Roger Federer gave his final Australian Open press conference on Monday, chatting with reporters while posing with his trophy on the banks of Melbourne’s Yarra river. (I’m not able to find a full transcript, so I’ve cut and pasted some of the highlights from various sources – these aren’t always word-for-word.)
Roger had a lot of interesting things to say, not only about winning his 16th major, but about his past “struggles” and future plans:
”Every time I’ve played well at the Aussie Open I went on to have a good season. That gives me a sense of security even though it’s not too much because you have to put in the hard yards, come through and win matches and tournaments. But I’m excited about this new season because I played some of the best tennis of my life this last two weeks. It’s exciting to play tennis again this way, because at times I lost that a bit. I was battling to get back into the best shape I could, and now I know it’s back.”
Roger’s back! Those words must have a chilling effect on the rest of the field, considering that in 2009 the Man was just two sets away from a calendar year Grand Slam. Are you sure you ever left, Rog?
Maybe it’s the champagne talking. Roger was in jubilant spirits after celebrating his win with bubbly and good friends (via the tennis.com):
“We stayed at the hotel – had a nice DJ, bar, restaurant, it was a good atmosphere. It was nice,” said the 28-year-old Swiss star, who is known for his discipline. “We went to have some drinks, have some dinner, celebrate the victory but more or less hang out.”
Federer’s drink of choice?
He doesn’t remember what time he went to bed.
“When’s sunrise here? Six or 7 o’clock?”
Ever the over-achiever, Roger fit in some quality family time after the party. One of his twin daughters, Myla, was awake when he returned to his hotel room:
“That was nice,” he said, smiling. “I quickly was able to see her, even though she’s got obviously no clue what’s happened. She couldn’t care less, but I still felt it was a special moment to hold her in my hands, in my arm after what happened, and it was nice. I read the papers here in Australia and went to bed, extremely tired.”
“I woke up and I couldn’t sleep anymore so I went for a cuddle with them, they came to bed and it was beautiful,” he said. (via AO.com)
And Federer’s so awesome, he doesn’t even feel hangovers!
“Go skiing tomorrow? No problem!” He joked.
But he isn’t joking about his tennis, or his desire to continue to improve. Federer watchers will be intrigued by these statements (via Telegraph):
“I felt at the end of 2007 that I was playing the best tennis of my life. Then 2008 definitely slowed me down. Maybe I started to doubt my body, feeling that eventually I wouldn’t be as successful as I had been,” he said.
There were times when he just could not get out of bed. “My body was down, you pressed the off button and thought for two weeks you’re just not going to touch it and you’d just want to sit there and let it heal. Today it’s very different,” he said.
“I was well prepared for that tough period, able to enjoy it and stay calm because I always question myself, even in the best of times. I always asked, ‘how can I reinvent myself?‘ ”
“Time will tell but I feel I’ve definitely improved,” he said. “I think I lost a little edge in my movement in 2008, 2009 but I feel that’s all come back. My backhand is where I want it to be, my forehand is back – I think that also left me a little bit when my footwork wasn’t at my best and I had to press too much – and my confidence is back.“
Interesting that in the Times version of this story, the above quote reads “Now, my backhand is where I want it to be, my forehand is back because I think that also left me a little bit when my footwork wasn’t at my best because I knew I didn’t want to play defence and pressed too much with my forehand. I don’t do that too much any more and my confidence is back, so it’s a lot easier to play again now.”
It’s true, Roger’s backhand and movement were in peak condition Down Under – and his forehand was back to it’s lethal best. Easier to play, now, and easier to watch!
Yes, it seems like everything is going Roger Federer’s way. His die hard fans worry about jinxing him, but Fed has no problem counting his blessings:
“As time goes by and I get a bit older, I start to understand my body a bit more,” he said. “I remember in the beginning here in 2004 when I won the first time I couldn’t move the next day. I was so tired.”
“It’s very different now,” Federer said. “I’m like wow, it’s over. Perfect. What’s next?”
“I’m excited about life, and there is not only tennis. Having kids and being a father now and being married enhances everything. I’m such a happy person today to see how well everything is working out for me. It just makes me extremely happy, extremely relaxed and it allows me to play good tennis, and I couldn’t ask for more.” (via The Age)
It feels so good, why not make it last?
“It was a dream as a boy to be a tennis player so you don’t want to feel like you have to play tennis. It was an opportunity and now that I have it I want to savour it as long as I can.“
That makes all of us, Rog.
Check out video of the press conference here.