Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Roger Federer holds the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships trophy after his 2019 title triumph
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Was this one as exciting as winning a slam, or a different kind of excitement?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know. It’s just always different. Hmm? I didn’t think of it too much, to be quite honest, all day. I was very calm, very composed. At the same time we’re getting ready to leave tomorrow, as well. That always puts stress on the whole situation because we’re not just packing for one person. Yeah, so I think this one has a deep satisfaction, an immediate one, because I know what it means. I like these type of numbers or records, to be quite honest. A lot of people always emphasize all the slams and all these things. I play on the ATP Tour. This is where I’ve won so many of them. Been around for so long. Yeah, I don’t rest between slams all the time, like people think I might be. But I’m not. I think this number proves that. I think that’s why this was a very exciting week for me. I didn’t come here expecting I was going to win, to be quite honest. I hadn’t played since Australia. Just happy on all fronts how my game progressed, how well I played in the finals, on top of it winning the eighth, winning the 100th. So many magical things going on. Yeah, I’m very, very happy right now.
Q. What do you feel about your game today?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, definitely felt my best. I think I served very well. Had a high first-serve percentage in play, from the feeling anyway. Yeah, I just think I played the right way. Things happened fast. Best-of-three set tennis on a fast court against somebody like Stefanos who also likes to take the ball early. I tried to be very aggressive myself and it worked out. I got off on a flyer in the beginning, never looked back. In the second set, I think I was overall maybe able to create a few more chances. I just felt good in defense, good in offense, good on the serve. That’s a good combination to win.
Q. What is the main ingredient that you’ve had over the years to win these 100 titles?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, now I know a lot of people always ask me about, Are you going to go for 109? Winning titles, to answer the question, is not easy. Winning five matches in six days or five matches in five days, it takes a different type of fitness. Sometimes you can lose them in the semis. You can play a great tournament, play a brutal semis, you get unlucky sometimes with the schedule, whatever it may be. You could lose the finals not because the opponent is better, just sometimes it’s like that. That’s why you have to be fit on many fronts: mentally, physically, also your game has to translate. You have to be able to beat different types of players, not just the grinders, not just the big servers, not just the attacking players. You have to be able to beat them all in successive days. I think that’s a tricky thing to do for a lot of players. That’s why you have to improve your game so much that you can do that. Only a few players can do that every year, five, six, seven times or more during a single year. For that you need to be able to adapt your game to conditions, got to be able to play through the pain because I’ve been hurt or sick many times during events that I ended up winning. Some of them being slams, as well. You just got to figure it out. It’s hard, yeah.
Q. Did you know research has proven that 59 tournaments won by Jimmy Connors, 59 out of 109, were comparable to the ATP 250? What are your thoughts about it?
ROGER FEDERER: Who cares. Just a title. The 250s are not easy to win as well nowadays. I don’t see it as something that should take anything away from Jimmy. I think what he did was extraordinary.
Q. Can you talk a little about your journey tactically as a player through these 100 titles. I know it’s a long question.
ROGER FEDERER: Could be a long answer, depending (smiling). ‘Tactically’ in what sense?
Q. Your growth as a player.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I think in the beginning you’re getting used to playing every single day, getting used to traveling and playing. Like what Stefanos did, playing, winning, traveling, playing with jetlag potentially, keep on playing, trying to stay in shape, trying to stay mentally sane through the whole process, doing to press, going to play, going to sleep, going to eat, just going through that week in, week out. It’s challenging. The more successful you become, the greater the toll becomes in terms of media attention, maybe winning awards, getting rewarded in your country or city or whatever it may be. You have to deal with all these things. Your tennis grows in the process very quickly because you’re learning so much about yourself, learning how to play other players, how they’re learning to play you. You try to compress it every single time, in every game, every breakpoint, whatever you’re facing. In terms of my game, I think I needed to get really match tough to be able to be at 100% every single day. That was not easy for me. Check my emotions, that was not easy. Eventually I figured that part out. Then not wasting too much energy throughout the tournament. I remember in the beginning of my career, by the time the quarters came around, I was quite exhausted already because I was so happy winning points, disappointed losing points, I would get to the quarters and be tired. I knew I had to figure out my own attitude on the court to sustain five matches in five days or six matches in six days. Back in the day, the Masters 1000s, what we had to do with the best-of-five set final. That was part of it. Like I explained before, just trying to understand how to play against which type of player. I think that was a secret for me. Then saying injury-free. Without being injury-free, you will never get to these amount of titles, I believe. Yeah, a lot of things went right. I’m sure I took a lot of good and bad decisions along the way. I couldn’t have done it without a team. My team has been phenomenal throughout. I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve said that always time and time again from my first coaches all the way to today. I always had the right coaches always at the right time. Also my parents, my wife. She’s been along for the ride for every single title. From that standpoint, it’s been a special trip, yeah.
Q. On the court you said you’re happy still playing. Was there ever a moment that you felt or came close to thinking that you didn’t want to be doing this, then you pushed yourself through it?
ROGER FEDERER: I think every player has those weak five seconds where you’re like, Really? Could be after losing, I don’t know, an epic five-setter, it could be after playing a shocker, it could be sometimes after winning something. You’re like, How much more do I want to do? I think everybody goes through that. It would be lying if they said, I never doubt it. I think everybody goes through these phases. It’s logical. We have too much downtime, too much time on the road, too much rain delays, you name it, that makes you go through with your head sometimes. Never to the extent where I’m like really, really contemplating, Is it enough? I think definitely the surgery was for me sort of a major reality check in the sense that maybe I will come back, I knew that, but maybe never quite the same. I’m happy I can look back now and play with absolutely no pain, no painkillers this week. It’s a big week for me, to be quite honest, to go through a week like that. I’m very, very pleased.
Q. Is there going to be a special place where you’re going to put this specific trophy or haven’t you thought about it?
ROGER FEDERER: I haven’t thought about it, no. I’m not that crazy yet. I don’t know. It takes a lot of space in the trophy cabinet. That’s the problem here. It’s a special one. At least it will stand out. I don’t have special trophies for number one, whatever, 25, 50, so forth. I think it’s just going to have a normal place. In my heart, of course, I know I won my 100th here in Dubai.
Q. How are you going to celebrate number 100?
ROGER FEDERER: We don’t have much time. I’m leaving shortly, tomorrow morning. No, I saw the team already, which is great. Going to see some of my friends who are here. I think we’re cutting a cake with the tournament, as well. I know that procedure from previous years. I don’t know. I think I’m going to have a good time for a short while. After that, I come home and see if my kids are still awake or not, or I’ll maybe wake them up, if they want to be woken up. I’m not sure what they told my wife because she’s not here right now. I’m going to see her, of course. We might sit down a little bit and talk, just enjoy that moment a little bit. Maybe festivities continue in Indian Wells, I believe.
Q. During the ceremony the speaker said he wished to see you again in this tournament next year. Do you want to give an answer today?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think that was the answer. The idea was for the people to know that I am coming back next year. That is the plan. I have a deal for next year. I thought about it this week because I know they said they were interested to have me again next year, if it was okay to announce it during the week. I said, Absolutely, we can do that. I don’t see myself playing anywhere else but Dubai this week. I’m happy to come here again next year. I’ve enjoyed too much success. I like the tournament too much. So I will be here next year.
Q. You mentioned out there on center court the good old days. Aside from tonight’s win, is there anyone from 1 through 99 that sticks out the most?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I have a few. French Open 2009 was a big deal for me. Of course, also Hamburg 2002 when I broke the top 10 and beat Safin in the finals completely out of the blue, that title. I think title number one, it was a special one for me. I’m not kidding if I tell you I hoped I was going to not go down as a player never to win a tournament because I lost my first two quite dramatically, 7-6 in the third against my good friend Marc Rosset in Marseille. I cried my eyes out. He told me, Don’t worry about it, you’ll win some more. I’m like, It’s easy for you to say. Then in Basel, my home tournament, I wanted to win so badly, I ended up losing 6-1 in the fifth. When I came to Milan in 2001, the sanction was owned by the Dubai tournament already, I was able to beat Kafelnikov along the way, beat Julien Boutter in the final. I think I had match points in the second set, lost the second, went into the third. I was so relieved I was not going to be that guy who was going to be endless talent with no titles. You can imagine today sitting with 100 how much disbelief there is in between what happened then and now.
Q. Staying back during that time in 2002 when you came here the first time, you got the fine.
ROGER FEDERER: They wanted to. It didn’t pass. I never paid the fine.
Q. Did they withhold the cash prize?
ROGER FEDERER: They first wanted to, yes.
Q. Did your mind go back to that moment now?
ROGER FEDERER: Not now. Yeah, it was a tricky situation because I was in second round of singles and doubles. I was accused of tanking. Tanking second round? I played frustrated the last couple of games in the match against Rainer Schuettler because I was young and crazy. I was so fed up with my game. I just started to go for big shots. Tournament director wasn’t happy with what he saw. Anyway, he withheld everything. But the tour said, No chance you can do this. Roger tried, so it’s all good. Then I came back the next year, wanted to prove a point. I ended up going for four in a row, so… That’s what happens sometimes. You have to learn it the hard way.
Q. You mentioned your surgery in 2016 that made you miss Rio. Any thoughts about Tokyo next year?
ROGER FEDERER: No, still not. Don’t know how I’m going to qualify, to be honest. And if I do, I don’t know if I’m still playing. Still too far away for me. Yeah, I don’t know. I just don’t want my mind to go there. I think if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I think it’s not like my first Olympics where obviously I always wanted to be part of it. So we’ll really see how it’s going to play out.