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ROGER FEDERER

Roger Federer: 'I thought I might win just one ATP title'

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by Gatto Luigi

Roger Federer advanced into his 142nd career-final, where on Sunday he will face Alexander Zverev. Roger wasn't so sure about playing in Montreal only ten days ago. 'I'm happy', the Swiss player said after beating Robin Haase.

'You don't always have to play your very best to come through. Of course, I'm very happy that I've made it here. It was a good decision for me. If I would have known I would have gone to the finals, I would have said 'yes' right away.

Sometimes you've just got to wait and see how you feel. I'm happy, most happy that I'm actually really healthy going into the finals. I haven't wasted too much energy. I've been able to keep points short. I've been really clean at net.

I think my concentration and just my playing has gone up a notch. I'm just playing better. So I'm very excited for the finals tomorrow.' He will bid to win his 94th career final which would allow him to equal Ivan Lendl and be only behind Jimmy Connors who holds the all time record, 109 titles.

Federer himself is surprised about it: 'I have reached levels that I never thought I would be able to reach, winning so many titles. Each title you can add is like a thrill. I am playing tennis to try to win titles. I always said that the ranking, if you're not No.

1 in the world, doesn't count really. It's secondary. Now I'm lucky because both are in sight. Lendl is a legend of tennis. He reached incredible records. He was extremely consistent. He won many titles. It's fantastic and cool that I'm able to reach his level.

For me, I thought I might be able to maybe on the tour win one title. When you're 14, you're a junior, you just don't come and say, I will never lose a match any more, and the others can try and beat me.

It's not like that. Everything is very fragile. You don't know if you're going to be able to make it into the top 100, in the top 10, or whether you can win a title. Of course, now you are looking at it in hindsight.

In the beginning, you have a lot of uncertainties. Should I, for example, keep studying? Or should I become a tennis player? It starts there. This is not the moment when you are going to say, Am I going to win 94 titles? If you say that to something, in Switzerland anyway, they will say, That guy is a bit lost.' About Ivan Ljubicic's role, Federer said: 'I knew Ivan for, I mean, since I came on tour.

I remember him at the Sunshine Cup back in West Palm Beach like back in '96. I go way back with Ivan, over 20 years. Seen him on tour, played him on tour. He coached against me. Now he's helping me. It was a rocky start for both of us, you know.

Came to the team, had a couple of tournaments, then I was injured, surgery, rehab. Tried to come back in Miami, was sick. Went on the clay, but was never really healthy. All of '16 had to be forgotten. We were just playing with what we could do in the moment.

We couldn't really even talk tactics that much because my knee was such a joke. Then anyway, he was a great supporter, you know, throughout the year in the decision making with the rest of the team. He was always there for me.

He was always willing to travel to come see me if need to be. I think this year has been exciting for Severin, Ivan and myself just to talk, How do we want to play this guy? How do we want to play tomorrow? It's so exciting just to be able to speak tennis again instead of: Are you okay? Can you come to the net? Are you still not feeling that your knee allows you to? It's been great so far.

Obviously now with confidence, things are quite easy and simple, it seems like. But he's staying focused. So am I. We're hoping to be more successful moving forward.' About playing against younger guys than him, Federer said: 'It's really cool and nice to play them.

It's also one of the reasons why I keep playing on the tour: to be able to play against different generations. What I appreciated a lot is at the end of Agassi's or other players' career ends, I was happy they stayed on tour for so long so I had the opportunity to play them.

I played against Andre 15 or 13 times. I was happy he didn't retire until 27, because otherwise I wouldn't have been able to play him. Also staying on the tour, I can do that for the others. But for me it's nice also to play them.

I'm looking forward to the match. It's going to be an opportunity to play against the future of tennis. But I have to stay focused on the final, then whoever I play doesn't matter. You think about the title. But it's really nice to have someone 20 or younger in a Masters 1000 final.

Before it was always players 25 or older. So it changes. It's nice.' Many athletes, when they reach 35, believe that their careers are behind them, and they sort of discover the pleasure of being on the tour, they enjoy it more.

Is that the case for you? 'I believe my life changed in 2009 when I had my girls. After that, with the ranking, you are checking the scores, the points you have to defend every week, every day. But after you start calming down a little.

I can't say you only play for pleasure because you need to have that ambition to win. But it's easier. I know every place where I have to go and play. I have made friends everywhere. I have friends in New York, in Shanghai, everywhere.

I'm always very happy to go back to a tournament so I can see my friends year after year. Sometimes I haven't seen my friends for a whole year. Now, for example, I'm not playing Rome. I have friends there. I'm sad for the tournament, me, the fans, but for my friends.

I might not see them for another year. You start appreciating all these things when you get older.' .

RANK #3
Roger
FEDERER
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