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Australian Open Day 3: Federer Interview

By Ash Dwight @ITakeTheeTennis
Roger Federer defeats Gilles Simon in a close five setter
Q. You warned us two days ago it was going to be close and it was going to be tough. Did you really expect it was going to be that tough? 
 
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, four or five sets, what's the difference really? But, look, at the end of the day I'm happy I'm through. That's what it comes down to. Doesn't matter if you win in straight or in five. Just keep on moving on in the draw and give yourself an opportunity for the next match, maybe an opponent that suits you more, maybe conditions that are maybe a bit more faster than tonight, let's say. Get the night sessions, sort of the first one, out of the way, and stay alive and feel good.
That's what's it's all about. I thought the match was great. I thought it was played at a high level for a very long time. Obviously it's always hard like also last night with Hewitt and Nalbandian to see someone lose when there's such a great match happening out there. But at the end of the day, I thought I played great and I'm very happy.
Q. Was that as hard as the Alejandro Falla match at Wimbledon in the first round? 
 
ROGER FEDERER: If it was as hard?
Q. Yeah. 
 
ROGER FEDERER: Look, it was different. Look, I was always at the water here against Falla the whole match basically until I was up a break in the fifth. I mean, I was under enormous pressure for a very long time; whereas today it was completely the opposite.
While I was losing the third and the fourth, I still was in the lead somehow. That's why I was I guess a bit more confident tonight, even though I knew it was going to be a much more difficult fifth set against Simon than it was going to be against Falla for some reason.
Because I was getting stronger and stronger as the match wore on in Wimbledon, and tonight I started so well in the first two sets. It was always going to be hard to keep it up against such a good player like Gilles. I found a way in the fifth, and I'm happy I made it.
Q. He's not the average second round opponent, is he? He's sort of a lot better quality. Do you think that kind of match sets you up well for the rest of the tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: I would think so, yeah. There's definitely positives to take out of this match. I didn't play bad. I didn't think I played bad in the third and the fourth sets. Really a lot positives coming out of this match.
Physically I'm fine, and I'm really looking forward to my next round opponent, who I've known since a very, very long time. Sure, a match like this can give you a lot of information, and should be very positive in the long run. We'll see how it goes.
Q. Do you think your previous record against him affected you? 
 
ROGER FEDERER: Not too much, to be honest. Look, I came out and played great. Didn't really affect me. But he hasn't been nothing what was he, No. 6 in the world for nothing? He's beaten me twice, Rafa before, other players before at the very top. He's got something special in his game that really can be very tricky for us. I think obviously he raises his game against the best players.
The better the ball he gets the better he plays, really. But I was able to outplay him early on. And I think through really cold weather almost towards the end, it was harder and harder to really put balls away, and that got him on so many more balls that in the beginning he couldn't get on.
I think that's just what made it so hard for me to readjust tactically against him. But, look, he played great and fought so hard. It was a very intense match. Maybe it wasn't the longest one. We didn't take much time between points so, and I think that's why it was so short but exciting match to play.
Q. The fact that it's been a long time since you've fallen in the early rounds of a Grand Slam event, does that help you in a match like this?
ROGER FEDERER: Look, I mean, for me losing last 16, second round, first round, it's the same thing basically, because there are so many other guys that are ranked around me that are going to make to the semis or finals.
It's an early loss in a slam, which then obviously hurts. They do happen. What to do when the guy plays well? You have to just acknowledge it and move on. I'm happy I survived a scare like today. It's not the first time. I've had Berdych here before; I've had Tipsarevic before; Falla in Wimbledon.
So it does happen, and you just try to stay calm even though I'm not playing for much. He's playing for the huge upset, and I'm just trying to get through. So it's not easy.
But, look, I handled it well tonight, and I'm very happy that things turned out so nicely at the end.
Q. You see Simon returning to the top 10 based on tonight's performance?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, look, I mean, I hope for him. I think he's an exciting player to watch. He brings something different to the match every time he plays. He can play soft, he can play hard, he can counter punch really well. He's one of the quickest guys out there and he returns really, really well. I think he's just a different kind of a player.
Look, he's had some issues with his knee, so I hope that holds up. I think obviously if he plays at the very high level for a long time, I definitely think it's possible.
Q. You say the two defeats only don't mean that it's a boogeyman for you, your wild beast our whatever you call it. Still, he's one of the three guys that causes you more problems, would you say, or maybe not? 
 
ROGER FEDERER: Well, the thing against Gilles, victory is in my racquet because I'm the aggressor. He let's me play and he likes to defend, so I like that kind of a match up where I control if I'm going to win or lose.
Today I was able to completely outplay him for two sets. After that, we had a tricky third set, and next thing you know he's completely in the match. And then it gets hard. So is he one of those guys? I don't know. We have to play more often.
But I was very happy the way I was able to forget those two matches I played against him and just play a good match. I'm very pleased with my performance tonight.
Q. Did you change the way that you played in the third and fourth set, because early on you seemed to keep him off balance with short slices and dropshots and moving him all around the court. In the third and fourth set, he seemed to have a bit more time and then you put that away and brought it back again late in the match. 
 
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, like I said, I think conditions helped him. As the match wore on, it was really cooler. The shots that in the first two sets were causing a lot of damage were just not causing the same damage, so he was getting on more shots.
The next thing you know, it's like it changed the whole dynamics. I had to take more chances to come in, I had to take more chances on the serve, more chances with my backhand, with my forehand, and this is when I started to overplay a little bit. But that was due also that he was really getting into the match sort of midway through the second set, and it was important to get the two sets to love lead.
So I think it was more due to the conditions changing. I knew that he was going to find a way to get into the match regardless of the conditions, but it just got that much harder as it was getting cooler.
And in the fifth set, I mean, you threw the tactics out of the door, because all you want to do is just fight and find a way and hope that maybe he misses a few, or that you find an extra gear, which I was able to find.
It was an extremely exciting end towards the end when I had 5 2, Love 40, I think, and then he held and I had a really good game to finish. It was really a lot of fun.
Q. What was going through your head when he saved those three match points? I think they were all on second serves as well. 
 
ROGER FEDERER: I was like, This can't be true, right? I've had some tough losses last year. Obviously they're in the past and I've had a wonderful last six months. But sometimes it just doesn't seem to go your way. As much as you believe and press and do the right things, sometimes you get unlucky and sometimes the other guy just reads your mind or it just all falls into place and it's not your day.
I didn't feel that feeling out there, but I definitely felt something was not going my way. I really had to play an extremely good game to close it out. Obviously I was quite relieved.

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