*Special thanks to our friends at Fue Buena for sending us the transcript in its entirety!
*Partial video interview on Roland Garros website as well.
R. NADAL/R. Federer
7 5, 7 6, 5 7, 6 1
An interview with: ROGER FEDERER
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.
Q. At 5 2 in the first set, was that a moment that you’ll never forget, I mean, about this final? Because then you served 5 3, and out of six times you served, only one first serve in, and then you lost the break.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, that’s how it goes. Rafa is tough. I definitely thought that I got maybe a touch unlucky there and he got a tough lucky. There was a lot of close calls with the net, like right close to the lines plays and so forth.
So it was a tough moment. I think that was one of my bigger chances of the match. And then going to maybe a potential rain delay, just having won a set in the bag is obviously a good thing to have.
But when I go into the rain delay, I’m down basically two sets almost. I almost saved myself, but I’m very competitive, and I thought he was getting tired, you know, throughout the third set and also in the fourth. It was unfortunate I couldn’t take my chances early on in the fourth.
Q. Congratulations for a nice game, Roger. After that unlucky dropshot in the first that made you miss the 6 2, you did some back into the match, although you were at 4 2 twice, you never left it. Could we say that even when you came back, the weight of the first set, was it too much on you, especially when playing Nadal on such a close game? Or did you feel you could always come back and do it in those comebacks from 4 2?
ROGER FEDERER: Sure, you’re not thinking of winning down two sets to love and 4 2, but you’re thinking of coming back and turning around the match. All of a sudden at 0 0 in the fourth set you think, Okay we have a match again.
He has to go a long way to beat you again, and momentum is on my side. All of a sudden, we know what can happen in tennis. All of a sudden it almost looked like he was going to miss the beginning of the fourth set and I could maybe run away with that.
In the fifth set, I would have felt very, very strong like I did back in Miami when I beat him from being down two sets to love. So I knew I had it in me. It was unfortunate I couldn’t make it more competitive in the fourth set.
Rafa played well and deserved the win today.
Q. You lost today, but you returned to a Grand Slam final today. I think this is positive sign for you. Could you get your confidence again?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I’ve been confident for almost a year now. I think I lost some confidence maybe through the French Open and Wimbledon last year, but, you know, I was in the finals of Halle as well in this period, so I didn’t feel like I was running after confidence.
It was just important to get to another Grand Slam final, keep on playing well. I’m feeling better physically than I have in a long time, so that’s been very positive.
Also, after this sort of tough weekend I feel really good, so that’s been positive, too. Sure, it was a huge match with Novak. Obviously I’m happy about that win.
Today was a very good match. Overall obviously I’m very happy about the tournament. Obviously you should be disappointed after losing in a Grand Slam final. Obviously I feel that a little bit today.
Q. There were a few periods in the match where you really dominated him, when if you had sustained that level you could have won the match. Was it a level that’s sustainable humanly for you or anyone else? What was the reason you think it fluctuated a little bit?
ROGER FEDERER: Obviously I’m the one that’s playing with smaller margins, so obviously I’m always going to go through a bit more up and downs; whereas Rafa is content doing the one thing for the entire time.
So it’s always me who’s going to dictate play and decide how the outcome is going to be. If I play well, I will most likely win in the score or beat him; if I’m not playing so well, that’s when he wins.
So it’s always pretty straightforward when we play each other, and maybe that’s why we are too worried playing against each other, because we know what to expect.
But I thought Rafa played well. I mean, I think he dug deep to come back in the first set and get himself into the match. And also the second set. It was tough all the way through. I thought we played at a very high level, and I was pretty happy the way I played today.
I don’t have huge complaints, but just obviously some miss the opportunities, because you’ll always have plenty against him on clay. So if you lose, you always look after those.
It’s unfortunate the way it is, but it was a good match.
Q. Just watching Rafa play, I was thinking that if this guy was a boxer you would just way he just refuses to go down. You have to put one, two, three, four shots against him because he’s constantly getting things back at you. Is that one of the things that makes him so tough to beat?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, sure, it’s one of the things. But I don’t mind that, to be quite honest. I like to see him running left and right and left and right and see how long he can sustain it, you know.
Like I said, I thought he was getting quite tired actually midway through the third set. That’s why I definitely got a lift, because I was feeling well all the way through. And even though sometimes you feel you’re a little bit tired, I wasn’t.
That’s why I’m very happy the way I came out of the match. Four sets, sure, it’s disappointing. I thought he played some good tennis there towards the end. Obviously with the wind coming in and the missed opportunities early on in the fourth and then the sun, it was just making it kind of a tough fourth set for me who is trying to make the plays.
But I couldn’t at that point anymore, because Rafa was having good length on his shots. So, yeah, I’m not in any way frustrated with his play. I’ve played against guys who play like that many, many times, starting with Lleyton Hewitt when I came along. He’s not the first guy.
Q. How did you feel during the tiebreak back in the second set? Because you were pretty strong in that moment, and then suddenly it didn’t work for you in the tiebreak.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I thought I took some chances early on. Clipped the tape and maybe didn’t take the right decisions. But I was just coming back from almost being down two sets, so I gave myself a chance.
Maybe I didn’t serve great in the breaker, but plus, it got a bit more slow because of the rain delay. So obviously it was a tough period for both players to go through, because we were both figuring out how we were going to play after the rain delay.
I got very good inputs from Severin and also from Paul, and that really got me going again. Actually, I played really well coming out of the break. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to win the second set; but I won the third, and could have done much better today.
Q. Whenever he was done with a match with Pete, Andre was asked, Did you feel honored to take part in a great match? Did you feel the greatest of the occasion? Basically, Andre’s response when he lost was always, It sucked. I thought it sucked. Can you step back at all during a match like this and appreciate the moment and how big it is for tennis as well?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, you can, sure. I mean, when I won the third set and it was already very competitive all along and I was able to push it to a fourth set, sure, I knew the importance of the match, you know, just I guess the attention on everybody.
It was a big occasion. I was aware of it. You know, you’re not aware of it when you’re trailing in the score like I did a few years ago and you’re just hoping to get games. This was completely different.
I was very much concentrated in the moment and trying to push him to the brink, which I almost achieved today.
Q. Especially in the first three sets, can we say you were either making the points by hitting winners or making the mistakes and Rafa was only trying to keep the ball in the game and you were mostly winning or losing the points? Is that how you felt on court?
ROGER FEDERER: Um, yeah, I mean, sort of. I wasn’t just going for broke. I was trying to make the plays and moving him around, make him tired, and frustrating him with quick play sometimes. Mixing it up. That’s what I always do, and he does his things.
I prefer to mix it up. You know, I think he’s happy to be Rafa; I’m happy to be Roger. That’s why we like to play each other maybe. I don’t know.
Q. The win over Novak and this today, the great performance, very competitive, do you feel like you sort of changed the conversation and you’re back where you want to be in the hunt again and set up perfectly for Wimbledon?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, absolutely. That’s obviously the huge priority right now, to win Wimbledon in a few weeks’ time. That’s always, for me, the sort of No. 1 goal in the season.
This is where it all started for me back in 2003; or even with Sampras earlier in ’01. So that’s why I always really enjoy coming back.
Yeah, I mean, I told people that we should wait six months after the Australian Open when people thought Rafa and me were done. It’s unfortunate that it goes so quickly at times.
Now we’re back in the finals and now it’s different talk again. I don’t go even there, because I knew it wasn’t the case.
I felt that even though people don’t understand how Rafa was able to win this tournament after the shocking start he had, I’m not. He plays better against the better ones, and that’s what he showed today.
He’s a great champion on clay especially, and I am happy with my tournament. Like you said, I think I played fantastic all the way through. I had a tough draw like most of the top guys, and we were able to make it to the last four.
I thought I had a good weekend. It’s unfortunate that I don’t get the trophy, but I still think it was a very good finals today.
THE MODERATOR: French questions, please.
Q. Do you still intend to play in Halle?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, but I’ve not yet discussed this with my team. I don’t know what they will think. I still have a few days off before that, so I’ll either make the decision this evening or tomorrow. I don’t know. We’ll see. I have to discuss this with my team.
Q. Roger, now Rafa has ten Grand Slams. He’s a bit younger than you were when you reached the same level, that is ten Grand Slams. It’s not at all 16, but do you have the impression that he’s getting closer when you look in the rearview mirror? I know you haven’t finished yet.
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, who cares. Who cares where you stand. It’s when it’s over that you can’t do anything any longer, that’s when you’re proud of what you accomplished.
That’s why I’m happy for him that he’s won these Grand Slams and these tournaments. He can prove to people that he can play a good type of tennis. This is what counts.
On clay, as I said at the beginning of the season, he had won a few matches on clay. I said he could win a few more, and this is what he’s proven today. For some it was not sufficient, but today he managed to show that he could win a match on clay.
I should have been able to do the same as well, by the way, but I’m happy for him.
For me, of course it’s a bit disappointing, but it was a good tournament for me as well. Ten Grand Slams is a lot. He knows this; I know this; everybody knows this. It’s really good for him.
Q. During the final, would you say you had regrets? If yes, which ones?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, a few chances or occasions I missed, which is normal. Each time I finished a match against Rafa and I was defeated, I know I had opportunities to seize. He doesn’t serve at 220.
There was once when he served an ace. You can’t call this an opportunity to seize. I had many breakpoints, many opportunities to hit the ball and to finish.
But, you know, it’s normal. It’s how Rafa wins the points. He likes the rallies. I’m not too sad because I’ve played a good match. I was almost on the brink of winning the match, so I’m disappointed, but not too much.
Q. Would you say mentally it was easier than the other three? At the other three you had not won Roland Garros, and then you won Roland Garros and this was like a weight off your shoulder. Therefore, mentally did you feel more at ease for this final?
ROGER FEDERER: To some intent probably. But I think year in and year out he has been really good on this surface. You know, the year he dominated me during the final here, I knew that I was not playing well enough. He was so incredible at the time and that the match didn’t start well for me.
That’s when I thought, Okay, this is going to be tough. It was my third year in a row playing semifinals, final, and then another final against Rafa. So when I started the match, I must say I was like distracted due to his results.
But today, no, I was confident. I was feeling good. I knew it was would be something difficult, which was the case today. But I was almost doing it, and I knew I would play a good match. The beginning was intense.
Against Novak it was long rallies as well; against Rafa it was long as well. But I managed to finish the match, and I’m rather satisfied.
Q. You’ve played really well today, and even the other day against Djokovic. These are two different players. Do you think you played better the other day against Djokovic or today? Is it more or less the same? Can you compare your level?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. The two matches are so different. I have to change my game, you see. If you look at how I returned today and the way I returned against Novak, it’s different and even the rallies.
The match started completely differently. You can’t compare the two matches.
Q. Never mind the scores or tactics, I have the impression you’re physically at your best. Have you changed anything in terms of your practice or the way you consider playing on clay? What about Wimbledon?
ROGER FEDERER: No, not really. I’ve played many matches. I was really tired after Rome, and it was not the match against Gasquet that tired me so much.
But it was part of the puzzle. I’ve trained and practiced a lot after Monte Carlo. I decided to play Monte Carlo because I was fit. I played a lot from Dubai until Rome. I didn’t take a longer break.
Sometimes after Miami I’d take ten days off in the past, but this year I didn’t wasn’t to do this. Therefore, you know, I was extremely tired and at the end of Madrid as well and also during Rome.
I hoped I could practice more here, but I was so tired that I said, Okay, I’ll practice just what is enough. That’s why the beginning of the tournament here for me was important.
At the beginning, I didn’t think I would manage this way, but after two matches, I thought, Okay, I feel better. I’m in the tournament. I could never hear the alarm clock in the morning ringing I was so tired.
That’s why in the middle of the first week I thought, I’m on the right tracks. I was playing really well. Even though I knew that, I was like, I respect this immense fatigue I have gone through.
Q. You used the word “proud,” being proud at the end of the match. Is that what you feel, pride?
ROGER FEDERER: No. I’m not a 15 year old, so, no. I’m happy with this match. That’s what I can say. It’s a pity I lost, but it’s normal. Rafa played again an excellent match.
It was a normal match with quite a lot of regrets, but also I played well. So I’ll focus on Wimbledon. This is the moment when I can do good things. I’m on the right tracks. It’s positive.
Q. Were talking about missed opportunities. There was a set point when you tried a dropshot close to the line. When you were playing it, did you think it would go into the court?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, so so. You know, I saw the mark. It was really close, but I knew it could be out.
Q. If you had to do it again, would you try the dropshot again?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know. I can’t really remember this rally. I think he would’ve won the game early. He was up 40 15, I think, and then all of a sudden I had this set point for me. It was a bit surprising for both of us.
I regret perhaps more the service game. That’s about it.
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