THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Kind of strange, of course, any time you have to play a match over two days. Talk a little bit about how you felt out there.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it is interesting, you know, when you go from night to day and you play a different opponent you never — you know there is a difference, but you also know there is a difference in opponent, and he plays different. So naturally it’s all a change. Whereas, here now you play the same guy the next day, so you can really compare, you know, how different conditions are. It was actually quite interesting.
They play very different. You know, the nighttime is much more deader. The surface doesn’t react so much. The ball doesn’t travel so fast. Even though I served my five aces yesterday, none today. So talking about faster, I just think there is more bounce to it, especially if you play someone who has a lot of spin like he has and kicks the ball around a lot.
Yeah, it’s been a long time since I have been interrupted at night and have to come back the next day.
Q. I guess right before you got on the court, Novak lost. And he was telling us how he felt like this was his first match ever on tour, losing his rhythm and all. I guess you were away from the game like six months, but you made it look easy when you came back. How do you explain that even someone that experienced can feel like that in that situation?
ROGER FEDERER: To me, it’s not that surprising, you know. When you go away from the game for, let’s say, over a two-month period maybe, it starts feeling a little bit that way. You know, when you do come back, it’s like, oh, those break points; oh, those deuce points; those 30-All points; 15-30s; first point of the game. Where normally, you know, when you’ve played a lot of matches, you just rock up, you hit a good serve, play a good point, 15-Love, you just move along with the score. But you put extra effort to manage all that’s happening in your head.
I feel like when you do come back from injury or when you haven’t played in a long time, it just takes extra effort. I think that’s probably also what he’s also feeling. And maybe was tired in the end a bit because, yeah, the focus you need to have is greater.
You know, maybe I was lucky that when I did come back I had the Hopman Cup where I played the three singles, three doubles. But then it wasn’t straightforward, either, against Melzer and Rubin, I believe, at the Australian Open. But this maybe is also a slower surface, so he had to work harder for it. So maybe you could argue it’s not so bad for him as well, so he has got more margin.
But I also thought Taro Daniel played very well, you know, made him work for it. Normally it’s the way Novak wins it. So this time he just lost one like this.
Look, still such early stages for Novak coming back and the first one after surgery. Yeah, just — he’s only going to get better from here. He knows that. We all know that. But it was nice to see him playing again.
I see where he’s coming from. I think every player feels that way. It’s maybe just strange to hear that from such a champion, you know, that he also feels that way.
Q. Why was it different for you, then, compared to, let’s say, Novak or Rafa, whoever who has taken an extended period off and the way you came back after such a long period off? Does it get tougher the longer you’re away?
ROGER FEDERER: I’m not sure, you know, if it gets actually that much tougher. That’s why I said, I think after two months you get into that stage where your last match was long time ago.
I think as long as you’re 100% physically, you know, that helps. I’m not sure if Novak is 100% yet. Only he knows. If he’s got still some rusts there, that’s going to rock your boat as well a little bit, you know, to be honest.
And then winning like I did in Australia right away, first round, second round, third round, that helps too. And then after three matches, all of a sudden, it’s like, okay, I have never left this tour. I’ve always been around.
So it doesn’t take very much to get that feeling back, but in the beginning it’s very odd when you haven’t played match plays. And you can try as hard as you want in practice to pretend like it’s you’re down match point every single point you play. It just doesn’t feel the same, you know, playing in front of a crowd, saving breakpoints on the stretch, hitting winners onto the line. That comes over playing a good schedule with the right amount of practice, vacation, matches, everything.
That’s why after injury or something like that, you just need a bit of time. And I think Novak needs that, too, even though I wouldn’t be surprised if he would have won here or Miami or anything going forward, because he’s too good of a player not to do something like that.
Q. I’d like to ask a question on Davis Cup. It’s said that whether you go to a 27,000 seat arena in Spain or a hockey rink in Zimbabwe or a packed arena in Lille, there is a raw emotion, a connection with fans in Davis Cup play that just isn’t present on the circuit. Do you think going to this new format, do you think that will be lost? Is that an asset we should be aware of?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, time will tell. You know, what can I tell you? Yeah, sure. I mean, the ones who want to play at home badly, they’re going to miss the Davis Cup format from what it was.
The other ones who played Davis Cup every single year and came to realize that it was too much, they’re probably happy that the Davis Cup has changed something.
But the uniqueness of the Davis Cup definitely was the home and away ties, in my opinion. I loved away ties as much as I enjoyed the home ties, to be honest.
Yeah, I think it’s one where time will tell how excited the fans will be to having to travel somewhere like a neutral place. You know, I’m not sure how it’s going to be yet. We’ll see.
Q. Following up about Davis Cup, Davis Cup has played such a huge role in the top four or big five players’ careers, pivotal point at one moment or another. Do you think that might be lost at all with the current change in format?
ROGER FEDERER: Just trying to understand the question correctly.
Q. Do you think that the change in format is going to influence, you know, the involvement of younger players coming up, I guess, would be one way of looking at it.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I never thought of that. Well, I mean, for the top nations that then would only play one week, right, at the end of the year? That would be lost, clearly, because you don’t have that many ties. Maybe before you had at least two, if not more. You had four players with a fifth, sixth, seventh. Sometimes I remember when we traveled to Australia, we had seven or eight players on the team. Now you would be only three to four maybe on the team, I guess.
It seems it would be much harder for young guys to have that Davis Cup experience, you know. Yeah, that would make sense what you’re saying.
Q. I have a GOAT question for you. After you won your 20th slam, Rod Laver said your longevity put you in category of greatest of all time. I assume he meant by yourself. And I was wondering, do you guys ever talk about your each individual legacies and was there ever a point in your career where he said, okay, now your accomplishments are starting to surpass mine and acknowledge that or…
ROGER FEDERER: No, no, no. You don’t sit down and like — (Laughter) — so let’s put everything on the table. Who’s better and who’s worse? Your slice was better. No. I mean, it’s not what you do.
You’re more, How’s your family? What have you been up to? How’s the health? You know, I don’t know. It’s normal conversations like what we would have. It’s none of that, but sure, it would be interesting to talk about it like this. I only hear stuff because they are being asked by you guys. But other than that, no, we don’t talk about it very much, no.
Q. You have attracted fans all over the world but do you find it to be different in Indian Wells given the intimate environment here?
ROGER FEDERER: I think every tournament is different from the other. I feel like it’s deeply rooted here in the community. People maybe when they come here they either come for a full week or for the weekend. They have precise traveling plans, you know, when they come here or they live here.
So, you know, they are very knowledgeable about tennis. Reminds me a little bit about Cincinnati, to be honest. They also come from all, you know, the corners, from the Midwest and come in and they are so happy it’s that time of year. And I feel it’s the same thing here. They almost use it as somewhat of a vacation, too, because it’s nice weather.
So it feels very laid back, you know. It’s nice that the tournament has invested a lot so they can have an even better experience here at the tennis.
Q. Obviously you play one great match after the other, but I wonder if you were to say what’s the best match you ever played or if you can’t, please which year you think you were at your very best.
ROGER FEDERER: My best match ever? One that comes to mind is just maybe under the pressure of a Grand Slam final comes the US Open finals back in 2004 when I beat Hewitt, you know. Beat him 6-0, 7-6, 6-0. I didn’t expect that because I had some tougher matches against him in the past. And I have only just come to understand maybe how I need to play against him, and my game was slowly but surely making — you know, having a major impact against him.
So that, for me, was a major match at the time. I’m sure I have had many others. I don’t remember. But that one stands out for me right now.
Q. Which is the stage of your process to get into the clay season? Are you starting to rethink about the scheduling or not at all?
ROGER FEDERER: A little bit. I probably won’t play in the very beginning, you know, meaning Monaco. Also have a Foundation trip I’m doing at that time, so I’m planning that a little bit.
The rest, I said I will decide after Miami to then decide what I will play if I do play the clay court after that.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #1 by #366 at 2018-03-12 00:30:00 GMT