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Friday, July 3, 2009

Federer puts respect before records

Photo Titled Relaxed Roger
roger Federer looks calm and collected during his semi-finals match against Tommy Haas.

Roger Federer is a man in a hurry, as one would expect for someone with so many records to keep up with. He is in his seventh consecutive Wimbledon final, chasing a 15th Grand Slam win in his 20th final – all records.

He took just over two hours to dispatch Tommy Haas in straight sets, and then appeared at his regulation press conference within half an hour of coming off court. He then took 10 minutes for English questions, five for Swiss German and five for French, during which time he ticked all the boxes and kept almost everyone happy.

First came respect for his opponent. “You always play better if your opponent's playing good too. I thought Tommy was on a great run – I couldn't even get close to breaking him for almost two sets,” said the magnanimous number two seed. “I was really happy the way I played today. I came up with some good stuff when I had to, but it was a tough match, because Tommy was playing well.”

As the talk inevitably turned back to the possibility of beating Pete Sampras’s 14 Grand Slam singles titles, the Swiss maestro even found time to give a nod of the head to the ATP, the governing body of men’s tennis. “I think it would be wrong just to look at Grand Slam play – that's unfair to the other tournaments. It's unfair to the Masters Cup, which is an amazing tournament. I've also been able to win that one four times, but for some reason, people don't really talk about it that much, which is a pity. In any case, I prefer to talk about rackets, not records,” Federer summarised succinctly.

Next in line for praise was the Wimbledon Championships. “Starting on Centre Court on the Monday, finishing out there on the Sunday – it’s mythical. It’s a real pleasure and it’s an incredible feeling for the players,” he said. “The public was also great today. They supported both players and applauded good tennis on the good points.”

When it was pointed out that at his next Grand Slam – the US Open in late August – he will be a father, he rounded proceedings off with a charming “hopefully you can ask me how I feel about that on the second Saturday evening in New York”.

And then with a smile and a “ciao!” he was gone, his day’s work done in a shade under three hours, with all the efficiency of a Swiss timepiece.

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