“At the end of the day, I guess I’m very happy”

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After a great start, Roger Federer still conceded a defeat in straight sets againt Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open 2020 semi-final (7-6, 6-4, 6-3). Despite being hurt and 38 years old, the Swissman is still confident in his ability to be back on the court soon and to win another Grand Slam in the future.

Q. You took a medical timeout after the first set. What was the problem you had? Was there any doubt that you’d make the match?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I thought I was going to make it, to be honest. I went for a scan that same night, was all right. After that, well, we didn’t push it. I didn’t practice. I took a day off the next day. Today I just really rested until as late as possible. But I didn’t have any pain in the daily stuff. That was a positive sign. The way I also felt in the fifth set was in some ways encouraging compared to the second and third what I had in the match with (Tennys) Sandgren. So I felt like I was always going to make it. The timeout is just one of the things that needed to be done, I thought, to prevent any further problems. Once in the match, I felt like I was probably going to be able to finish, which was a good thing.

Q. There’s been quite a bit of talk about Djokovic’s serve improving in recent weeks. Now that you’ve experienced it firsthand, do you go along with that? Do you think he’s possibly getting even better?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know. I’ve played Novak on some days obviously also when he’s very tough. I don’t know if he was… I’m not here to talk, to be honest. But, yeah, I heard that he was hitting big on the second serve this tournament. But then again, you know, that just takes guts to do that. His first-serve speed, it’s hard for me. Tough measuring stick, to be honest. But yes, I mean, he has definitely had a bit of ups and downs throughout his career with his serve. Right now, it looks very good. He did have the problems with double-faults at some point. He did have the elbow issue. When he did come back, he didn’t hit his spots very well. Now he’s got them all back. Looks very solid. Credit to him to get that done.

Q. What were you doing well in the early part of the match? How do you think he was able to turn it around?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I was playing with nothing to lose obviously. I was just trying to take big cuts at the ball, trying to keep the rallies to a minimal, make sure I keep him off guard, mix it up as much as I can. I think I returned really well in the beginning. Got some really good connections going. Unfortunately I was not able to serve it out. To be honest, I feel like I should have found a way to do that, but wasn’t able to. We know how tough he is, especially when you give him too many second serves. Obviously was better on the day today, there’s no question.

Q. Novak on court said you were obviously limited in your movement tonight. Knowing the injuries yourself, how long do you think it will be before you’re 100% again?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know. My feeling is rather quickly. To be honest, I hope I’m somewhat fine for South Africa. That’s something I think I can somewhat control. But then, of course, you want to be 100% to be able to train again, then get ready for hopefully Dubai. Right now it’s only guessing. I’m very happy that I don’t feel any worse than when I started. That’s for me super encouraging. Yeah, so I think we’ll go from there and we’ll see if I need to do another scan or not.

Q. What are your overall thoughts about the tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: Look, overall, at the end of the day I guess I’m very happy. I got to be happy with what I achieved. It was the maximum to go to get at this tournament, especially after the Millman and the Sandgren match. Today was horrible, to go through what I did. Nice entrance, nice sendoff, and in between is one to forget because you know you have a 3% chance to win. You know, got to go for it. You never know. But once you can see it coming, that it’s not going to work anymore, it’s tough. No, look, at the end of the day I’m very happy. I think I overall played all right. I know I can play better. At the same time, I also know I can play much worse. With no tournaments beforehand, I think it’s a very, very good result.

Q. What is it like mentally or emotionally going into a match with a 3% chance to win against Djokovic, best-of-five? That can’t be a fun feeling to feel that little hope.
ROGER FEDERER: Been there before. I’ve had a few matches throughout my career where I’ve felt that way. It also happened the same way. Better that than zero, I tell you that. London was the worst, having to go apologize to people for not being able to walk properly in the finals there. So I’d rather have this, to be honest.

Q. What does it take in a mindset to always try? You don’t retire, you go on court. You know you’re not going to win. What is the mindset to do this? Must be frustrating in a way.
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, it’s frustrating. Like I said, I don’t think I would have gone on court if I felt like I had no chance to win. We saw I was still being able to make a match out of it. Who knows maybe how he feels as well. He’s a great, great player. We know that. He makes you hit balls. He serves well, he returns well, he moves well. He’s mentally very tough. There’s so many things that can cover a problem, if there were one. Maybe there’s nerves, too. I’m sure maybe he was feeling a little bit uncomfortable in the beginning, but he was able to find a way there. So like I said, I did believe there was something that could be done today, and also must have felt like at least it was probably not going to get worse. If it did, this would have been my first retirement today. We did talk about it with the team, how bad is it allowed to feel and all that stuff. But it never went there, so that’s good. But you’re playing careful, obviously.

Q. What are the chances of this being the last time we see you at Melbourne Park? How confident are you of challenging for the singles title next year?
ROGER FEDERER: No idea. Same as last year. You never know what the future holds. But especially my age, you don’t know. I’m confident. I’m happy how I’m feeling, to be honest. I got through a good, nice training block. No plans to retire. From that standpoint, we’ll see how the year goes, how everything is with the family. We’ll go from there. Of course, I hope to be back.

Q. Do you still have great ambition to win one more, two more, three more Grand Slams? Do you believe in yourself you can do it?
ROGER FEDERER: The question is?

Q. Do you still believe in yourself?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes.

Q. That you can win one or two more Grand Slams?
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, I do believe that. I think by having the year that I had last year, also with what I have in my game, how I’m playing, I do feel that, yeah.

Q. Is Wimbledon the tournament where you think you have most chances? Tell us something about the Match for Africa, how much you’re involved, what is new? Some journalists couldn’t get media credentials because it’s too late.
ROGER FEDERER: Are you asking me for help or… (smiling)? Let me know. Yeah, I mean, look, number one I’m very happy. Obviously this Match for Africa is finally happening. It’s been a dream of mine for many, many years. It’s unfortunate that it’s taken this long. You know how it is. Life on tour sometimes is what it is. I couldn’t be more excited now that it’s actually really happening. I hope I’m going to be really fine to play. I believe I am, but we’ll see. Also that Rafa is willing to do it is exciting, of course, to say the least. I know my parents are very happy, very proud as well. I’m sure it’s going to be very, very special for me on many levels to play there. Besides, we’re going to have so many people there, as well. We’ll really try to make it accessible for a lot of people to come. Not just make it a high-end, just to wealthy, try to print money. That was never the idea. The idea was to have a fun, fun evening for everybody. I think we’re going to be able to achieve that. The other question was?

Q. Wimbledon is the best chance?
ROGER FEDERER: Probably Basel or Halle. Less matches to play (smiling).

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