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The Federer Interview: On the French Open, footwork, and family
After his second-round win over Marin Cilic, Roger stopped by for an extended and revealing conversation.
Published Jun 03, 2021
WATCH: Roger Federer's full interview (9:13) with Tennis Channel's Jim Courier and Steve Weissman on June 3 at Roland Garros.
"Happy New Year!" was Jim Courier's greeting to Roger Federer on June 3, shortly after the 39-year-old's four-set victory over former US Open champion Marin Cilic at Roland Garros. Federer had played just his fifth match in 2021, and it was the first time the two-time French Open champion and the 20-time Grand Slam champion had crossed paths...since 2020, owing to the pandemic.
With the pleasantries out of the way—including Roger's response, "How was Christmas?"—Courier, Federer and Steve Weissman got down to the reason for their rendezvous. The ensuing discussion, about a variety of on-and off-court topics, touched on the Swiss' self-assessment in Paris (he downplayed his chances before competing; has that now changed?), an online video he particularly enjoyed (no, it's not the one where he smacks Gael Monfils in the nether regions with a tennis ball) and, most interesting of all, how he and his family are navigating his tour return amid a still-restricting time.
For the entire interview, please watch the video above.
On his level of play so far at the French Open:
“I’m very happy. I think the first round was on the easier side. I didn’t think [Denis] Istomin had enough to worry me there, and with my experience and ability to hit drop shots, angles and stuff like that, I was able to understand what I needed to do.
“Today was different. Marin we know has the big game. You just don’t know, how long is he able to maintain that? How long am I able to maintain my level? So I think it was really interesting, especially the second and third set. I feel like it gave me a lot of information. It was very good from that end. I feel like I surprised myself a little bit. I didn’t expect myself to play that well, or to have the energy left at the end like this and being able to keep on serving so consistently at the end was great. Especially a breaker third set is a big moment. I haven’t been in those in forever, so it was nice to be in those moments again. I have to be in those moments.”
On his footwork, seen up close the below tweet:
"You talk about movement, but not in detail like this. That's why I thought it would be nice to retweet. I even mentioned it to my kids. When I tell them in tennis about footwork, I tell them, 'Look at how much I move my feet for one shot, or one point!' I think it's also interested for junior kids to see what goes into it.
"Even though it looks all relaxed at the top, there's a lot of work at the bottom."
On juggling fatherhood—four kids!—with the tour amid COVID-19 conditions:
“I’m always with my family, as you know. My four kids and Mirka have always traveled with me all around the world. For me, it’s not a problem to come to Paris and do it for two weeks. Just be hotel, club. You can go for an hour walk, but I’m not really taking advantage of it anyways.
“But having the four kids in the bubbles is not gonna work out for me. We have this situation here. We’re gonna have it again in Wimbledon. And then maybe also at the Olympics. When you bundle that all together, I don’t even want to think about it. My first thought is with Mirka, OK, we’ll get through Wimbledon. We’ll see how that feels, and see how that goes. And we’ll go from there, really. That was our initial goal, to get back in shape for the grass-court season, Wimbledon in particular.
“But so far so good. Everything’s OK at home from what I’m hearing with Mirka. She’s got things under control. The kids are not completely misbehaved yet. I’m not worried here.
Having the four kids in the bubbles is not gonna work out for me.