?
FEDERER: I heard, but I did not hear reasons. It’s obviously a shock for the tennis world, no doubt. She’s No. 1 in the world. So, it’s particularly surprising because it’s a month away from the French Open and two months from Wimbledon which she hasn’t been able to win. So, it’s quite surprising. But she definitely has her reasons. It’s unfortunate she’s out of the game.
Q: At the beginning of the clay court season, you started to work with a new coach. What was the aim? To win Roland Garros or just to improve your game on clay?
FEDERER: I didn’t hire him for clay. I didn’t hire him to win the French Open. It’s part of becoming a better player. Obviously the focus is on clay at the moment, so it looks like he’s only here for that but I spoke to him already for the future, for after Paris. We had a couple of weeks test, they went very well. We had to get to know each other a little bit. Things went fine and I was happy with what he told me, with our communication. He went back as planned. He was always going to go back to the States after Monaco and he’s going to come back for Paris. So, things are looking good. But just to make sure that you guys understand, I didn’t hire him for clay only. I had the feeling that he was the right coach at this time. Some people say I took him because I was not playing so well maybe. This had nothing to do with it. I don’t work this way.
Q: What did he improve in your game?
FEDERER: So far, we haven’t had enough time on the practice court yet. He arrived a few days before Estoril and I just changed surface. I’ve been having too many match days really. So, it’s been more of talking than being able to really improve a few things. He told me a few advice, tactics here and there, but in the end, I have to take the right decisions on the court that work in my favour for the match. That’s why I was particularly happy that I played so many matches in such a short period of time, so he got a feeling how I play on clay and how he wants to see me play and win the French Open. I think the next week when I arrive early in Paris and have practice times, this is where I can work on few things in particular and it will get a bit easier than just playing matches all the time.
Q: Can you tell me about your plan for next year: Are you going to play Davis Cup with Wawrinka? Do you expect to maybe also win?
FEDERER: Sure, Davis Cup, it’s always a chance to win with the No. 1 player in the world. I don’t want to be arrogant or anything but it’s always an opportunity to beat any team away or at home. Now that Stan has been playing very very well, it’s great for him, it’s great for our country having again such a good player in the Top 10 after having Hingis and Rosset and Hlasek and myself, having really the next guy, who is an excellent player. I announced a few months ago, I will play Davis Cup against Belgium at home in September. For next year I haven’t decided yet.
Q: Will you decide at the end of the year?
FEDERER: Midway through, end of the year.
FEDERER: Of course I’m satisfied with my game, but Soderling will surely be a tough opponent for the next round. He beat two good players, Andreev and Tsonga. That was a tough quarter anyway. I didn’t know who would get through there. So it’s always difficult to play him, even though I was successful against him, but he is a dangerous opponent. He has a good serve and especially a good forehand. He can play tactically as well with less risk. So it will be interesting to play against him on clay. I think I never played him on clay. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the match and hope I will be able to play as well as today.
Q: Could you say something about Justine Henin as a player.
FEDERER: She plays a bit differently than your average female tennis player, which is automatically because of her one-handed backhand. She is rather small, which was more and more obvious during the last years, because more and more tall players came on the tour. So her successes were even more remarkable. She always had the big plus that she could play on all surfaces. It’s a shame for tennis when the number 1 player announces her retirement out of the blue. But I hope that she has good reasons and can live with them. But I’m sure she can. A comeback is never out of the question, but usually on the day you announce it you don’t want to think of that. But of course I wish her all the best.
Q: Can you imagine that personal reasons become that strong that you would stop at the age of 26?
FEDERER: Difficult. We are the same age. I was just thinking about it when I was giving the answer. I could not imagine just to say goodbye … That wouldn’t be my thing. I have the feeling that I still have so much ahead of me and so many possibilities in tennis. I just love the sport. It would break my heart if I had to stop. Injuries could be a reason, but obviously that’s not the case with her. But she did have a difficult time on the Tour with injuries and then the story with her husband, etc. For sure there are reasons which could make you retire. I can imagine that, however not in my situation. Especially as long as I’m the no. 1. Then I would rather wait a year and say “Okay, maybe in a year things will be better.” But for sure she has her reasons.