Federer: ‘I Play For These Goose Bump Moments’
“It was a tough night, but still thrilling at the same time.”
“Surely I am very disappointed,” admitted Roger Federer on the heels of his four-set loss to Novak Djokovic at the US Open on Sunday. “I had my chances on my racquet. But Novak did a great job of fending them off. It was a great battle, and I'm happy the people stayed after the rain delay and that they were right there when I needed them to the very, very end.”
“[The crowd support] kept me going, and that's definitely one of the reasons I still keep playing, because of these goose bump moments,” said Federer. “It's great. [The crowd] was unbelievable tonight. Was it better than ever? Possibly. Was it louder than ever? Maybe. It was unreal.
“It's just so nice to feel that they want you to get back in the match, and that they want you to win,” added the five-time US Open champion. “They enjoy what they're seeing. Feels like they're getting their money's worth.”
Since the abolition of the Challenge rounds at the US Championships (1912) and Wimbledon (1922), only six men have won six or more titles at the same Grand Slam tournament. Federer was aiming to become the first man to win six or more titles at two different Grand Slam events.
The boisterous New York fans may have helped Federer obtain 23 break opportunities, but they must have been disheartened to see the World No. 2 only convert on four of those chances against Djokovic in the pair’s 14th Grand Slam encounter, which sets a new record for most meetings at the majors.
“I had too many break chances,” said Federer. “Of course some of them I could have done better, should have done better. Djokovic didn't give me much, that's for sure, but still I should have done better.”
With the loss, Federer fell to 21-21 against Djokovic in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry. He will go another calendar year since winning Wimbledon in 2012 without a Grand Slam title, but the 34 year old was happy about making the US Open final for the first time since 2009 (l. to Del Potro) and putting together a solid showing against the top-ranked player in the world. A victory would have made Federer the first player in the Open Era to win six US Open titles and the oldest US Open champion since 35-year-old Ken Rosewall in 1970.
“I think in best-of-five-set matches, ones that exceed two-and-a-half, three-and-a-half hours, you go through some ups and downs naturally,” observed Federer. “You can't play two perfect points every single time. Naturally you're going to have to battle.
“That's when you learn a lot about your game, about your attitude, about your fitness. This is, I think, the longest match I have played all season. It was very interesting to see how I coped with it. I'm very happy I had no problems, and I'm happy I'm putting in the hard work aside from the matches, because the matches I have played this year have been really quick. I won't see another best-of-five match in some time except for next weekend,” said Federer, who is slated to play in the Swiss Davis Cup World Group playoff tie against the Netherlands, which starts Friday. “I'm happy that I'm able to stay at a great level of play for a long period of time, because I'm match tough and I have worked very hard in the off-season.”
Looking at the rest of the season, Federer will have two titles to defend (Shanghai and Basel), and will attempt to win a seventh Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
“I am playing a good year,” said Federer, who defeated Andy Murray and Djokovic back-to-back en route to the Cincinnati title before the US Open. “I am happy with where my level is at. I'm able to beat the best players regularly. Cincinnati obviously was a great feeling beating the World No. 1 and World No. 2 in the same week. I don't think I have done that before. The year is not over yet. I usually do have strong finishes to the season, and I hope I can do that again.”