Roland Garros

Monday, 31 May 2021

Paris, France

Roger Federer

Press Conference

R. FEDERER/D. Istomin

6-2, 6-4, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. I want to ask you about your current thinking about the Olympics. I know how much it meant to you in the past, how much you were looking forward to it.

ROGER FEDERER: Yes, I don't know, I feel two ways. I would love to play. I wish things were better around the world that we wouldn't even have to debate the thought of is it going to happen, am I going to play or not. My wish and hope and dream is that I can play it. But it needs to make sense for me, my team, my family, my country.

I'm still waiting to see how things are going to develop the next couple of weeks and month.

Q. It was 10 years ago that you defeated Novak in one of the craziest matches in Paris. Novak was undefeated, you were playing the underdog role, which is rare. When you think back on that match, does it resonate with you?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it was a good crowd. Definitely high quality. It was always going to take a great performance to beat Novak at that moment because he was on the run, like you said. Was a breaker fourth set I believe with the light fading. I think there was a lot riding on that as well, I remember.

Look, I count myself very lucky that I had the chance to play so many cool matches in basically all the big stadiums around the world for many years. That was definitely one of them as well.

Q. How did you feel today on the court? Do you feel much better compared to your first match on clay?

ROGER FEDERER: It broke up a little bit. You asked me compared to Geneva?

Q. Yes.

ROGER FEDERER: Yes, obviously, look, again, different opponent, different situation, best-of-five, not best-of-three. Geneva you do have a little bit of altitude. Here you don't. Even though it played rather fast today as well, I think there were a lot of points under five shots as well, played most of the time.

I just felt overall much clearer, much better. Clearly also maybe the type of opponent allowed me to have many different ways to win the point. I knew if I came to the net, that was an option. Hitting a dropshot was always an option. Taking the ball early was an option.

I always had the chance, I feel, like going back, as well, if I had to, which I did in Geneva, which didn't work out, which now in hindsight was a mistake I think. But I always struggle early on with my returning a little bit on clay. Funny enough, you would think it's the easier surface to return. I don't mind the grass court and hard court returns, as I'm blocking it more than hitting it. Then just different opponent, as well.

What else? I think getting used to tournament and match rhythm again, the whole thing with the towels there, the shot clock there, everything that goes with it. I don't know, I really felt like I didn't find the rhythm.

I think the biggest difference for me was in Geneva, now looking back, is that I feel like you play a lot of points very quickly. I think that's what got me at the end. I rarely took the extra two, three, four, five seconds I usually take by getting the towel or waiting for the crowd, whatever the dynamics might be.

I felt today I really made a bigger effort of going more in swings and not going through it like in the practice, where you just go point for point for point, let's play a maximum amount of points. I sometimes have to tell myself, Take a little bit of time, walk to the towel, do something different.

You might think it's silly, but it's true. I do that naturally in a big match with a lot of crowd, ask for the towel quickly because you're sweating or you need maybe a quick break, a breather. You feel more private when you're in that situation rather than going from one side of the court to the other for three hours.

That's where I think I felt much more comfortable today because I made an effort to think about it.

Q. You said not that long ago that Wimbledon is the end game for you, this is just getting you back into rhythm. Considering what you've also just explained, where would you put your game at the moment? If you were to rate it on a scale, where would you situate yourself?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I don't know. We'll see. I don't know, to be honest. In a way I like this situation, that I don't know what's next, how my next match will be. I don't even know who I play, to be honest.

I take it round by round, match by match. I think it's going to help me, I don't know, with the way I go about it. I'm very happy I won today. It gives me a chance again to test myself on Thursday, I believe. I don't know when I'm playing. So see how I feel tomorrow morning.

Just all these things going through practice, coming to the site, seeing people, just this whole rhythm thing. It's nice to be back in it. It's really unfortunate my family's not here. I worry with Wimbledon around the corner that they will not be there too. That's going to be a bit of a difference for me just how I go through my days. Look, that's how it is right now. We signed up for it. I didn't do rehab to then sit at home again.

Yeah, I mean, a lot to look forward to. To be truthful, I don't know where I stand. Today was a good performance. I hope I can do it again against a different type of opponent on whatever, Thursday or whenever I play.

Q. May I ask you to look ahead to Wimbledon. What is the single thing that you look forward to most when you walk in those gates after two years? How difficult is that transition for all of the players who haven't competed on grass at all in two years?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, look, for me coming back after many months or over a year of rehab, the light at the end of the tunnel or the measuring stick was always can I come back to a good level against good players. I hope Wimbledon is going to be that place. Maybe there's going to be even something here in Paris. We'll see.

For me, just being back at Wimbledon healthy again, because honestly last year when I did the first surgery, the goal was to be there at Wimbledon last year. Then, clearly the second operation came around, the pandemic hit, and everybody missed out on Wimbledon.

But I'll just be happy that I get another opportunity to play. So I hope I can stay healthy from now on forward. I'm quite confident that's going to stay that way. I've also been, how you say, getting better every month that went by, which has been really positive. I didn't have any setbacks in a year. It's been really slow progress. I can't deny that fact.

That's what I'm looking forward to at Wimbledon. Obviously it would be a shocker if there was no crowd. I believe there's going to be something there. I think we're on the verge of things turning around maybe a little bit, at least I hope so.

Q. I had the feeling that you were moving legs better than expected. Do you also think so? After you have seen Andujar beating Thiem, would this boost your confidence?

ROGER FEDERER: No, not really. You don't see it that way, if he beats that guy, he beats you. But it's true, you know, I feel like one thing that gave me maybe a tiny boost, especially early on, was when I beat Evans in Doha. Then Evans goes on to beat Novak in, where was it, Monaco. Novak being world No. 1 and everything, it showed me that maybe I'm not that close.

Of course, it's matchups. If I played Novak, things would maybe look very different, he would beat me in straights. Regardless, it's true that sometimes these things play a tiny role.

Honestly, I didn't watch a lot of the match, Andujar against Thiem. Thiem clearly has not been himself lately, but I hope he can turn things around. He'll find his way. He's too good of a player. He just needs to find his energy again.

The legs. Yes, it reminded me a little bit of Doha on a higher level because really in Geneva I really struggled to play forward and be committed. I don't know, it just felt not comfortable.

If I would have won the last couple of games, gotten a second round maybe, who knows, maybe things would have also gotten better. In Doha, like here now, I really felt like if I wanted to come to the net, if I wanted to play aggressive, I was able to do that. I think then my game looks cleaner, it looks clearer. I think it worked very well.

Overall I'm very happy, as well. I can attest to that, as well. I moved pretty well today. I also kept rallies short purposely so I wouldn't get dragged into the long rallies. Always throw in the dropshot. We'll see what happens.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
108168-1-1063 2021-05-31 16:55:00 GMT

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