The morning after
Federer reflects on Open triumph, eyes his next act
Posted: Monday September 10, 2007 4:12PM; Updated: Tuesday September 11, 2007 10:27AM
NEW YORK -- While their global campaign for Gillette may revolve around beauty, the relationship between Roger Federer, Thierry Henry and Tiger Woods clearly isn't skin deep. Among the 40 text messages Federer received following his fourth consecutive U.S. Open victory were from sports supernova pals Henry and Woods.
"He was just really happy for me," Federer said of Tiger. "I said to him, 'Well done as well.' He shot a great 63 so I was really happy for him. Winning for both of us on the same weekend is kind of special"
Looking relaxed in black jeans and a fitted shirt despite working on 2½ hours sleep ("A long, short, night but a lot of fun," he said, smiling about his midnight dinner with 30 friends and family), Federer met with a handful of writers at an upscale Times Square restaurant some 16 hours after his 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 win over Novak Djokovic.
"I had many friends here from Switzerland," Federer said. "They really take a chance coming into [New York] on Thursday."
Not much of a chance. Federer's win over Djokovic was his 12th Grand Slam title, tying him for No. 2 all time with Roy Emerson. He has appeared in 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals and became the first man in tennis history to reach all four major finals in a calendar year for two years running.
Which means the list of dragons left to slay for the 26-year-old Federer is fairly short: He needs three majors to pass Pete Sampras, who holds the sport's mark with 14 majors. And, of course, there is the French Open, the lone hole in what is fast becoming the most glittering resume in the history of men's tennis.
"I hope I can get both, but the French Open at this point is a major goal for me," said Federer said. "I'm not going to sacrifice everything for it. I'm just going to prepare as well as I can."
Federer addressed a number of topics on Monday as he looked toward the future. He'll travel later this week to the Czech Republic to play in a Davis Cup tie on Sept. 21-23 on an indoor hard-court surface in Prague.
On the hype as he gets closer to Sampras' Grand Slam singles record: It's exciting. I used to not like it so much. I would hear things like, "He is the one who can break it," or, "He's so talented." I'm like, man, I'm so far away. That wears on you. But to have caught up so quickly to Pete is a big bonus for me. Now it's fun for me to try to get there and hopefully I'll get to 15. It's a big challenge. The focus is becoming more and more the Grand Slams, even though I don't like to say that. For me, every tournament counts. You can see that in the way I approach every tournament I play. But it's coming down to the majors more and more.
On the 2007 U.S. Open being a tougher tournament than most others: I was nervous at the start of the tournament. Even though I was playing well, there was big hype around me. A lot of banners, like Gillette, Rolex and Nike. I felt like there was much more exposure. It was kind of a different U.S. Open for me. I had to come back many times. I had some dangerous opponents with big serves: [Feliciano] Lopez, [John] Isner and especially Andy [Roddick]. Then there was [Nikolay] Davydenko and Djokovic, who is really rising quickly.
On coaching (Federer is the rare Top 10 player who does have not a full-time coach): I don't know what to expect, to be honest. Maybe I'll do something at the Aussie Open. I really don't know. At the moment I have nothing in mind. Simple as that. I'm happy that I came back strong after the split with Tony [Roche]. It was a hard decision for me to make. It was right before the French and I didn't feel good about it the first day or so, knowing that the press was waiting to see what I have to say.
On winning the French Open: I've been in the semis and two finals back-to-back. I thought I was fit and ready for the long rallies and the best clay-court players in the world but unfortunately, Rafa [Nadal] is just different animal on clay than he is on different surfaces. He has been the best for the last three years, without a doubt. For me it was important to finally get him on clay and beat him in Hamburg. I hope I can draw that for next year.
On whether he wants to play at the Beijing Olympics: Absolutely. One of the most enjoyable experiences of my life was the Olympic Games. When I played in Sydney, it was an incredible feeling. All the volunteers, it was such a happy couple of weeks for me in my life. Adding to that, I met my girlfriend there. But I finished fourth, which was a heartbreaker. I was in the semis and played Tommy Haas and lost. I was so disappointed and had to come back the next day and I had a break in the third but lost the bronze medal to [France's] Arnaud Di Pasquale. That was disappointing.
Four years later I was carrying the flag for Switzerland in Athens, walking into the biggest stadium I had ever been in. The Olympic Games holds a special place in my heart and one of the reasons why I announced I will play to the 2012 Olympics in London. They will be held at Wimbledon, which is an incredible combination. The '08 season for me is the Olympic year and hopefully I can do better than I did in Athens.