THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. What do you take from this match today? Do you feel you’re playing at your best? What do you think about the possibility of playing Rafa in the next round, if he makes it through himself?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I think I feel good, you know, playing matches now. Not I haven’t in the past, but I think it was another one of those matches where, you know, I think I don’t need too many chances to break. I got clear playing patterns.
I’m holding my serve comfortably. I’m in a good place mentally when I go into my service games. I think it showed this week thus far, you know. So I hope I can keep that up. Against Rafa you need it, obviously, if it’s against him, but also against Khachanov.
At this stage of the tournament, anyway, you have to bring your best game. Personally, I’m very excited to be in the semis here. Not that I didn’t expect it, but it definitely went better than I thought it would.
Q. Without wishing to preempt the results of the second semifinal, if it is to be Rafa Nadal tomorrow, you haven’t played him since 2017 and you really dominated the rivalry in that particular year. Do you think 17 or 18 months on that that will be different this year?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think those five matches matter that much, to be honest. Like you said yourself, a lot of time has gone by, unfortunately maybe for the rivalry for us, or for me. It’s always better to keep on maybe playing against him. Even then you might argue that giving him chances may be also not what he needs because he’s too good of a player not to figure things out.
He seems to me very good. He’s at a higher level than he was at the Australian Open. He seems healthy. When Rafa is healthy, especially in a place like here in Indian Wells where he feels comfortable, he’s clearly very tough to play.
But, yeah, a lot has happened in those 18 months, you said it was? Sure, you look back at what I did well there, but you can’t just copy/paste and play exactly the same thing again.
Q. We have had Borg, McEnroe, Pete, Andre. What is it that makes this particular matchup, your matchup with Rafa, what makes it so special?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think we are very different, you know, sort of personalities or maybe also player types. The way we go about it is very different, but yet we both find a way to excel.
You know, and also, just that maybe he’s very — the way he came up was very clay-court based, and I was apparently very grass-court based, and we both found our ways also on the other surface.
When he came up, I was already World No. 1. So clearly that adds to the — him trying to figure things out and getting there himself while I was at the top. I think it all adds to the cool rivalry that we had. And then you add all the foundation stuff we have had, promotional things we have done for the tour, political things, whatever it has been, you know, it’s been quite a journey with Rafa side by side.
Q. The last time Rafa played, his previous match he played here was also an 11:00 start like you had today, and he was explaining he had to get up at 6:30. What time did you get up, and what was your routine for this morning?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, 7:00 wakeup, and, you know, went to practice at 8:30. Went back to my house and took a shower. Spoke about the match, had pasta at 9:30, and came over, taped, warmed up and played the game. Yeah, it’s a bit different. The good thing is I knew for a day and a half that it was going to be an 11:00 start. So they warned me they’re gonna put me at 11:00. I said, Okay. What can I say? You have no choice. I will just get ready. Just have to go to bed early enough. I did.
And also knowing tomorrow anyway is going to be 11:00 or followed by, I think our match is followed by, but still it requires early wakeup because you never know if it’s followed by, if a guy is not gonna play, or whatever happens. You’ve just got to be alert.
And it’s a day session end to the tournament now. I think as long as it’s not bouncing back and forth, you know, day and night, day and night all the time, I think this is easier.
But it’s true, especially if you’re playing indoors and you’re carrying an injury, 11:00 start is definitely not so easy.
Q. Next week be at a new venue. What will you miss most about Key Biscayne?
ROGER FEDERER: Everything. It was a great event, a lot of history. You know, it was considered the fifth slam back in the day. We had best-of-five-set matches from the beginning. A lot has changed. I have had some epic battle there. I go all the way back to ’98 when I won the juniors there against Coria in the finals, Nalbandian in the semis, for junior World No. 1. It was the first year it was held at Crandon Park.
So I have clearly mixed feelings about the change, but I hope it’s all for the better. And I understand the logic behind it, you know, but of course I will miss the place. It’s logical, I think, like all the players.
Q. What do you think it will be like playing in a football stadium?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know. Never played in one (smiling). I’m sure it’s going to be exciting, though.
Q. I know that the Roger/Rafa semifinal is the headline everyone wants to write. But if you play Khachanov, could you tell us about the challenge that would be and what you would expect of that?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I think his win in Paris was massive for him, you know. Just getting through somebody of Novak’s caliber in the finals I think must have given him all the confidence he ever needed for the next coming years, that he knows he can bring it right then.
You know, he’s big and strong guy. He obviously can serve well when he needs to. His backhand is strong. His forehand is very extreme grip, but he gets around it very quickly. When he’s feeling it, I think he’s very tough to play.
That’s maybe also why, still, because he’s younger and all that, you know, and expectations have risen. Maybe just at the beginning of the year it’s not been clicking, but it’s just a matter of time until he finds it back again.
And this is maybe exactly the week where he finds it, you know. And he pushed Rafa extremely hard in New York.
So I like how he plays. I played him in Halle. It should have been three sets. He hit a forehand to push me into a third [sic] in ’17. So I have a lot of respect for him.
Q. Does it get you as excited to play Rafa at this stage or is it more fun to play a rising player you have never seen before up close, or maybe Djokovic or somebody like that? How do you feel about the adrenaline rush it gives you at this stage?
ROGER FEDERER: I think a combination. If it was only Rafa, I wouldn’t enjoy that as well, like it would be only playing young guys. I think having the mix is the magic, really, for me.
So, you know, playing against young guys to eventually get to Rafa, that’s exciting. I’m very happy, and I hope he wins so I do get that chance, you know, to play against him here.
Q. Khachanov has been going through some racquet changes and he’s testing out. I was wondering how much difference tiny details in racquet changes can make in your experience?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it’s the extension of the arm, essentially, and your hand. So from that standpoint the question is you always have to ask yourself, is your racquet and your mind going to be aligned at 5-All in the third set at 30-All? Can you hit it into the corner?
Some days you just can’t. That’s nothing to do with the racquet. But that’s why racquet changes need to be taken very seriously and at the right time of the year and with the right mindset, a positive one, not one in frustration.
He did it in a position of strength after a good season. Breakthrough season, essentially. But it’s definitely not easy, you know. I never heard anybody say, This was, like, such a simple move for me.
It just takes time, you know. I think it seems like he’s back to his old racquet again. But I think it’s good to test racquets, test frames, test new technology, because all of a sudden you realize that something is working better for you.
Same with strings, for that matter. There is so much out there in the market that I have always been curious to find out what’s out there, because maybe you find some that’s better.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #1 by #366 at 2019-03-15 20:45:00 GMT