Roger Federer: 'My goal was to be top 8 by after Wimbledon'
Tennis - The World No. 6 speaks about his unexpected first month of the 2017 season
Tennis is a very strange sport sometimes, when anything can happen. It can happen also that Roger Federer, after a six-month break, at 35 years and 7 months wins Australian Open and Indian Wells in the same year for the first time since 2006. Winning the first Grand Slam and Masters 1000 title of the year wasn't his plan, and being World No. 6 in March was only an unreal dream. 'In November, you know, December, when I realized things were going well, and we had a meeting about what are the goals for the season in terms of rankings, it's really super secondary, but I wanted to set -- or we wanted to set some goals for the season, and the goal was to be top 8 by after Wimbledon', Federer revealed in press conference after the final won to Stan Wawrinka. 'Because if I would have lost early in Australia, I would have dropped to 35 in the world. It's great, but you definitely have to reassess your goals maybe now and see, Where do you go from here? Because this was not part of the plan, to win Australia and Indian Wells, I can tell you that. So I think now it's really important for me to rest up maximum. I hope I can play as late as possible going to Miami. Then really, like I said before, I will make the plan for the remainder of the season after -- especially for the clay after Miami, and then see also what the goals are, because the goals are clearly changing after this dream start.'
Federer added: 'I'm not as surprised as I was in Australia, but still this comes as a big, big surprise to me, nevertheless, to win here again and beating the players that I did and the way I did. I mean, couldn't be more happy. It's an absolute, huge start to the year for me. Yeah, last year didn't win any titles. I don't think I was in any finals except maybe Brisbane last year. The change is dramatic, and it feels great.'
One of the reasons why he is here more competitive than ever is Ivan Ljubicic. What the 2010 Indian Wells champion told him before the match? 'He was just reminding me of what I have done well and not so well for the tournament, and what I did well against Stan and not so well maybe in Melbourne. So that was basically it. Fairly simple. I didn't have to change my game around that much from previous matches, which I think helped me going into the finals. Because sometimes you have to really, you know, adjust a lot, depending on who you play. Then, of course, I also did speak to Severin -- because he knows Stan extremely well -- before the match just to hear if anything he had to add. He always has some good points that I tend to forget or, you know. So, yeah, I think all of that, what they told me, actually worked out very well today.'
Federer who was the returning from the early loss in Dubai to Evgeny Donskoy. 'When I sat in the locker room after the Donskoy match, Severin told me, Maybe this is the best thing that happen to you looking forward to Indian Wells and Miami, because you really need some time away, some more time off. Because I just wasn't 100% prepared, unfortunately, because of the injury I was carrying after Melbourne. I was still tired. And then I got here, and I felt right away good about how I played in that first round. Excitement, the energy, everything was clicking.'
Can he be able to complete 'Sunshine Double'? 'I know how hard it is to win back-to-back Indian Wells and Miami titles. That's why again I sort of go to Miami knowing, like, it's going to be really difficult. I don't know the draw yet. As we know in Masters 1000s, draws are brutal early on already. There is no warming up and playing qualifiers ranked 250, sometimes, which even they are not easy to beat sometimes on any given day. And especially best of three sets, margins are small. And then Miami is going to be different. It's going to be humid, it's going to be windy, day sessions, night sessions, all that stuff. So I will just try to stay healthy this time around, not sick like last year in Miami. But definitely I think rest right now is the absolute top priority for the next four, five days.'
Playing less to perform well. That's the goal for the season. And so the expectations change too: 'When you play less events, the events become more important overall. When you play more, you can go into them, just say, Let's see what happens. I think a lot of players play more events because they can play with less pressure. So I clearly play with more pressure because I play fewer events. I think the balance between playing and not playing is really important for me, because at the events I need to be somewhat serious about the tournament', said Federer, who spoke about how finding the right balance between the tennis and family: 'We flew around the globe, it's a 12-hour jet lag, with the kids, and we try to get over that as quick as possible. Yet I try to be a good dad and good husband and try to figure all that part out as much as I can so that days don't finish for me too late. Unfortunately I have to do massage during the day which I don't enjoy doing because that takes away time spending with the kids and you have to manage that, as well. Everybody knows what I'm going through, even the girls know, understand, you know, that I have to sleep well at night. I can't be woken up every morning, which that's almost the case. No, it's great fun. And that's why scheduling is not just what my goals are as a tennis player, but also so I can align it with Mirka and my kids that I know I'm not asking too much from them, as well.'
In the ceremony Wawrinka cried. Here is what Roger said about it: 'Sports is emotional. So when you win or when you lose, sometimes it's stronger than you. I like to see it. I think fans like to see it, too, seeing that players actually care a lot about winning and losing. At the same time, I think Stan can be very proud of his efforts here and the start to the year. And the tournament he played here was great for him. He's always struggled in the past in the desert.'
Was he really laughing when Stan was crying at the presentation? 'Well, I was trying to actually cheer him up. He knows that. I was trying, when he looked at me, not to give him the sad face. I was looking at him, going, You'll be fine, and gave him a laugh, say, maybe gets his mind off it. I guess I achieved that (smiling).'
Is that the first time ever in his life he have has been called an asshole? 'Joking? No, many, many times before. That's why I take that as a compliment, you know, (smiling). There's not always cameras around, so I get called that sometimes. Quite often, actually. On the court is the first time, but it felt good.'