Thursday February 16th, 2012

Roger Federer has won 70 career ATP titles and a record 16 majors. (Koen Suyk/EPA)

Roger Federer is in Rotterdam for the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament and he's already made the quarterfinals after playing just one match. That's Federer for you: he shows up and the seas part on command. Well, that or it's a 32 player draw and Federer won his first-round match and received a walkover in the second round. Slightly less impressive than a parting of the seas... Slightly.

Federer answered questions at a sponsor event and Tennis Grandstand was there to cover it, putting together this extensive writeup of the Swiss Maestro's thoughts on his career, his passion for the game and his quest for one more title. It's an entertaining read.

His comments are a perfect combination of his frankness, sentimentality, passion for the sport, and yes, the unintentionally humorous way in which he talks about his talent and greatness. Here are some highlights.

On unlocking his potential: "I used to be quite crazy when I was younger, and I eventually got my act together and started to understand why it’s so important to work hard. Once I started to work extremely hard, all of a sudden, I had this really fluid game and I was able to unlock my potential — which I knew was big but I didn’t know it was this great. I’m really amazed overall how well I’ve done."

It's harder than it looks: "I never thought I could play such good tennis. I really had to put in a lot of hard work. Sometimes it doesn’t look like it because it’s all so fluid and people give me so many compliments. But I did put in the hard work and there’s no way around that in the professional game of tennis."

Confidence man: “I think Novak has had the best year in the last 360 somewhat days of all of us, otherwise he wouldn’t have won so many matches in a row. I think the big difference at this very moment is that he has more confidence than we do … But maybe I do struggle more against Nadal and maybe he’s the toughest competitor out there, but the other guys are equally strong, if not better at the moment, like Novak.”

Memorable matches: “The French Open has to be in there, but for some reason, I also have to put in when I was going for my fifth Wimbledon [in 2007] or the ultimate grand slam record at 15 against [Andy] Roddick in 2009 [at Wimbledon where Federer won 16-14 in the fifth set]. Those two matches had something mystical about them. Borg and Sampras were sitting there and all of my heroes were there. There was “record” pressure all around me and I was sort of a character in a play. So, for me to get that Cinderella finish was amazing.”

Chasing the high: "Everybody says, ‘What’s the point of winning another Wimbledon?’ That’s exactly the point. I want to be there hopefully one more time, holding up the trophy, going through the goosebumps before match point, trying to show how good I still am for my team, my country, myself. There’s too many reasons not to be playing, and I’m in physically really good shape today and I feel better than I have in quite a few years." On the inevitable end: "There’s always more to do in something that you really enjoy. So for me, there’s no reason to even think about how, and when, and what retirement will look like, or how it’s all going to happen. Because I think the moment you start asking yourself those questions, that means the end is near. The body will tell me, and my family, we’ll decide when it’s time for me to hang up the racquet. For the time being, I really enjoy it too much to stop.”

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