Federer: 'I want to play aggressive tennis at Wimbledon'

“I'm just trying to play forward, serve and volleying some, making sure I don't get stuck behind the baseline, just making shots,” said the seven-time Wimbledon champion.

Roger Federer in preparation ahead of the Wimbledon lawn-tennis championship in London.   -  AP

Roger Federer is bidding to win a record 19th and a eighth Wimbledon Grand Slam when the All England Championship kicks off on Monday.

Federer, who lost to Milos Raonic in the 2016 semifinal, will be looking to carry on his great start to the 2017 season in which he added an Australian Open win to his cap.

After deciding to give the clay-court season a miss, the Swiss maestro began his grass-court season with a loss to Tim Henman at Stuttgart before winning the Halle Open in a convincing fashion last week.

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Here are some of the excerpts from Federer’s pre-tournament press conference where he talks about his 2016 injury lay-off, 2017 form, the players to watch out for, the Big 4 and more.

Q: How remarkable do you think it is since 2003 only four players have won the men's singles at Wimbledon? And you know the four. That's a long stretch.

A: Yeah, it's been very dominant by a few players here at Wimbledon (himself, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic), and in many of the other slams, too. European players have been in full force in I think the last hundred Masters 1000s, slams, Olympics, and also World Tour Finals.

That's surprising. It's like that, but can change tomorrow very quickly.

In the aftermath of the 2016 semifinal fall on your knee, how concerned then were you, in the immediate aftermath of that, about being able to return to a level that you were used to, being able to once again challenge for and win Grand Slam titles?

Well, just to be clear, the fall had nothing to do with my knee. My knee was bad the entire grass court season. The fall just really scared me. Maybe I wasn't able to move properly. Maybe I would have been broken anyway because I had to face breakpoint right after that point, if I get broken there.

Even if it's a totally healthy knee, there's no deciding I'm going to break Milos' serve. Just to clear that up.

After that, it was an interesting next few weeks, having to decide if I can play the Olympics or not, if I can skip the Olympics and play the US Open, speaking to several doctors, speaking to the team, just trying to understand what's best for my health right now, how much time is required.

Very quickly the trend was to have at least sort of four months (off court). I was kind of surprised to hear that because I figured maybe a month, maybe two, everything should be all right. But if we wanted to get full healing and full strength back, unfortunately that's what it was going to take.

Soon after we went down that route. Thank God, no regrets there.

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Could you put your money on anyone coming through, but who are the other young players you can see as a potential Wimbledon champion?

I think that Zverev and Kyrgios have shown what they can do, how good they can be. You know, the likes of Raonic and Nishikori and Dimitrov I think are in a good spot right now where, you know, they can go very deep and nobody would really be surprised.

Away from those five players, I'm not sure how deep we're talking about. Are we talking about winning Wimbledon? That's going to be obviously a longshot. I'm sure I forgot a few, but I think those five we know what they can do. Then I think Dominic Thiem, I think he's got great power where he can go deep at any major at this point, even though grass is maybe not his most natural surface. I lost to him in Stuttgart last year. I was very impressed in how he was able to manage his game on the grass. I see some interesting stuff there from him.

But then, you know, I do believe the favorites are the other players. I include the likes of Cilic into that, (and) Stan, guys who have done it before.

It should be an interesting Wimbledon - again.

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You've been here a lot of years now. This place seems somehow that it never changes. What about different technologies that you've seen that Wimbledon has incorporated?

I think the entire transformation of Centre Court, it's all been knocked down and rebuilt. Court 2 is gone. New Court 3 is there. That was a big difference for me.

I used to be in the locker room under the old Court 2 during the junior times. That all changed. Aorangi is different today than it's ever been, with the clubhouse.

Yeah, I see differences. I mean, the Millennium Building wasn't there when I started. I go way back, terrible (laughter).

Now we have the roof coming up on Court 1. We have obviously the roof on Centre Court. Yeah, a lot of changes. I'm happy they invested a lot. I think there's more to come. I think it's going to be really interesting, the next 20 years, what they're going to be doing.

They are leasing the golf course out, which they could take back. Hopefully my dream is that the qualifying could be played there. I don't know, it's more connected one from the other. That's how at the end of the day it's supposed to be.

I know that grass is complicated. You don't want to use the grass obviously the week before Wimbledon, I get that. You could move it over there maybe one day.

How much of a factor was your decision to miss clay in terms of trying to give yourself the best chance of winning another title here?

Well, I think at the end of the day that was the decision for me, not to have any -- no compromise really. Gave myself the best chance for the grass, so I would never look back and have regrets once I came here.

I was ready to play in Paris. I just didn't feel ready to go yet, to come back in Madrid or Rome. When I decided that with the team, I got on the clay, sort of a couple weeks before the French Open, even though I was happy on the clay for a couple days, I just felt like, You know what, anything other than winning there feels like I'm not giving myself the best chance for Wimbledon.

I'm 35 years old. I've won the French Open once. This is not clearly an ideal preparation. I'll be fresh, that's the positive. But negative is, I haven't had any matches whatsoever. That's when I felt within the team, we all felt the same way, that it's better to save myself and give it all I have for the rest of the season, not just the grass court season, but looking beyond that, too, all the way to the American summer, staying on a fast court tennis sort of mindset.

I kind of never regretted it, even though it hurt, because it was the first time I pulled out of a slam actually feeling 100% ready to go.

How do you assess your rivals, particularly Andy with his exit from Queen's, hip injury? Where do you think he will be?

Well, I mean, depending how fit it is, if he's anything close to 100% physically, I consider him one of the big favorites to win the tournament. It's that simple. It's the same for Novak and the same for Rafa.

I think it's very even when we put it all out on the line. Everybody has their own little story right now. For me, everything that happened sort of before, Queen's for Andy, whatever, doesn't matter so much because I feel like Andy's one of the best players in the first week at Wimbledon, so I don't worry too much for him there. He can play himself into shape hopefully for week two.

Look, Novak is just coming back from winning Eastbourne now. Rafa is coming in red hot from the clay. So I see it positive for them rather than negative in some shape, which I'm sure people will try to see that way. But I see that they are going to be tough to beat here.

Going into the tournament now, is there any aspect of your game that you really are focusing on? Your movement, forehand, serve? What would be the one thing you're most focused on doing well?

So today, for instance, I was just trying to have good energy in practice, you know. Short and sweet, just get it done. Tomorrow I'll be off. Then sort of basically resting, just making sure I come in fresh into that first round with the right mindset.

Look, I don't want to be at the mercy of my opponent. I want to take charge, play aggressive myself. So for that I need to be fast on my feet and quick in my mind. I just need enough rest so I can play enough inspired tennis.

In practice itself, I'm just trying to play forward, serve and volleying some, making sure I don't get stuck behind the baseline, just making shots.

It's more being really proactive in practice right now.

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