Sunday, 6 October 2019
Pre-Event Press Conference
Q. Welcome back to Shanghai. You have expressed multiple times that you love the city and you love the tournament, you love the stadium, probably one of your favorites. I mean, obviously the fans probably is the key reason why you’re here. Can you elaborate on a bit more details about what is it about the city? Is it the vibes, the energies? Maybe huge crowd everywhere which is so different from where you’re from? Maybe restaurant food? Anything else?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes. You asked the question. You answered the question.
Q. Have you experienced anything different? We are in national holiday, which lasts for seven days.
ROGER FEDERER: There is a lot of people. I’m not sure if the city is always this busy, but it’s extremely packed around The Bund where I am.
No, I also like the tournament, you know, the organizers, Charles and Michael, go way back with them now. So it’s also part of the reason I enjoy this event so much.
I feel like the city has, you know, gotten better over the years, you know. I remember it just felt different, the vibe, back in 2002 when I came or maybe even in ’05, ’06. I feel the last 10 years it’s really gotten even more modern. There is more stuff.
I don’t know. I enjoy it a lot. Like you said, it’s so very different to where I come from. I have lived in many different places in Switzerland and then traveled extensively, you know. But this is, yeah, pretty special the way this city and this country is set up and everything.
The size, when it comes to anything, is just off the charts. Yeah, like you said, the fans get together, really make a conscious effort of want to show me how excited and happy they are. I felt that yesterday at Fan Day. Means a lot to me. Don’t get that kind of fan grouping like this together anywhere else in the world.
And I opened the stadium, so forever I will be connected to this tournament, for sure.
Q. We were just shooting your practice before here, and we notice every time after practice you interact with your fans a lot, and also, you personally attend charity match quite often. Why do you put so much effort on it? And what do your fans mean to you?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know. That’s what we do. I don’t know. I mean, it’s okay also to practice in front of nobody, but it’s not quite the same, you know.
So I guess it’s a way to say thank you. When somebody asks you a question, you try to answer. When somebody asks you for a picture, you try to take it or an autograph, so you try to do that. It means so much to the people or any fan, for that matter, because it’s maybe the first time they see you or maybe they have traveled from really far just to get a chance to be near you or ask you a question.
Sometimes you’re more tired than other days, but, you know, for the most part, I try also maybe to lead by example for the new generation of players who I hope are going to be great for the game and, you know, carry the sport in the right direction.
I think Rafa and Novak and everybody at the top actually is doing a really nice job, you know, always interacting with the fans and giving them the time.
It is important to me. It’s always been. And same for the charitable work. I think we have a unique opportunity as being successful tennis players. We can inspire, can mobilize, we can give back, can help. Why not do it if you can, you know. It would be a wasted opportunity if you didn’t.
Q. You have 12 sponsors, and they have kept you very busy in the past few days. You look to totally enjoy it. How do you keep those sponsors’ activities fresh and interesting and enjoyable for you while you can still focus on tennis and prepare for the tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: Good preparation, knowing what I’m getting into. Everything goes over my desk, if you like. I approve if I want to do an event or not. I’ve got to tell the team if I have the energy or the patience to do all the events.
I can also say, Look, I’m playing in Beijing or Tokyo the week before, and I have no time to do sponsor appearances. But I chose to do it this way. It’s an important market for me. It’s an important tournament. I want to be well prepared as well for the Shanghai tournament.
And for that reason, I’m happy to travel here early anyhow, like to almost a Grand Slam, if you like. Because I’m only here once a year, you know, I want to make the most of it for my partners, for the fans, for me, for the market.
When I know what’s coming, it’s very easy to get excited. If I arrived on here Wednesday evening and then all of a sudden they would have said, Okay, you’re going to be doing this, this, and this every day now, I would have said, I’m not in the mood right now, so I’m leaving again.
But knowing ahead of time solves any issue for me, and I enjoyed myself. It’s been a blast so far. And now obviously today it’s completely just tennis and press and really getting into the thick of things just getting ready for the tournament, because I want to play well here.
Q. There is a video of you and Rafa at the Laver Cup walking behind Sascha and encouraging him very enthusiastically. In a sport like tennis where so much emphasis is mostly on the individual, how do you find it in yourself to be on the same team as people who would otherwise be your rival and competitors anywhere else on the court?
ROGER FEDERER: It’s great fun. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s incredible all the videos and pictures that did come out of the Laver Cup again.
I tried my best to support the players and the team and create a good team atmosphere. And everybody did, as well. We have had a really great time. I just ran into Fognini just now. Dominic Thiem just texted me before. You know, I was in touch with Rafa the last few days, as well. Novak also wrote me, you know. So it’s nice to be in touch with everybody, to be quite honest.
But yeah, moments like this, you know, where we try to encourage a rival basically to go out and win and have them on your side of the net, on your team, is very refreshing, I think, for us also. I think that a tennis player at heart also likes team competition because we are also sports fans. Usually when you watch other sports, there are a lot of teams that you support. For us to be on the same team is very, very cool. I had a blast that weekend in Geneva.
Q. You’re used to this last stretch of the year. I wonder if there is any change of mindset this year or goals? And if you feel fresher this year than you were last year as a player physically?
ROGER FEDERER: Trying to think back how I felt. I don’t know.
I don’t know. Like I said, I think I felt better overall at the Laver Cup the first of the three years where I really felt sort of injury-free. I recovered well from my back stuff at the US Open this year, but it took me about 10 days, much longer than I thought. But then for the Laver Cup I was 100% again, whereas in previous Laver Cups I always had a stiff back.
Sometimes the year-end can create that as we’re heading into fall and the weather gets colder. I’m not sure if that has an effect with it.
I’m actually quite upbeat about that, because when you’re more pain-free, you’re happier in general, I believe.
I hope it’s going to help me, but, you know, the draw is tough here. It also depends on your opponents a little bit. It’s not just every match on my racquet, unfortunately, but I feel like I have good energy left in the tank, you know, to go and finish strong.
I also did have a bit of a rest after the Open, so I felt really refreshed going into the Laver Cup. And the day after basically was in the gym after the Laver Cup doing my stuff, getting ready for here, and I’m happy where I am right now.
Q. Are you conscious of the example that you’re setting to other people in tennis? And also following up on the Laver Cup question, what do you think it says to other tennis players as well as athletes from other sports that some of tennis’ biggest names can be on the same team together?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, look, I’m playing a lot of the guys who idolized me, so I guess I’m semi-aware of what’s going on, because I don’t walk through the streets or wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and go, Yeah, you’re a great guy. I think of myself as me and as a person, you know, and not a tennis player or whatever it is.
But I’m aware that I have the chance and the power to motivate, inspire younger children, and set a good example. Yeah, I see that. That’s something I have always appreciated and thought was actually very nice.
Now, on the Laver Cup, I think for me it’s been also eye-opening that we actually can sort of press a switch and then go team, friends, partners, you name it, and then, bang, you see each other, everybody had a great time, and then next time you play each other, I want to beat you, I like you, I respect you, but still, I’m going to beat you right now.
So I’m happy that that balance is always going to be there, because I think the tennis player is a winner. He wants to win at all costs. You can do it tough and fair. You don’t have to cheat and stuff.
But it’s nice to see, and also I think for the people that the rivalry will always remain regardless if we’re going to be on the same team.
Yeah, I think Rafa shows that also very good. I think he was also a true leader that weekend.
Q. Just wanted to ask you a bit about Andy Murray. I don’t know if you’ve had an opportunity to talk to him, but obviously you’re aware that in January he seemed virtually retired and he has this, what he calls, a game-changing operation. He seems fit and coming back.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah.
Q. No pain. Your thoughts on that? And if you have had a chance to talk to him?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I saw Andy briefly, don’t remember if it was yesterday or day before now. I should, but too much going on. But yeah, it was great to see him again and great to just chat with him a little bit.
Yeah, I’m just relieved that he’s in the place he is right now, because like you said, I saw him after the Bautista match, because I finished my match, I don’t know who I played, but he played that five-setter against him. I saw him in the locker room, and just out of personal interest, I asked him, What’s up? Is that it? Are you going? Sorry to ask you, but I kind of want to know and I think the people want to know. He’s, like, I don’t know.
And I know that what I said I said, but I think he just wanted to get better for his life in general. So I think that’s been achieved, No. 1. So I think that’s the priority there.
And No. 2, that he’s getting a shot again to be on the tour, see how far he can go, and how deep he can go at tournaments I think is super exciting for the tour, for us players, because he’s very much a guy we like and respect a lot, you know. Doesn’t have enemies, you know. We need guys like him who also led by example with hard work and toughness and fairness and so forth.
I love seeing Andy back. I feel also he’s, like, playing better and better, which is going to be great. I think I’m going to play him at the ATP Cup maybe first match of the season, too, if I’m not mistaken.
That should be fun. Yeah, I’m happy. I’m happy for Andy.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports