October 7, 2012
Q. When you dropped your world No.1 ranking after 2010 French Open, it stopped at 285 weeks, just one week short of Sampras’ record, someone mentioned it’s quite romantic. Now it’s not romantic anymore. I’m wondering, at that moment, did you think to yourself, I want this record back, I want to break it, just because you’re too close not to?
ROGER FEDERER: Honestly, it’s hard to remember back.
The thing is obviously I have short‑term goals always. That’s why I’m here, for instance, trying to win the tournament. That’s a short‑term goal. Then you have the long‑term goals. That includes the ranking, which tournaments you want to play, where do you want to practice, what is your health level, harmony in your life.
Back then I was also looking at the big picture. I came out of a tough ‘08, ‘09, mono, all that stuff. I was just happy being back to world No.1 and hanging on to it. I didn’t do everything I could just to hang onto it. I looked at the big picture then. When it all of a sudden stopped one week short, I didn’t expect that. But it happened.
To me it didn’t mean much because, anyway, I have so much respect for Pete. It didn’t matter if I had that record or not at that moment. I hadn’t retired yet anyway. I just accepted it and said, Okay. When you lose it, you want to get it back right away. That was the plan. Obviously I had to wait for some time.
It was that much sweeter I guess when I did get it back, with Wimbledon, the victory, tying him the next day, then breaking the record the following week. It was very unique, maybe one of the greatest accomplishments of my career.
Yeah, so how it was when I lost my No.1 ranking back then, it was definitely a bit of a surprise how it all happened very quickly. Think I lost my ranking to Rafa. He deserved to be world No.1 then, so there’s no arguing with that.
Q. It’s not been the easiest buildup to this tournament. Can I ask you about the death threat situation? When did you first hear about that?
ROGER FEDERER: Probably about 10 days ago. So then obviously it came out in the press. That’s when things changed. It became much more public, which I’m a bit disappointed about, that it did come out in the press. It was something just very small on a website, nothing clear and concrete, people just debating. That it makes that big news is a bit surprising to me.
But obviously it’s been a different type of preparation. I’d like not to talk too much about it. I felt very safe here. The authorities have been wonderful. The government has been very supportive, made me feel extremely welcome. I felt great the whole time I’ve been here.
Obviously, like you mentioned, it’s been a different kind of last few days than other tournaments in the past. But I’m happy I am here after all.
Q. Your wife and family are back at home; you didn’t bring them with you?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes. But that was decided before it became public. I knew about it already. It was a last‑minute decision for me to come here in the first place. I knew about everything that was going on.
The family decision had nothing to do with the threats.
Q. You wouldn’t describe it as a distraction at all, the threat? It hasn’t distracted you from your buildup or anything like that?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it’s just a buildup. It’s not the matches. The matches are still a few days away. I’m happy I arrived here in time to get used to the conditions, get used to maybe the jetlag, potentially a small one.
It’s always going to be busy here for me regardless, which is a good thing I think. It keeps my mind occupied and busy. Obviously I want to make sure I practice enough so I’m playing well when the matches come around.
So obviously maybe it’s a little bit of a distraction, there’s no doubt about it. But you have to be aware of what’s happening around you. But that is the case anyway anywhere I go today with my fame and all that stuff.
But it’s been okay. It’s been fine. I feel I have a good preparation starting Tuesday or Wednesday.
Q. You talked about long‑term and short‑term goals. In many ways, it’s been a vintage year for tennis. All four of the big players have won a slam. How much does it mean to you to secure the year‑end world No.1 ranking?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, look, I hope I will finish world No.1 at the end of the year. For me it’s about trying to play well here in Shanghai and go from there. If everything would have been totally focused on world No.1, I would have gone to Tokyo or Beijing most likely and all those things.
For me I’ve already reached my goal by getting back to world No.1 in the summer. That was for me the goal, getting back there and winning a Grand Slam, particularly Wimbledon, plus the Olympic gold medal is a big thing for me as well.
I feel very much at peace and I’m happy. I always have to look 12 months ahead, as well, making sure I stay injury‑free, that I stay hungry for more. This is where if it works out, great, and if it doesn’t, someone else plays better.
I am here, so I’ll give it the best shot I can and we’ll see how it goes.
Q. Talking about world No.1, you mentioned looking 12 months ahead. After Andy Murray won in New York, one of his goals was to get to world No.1 by being consistent over the next 12 months. How do you think his game is? Do you think he can achieve that goal over the next 12 months?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, he can. He should be able to have that goal. It would be very wrong if he said, I want to be world No. 2 now (smiling).
He’s saying the right things. He has results that back up his chances to become world No.1, maybe even at the end of the year, maybe at the beginning of the next year. If not then, he’s got a shot till next year’s Wimbledon almost if he were to win there. His next nine months are going to be extremely interesting to follow.
I think he’s done so well, I said it right off the bat, his reaction was amazing right after not winning Wimbledon against me, then coming back and winning the Olympics, still battling it out through Toronto and Cincinnati, then bringing the victory home, his first Grand Slam, at the US Open. Very impressed, great to see.
I’m sure it’s going to give him confidence for what’s to come, then of course it is going to have maybe an impact in the future. When is Rafa going to come back, when, how strong? How well am I going to play? How well is Novak going to play? The rest of the players. That all has a little bit of an impact.
But overall he has some control over that himself now, and I hope for him he can achieve it eventually.
Q. How do you feel right now?
ROGER FEDERER: I feel fine. Look, I had some time off. I didn’t have a big buildup. It was more just trying to maintain my fitness level, playing some tennis while I was not at tournaments.
Important is that the body is okay, that the mind is fresh and ready to travel, willing to do the sacrifices and all those things.
It was a close call. I must admit, if I was going to be able to do it, because if I don’t play here, I get an extra two weeks off. That’s also very interesting for what’s to come for the rest of the year and next year as well.
I felt like I can handle it. I don’t like to just pull out. I’m actually kind of fine, but not injured or not tired. So that’s why I decided in the end to come here, because I love playing here in China. I’ve had some amazing weeks here in my life.
I do appreciate all the support I get here. I didn’t want to miss it. I really tried to keep my schedule as flexible as I could so I could come to Shanghai. I’m very relieved and happy now that I’m here.
Now that I’m here, I want to play well and go deep into the tournament. The focus is clearly on the first round, making sure I find my way into the tournament first.
Q. Just about the players’ meeting yesterday. What was the mode of the meeting? Was it triumphant militant, after the announcement of the prize money increase in Australia?
ROGER FEDERER: I think it’s nice to see, you know, the Grand Slams talking to us, feel sort of partners out there. I think that’s a very important feeling from all the players, that you feel the Grand Slams do care about the product of the men’s game, or tennis in general, about what we also bring to the table. I think that’s important that they recognize that. We feel, by sitting across from them, there is that.
So from there on we can move forward, either good or bad. But at least we are talking and we’re having conversations.
Now, I think the next nine months or so will be very interesting just to see what’s going to happen. I think the communication has been very good within the players, which is important at that stage because there’s a lot of information coming from the slams, from our opinions, from the council, from the board, so forth.
So it’s been an interesting process, to say the least. But, yeah, I’m happy how yesterday went in terms of the communication with the players. Then we’ll see what the slams are willing to do.
Nothing is clear from this end. It was good to see the Australian Open making their move, showing that they truly care about us, the players. Now we’ll see where it takes us from here.
Q. They’ve set the bar pretty high. Presumably that gives you quite a bit of leverage with the other slams.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, not sure. We’ll see. Yeah, the question is, Are we that extremely happy with the Australian Open? It was nice to see they have made a move. Is it significant enough? I’m not sure. We’ll see how things play out in the next nine months.
Q. I heard somewhere that you mentioned you still have four to five years left in you.
ROGER FEDERER: I understood ‘45′ (laughter).
Q. We wish.
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t think people want to see me for 45 more years (smiling).
I’d love to play for a long time. That’s what I mentioned. I need to look ahead if I want to stay in the game for a long time. I need to manage my schedule extremely well.
It’s interesting times in my life right now, managing everything that’s happening. So far I think I’ve done so well. I’m sitting here at world No.1. It’s amazing after all that’s happened to me in the last three years, in the last 15 years since I made my first ATP points. It’s been a great journey and I hope I can continue it for hopefully many more years.
Tennis Panorama News will begin on-site tournament coverage on Wednesday. Follow live coverage on twitter @tennisnewstpn.