| LONDON, July 26
LONDON, July 26 Switzerland's Roger Federer has
become so popular among both competitors and media that he finds
it difficult to walk around the athletes village at the Olympic
park, and has journalists gushing over him at press
The world number one and 17-time grand slam winner has
stayed at the athletes village at two of the three Olympics he
has attended, but at his fourth in London he will be staying
nearer the tennis venue in Wimbledon.
While this is partly down to convenience - the Olympic park
is around an hour's drive from Wimbledon - the 30-year-old
admitted his fame had also been a consideration.
"I have done the village before so it is not like I feel I
have to do the village so badly. I would love to, but of course
I have also become very famous over the last eight years or so,
so times have also changed and when I do move around in the
village things are not as simple as they were," he told the
packed 700-capacity main press room at the Olympic media centre.
While waiting for the number one seed to arrive, many
journalists were using their phones and iPads to take pictures
of the seemingly unnecessary "Roger Federer" name placard on the
table where he was to sit. As he arrived, people strained over
each other to get a picture of him entering the room.
In contrast, only around 50 people turned out to see second
seed Serbia's Novak Djokovic, who won a bronze at the Beijing
Games and was knocked off the world number one spot by Federer
this month, when he held a press conference an hour earlier
along with some of his countrymen.
If seeming slightly bemused by his popularity among the
world's media, Federer remained light hearted by his reception.
In response to one journalist, who began by saying "As a
journalist and as a fan, I know that you will win this Olympic
gold" before asking Federer if he would retire if he achieved
that feat, he responded: "I don't know, are you my fan or not?
If you don't want me to stop, I wont."
While when another member of the media who confessed to
being a big fan "like so many other journalists" asked who was
the biggest star of the games, Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps or
Roger Federer he responded "Well, not me".
Federer, who won gold in the doubles at Beijing with
Stanislas Wawrinka, said singles gold was far from a certainty,
partly down to the fact that all but the final match will be
best of three sets rather than the grand slam best five.
"That puts the margins more closer to each other," said
Federer, who would have been out in the third round of Wimbledon
under such rules, having gone two sets down to France's Julien
Benneteau - his potential second round opponent at the Olympics.
"It just goes to show a bad five minutes or a bad couple of
points can cost you the tournament, I am aware of that but I do
believe winning Wimbledon three weeks ago is going to help me
with my confidence," said Federer, who faces Colombia's
Alejandro Falla in the first round.
Away from chasing the gold, Federer, who has become a father
for the first time since the last Olympics, also has the
important task of picking out a present or two for his twin
daughters, who have just turned three.
"I will try to have a look and get some souvenirs," said
Federer, who met his wife Mirka at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
"A good dad should bring back some souvenirs from time to time."
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Ossian Shine)