Roger Federer: 'I should have lost. It was my toughest match in 2018'

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Roger Federer: 'I should have lost. It was my toughest match in 2018'

Roger Federer defeated Borna Coric in three sets 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, to reach his eight final in Indian Wells. The Swiss was trailing by a set and a break before he turned things around. What was going on in his mind? 'I think when you are confident and maybe also experienced and you have that combination, there's no real need to panic because you can assess the situation quite easily.

You're understanding that the opponent is playing better. It's breezy. It's hard to play offense. And when I was playing offense he was defending well. In the neutral alley balls, maybe I was missing a bit too many times.

And it was a close match even in the second set, if you look back at how many close calls we had in the important moments. Things could have shifted either way for both of us a little bit more. You need to have a very positive mindset.' Further continuing, he said, 'Yeah, probably.

I should have lost the match. I was down twice a break in the third, I was down a break in the second. This was definitely the toughest match. I always felt like I was down in the score, and so to come back this way was a good one.' Speaking about his slow start, Federer stated, 'I think, [I was] trying to understand Borna's play because he absorbs a lot of power very easily.

He's a great retriever. I felt like maybe in the beginning it wasn't happening naturally, but I thought he was protecting his serve very well. I was just hoping that through tougher rallies and staying in the match for longer, you know, I would start to feel better in defense, particularly because in the beginning it wasn't quite there.

But I think it had something to do with him rather than me. I'm physically totally fine. So, yeah, I'm happy I'm feeling this way, actually.' Regarding the lessons learnt through these tough matches, Federer said, 'Very important.

I mean, even if you lose those, still, the fighting matches are the ones that can bring you -- sometimes you turn a victory or at least give you a shot like today. Okay, it's the semis, but sometimes it happens earlier in the tournament.

It's not supposed to be all easy where you win in straight, you win again in straight, like at Wimbledon last there. Even there, I saved set points. I had to hit a lot of good shots in very important moments to not make it go four sets or, who knows happens then if you dropped a set.

I enjoy these fighting matches because very often I can't talk enough about my quality of my grit and my fighting spirit. But when it happens, I actually enjoy the battle, because it's what it's supposed to be.' Speaking about Coric's maturity, Federer said, 'I think for him it's just going to be very important to be very strong mentally, because he's going to go through phases where it's maybe going to be raining winners on him because he gives you a chance to hit it, and then he's just got to stay the course and work extremely hard.

I think last couple of years he's been trying to recalibrate his game a little bit. He wanted to play a bit more up in the court and start playing more aggressive, but then the problem is what is aggressive enough? You don't want to give too many balls away.

You don't want to just hand over too many games just by missing shots. I think that's going to be the key for him moving forward. He's good on clay, good on hard courts, so I think he's got hopefully a very good year ahead of himself.' Reflecting on his rivalry with Juan Martin del Potro – the Argentine is Federer's opponent in the final – Roger said: 'We have had a lot of close matches.

I just tried to think back at the French Open semis, US Open finals, Olympic semis, Basel finals, a bunch of those guys, and few World Tour Finals matches, Shanghai. Just three-setters, five-setters the whole way. I think we have an interesting matchup.

We both know what the other is trying to do, and we try to stop the other person from doing it. But it's hard when me or him is in full flight. It's basically an arm wrestle the whole time, and I think we enjoy that.' ALSO READ: Roger Federer is much more vulnerable in defense, says Jeremy Chardy .