Q. Everyone wants to know, how is your health?
ROGER FEDERER: Better, yeah. Thank you. Cough's gone. The cold's 90% gone. I'm happy. The last couple days I've been able to practice normally. Yeah, no, I'm relieved that since Thursday now I'm better.
Q. Lleyton says that you are his greatest rival over his career. Early in your career, was that the biggest rivalry that you had?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, him and Roddick, you know. It was different with Lleyton. I had to turn around the series because he got the better of me many times in the beginning, whereas with Andy I started on the better side and kept that up throughout. But I really enjoyed playing them. Also Ferrero and Safin, I thought. But Lleyton was something special. No doubt about it. Same as Roddick. No, Lleyton made me figure out my game and made me definitely a better player, as well. I enjoyed the battles with him. I wish him well here.
Q. Were you always friends or did that develop over time?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I played him the first time when we were maybe 15 in Zurich at the World Youth Cup. We were supposed to play the juniors here, the doubles together, in '98. He won Adelaide, that was the difference. He got a wild card in singles, doubles and mixed here in the pros. I played the juniors, lost in the semis in the singles and the doubles. We were supposed to play here in the juniors. He dumped me (laughter). It was a big shot after winning Adelaide. I understood.
We actually played some doubles in Wimbledon as well, which was good fun. We always got along well. It was sometimes feisty on the court, but it was always respectful. I always admired his work ethic, his on-court fighting spirit, even though it annoyed me sometimes because in the beginning it was more crazy than now. Until I found myself as well on the court, took me a while, but it was more because of me, not because of him, I'd say.
Q. You speak so fluently in English. Early in your career was there ever a time you felt like it was a job, something that was really challenging for you?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, school was tough. School in general was rough. I don't know, I thought I had to work very hard to get decent grades. I felt like I was working harder away from school trying to keep up decent grades than others.
Yeah, I don't know if my mind was so much at tennis. I had a harder time getting really excited about certain, what do you call it, things, school. Yeah, so school was tough for me.
Still I enjoyed it. I loved my friends at school. I actually kind of enjoyed going back there. Also couldn't wait for the bell to ring, you know, so I could go out again.
Q. I know this is something that we talk about more in the media than I'm sure you do as players. Do you think the whole idea of the big four is still relevant now, given Novak's domination in recent times? Do you think what you did last year, for example, your wins over him, shows those top guys you're still very much part of a group?
ROGER FEDERER: It completely depends what you're looking at. If you're looking at his season, he was the most dominant player by far last year. Then if you look at just who won the slams and the Masters 1000s, doesn't hold truth, because Stan won the French. Nobody else won a slam other than him and Novak. So it completely depends on how you look at it.
Who's had the most success? The top five guys really, with Stan, you know, Murray, myself, Novak and Rafa. Now the rankings are back to more normal again after Rafa's worked his way back up. I don't think Rafa, myself, we personally look at the rankings very much, check it out all the time, care too much, to be quite honest, after being world No. 1. I understand some people do. It's helpful in the seedings at times. But for us to lose quarter, semis, finals, it doesn't matter, it's still a loss, because we're looking at higher goals, Rafa and myself. Same as Novak.
Yeah, I still think the same guys are playing very well. But, of course, Novak deserves like a little star next to his name right now because he's been doing extremely well. Same for Stan really. Hasn't been said, he's won slams the last couple seasons and he's going into a third season where he's maybe going to win a slam.
Q. What are your thoughts on you're your first-round match?
ROGER FEDERER: I don't know my opponent very well. I almost played him at Wimbledon, I remember. So we'll see how that goes.
More focused on my own game right now. My health is good now, so that's crucial, especially now that I play on Monday. Yeah, so I'll get some feedback from Ivan and Severin, see what they can find out about him. But then I think important is going to be how I'm going to play.
Q. Is this the Grand Slam where you tend to experiment a little bit more, try out a few different changes to your game?
ROGER FEDERER: Maybe. You would think so, at least, because you're coming from the off-season. You've had a tournament to play. In the off-season, it's usually where you work on your game.
Going into Wimbledon, there's only so much you can do, having had the French Open just before, plus you've had a surface change and so forth.
I would think the Australian Open is the one where players come in maybe most inspired. It's also been my most consistent slam maybe until last year. I always played very well here. I don't know if it's the conditions or the court speed. It's a good place for me to start the year.
So we'll see how it goes. But off-season went well for me. Had no setbacks, which was crucial. I was able to work very hard, which was nice.
Q. Do you expect anything different from Ivan than you got from Stefan?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, of course. They're completely different people. So, of course, they're going to say things at different times in a different way. It's always like that, regardless of who you're going to have in your coaching team.
Q. Can you tell us about the background behind that change of coach?
ROGER FEDERER: What do you want to know?
Q. How it came to an end with Stefan and how you decided on his replacement?
ROGER FEDERER: I think I remember Stefan telling me maybe here last year that this was going to be his last year. Then I checked in with him again, if that's really the case, maybe through Wimbledon at some point maybe.
With Ivan, it was really at the end of the year. I have a great team around me. Yeah, that's when Ivan told me that with Milos it's not going to continue. I said, So you would be available? I'm checking other options, too. But are you interested at all?
He said, Yeah, I would love to do it, so let me know.
I went through the process. At the end I called Ivan up and asked him then. He was very excited. So that was the process more or less.
Q. Had you been quite chummy with him when you were together on the tour, quite good friends?
ROGER FEDERER: We always got along well, even though he's the only guy to beat me in Basel and Gstaad. We got along well. He used to be on the council, as well. We had some talks there. I think that was an important phase because I needed to trust Ivan there on the entire board change we were going through. It was quite tricky, not a comfortable thing to do. I had to work very closely with him there. There were a lot of moments where I had to see Ivan's reaction, how he was handling it. It was a really good process. At the end we worked very well together.
Towards the end of the career when he had family, I had family, we also spent more time together. Towards the back end of your career you're also a little bit more relaxed off the court. Yeah, we always stayed in touch. I was happy for him when he did as well as he did with Milos as a coach.
Q. Have you had to change any elements of your game specifically for Novak?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really. That was more something that went into the press. I'm always on the lookout for how to play certain players or certain tournaments or about my own game. So Novak might be a small piece of the puzzle, but it wasn't the piece. I'm more focused about my own game than any other player.
Last year I did quite well against Novak. Of course, I got to keep it up. I always believe there's new things you can learn, but there's always sometimes a way of staying motivated, staying hungry. Someone like Ivan can also help do that.
But I can do a lot by myself, but I need my support team to push me the last 1%, 5%, 10%, whatever it is, because I'm not in the same mood every single day.
Q. You called for stricter controls in tennis at the end of last year. There's been a lot of scandals with the Essendon football club and doping. Do you think there needs to be more by authorities or is enough being done?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, important is to keep the game clean. I think tennis has a pretty good image, to be quite honest. I think we should just make sure that remains the case. That's why I'm in favor for more.
But I know you need a lot of money for that, go chase down all the guys all around the world, it's not an easy thing to do. You need the Olympic Federations and all that. It becomes quite complicated.
But I think we're doing well. But there's always more you could do. I'm sure it's going to be more professional in 20 years' time, 50 years' time. It's going to be a different story again. I've seen the change in the last 15 years. It was very loose back in the day. Today it's much more tight, which is good to see.