‘테니스 황제’ 로저 페더러(스위스, 2위)가 26일 열린 호주오픈 준결승전에서 부상으로 기권을 선언한 정현(한국체대, 삼성증권 후원, 58위)을 꺾고 결승에 올랐다.
개인통산 30번째로 그랜드슬램 결승전에 진출한 그에게는 놀랍지 않은 승리일지도 모른다. 그러나 36세의 ‘현역 챔피언’ 과 21세의 ‘차세대 챔피언’ 의 대결이라는 점에서 세계테니스가 주목했고, 특히 한국테니스가 주시하는 경기였다.
경기 뒤 기자회견에서 그는 평소와 다름 없이 여유있게 답변했지만, 정현에 대한 답변만큼은 진심을 담아 말했다. 기자회견 내용 중 정현에 대해 평가한 부분을 정리해봤다.
“그에게 큰 부담을 주고 싶진 않지만, 정현은 뛰어난 선수가 될 거라 생각한다. 그가 어떻게 조코비치나 즈베레프 같은 선수들을 이길 수 있었는지 오늘 확인할 수 있었다”
“2세트부터 정현의 움직임이 느려진 것 같았다. 나도 물집이 잡힌 상태로 경기를 해본 적이 있는데, 매우 고통스러웠다. 그래도 정신력이 강한 정현은 엄청난 고통을 참고 경기했다. 그렇지 않았다면 왜 이런 큰 경기에서 기권을 했겠나. 자신의 약점을 상대에게 보이지 않으려는 모습이 굉장히 인상적이었다”
“기술적인 면에서도 그의 포핸드와 백핸드는 뛰어나다. 오늘 경기에서 실력을 다 보여주진 않았지만, 수비력도 좋다. 앞으로 성장하는 데 큰 밑거름이 될 것이다”
Roger Federer 26-01-18 interview
Interviews 26 Jan 18
Semifinal def. Chung 6-1 5-2 ret.
Federer into final as Chung retires
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Q. Would you have preferred a longer, tougher match tonight to prepare for the final?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, a normal end, yes. But I must admit, as well, you do take the faster matches whenever you can because there's enough wear and tear on the body, there's enough tough matches throughout the season that when they happen, you take them.
There's nothing you can do anyway about it. The thought process is not like what would have been better. I'm just happy I'm in the finals, to be honest. That was the goal before the match today. I was able to get there. Not under the circumstances I was hoping to or not planning with. But I played a good match. He struggled clearly with his movement. I was able to take advantage of that.
So for me clearly it was all good. I wish him a good recovery.
Q. You're playing Cilic in the final. Do you think anything has changed in his game since he won the US Open or it's more in the mentality he has to be able to be at this level consistently?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I definitely think him winning the US Open, like Stan winning here a few years ago, it gave them great belief they can do it. If the big moments come about, that they can attain this level. Not easily, but they can get there from time to time.
I think he played great against Rafa. I think the belief and the way he played very positive made him win that match because he didn't look good there for a while when he was down a set and a break and everything.
Even at the end of last year when I played him in the World Tour Finals in the round-robin, I think he lost all three matches maybe, but maybe should have won at least one of the first two and stuff. The way he came out against me was very much a winner's attitude: At least I'm going to take maybe one match home against Roger. I ended up playing a tough three-setter against him. I didn't feel I was facing a guy who had just lost two round-robin matches.
So I like his attitude. He's very professional. He's always very much the same regardless of whether he wins or loses. I like that attitude. On the court, he's a winner. You can see it on the way he behaves on the court. He's there to win and not just to be there. Sometimes you see other players you feel like they're happy to have made the quarters so far. I think he strives for more. I like those attitudes.
Q. Is there any part of your game you will have to improve against Cilic?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I just have to play a good match. At this point it's not about having to improve anything in particular. I think I've done everything pretty well, you know. I just hope I'm going to have a good start to the match. I hope I can mix up my game. I hope I can start serving well from the get-go, not get into too much trouble early. I hope I can read his serve and all these things.
I'm just pleased that actually my game has been good from the very beginning of the tournament so far. I mean, I've won all my matches without dropping a set. Clearly I was a bit lucky against Berdych in that first set. But things must be all right if I'm in this stage right now not having dropped a set and in the finals.
Q. Amazing at your age, with respect. Take it back 10 years, how do you feel now going into the final of the Australian Open compared to 10 years ago?
ROGER FEDERER: Hmm. I mean, it's obviously a totally different life, you know. I have four kids today. I didn't have that 10 years ago. Clearly my life has been turned upside down.
In terms of tennis, I think I see things also again a bit different, a bit more I guess wiser to some extent, maybe more laid back because in 2008, was I fighting with mononucleosis that year? I ended up losing in the semis.
That was a bit of a turning point in my career, to be honest. I felt I lost a step there for a little bit, for maybe six to nine months. I was able to sort of bounce back.
Yeah, so you go through different stages throughout your career. I'm happy I'm still around, still healthy, still playing good, give myself chances, playing the best. It's almost a good fun.
I never thought I was going to play a bit of a lesser schedule, which actually is quite enjoyable. I always thought I'm just going to keep on playing from January to November every single year, 20 something tournaments. But I was able to adapt to it. Maybe that's also one of the reasons I'm still out there.
Q. What was your plan for playing this opponent tonight?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I knew he was having issues with his feet going into it. But I knew he also had issues going into the match against Novak. He handled that very well. The same against Sandgren.
For me, I was trying to block that away and just play Chung himself. If he had no issues, well, that's normal. If he has issues, well, bad luck for him, and I'll take advantage of it.
But I played the first set without feeling him having really that many issues, to be quite honest. I was also very focused on my own game. In the beginning, I was trying to keep the points short. If I had to extend the rallies because he was doing a nice job of staying in them, you know, we'll have some tougher rallies early on. I thought that was not a bad thing for me either.
Then just trying to mix it up a little bit. I think you saw that with some short slices, making him come in, me trying to serve and volley. I didn't serve and volley as much as I needed to, but that was always an option I could have played and used.
As I realized that he was struggling, there was no need for me to push the envelope too much and take chances moving forward if I knew it was enough to be playing from the baseline against him.
Q. Did you and Marin in the Maldives really just bump into each other and decide to have a practice?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I was there first, I think, and he arrived later on the island. I was told that Marin was coming. I was like, Oh, that's cool. It's not that they warned me another tennis player is coming. It's all good, we're fine (smiling).
When he arrived, I didn't want to bother him. He didn't want to bother me. After two days, he wrote me: I'm here, too, in case you want to catch up and stuff, let me know.
I was like, Sure, let me know if you want to hit.
He was eager to hit because it's good to stay in the rhythm for both of us. We also met up later for drinks, met his fiancée. We had cake together, my whole family and him. We had a good time. It's not like we're hanging out all the time, but our paths crossed a few times. We actually went to practice twice for 45 minutes.
It's great fun. No coaches, no nothing, just the two of us on the court hitting balls. It was just nice and laid back. To get to know the man behind the tennis player, I guess, even though I got to know him better through the Laver Cup and so forth.
Q. When was that?
ROGER FEDERER: A couple months ago, end of November.
Q. You mentioned on court, you said how hard it is to win a title. What would number 20 mean to you?
ROGER FEDERER: 20 times special. I don't know what to tell you. It would be amazing. I can't believe how fast now the week has turned out to be. Yeah, I mean, it ain't just an easy trip to the finals. There's always a lot of work that goes into it during the tournament, focus, and also preparation beforehand. For many weeks and months before, you try to put yourself in the position, are you going to be ready in case a good semifinals or quarterfinals match at the Australian Open, so forth.
This is something you sort of plan from a long time ago. That's why when it does happen, it's a great feeling. Rewards the hard work in my team. It shows us that we did a lot of things right in the off-season, as well. That always gives you confidence, especially moving into the semis and finals when you're starting to hit the ball very nicely after the first few matches where it's always a bit more difficult.
Q. I am from Korea. In this semifinal, the performance of Chung is so weak than we hope. He reached the semifinal for the first time in this kind of major event. Can you tell us Chung's future possibilities.
ROGER FEDERER: I think he's going to be a very good player. I don't like to put too much pressure on players by saying they're going to win everything because I don't think it's fair. A lot of experts, such called experts, said I was going to be world No. 1, win everything. In a way it's funny and cool, but it's not so cool in hindsight. Afterwards, anything you achieve is normal. I find it disappointing. Getting to No. 1, winning Grand Slams, winning Masters 1000s, it ain't normal. It's extraordinary.
I think he's going to have a lot of success. At what stage, how much, we will see. I did see today why he beat the players like Novak, Sascha, other players in the past. He's very steady mentally. Today I'm sure he was having a lot of pain with his feet. Otherwise, why would you retire in such a big-match situation. And you couldn't tell almost. I like that about the idea of hiding any problems from the opponent. That was very impressive, to be honest.
Then just the way he plays tennis, his forehand and backhand. I know what he was capable to do against Novak in terms of defense, although today he couldn't show it. It's very impressive. I think it's going to give him a lot of possibilities moving forward. The question is with that kind of a game, you just got to take care of your body, also the schedule maybe.
It's very intense, his tennis. I wish him the best. I was very impressed.
Q. It was just announced you're going to have one of your fundraisers in California. What drew you to the Bay Area? Is it an appealing area for you?
ROGER FEDERER: I never played there. I've only once been to Google years ago with my coach Stefan Edberg at the time. That was fun. I never played in the Bay Area. I just thought West Coast was a great success last year when we played in Seattle. So clearly this year, again playing doubles with Bill Gates, also with Savannah in the doubles, Jack Sock, I think it's going to be great fun.
We had a small preview at the Hopman Cup, I guess, how much fun it could actually become. This evening, all of it again for a good cause. My foundation is something that's super important to me. I'm going to have a trip in April of this year, going down to Africa, to Zambia most likely.
Yeah, it's great that we can raise a lot of money. Bill is helping me to set up an evening beforehand so we can raise extra funds. I'm just very thankful. Yeah, can't wait to play in that area. Hopefully the stadium is going to sell out. So far ticket sales have gone well. Hopefully we can sell out quickly.