Shanghai Rolex Masters
Monday, 9 October 2017
Q. About six months ago I asked you how big is the 100 tournament target in your expectation of legacy. You said, I don’t know, it depends how the season goes, ask me in six months. Now it’s six months later, and I’m asking you again.
ROGER FEDERER: Okay. I’m not thinking about it, because to win tournaments is not an easy thing to do. I came to realize that obviously last year, as well, again.
I’m playing mostly, you know, only the big tournaments now, so you need to be really tip-top shape and ready to go, and it’s just not so simple. Look, I’m not that far away, it seems like. Until I’m there, there is no point to really think about it on a daily basis. This is something that’s either going to happen or not going to happen.
I couldn’t be happier with the season, to be quite honest. I’m relieved that I’m feeling better since the American summer, you know, and Canada. Just happy being here now and hopefully to play a good season. It would be nice to pick up one more title, maybe a couple more, would be nice, and then get into training and start again next year and then get more chances next year.
Q. How do you feel coming into this last stretch of the season? It’s been a lot of matches, many emotions and also with the back at the US Open. Do you feel completely fresh again to end this one?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I had good practice after the Laver Cup. I played well there. And then came early to Tokyo and here since Thursday night. I have arrived as early as ever here in Shanghai for the tournament, and, you know, have been practicing for hours on the center court. Have been kept busy, as well, which gets me into the right mindset, to be quite honest, because I’m here for a reason, here for a purpose, trying to do well, hopefully winning the tournament.
It’s definitely one of the goals of the season for me here, this tournament. I always make it as a priority that I will be in good shape for Shanghai, and then the rest sort of takes care of itself after that: Basel, the indoor season, and London.
I’m happy I’m here and happy I’m healthy. So that’s good.
Q. It’s been two years since you were in Shanghai last time. What do you feel it stays the same, and what do you feel different in Shanghai? And tell us about the experience with your Metro this morning. Whose idea was it?
ROGER FEDERER: I couldn’t tell you if there is 5 more buildings in the city or 150 since the two years ago that I was here. But, you know, like any other event, you know, two years later, the tournament is a bit better. It could be subtle changes. It could be within the organization. Things, you know, are working a bit smoother.
Looking forward to seeing my fans when I’m playing, of course. I think the fan support I’m getting this year is maybe even the best I have seen so far. I was just thinking the other day that a year and a half ago when I said I was not going to play for the rest of the season anymore and I was going to miss the tournament here, maybe some fans here in China or Shanghai felt I might never come back.
It’s true, actually, I never thought this way, but now that I’m here I feel fans are really, really excited to see me. That’s not a big change or a change, but it’s just, like, I feel a sense of relief and really happiness from their side, which is a really good feeling to have. They are always there at my practice, they were there at the airport, they were there when I’m leaving from the airport, they are at any event almost I’m doing to get a glimpse of me, which is very cool.
And the Metro experience was a great one. I grew up on public transport when I was younger in Switzerland. I used to take either tram, train, or bus to practice on a daily basis, and then also a lot of the train until about 20 years old, going to tournaments even to Italy, even internationally. So for me it’s something very normal.
With the tournament, we looked at a way to, you know, something I haven’t done really before. We have wanted to do it once as well in New York to go in the subway and stuff, but it ended up never happening, and during the tournament it’s kind of difficult to organize. And because I have been coming here for so long, you know, I almost consider it my second home away from home, because I opened the stadium here, and I just feel very welcome here, that experience the way the people do experience it. It’s nice to be in a beautiful car and everything, but it’s nice to go do that.
So the idea really came from Tony and the tournament, but I have had that idea in the past in other cities. It was a great experience. I enjoyed it. Super clean, swift, easy. I mean, 600 kilometers of Metro ways here in Shanghai, it’s very impressive, I think the biggest in the world. It was great to see it, to say the least.
Q. China has never had one top 100 male player, and finally we have a junior world No. 1. He lost to Gilles Simon yesterday. I’m wondering if you have watched him a little bit, and could you tell us, what’s the crucial thing from junior to pro?
ROGER FEDERER: I maybe saw two points from him yesterday, so it would be wrong for me to comment on his game yet, but I was aware that he did win the US Open. Didn’t know he became world No. 1 junior. So if that’s what he is at the moment, I hope he can finish that for himself at the end of the year. Maybe he’s going to the Orange Bowl. I’m not sure.
It’s definitely a great starting point. For him to play in a tournament like this and starting to play against the best, that’s what I did in ’98, as well. I played some juniors and then got some wildcards into some main draws, played some quallies, played some challengers. And you get a feel for it, the week in, week out, playing against men, really. It’s a different energy you need, a different experience you need.
So I think here now it’s about improving every single day. It sounds a bit crazy or a bit kitsch. But it really is like this. I think at this age you see things that maybe other players are doing on the court, off the court, and you can observe and learn.
So I think that’s really important of him. And then for him to choose the right things to take on board for his game and for his life, because you can also look at the wrong things that players are doing, you know. That can then mislead you sometimes in the wrong direction, so this is where the team is really important where they remind you, as well, what’s the difference between right and wrong.
And then just understanding where is your game best at. Is it indoors, is it hard carts, clay court, grass court, is it in Europe, in Asia? Where does he play his best? And finding that out takes a few years. Everything goes faster if you have the right team around yourself. And of course you have to listen to your coaches and parents and put your head down and work extremely hard and just enjoy the process doing that.
Q. You talk about the Metro being a normal experience and everything. When you’re not at a tournament and just living life and everything, can you do those kind of normal things, like regular people, or is it just even too hard?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, in Switzerland I could definitely do it. The thing is I’m always just in the car because I love driving my own cars, to be honest. That’s why I drive probably — at 40% of the tournaments I drive myself, Australia, Indian Wells, Miami, Cincinnati, Basel. You name it. There are so many tournaments. Stuttgart, I drove all myself. I like that.
And then I don’t always need public transport anymore, but sometimes I jump on the tram or on the bus or on the train with my kids real quick. It does happen sometimes. In Switzerland I know can I do it. In other countries where I’m not that experienced and I don’t quite know the routes, I’d rather just take the car naturally. But I can still do it (smiling).
Q. I don’t know if yesterday you had the chance to see the Beijing final, but my question —
ROGER FEDERER: No, I didn’t see it.
Q. Are you surprising the fact that Rafa keeps even winning on hard courts?
ROGER FEDERER: No, not really. If you win — I mean, he played the finals of the Australian Open. That’s not losing in the first round. So I think he made his point already early in the season that he can play on hard courts, and I think he showed that 15 years ago that he can play well on hard courts.
The problem for him is he won 10 French Opens, so people just think, maybe yourself too, maybe you think he cannot play on hard courts because he won too many French Opens. But we all know, the players, that he’s very good on hard courts and he can even play on fast hard courts. He’s just that good of a player. So I’m not surprised at all. I’m happy for him. Great week in Laver Cup we had together. Doubles was so much fun.
And it’s nice to see him keeping going, because this is, I think, a really big win for him, because he’s just won the US Open, played the Laver Cup, was kept extremely busy, from what I was told by him, the week after the US Open, the week after the Laver Cup. So for him to go to Beijing and win it right away — I expected him to pull out, to be honest, just because why not? And just come here to Shanghai. Or maybe just skip Asia totally. You know, why not? There is no reason for him to push it too hard. But that’s Rafa. He’s a professional. He knows what he’s doing. And even when he’s doing it, he can win.
It’s a great win for him, and I will see him tonight, which is great. We have a Team Europe dinner, so that’s going to be fun.
Q. At the end of the US Open you said that you still had big priorities for the rest of the year. Beyond trying to finish the year strong, do you still set specific goals for yourself, like a particular aspect of your game?
ROGER FEDERER: About the game, not so much. It’s more about staying healthy, which then is going to naturally give me I hope the opportunity to compete for winning tournaments.
The focus really is right here, right now, on Shanghai and nothing else, you know. I’d like to think ahead to Basel, one of my favorite tournaments of the year, World Tour Finals. Paris, we’ll see what happens.
It’s short now. It’s compressed. So it’s week by week, and just try to do your absolute best. I have played extremely well this part of the season, but, you know, every year is different. I haven’t played end of the season last year, so I also don’t know quite what to expect. But I’d like to win a couple of tournaments. That’s the goal. But we’ll see how it goes. It all starts here on Wednesday.
Q. Talk about world No. 1, because Rafa just won yesterday. Seems like you’re farther away from that position.
ROGER FEDERER: It seems or you’re sure?
Q. I’m not sure, but…
ROGER FEDERER: You are sure. I’m sure, too. And it’s okay.
Q. And it sounds like if Rafa pulled out of Asia you’d have a better chance.
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, but it wouldn’t be the same without him.
Q. Yeah. Talk about that, how you eye that goal for this year, year end.
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, like I said after the US Open, after I lost, you know, whatever, Rafa was going to do, it didn’t change my schedule. I can’t play more than I’m already playing. I can only control my draw. I can’t control how well he’s playing.
Because he’s playing so well, it’s going to make things more difficult, but after he won the US Open, clearly — that was not the goal. The goal was always to stay healthy and stay in the chase possibly, you know, but I know that if I want to finish world No. 1 I’ve got to win here and World Tour Finals and Paris and Basel, whatever it may be. It becomes more and more unlikely, which is totally fine, because I never entered this season with the goal being world No. 1.
It was really unfortunate for me that I hurt myself in Montreal, because then that would have been a cool race maybe going on in Cincinnati, even if I would have lost, and then into the US Open feeling better.
Unfortunately, it never happened. So I was kind of close, but not really because I was hurt. It’s all good, you know. I’m just going to plan well, just going to try to have a strong finish to the season and see what happens, but clearly I’m aware it’s highly unlikely at this point.