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May 12, 2006

R. FEDERER/N. Almagro
6-3, 6-7, 7-5


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Well, he looks like the sort of player who could be a challenger at Roland Garros maybe, do you think?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, for upsets, for sure. For the title, that's still far-fetched I think, you know, with Rafael around and all this stuff.

But I said yesterday that he's going to be one of those guys that you've got to watch out for in the draw. He can definitely upset. He proved that definitely today.

Q. How do you rate your performance?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, it was pretty good, you know. I thought it was pretty consistent except the one matchpoint, obviously, you know. That made life a little bit more difficult for me today.

But other than that, I thought I created quite a lot of opportunities for myself and nothing in the game really broke down, and that's important.

It was a tricky match, you know. He was playing well, very far behind the baseline, and that's always an adjustment to make especially after playing Stepanek.

Q. Would you call that an adventure, an escape, a surprise? How would you term that?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I don't know. I wouldn't call it an "escape" because I was up all the time, you know. I served for the match and then I was always up in the third set, too. I had, you know -- I don't think he had a breakpoint in the third, I think.

But I had many opportunities, so I always felt - and that was the case - I was always ahead. I think it was just an overall very tough match, you know, which almost went down to the wire with a tiebreaker, but I snuck out before that so...

Q. What were his strengths, do you think?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, you just feel like he's very comfortable on clay. I mean, there's no other surface you'd get away by playing so far back in the court, you know, than clay. That obviously is a big help for him, the surface.

Then he obviously has a good forehand, pretty consistent backhand I would say. I knew he had a big game, you know. I played him at the French Open last year, and he proved that again today. He got very close.

Q. With the sun today, it seemed like the court was a bit slippery.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, obviously, when it's slippery, it's not easy, huh? I mean, that's no doubt. But you got to play around that, you know, so you don't get caught in a position where the other guy can just hit for a winner and you got to guess sides. Then you always look like an idiot.

But, yeah, it was getting a little slippery there. I thought it was good they put water on the court, you know. Maybe it slows down conditions a bit.

But, no, with the sun, this court, it's never a problem. Yeah, it was a little slippery for a while there.

Q. Once you lost the matchpoint, made double-fault on the second serve, then you find yourself in the third. Did you think about last year, the two defeats out of four of yours came after you had matchpoint? Or you don't think at all...

Q. No, please, please.

ROGER FEDERER: No, of course, of course (smiling).

Q. Also, once you were close to the tiebreaker, you thought, "Okay, I had five opportunities, five matchpoints, if I get to the tiebreaker, would be more difficult for me," or not?

ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, I definitely think about all these things, too, you know, what happened after having matchpoint, being broken and all this, you know, because then you're at even terms again. Maybe you're still up a set, but the momentum's, you know, shifted. You know that now the chance of losing the breaker may be slightly bigger than still five minutes ago, and you start thinking of what happened last year. I remember losing a few ones with matchpoints. I hoped that the same is not gonna happen.

But all I can do is give myself opportunities and if it happens, I don't know. The worst thing -- the best thing you can say is, "At least I had matchpoint."

But, yeah, I mean, it was very close in the end, and I was happy to come out before the tiebreaker, that's for sure.

Q. Obviously, you're going to say at this time you'd prefer to win every match as easy as possible, but is a test like that good for you with what's coming up?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I think the more time on clay, the better. Of course, you know, as long as I keep on winning the matches, that's always good.

I think with how Monaco and this has been going, you know, I mean, I'm in top form, and that's excellent news for me. And then a match like this, you know, maybe, like you say, it is maybe good for me.

But I always like to win those the most, you know, the ones that are close like this.

Q. Before Monte-Carlo you said that since it was your first tournament on clay this year you would have been happy just to get to the quarters more or less. Before coming here, what was the goal?

ROGER FEDERER: Was also the same, about quarters, you know.

Q. No.

ROGER FEDERER: Sorry, huh, to disappoint you (smiling).

Q. I don't trust you.

ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, you underestimate the toughness of the Masters Series because they are very difficult, you know. You play seeds already in the third round. You play every day, especially if you start on Tuesday.

I mean, it's really hard, you know, especially on the body. I haven't been playing now again for two weeks. Guys are coming in with maybe confidence and all this stuff. Now everybody's playing well.

So, no, my goal is reasonable and it's the quarterfinal. Now that I've made it that far, you know, it's nice, but it doesn't get any easier with Nalbandian and then the five-setter maybe in the finals.

So, I mean, I have to go match at a time. But the initial goal was a quarterfinal.

Q. (Through translation.) Will you play more aggressive tomorrow or like today?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I usually play -- I adapt very much to the opponent. My game is usually always pretty much aggressive and not really waiting for the other guys to mistake -- to make the mistake.

I think it will be the same tomorrow. It will be aggressive style, and I think that's what's going to make me win the match tomorrow if I really want to come through as a winner.

End of FastScripts...


May 13, 2006

R. FEDERER/D. Nalbandian
6-3, 3-6, 7-6


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Never in doubt?

ROGER FEDERER: So-so, huh? Down a break in the third, and tiebreakers in the third set, there's a lot of doubt floating around that center court, that's for sure.

Q. Why has this not been such a good town for you?

ROGER FEDERER: Good? With success?

Q. First-round losses, second-round losses, final loss.

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think it's not that bad after all. I mean, I played all right the one year, you know, when I beat Safin and Johansson 7-6 in the third twice and lost to Ferrero. I thought that was a pretty good tournament for me. Then the finals, that came as a surprise a little bit. I beat Ferrero, who was dominating on clay back then, in the semis and stuff.

Yeah, I mean, it's paying off now, so that's good.

Q. Two days ago you talked about starting the tour with a 0-14 record on clay when you were 17 or something. How did you handle that then? Is it possible that that experience helped you in situations like this?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I thought I had actually quite -- I know I did have many close matches on clay in the beginning of my career against, you know, good players, but I always ended up losing them for some reason. I lost here against Medvedev, had a couple of Davis Cup matches I lost which were also very close, and other ones, too.

And then I think the break for me came more or less at the French Open when all of a sudden I reached the fourth round really. That was a great result for me on clay. So this is really how I got over it. I always knew, you know, I can play well on clay. I grew up on this surface.

You know, I guess the bad record comes from really getting so many wildcards right away into Masters Series. Those are the toughest tournaments you can get, you know, as a junior because you play those great players from the first round on. That's what maybe destroyed my confidence a little bit. That's what made me lose quite a few matches close. It was sort of a tough experience, I think.

Q. Did it help you in some way to throw a racquet on the floor? Do you remember when you did it the last time?

ROGER FEDERER: No, it never helps (smiling). But I wasn't happy at that moment, so I thought it was worthwhile doing it for a change again.

Last time I remember I think was Bangkok first round, and before that was Miami against Raf. So it doesn't happen very often.

It left something very special today, it means.

Q. Do you think two tough matches in a row are your best preparation for the final?

ROGER FEDERER: Don't think so, no (smiling). But feel fine, you know. Hopefully, it's going to be the same tomorrow.

But I remember I was very scared of the finals a couple years ago when I played. I won the semis against Ferrero and I remember I had already pain in my feet and I was hurting, and then the press told me it's actually going to be five sets in the finals and I didn't know that. I sort of kind of lost the match in the press conference (laughter).

Mantilla said, "If I get this guy to play more than two hours, I'll probably be in good shape," too, so I knew that it's probably not going to go very well for me.

But not this time around - hopefully (smiling).

Q. (Through translation.) Did you make some special preparation to play today because you lost many times against him?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, you know, I don't know him very well on clay, to be honest. I played him very much on hard court, indoor or outdoor. It changes to play on clay. The last time we played was in Monaco, and I couldn't play.

So this was obviously an important match, and I think especially against guys who have got a better record against you, you know, maybe only have a few on tour like Henman, Nadal and Nalbandian. So it's always important you feel for yourself, you know, for the guy who is down in the series, to come back and sort of send the message out again to the guy that you're here. I think, for me, it was probably more important than for him sort of, you know, to speak.

Yeah, so tomorrow I maybe have another chance if I play Raf to better up my series, so we'll see.

Q. When was the worst moment of today's match, when you were down 2-1 and you had three times the ball to go 3-1, or in the tiebreaker when you were down one mini-break?

ROGER FEDERER: I think it's similar. It's like a similar situation to be in. Maybe a tiebreaker is more difficult because you feel like you're really not allowed to miss now anymore, you know. It's like you're really with the back against the wall. Maybe a tiebreak is more tough because really then it counts every shot.

I think that was the toughest situation to pass.

Q. I bet Mr. Roche would have liked to have seen you come up to the net a little bit more.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, me, too (smiling). Yeah. But not against a guy like this maybe; he returns too well. So I decided to stay at the baseline.

Q. Did he startle you with his serve and volley?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, why not for him? I return obviously very different than he does, you know. And, I mean, worked out most of the time for him, but maybe twice in very important moments it didn't work - once I think at the breakpoint and once in the tiebreaker.

So after all he still has to obviously watch out what he does.

Q. Since we know you like the history of tennis, you may know that only twice there were the No. 2 seeds in the final in Rome, No. 1 against No. 2, but they weren't the No. 1 and No. 2 in the world. One of the two times No. 2 was Roche. Actually, he was No. 1 and he lost to Newcombe, who was No. 2. The other time, the No. 1 again lost to No. 2, and it was in '79, Vilas losing to Gerulaitis.

ROGER FEDERER: Okay (laughter).

Q. So tomorrow you are the No. 1, you play No. 2. Is that tough?

ROGER FEDERER: He's not there yet, huh (laughter)? I'm here. I'm waiting in the wings here. I'm ready, he's not (smiling).

I think it's always special when 1 and 2 play, no matter what round really, but usually it's the finals so that adds even more to it.

I think Monte-Carlo was great. If Raf should win this, I mean, I think we both look forward to it. It's great for the game, great for us, and especially on clay, you know, I think it's a good challenge for me.

End of FastScripts...

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