| LONDON, June 18
LONDON, June 18 A Wimbledon final without Roger
Federer almost seemed unthinkable 12 months ago but the
'unthinkable' happened last July when the most gifted player to
have picked up a tennis racket discovered he was no longer on
the guest list for the showpiece match at the grasscourt grand
But the man who enjoyed the privilege of opening Centre
Court proceedings at the All England Club for seven successive
years - including 2009 when Rafa Nadal was unable to defend his
title - is now back to reclaim his crown.
The six-times Wimbledon champion purposefully strode into
the grounds on Saturday at 1027 GMT and even the miserable
British weather did not dampen his spirits as he went through
his paces during a 30-minute hit with his friend Tommy Haas.
Just in case Federer had forgotten the identity of the
current holder of the title, Nadal navigated his way through the
couple of hundred people jostling for space around the outside
court and the Spaniard was soon nodding his head in appreciation
as Federer finished off the session with a flurry of aces.
Job done for the day, Federer exchanged high fives with his
great rival and walked off court knowing that he was just seven
matches away from drawing level with Pete Sampras and William
Renshaw's record of seven men's titles.
Dressed in an all white track suit, Federer settled into a
green chair in a bunker of the All England Club to have a chat
with Reuters about how much he wants to win back the Wimbledon
crown, his desire to reclaim the world number one ranking, his
various records and how he combines his on court commitments
REUTERS: Roger, last year was the first time in eight years
that you were not involved in the final weekend at Wimbledon.
What was that like for you?
FEDERER: "Honestly I did not even think of that. First you're
disappointed you lost, then you move on and then you're like
'okay, I'm going on vacation'. Then you don't think about it.
Only later did I hear so many people telling me 'uh, a final
without Federer is not the same'. That's just the Federer fans
or my supporters who felt that. I didn't think about it too much
and it hasn't come to my mind much this year. What you play for
is really to be in a Wimbledon final, walking out on that
Sunday, that's so special. I've been fortunate enough to be
there so many times. But (Tomas) Berdych played a great match
against me and deserved to be in that final against Rafa.
Obviously it hurt a bit but it didn't hurt not being in the
final. It hurt not winning that match against Berdych."
REUTERS: Is that something that you have been dreading for
the last few years - that your run of reaching seven consecutive
finals would eventually end?
FEDERER: "I was disappointed but life goes on. I've had an
amazing run here. I did so much better than I ever thought I
would. The important thing is that you learn from defeats like
this. You take the right decisions after that and that you don't
panic. Many times what can also happen is you lose a match and
whole thing just goes sideways.
"You (think) 'I'll change everything around me. I'll change
my coaches, I'll change the way I travel, I'll change the
tournaments I play because I made so many mistakes'.
"But the important thing is to really be able to pinpoint
what didn't go well, what I could have done better. You just lay
out all those things in the table and you take the right
decision for next time. Sometimes you have to accept that a guy
played better on the day than you. (Alejandro) Falla played
fantastic in the first round (last year before losing in five
sets) and Berdych played an amazing match against me. Ok, maybe
I wasn't playing at my very best but I was playing not bad. I
didn't make it easy for those guys to beat me."
REUTERS: When you see that people are not talking about you
as a potential champion of an event, as was the case in the
build up to Roland Garros - does that irritate you?
FEDERER: "I felt I was (in contention). I was quite
surprised (how people) said 'oh you have no pressure'. I would
have had less pressure anyhow because I wasn't defending
champion, Novak (Djokovic) was on an (unbeaten) streak and Rafa
was defending champion. I've already beaten the all-time grand
slam record (by winning 16 majors), I've won the French Open
before so I'm going into this French Open regardless of how I
did before. That I was such a small favourite, only later did I
hear that. It surprises me a bit and it seems sometimes people
are very short sighted and they look at only the last three
weeks instead of looking at the last three years. That's
unfortunately how tennis is, it's very volatile in terms of the
rankings, and that can change a few things. I know I have a
chance for world number one if I play well from now till the
U.S. Open. The players know that but sometimes people tend to
REUTERS: Out of all the records you have achieved, which is
the one you are proudest of?
FEDERER: "Let's wait and see when I finish. Then maybe I'll
say 'this one is my favourite one'. I'm still going and I'm
still able to re-write history. But I guess it's the ones
(streaks) that last five or seven years, that you know you only
get one chance in a lifetime to do, like Sampras's six straight
year end number one rankings. You're not going to miss one year
and then get another six. It's almost impossible to do. You
only get one chance for those kinds of things.
"I have short term records, like at one point I think I beat
24 top 10 guys in a row. Or once I made the finals, I won 24
finals in a row. Those kinds of records are also unbelievable
for me when I look back. There are many of them but I don't know
which one to choose from."
REUTERS: Out of all your many records, which is the one do
you think will last the longest and why?
FEDERER: "I wouldn't know because sometimes you think 'this
is the one' but then it won't. It doesn't matter too much to
REUTERS: What about the streak of reaching 23 successive
grand slam semi-finals?
FEDERER: "Maybe that one. Yeah, maybe you're right. If it
gets interrupted once after a few years, then you won't get it
again. That will be a tough one to beat."
REUTERS: If you had to pick one career defining shot/point
you have played during your career, which one would it be and
FEDERER: "Uhhmmmmm (laughing). For me the biggest shot was
unfortunately against Tommy Haas, who's a good friend of mine,
at the French Open (in 2009). You probably know which one I'm
talking about, on break point (at two sets and 3-4 down in the
fourth round), the forehand inside out. I couldn't hit any more
forehands for some reason I completely lost it. That's the one I
needed and I remember I fist pumped and thought 'this is it'.
This is what was going to put me back into the match and into
the tournament. Who knows, maybe I would have still won the
French Open later on but it just all seemed so perfect to win
that year. The way I had to battle against Haas, against (Juan
Martin) del Potro, against (Jose) Acasuso, against (Gael)
Monfils, against (Robin) Soderling, all those players. It was
just a very tough tournament and still very vivid in my mind."
REUTERS: That shot was a bit like Tiger Wood's miracle
birdie at the 16th -- when ball appeared to teeter tantalisingly
over the edge of the hole before, a second later, dropping into
the cup -- during the final round of the 2005 U.S. Masters.
FEDERER: "Yeah, maybe, although mine went a bit quicker. It
was all over in a hurry. Second serve, bang, bang and it was
over. But it was huge."
REUTERS: Lots of people have said they wished they could
have played like you. Is there any player or a particular shot
of a player - past or present - that you are envious of.
FEDERER: "I am very happy with what I have. Sure I cannot
hit a double handed backhand, I wish I could. But it's fine. I
wish I had a serve like