NEW YORK — Roger Federer wasn’t sad that he lost a historic Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic in July, a five-set 13-12 epic that was the first decided by a final-set tiebreaker at the Grand Slam event.
“I was just more upset, rather than being sad,” Federer said during his pre-US Open news conference Friday. “I think being upset made me get over that final much easier than being sad, dwelling over it too much.”
Still, he admitted that scenes and moments from that excruciating 4-hour, 57-minute final — Federer had two match points — crept into his mind for days afterward.
“I was caravaning [camping] with my kids,” Federer said. “I didn’t have that much time thinking about all the missed opportunities. I was setting up tables and organizing my life for my four children, driving around the beautiful countryside in Switzerland. [But] sometimes you have flashbacks — ‘Oh, I could have done that, should have done that.’ The next day you’re having a glass of wine with your wife thinking, ‘The semis was pretty good, even the finals was pretty good.’
“You go in phases.”
Federer returned to the tour about two weeks ago in Cincinnati, where he was upset in the third round by rising Russian pro Andrey Rublev. Federer said the memory of the Wimbledon loss lingered.
“First couple days back playing tennis, as well, you have a few flashbacks,” Federer said. “Overall, I think if I look back, I’m very happy I was part of such an entertaining match as well.”
Federer is looking forward to challenging for a US Open title that has eluded him since winning the last of his record five consecutive titles at Flushing Meadows in 2008.
“I’m not putting extra pressure on myself,” Federer said. “I know it’s going to be tough. I’m not coming in as the overwhelming favorite like maybe I did back in 2006 or 2007. I’m very much aware of how I need to approach this tournament mentally.”
Seeded No. 3, Federer landed on the same side of the draw as the top-seeded Djokovic, with No. 2 Rafael Nadal at the bottom of the draw. Meanwhile, one potential obstacle for Nadal or Federer — No. 4 Dominic Thiem — may be compromised, if he plays at all.
Thiem, seeded No. 4 and in Nadal’s half of the draw, pulled out of his media day obligations and a midtown appearance under doctor’s advice because of a lingering cold. Thiem, who stunned Federer in the Indian Wells final on a court much like the one in Arthur Ashe Stadium, has also beaten Nadal this year, though Nadal avenged himself in the French Open final.
Thiem has been struggling with flu-like symptoms, and, according to an ATP official, was advised to rest Friday and Saturday. He first showed symptoms of his illness at the Montreal Masters in the first week of August, when he lost in the fourth round to Daniil Medvedev.
“[Thiem] was already down on his energy,” Nicolas Massu, his coach, recently told ESPN. “We traveled to Cincinnati, but he had no chance to play.”
After pulling out of Cincinnati, Thiem rested for a few days before departing for New York. He appeared healthy Wednesday while practicing at the National Tennis Center with Federer.
Thiem, a 25-year old Austrian, may be the “outsider” most likely to win the event.
“They are definitely knocking on the door big-time now,” Federer said of the younger generation of players, among whom Thiem is something of an elder statesman. “It seems like the same guys are the favorites again this time around. It will be a surprise if anybody else won.”
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