With the U.S. Open set to begin at the end of August at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, we had a chance to chat with current world number one-ranked Roger Federer of Switzerland as he preps for another Grand Slam title in 2012, after winning Wimbledon. He is fresh off his Silver Medal finish at the 2012 London Games, representing his homeland of Switzerland in men's singles action, but falling to eventual Gold Medal winner Andy Murray in the men's singles finals, 2-6, 1-6, 4-6. Federer got past Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro in a four-hour, 26 minute semifinal before losing to Murray in the Gold Medal match. Federer was bidding to win his first ever singles Gold Medal.
With a longer-than-normal grass court season in 2012, such a short turnaround to prepare for the U.S. Open in New York, do you think it's tougher to make the switch from grass courts to hard courts this season? What are the precautionary measures you might implement to ensure you can stay healthy now?
Roger Federer: Well, there's no doubt about it, this is not an ideal preparation. I mean, it's amazing, for instance, what Novak [Djokovic] was able to do. It's not impossible, but it's just very hard on the body and mind to travel halfway around the world, go on a different surface, win, then back it up week and week again. Obviously, the U.S. Open is coming up. That hasn't even started yet.
It's been tough. In the past, you would take maybe a few weeks off for a top player, then prepare for three brutal weeks on hard courts, then come over here wanting to fire out of all cylinders. This year, it's different. Obviously we
stayed on grass. Now all I have is four days on hard courts before I play my first round here in New York probably against a top 30 player or top 40 player. It makes it obviously very difficult and a big focus for me to get through my first-round match over here.
Obviously, physically I feel fine. The body did hurt maybe the first couple of days just because the movement is a bit different. But I think everybody has a bit of issues like that in the beginning. So it's just important to be professional, sleep enough, eat healthy, do all your treatment the right way, all that stuff, so you will manage the
next like over six months on hard courts now. That's the most brutal surface out there. It's a big stretch coming up for all of us really.
You just said that physically you feel fine. How do you feel mentally and emotionally going into this year's U.S. Open as opposed to last year? Can you look back a little bit on last year's Open?
Federer: I'm very excited, very happy. Back to world number one. I've had a magical summer for me. Really ever since the French Open, it's been a good year all around anyways, but winning Wimbledon and getting back to world number one, there's been so many things happening for me, it's been a wonderful last few weeks.
I feel like I'm feeling better than last year because I was a bit shaken up against the loss by Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, and even through Montréal, it was a tough situation. Cincy I didn't play all that great, lost to Tomas Berdych. I came into the U.S. Open not quite sure of how I was playing. I was actually playing really, really well. I had that brutal match with Novak, up two sets to love. I feel like this year mentally I'm more at peace. Then again, that doesn't give you any ... how do you say ... idea yet of how you're going to do at the U.S. Open and Cincinnati. We all have to wait and see how that goes.
I'm wondering if you have had the time or taken the time to analyze what happened at the Gold Medal match. It was so lopsided, so out of the character, not what we're used to seeing.
Federer: Honestly, it took me five minutes to analyze really. I didn't need to kind of sit down and go in a dark room and cry over it and kind of understand what happened. I think I understood rather quickly what happened. I thought Andy played a good match. The beginning of the match was very close. I had some chances there. Had some chances in the second set. I think I missed nine breakpoints, I didn't make one. That obviously doesn't work in a big match like this against a great player like Andy. Once he was in the lead, obviously he did really well to keep the lead. Yeah, I think that was it for me. Maybe I was emotionally drained a touch. Maybe I was a bit tired from the Del Potro match. I thought Andy did really well to put the pressure on me. It was out of character for me to lose nine games a row in the finals. That's obviously something that can happen, but I guess I got myself to blame, and Andy's great level of play. For me, I moved on really quickly. I was happy for him and disappointed for me. I was still very happy to get the Silver and the medal for Switzerland.
Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open and Rafa Nadal the French Open, you Wimbledon, Andy Murray the Gold Medal. Would you consider this year's U.S. Open to be sort of a tie-breaker to the tournament of who has had the best year?
Federer: Obviously it gives you a direction, yes. But you have the ATP World Tour Finals at the end of the year and there's still a lot of tournaments to play for like Shanghai and Paris, so forth. It's not just only I think the U.S. Open, otherwise the winner wouldn't play the remainder of the year. I think that's not going to happen.
It is interesting, obviously, that three different guys have won three different majors this year, plus Andy the Gold. It definitely sets a great tone for the U.S. Open, there's no doubt about that.