Shanghai Rolex Masters
Sunday, 15 October 2017
R. FEDERER/R. Nadal
Q. It’s been a long year, and after this you have a few tournaments to go, so how does your body feel right now?
ROGER FEDERER: I haven’t played — I mean, the year has been long, yes, but I haven’t played that much, to be honest.
The body is fine. I’m going to reassess everything after this week, after I come home to Switzerland tomorrow. So I will get together with my team and just come up with a plan. You know, set the priorities, see how my body feels tomorrow.
But so far I’m good. I’m happy I’m feeling this way. It’s been a tough week. Five straight matches is always a test and a challenge for anybody’s body, especially with the pressure rising, you know, throughout the event.
I’m happy I’m feeling this good right now, and, you know, we’ll see what’s up mid next week.
Q. Congrats. Did you expect it to be quite as smooth as it was? Talk a little bit about the match. You seemed to have it in control from the first game.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know what my expectations were going in. I thought I might struggle maybe a little bit early on because it was a late finish last night. Turnaround was fast, you know. Woke up, went straight into the car. Came over early to make sure I get, you know, the practice underway and enough time to get ready for the match.
I had no nerves really before the match, which was nice, you know. I wasn’t, you know, seeing things, you know, like — I don’t know, I don’t want to call it like a day dream or anything, but sometimes you visualize points and points and plays. I didn’t have that. I was, I think, pretty clear about how I wanted to play the match.
And then, you know, I came off, started off very well. Felt relaxed from then on. I always know that Rafa can come back at any moment if he connects well, picks the right sides, and does the right things. Even felt that way being up Love-40, you know, going for the double break, but, you know, I had a clear game plan and felt I was playing well all week. I think that settled my nerves, because I was returning well from the first match here I played against Schwartzman. The serve only got better. I guess I saved best for last. I played some good matches now against Del Potro, Set 2 and 3, and also now these two sets.
In a way, not surprising, because I did feel good all week, and it does pay off to arrive early to an event. You can’t do it all the time, but, you know, I was here since Thursday late night, and that’s five, six days to prepare for a Wednesday match. So I was ready.
Q. It was a privilege just to watch your game today. You said your preparation was good. Is that the best you have hit the ball for many months or years in terms of the way you struck the ball today?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, look, it was clean. I didn’t allow Rafa many chances on my service games. Obviously if you hold your serve, there’s no need to panic on the return games. You feel like you’re always going to get a shot maybe, maybe one service game of your opponent’s, one a set, and then you’ve just got to hope that you break at the right time.
Because I was so clear and so committed, I felt it was always going to be dangerous for Rafa down the stretch, especially breaking early and feeling as good as I did on the serve. So, I mean, it’s definitely been the best I felt since Wimbledon, you know. Montreal was tough to play. It was fast conditions. Anything after the Montreal was never the same with my back issues I had.
US Open was all a struggle, really. Laver Cup was good. I played some really good tennis there, but this was different because I was able to back up good performances, five in a row, so it reminded me a little bit of Wimbledon maybe to some extent.
Q. Rafa seemed to be limping when he came earlier. I wonder if you noticed anything except the tape he had on the knee during the match?
ROGER FEDERER: That’s all I noticed. I didn’t see any problems with him in defense, to be honest. You know, when the body goes cold after the game, it’s normal to, you know, feel it, you know. I know how it is. Sometimes when you are in a car for a long time where you sit for too long or stand for too long, whatever it is for too long, it’s not good for our bodies.
But in the match itself I thought he looked good. He looked fast. I didn’t see any problems, to be quite honest. I was surprised to see a tape, but I didn’t see any problems.
Q. You have managed to beat Rafa five times in a row for the first time in your career. What’s changed for you in the matchup? Why are you finding it easier against him than in the past?
ROGER FEDERER: I think I’m maybe serving consistently better, you know. I get easier power ever since I switched to the bigger racquet, the RF97. I feel I’m connecting better on the backhand and I’m serving good, and that consistently.
Before I had to slice more just because the racquet was good for the slice, and it was good for the coming over, but I would always shank too many balls, you know. So I think it was hard for me to consistently just keep on attacking with the backhand.
Today it seems almost not a problem anymore to do it. Plus I have done it in many other matches other than Rafa, you know. I return usually coming over and sometimes using the slice; whereas before it always a slice normally and sometimes coming over.
So because I have gotten used to returning that way, I think it’s also easier to play Rafa these days, and I just think I’m not so scarred like maybe I have been in the past, not that I was horribly scarred in any way, but I did lose against him sometimes, a lot of the times especially on the clay courts. I do believe I still lost that Wimbledon finals in ’08 because of the French Open beatdown he gave me. It just affected my first two sets when I played him at Wimbledon. Down 6-4, 6-4, and okay, I got lucky to win the third, but maybe if I don’t lose both first sets it might be a different match.
But, yeah, I think I have also played him well. Clearly avoiding him — not playing him on clay has helped. So I’m able to stay on the hard courts or on faster courts against him, but I have been playing very well when I have faced off against him.
But the Australian Open also I had to get a little lucky, to be quite honest, because it was on the edge there for a while.
Q. What’s the importance of being here in China, in Shanghai? How do you like it here? What’s the importance of it?
ROGER FEDERER: The importance? I don’t know. I think it’s great for junior tennis here and development for the game or for sports, you know, when the great athletes from around the World come to this country or maybe this city, as well.
It’s just always helpful, you know, because it gets put on Chinese TV. People talk about it. It’s in the press. It might inspire, you know, somebody at the top level to say, okay, let’s focus more on tennis maybe down the road.
So I think it’s a good thing. I personally enjoy my time here. I always look forward to it every year. Shanghai is a priority for me in my schedule. I always manage my schedule throughout the year that I can also peak during Shanghai, so it’s nice to be back, and having played so well, it’s great.
Q. Between that loss in New York and when you got to the Laver Cup, did you do anything differently to loosen the back, or was it a regular process? How did that come about that you are back feeling so well?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, to feel maybe better I would have needed another week. I played with what I had. I think with the two five-setters I had in the first two rounds, I just think that put a lot of strain on my body. I just could never play freely, to be honest.
Even though it got better against Kohlschreiber and Lopez, but then Delpo, the moment I hit somebody who was very tough, you start taking wrong decisions and you’re a little bit just — you question yourself, because you actually have been playing more with a body that’s not 100% than actually playing the opponent. Then you’re not free and you lose the set point instead of winning it. That makes a difference. The margins are that slim, to be honest.
So I took a week off. Hardly any treatment. Played half an hour of tennis with a friend of mine. Spent time with the family and my kids and everything.
And then once I came back to Switzerland, I started to get ready for the Laver Cup and actually felt good, you know, or not great but better, at least. That was a step in the right direction.
I was still a little bit concerned, you know, because I knew the matches were going to be extremely difficult from the start, which is always a challenge for the body, you know, when it gets going right away like that, against Querrey or Kyrgios, so I was happy I was able to survive singles, doubles, and all these things what we had going on on the Saturday and then also on the Sunday potentially.
So I think it gave me a lot of confidence, the Kyrgios match, to be honest, to be able to go through a two-hour match really physically strong.
What happened after is I went straight into training again on the next day, on Monday. When I thought about it, I thought, oh, I can’t believe I’m doing it. I called my fitness coach up, and he goes, So are you ready for tomorrow afternoon? I’m like, Oh, not really, but okay, I’ll do it, because that’s what we planned to do regardless of what happens at the Laver Cup.
I had a great week from Monday to Friday. I worked extremely hard and then started to take my time. Everything mellowed out, and I came here super early, and coming here early paid off, so I’m very happy and I feel really good right now.
Q. You played great tennis this season. So the schedule of next season, are you still going to quit all the clay season and include the French Open?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know yet. Hasn’t been decided.
Q. No plans?
ROGER FEDERER: No plans yet so far, no. I know I’m playing the Hopman Cup and the Australian Open. I know that.
Q. You said earlier in the week that year-ending No. 1 talk is premature, and…
ROGER FEDERER: When did I say that?
Q. I thought you said it on the first…
ROGER FEDERER: No, no, I didn’t hear what you said. I was somewhere else maybe. Yes, I probably said that, yes. (Smiling.)
Q. We kind of take notice of head-to-heads and everything like that. You still trail Rafa, even though you’ve won the last five, you still trail Rafa by quite a margin. Is that something that concerns you? Is that an ambition to pull that back and overtake him?
ROGER FEDERER: It’s not gonna happen. We don’t have enough years left on the tour, and we’re ranked too good that we play each other only in finals at the moment. It looks like that’s going to stay like this for a few months more. So can’t win them all against Rafa, to be honest. He’s too good of a player.
Whatever happened in the past has happened. I’m just happy I’m on the run that I am right now. I don’t know what it takes for year-end No. 1 for both of us.
It seems for me that he seems extremely close to clinching it. Like I said, I will I figure out my schedule, regardless of No. 1 or not, when I come home to Switzerland and figure that part out. No, it’s been a terrific season and didn’t overplay. Still have energy left. Like I said before the event, I’m happy it paid off again. Usually when I’m well prepared and I’m ready to go physically and mentally, good things do happen.
You know, I think myself also in the past or maybe other players in particular always think having to play enough is super, super important, but with me I have come to realize that if I’m ready, I’m ready. Doesn’t matter almost if I have played tournaments before, like in Australia.
I’m just excited I’m on a good stretch right now. Head-to-heads? Yeah, I mean, sure, I would like it to be different, but I have utmost respect for Rafa. It’s been a tough matchup for me, and I tried my best. I have played him a lot on clay in the beginning of my career. No problem. I tried. I was close on many occasions, but he’s better on clay. I try to win the other ones that I can, and this year has been great so I’m happy about it.