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Federer 'dreaming' of another title
The Players' Lawn at the All England Club was a forest of TV cameras, and in the middle was Roger Federer. Other players chatted to their national networks for a few minutes and drifted off. Federer, it seemed, was talking to everyone in three languages. And he did it for an hour.
That was in addition to the 35-minute press conference — again multilingual — that he had given just before. The man many experts call the greatest tennis player who ever lived is proving himself to be a champion spokesman for his sport, as well, and is setting a standard for media cooperation that future superstars are going to find difficult to emulate.
Federer answers every question seriously or with a touch of humor and does a very good job of appearing to enjoy it. On the Friday before Wimbledon, he was talking about what the whole business meant to him.
"I am dreaming of the title," he said as if he were some wide-eyed teenager. "There's no denying that. But, of course, I've played two quarterfinals now the last couple of years. I have to do better in this event because I could have gone further in the last couple. Maybe a bit unfortunate at times. Maybe the other guys were just too good. Maybe I wasn't quite at my best. Who knows what the combination was? But it's up to me to make that difference now and take it to the next step."
Federer said that a seventh Wimbledon title would be amazing. "I think that would be tying Pete (Sampras), which I think would be absolutely fantastic, obviously, you know, admiring Pete when I was younger."
Although he has not won either of the two Grand Slams (in Melbourne and Paris) this year, since the 2011 US Open, Federer has been the most consistent player on tour. He earned three straight titles at the end of 2011 and four more this year, which took his career total to 74. It could have been 75 had he not lost, surprisingly, to Tommy Haas in the final at Halle last weekend, but that has not dented his confidence.
"My confidence is very good," he said. "I don't feel like I have to work on anything specific because I feel everything is working in my game. Physically I have no lingering injuries. I've won very many tournaments. I'm match-tough right now. I think that's also key going into a Grand Slam, to be honest. The hunger is obviously big. I don't think I have to elaborate too much on that. I've explained many times how hungry and motivated I am to be playing at this high level."
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova were saying much the same thing about motivation, although they differed on the importance of confidence.
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"I think confidence is really important in anything you do," said Williams, who was, inevitably, asked for her reaction to losing in the first round at Roland Garros — her first first-round defeat at a Grand Slam. "Whether I had won in Paris or lost, like I did, in the first round, I am always extremely motivated. If anything, I think losing makes me even more motivated."
Sharapova said that her victory at Roland Garros "certainly doesn't make me less eager to want to achieve more." However, the Russian, who had an even harder road to the top than the Williams sisters, was more wary when talking about the confidence factor.
"Since I came back (from my shoulder injury), there are times when you feel more confident, but you come out and you don't perform well," she said. "I don't take confidence really seriously because I think you can get a little bit ahead of yourself. I always think that if you think everything is great and you're feeling good, then you should be extremely worried. That's the way I think about it."
So don't imagine that super-confident on-court image represents the whole Sharapova package. Behind the glacial expression, all sorts of emotions are churning that we don't know about.
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