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November 2, 2014

Guy Forget


THE MODERATOR:  Questions in French.

Q.  Are you a happy director?  Did the tournament go well?  Did you have consequences because of all the work around the stadium?
GUY FORGET:  Well, we were a bit worried before the tournament because, as you have seen all the plans, Bercy was just giving us this hall and setting just for the tournament.
We were wondering whether everything could be ready on time so the matches could take place.  We were worried about being able to welcome all the public, media, sponsors, and the players in good condition.
In the end, we were quite reassured quite early, because everything was delivered on time.
And for the players, I don't know if you saw how they arrived with their cars.  Some players said, Oh, well, it's a lot better this year.
It made me smile, because that was the only part that had been already redecorated and everything.  It was of course nicer with the painting and the lights and everything.
Then for the matches themselves, I think there was no difference between this year and the previous year.  We lost about 1000 seats per year because the boxes were changed and the access was not the same.  But we knew that in advance.
Next year we will be able to have almost 16,000 seats that will be even more comfortable.  So we'll have better results next year.
But for this year, we have exactly the same figures of attendance as last year, which is interesting.  It shows that the public is very enthusiastic about tennis.  And that, of course, made me happy as well as all the teams of the Federation.
Now, what can I say?  I'm sure you went to the sponsors village.  You didn't go and see?  Well, this was outside of the stadium.  Before the village was inside this stadium; now it was outside.
Of course it was just temporary.  We were satisfied, too, because of course, as you know, we are taking good care of our partners and sponsors.  They were happy with the way they were able to welcome their guests.
And as you have seen, this press room hasn't changed at all, but, well, it's nice.
I think you saw some plans and maps, but next year we'll have good settings.  As you know, the players are very worried about how things will go, so next year we will have the most beautiful hall and stadium in the world.  This is interesting.

Q.  This tournament is a bit special because of its date in the calendar, and this year you have this race for No. 1.  How do you see this rivalry between Djoko and Roger?
GUY FORGET:  Well, if you go backwards, you will see that we had difficult editions because we were one of the last tournaments of the year; sometimes it was a disadvantage.
When I started working in the team of this tournament, we really tried to have the date of London postponed a week later so that the players would be able to rest and play London being 100%.
Last year the draw was exceptional, and this year, except for Rafa who really wanted to come, because of appendicitis he couldn't come.
Except for him, almost all the best players in the world were here.  It is specific for this tournament at the end of the calendar that there is always a challenge.  There's always something at stake.
Last year some players needed to qualify for the Masters.  This year again Roger could mathematically become No. 1 in front of Novak, and this created a beautiful buzz.
Raonic, Nishikori were fighting to be qualified, and Berdych, too, for the Masters.  So this is in our favor in the end.
All along the week we saw high‑level matches, and the players were extremely motivated and played 100%.
Also the Davis Cup final of course created a lot of attention from the crowd, and so all this contributed to the success of this event.
I hope next year there will be again the race for No. 1 and this quest for being qualified in London.  I think the public can feel all that.

Q.  Talking about Davis Cup.  You mentioned it, so what is your opinion about the results of the French players here?  None of them has reached the quarterfinal here since 2006.  Did you expect it would be that way this year, too?
GUY FORGET:  No.  We are not going to be acutely optimistic.  I saw in some articles in between the lines some negative things.
Well, we feel there is a sort of worry about that.  I don't believe it's dramatic.  Some say, Oh, that's normal.  We lost because we are focusing on the Davis Cup already.
Well, it's been one month we have been hearing that.  Davis Cup is the Davis Cup.  But once you're on the court and the Davis Cup captain says, You're going to play, you need to be able to use the confidence from previous victories and practice, of course.
It would have been good for Gaël, for Richard, and for Jo to have those victories, which didn't happen, unfortunately.
Gaël had thought he wasn't play this tournament, so it's positive for him.  He has the best results against Novak in this tournament.
And Jo, Richard, or Gilles, during their matches they played good for periods, but then they had letdowns.  So they have now two weeks to try to improve on that.
We can also talk about the Swiss and Stan and Roger.  It's the same for them.  There were some moments where they played well in their matches, but other moments they were not playing well.
For Stan it's been lasting for weeks, not only in this tournament.  So we can say both teams are on an equal footing regarding this particular point.
So of course now we'll see which team will improve the most before the tie.

Q.  Well, as you said, the players have a lot to do now.  They have the Davis Cup, they have London, and they have that race for No. 1.  Roger has all these goals.  How can he play all these matches?  Will it have an impact in Lille?
GUY FORGET:  Well, I thought he wasn't as good here as in Basel or before.  However, Roger amazes me.  Not long ago we were saying he's going to give up his career.  Now he's racing for No. 1.  He beat Novak in China playing a very inspired tennis.  He bluffs me.
But here in this Paris Masters I thought he was not playing as well.  What does this mean?  I don't know.  Is he going to go to the final in London?  For his confidence he will be good, but he's going to lose some energy there.  If it's not physical, it's psychological.
If you go to the final in the Masters, you only play against top players.  You cannot win easily.  So he's going to get tired.  He will have a shorter preparation, and playing five‑setters on clay against Gaël or Jo will mean he needs to work hard.
He wants to win everything.  He didn't skip any of these events, so maybe he might get tired because of his age.  And if not, congratulations.

Q.  What do you mean when you said he didn't do that well here?  What happened to him?
GUY FORGET:  Well, he was not as fast.  He was making some mistakes he didn't do before.  Not unusual mistakes, but he's so good.
But in the match against Raonic, well, we know Raonic is unpleasant to play, but still, Roger was not dominating from the baseline against Raonic.
Roger wanted to win this tournament, so this means something.  He lost in two sets.  Not against Djokovic but against Raonic.
So he didn't play as well as the previous weeks.

Q.  The fact that Federer is a very popular player who never won the Davis Cup before, and he's very popular in France, do you believe this will have an impact on the reaction of the crowd in Lille?  They might not put pressure on the Swiss team as much as they did in previous ties.
GUY FORGET:  You know what is magical about Davis Cup is that we will be in the stadium, in the stands.  I say "we," because I will be there, too.  We are going to play the match with the players, and you are going to do the same.
So even if it's Federer, you want to win.  If it's Gaël, Richard, Giles, Julien, we will support them.
Of course we will applaud the magical shots of Roger.  We will not applaud his double faults like sometimes happens against other teams when the crowd gets a bit chauvinistic.
But I have no doubt about the support of the crowd for the French team.  I don't think people will be intimidated and not applaud because it's Federer.  I have never seen that before.  It won't happen in Lille either.

Q.  About Gaël, he was explaining he didn't really want to play this tournament.  He came to reassure people.  He even mentioned you, saying you were insistent for him to play.  Can you confirm this?  And if you did that, was it as tournament director or as a previous captain of Davis Cup?
GUY FORGET:  It was not as tournament director that I spoke to him.  I told him if he was going to pull out, which he thought he would do, I said, We have Gasquet, Novak, Simon.  We have many other players.  Berdych, Nishikori, all the other players.
So really, the tournament will not be hurt if you don't play.
But I said, But for you, given your ambitions and the place you want to have in the Davis Cup team and your ambitions, it would be better for you to play.
I spoke as a big brother or as a coach, because I have known him for years.  I like him very much, and just now he has no coaches.  You know, as well as I do that sometimes he changes his mind quite quickly and he can be influenced.
So he was wondering, Do I play or not?  I thought he was thinking about it for a while.  I just gave my opinion, and I told him, You can make your own decision.
Suddenly he looked at us with Bernard Montalvan, the doctor, and he said, Okay, I'm playing.  For us it was clear.  I think he was right, because he won two matches against extremely good players.  I believe he played well.
After the loss against Djokovic in the locker rooms I went to see him to congratulate him and he was angry.  He said, Ahh, how can I miss this?  He was furious.  I said, Well, come on.  You played the best player in the world and you have a very high quality in your game.
You went to play shots on the line at important moments.  I mean, I said, You did well.  You went to take risks in front of the public, and you were not ‑‑although you were not prepared, you won two beautiful matches.
On the contrary, you should be reassured with the prospect of now having to play the Davis Cup.  So it's only positive.  That's the way I see it.  Of course he was just coming out of the court.  He had just lost.  So I believe it was very positive for him to play this tournament.
From now on, from yesterday or today, immediately he has to work hard, because if he wants to beat Wawrinka or Federer, he needs to improve even more.

Q.  You said you were with Dr.Montalvan.  Why didn't he want to play?  Because maybe he wasn't prepared or because his knee was bothering him or what?
GUY FORGET:  A bit of all this.  I think he had some fear, the fear of not being up to par.  It seems simple when we talk about it now, but imagine a pianist having to play a very complicated piece in front of thousands of people.
He can't just play poorly.  If you play before 10,000 people and you know you're not playing well, people will boo you.  Of course you're afraid.
If you haven't played for four, five weeks before the match you're not sure you can make it.
And what happens if he was bad?  I mean, he could have totally missed his match and everybody would have said, What a catastrophe.  He would be booed.  It could be a trauma for him, because he would have been sanctioned by the public because of his lack of preparation.
And this is exactly what he said before the tournament and before making his decision.  He said, I'm not ready; I'm tired; I played doubles; I feel my knee; I have no references on the court.
He was full of doubts.  He said, And if I miss my match?  I said, Yes, it can happen, and you might lose against Sousa.
I said, And so what?  Nadal lost against Coric in Basel and Wawrinka lost to Kukushkin in Basel.  Well, you will lose because just you don't have the adequate preparation.  That's it.  Next match.
You know, people come here to see a tournament.  It's not the Davis Cup final.  But imagine if you play correctly ‑  I'm not saying well, I'm just saying correctly ‑ are you going to give up the confidence you can draw from such a victory or such a game?
You might win a second match.  With the Davis Cup coming up, I think this is what might happen.  If you say no, you'll never know.
So I said, You need answers for the questions you have about your knee.  If the doctor says you can go ahead, I would go.
And I was not talking as a tournament director.  I was talking as a coach.
We talked about it for quarter of an hour.  He said, Okay, that's it.  I'm going to play.  So I came to see him.  He was saying he was not going to play.  Quarter of an hour later he said he was playing.
So I'm happy, because with the doctor we didn't say stupid things to him and he had a good result here.
And maybe this is what is going to help him to have a good weekend in Lille.  So you and me today are all dependent on the results of the Davis Cup team.
Even if the press is a bit tough on a player who didn't play well, it might help them react and play better next time.  It can stimulate them, because we all want our players to play well.
We are all trying to do what we can.

Q.  If you know all the secrets, how is his knee?  Because he doesn't really answer about it.
GUY FORGET:  I believe his problem is solved at 90%, but I'm not a doctor.  I'm just hoping he's not going to play a basketball game for two hours tomorrow.  He has to be careful.  You know him, you know.  He's a bit surprising sometimes.
And now this sort of countdown, not only for Gaël but for the other players where every minute counts, every minute of sleep, every minute of massage, of stretching ‑‑ has to be done with the prospect of and the goal of being at an exceptional level in Lille.
We had an interview with Arnaud, Nicolas Escude, and I remember Nicolas Escude beating Hewitt in Melbourne.  He was exceptional on that given day.
I was a witness of his improvement.  Well, I remember his practice.  For two weeks he was extremely rigorous and efficient, and I think this is the reason why he played a good match against Hewitt.
Now Arnaud Clement is really going with the team to organize the practice in this direction.

Q.  Arnaud was very firm.  He seems to know what he's doing.  He said at the end of Bordeaux he will appoint the two singles players.  Do you think it's right?
GUY FORGET:  When you play a match like this, it's that important.  On top of it, you have the uncertainty of not knowing whether you're going to play or whether you are going to be on the team.  It's impossible.
So I suppose he's going to wait to see how Gaël plays on clay.  He will wait until the medical opinion about his knee to know whether he's going to have Gaël or not.
But the earlier he will be able to say so to the players, the better.
Of course, that doesn't exclude that other players might still try to get ready, just in case.  In Melbourne I said to Nicolas Escude quite early he was going to play.  I remember Arnaud Clement was a bit angry at me, because it helps when you know beforehand you're going to play.
It helps to know the night before that you're going to play the next morning.  Every day during practice you put the ball at a given place, because it is not to beat your sparring partner.  It is because you have the opponent in mind and you know that's where you need to play.
So I understand Arnaud's choice.

Q.  It seems clear that Gasquet, Monfils, Tsonga, will be the three basic players.  Who would you choose as a fourth player?  Giles or a doubles player like Julien?  Just your opinion.
GUY FORGET:  I'm not going to give you a stupid answer.  You know how the doubles are important.  He has two options, Arnaud.  Either he's going to send my typical team, which would be Tsonga, Gasquet in doubles, and then he might choose Benneteau as a fourth player.
If Jo against Wawrinka has to play in five sets an extremely long match, it might be tough on Jo to play three matches in a row.  It's risky.  Now, if he thinks, Well, maybe the Swiss will not play doubles, so I can use Gilles.  So we will have four doubles players.
And I don't take Julien.  But if Gilles is on the team, he will have to play from the start.  He's not going to choose Gilles, and on Sunday evening say, I didn't have him play.
I didn't talk with him about all this, but I'm sure you thought about it, too.  He has two options today.  Now, what will happen during the training session will have an influence.  Who knows?  There might be injuries.  We don't know.

Q.  About the tournament, I heard players talking about the surface, saying that this year in this tournament the surface was a bit slower.  Is it the players hallucinating, or is it impossible to have the same surface from one year to another?
GUY FORGET:  No, the players are hallucinating.  I spoke with the guys doing the courts, and they have a machine which does the mixture with the resin and the sand and everything.  They have the same people placing this material here, in Valencia, in London.  The resins are from the same origin.
So when the players hit for the first time here in Bercy, some said, Oh, center court is faster than No. 1.  I saw Javier coming, and he just laughed.  He said it's the same wood, the same everything.
But of course the stadiums, the courts are in different places.  No. 1 is a lot smaller so the perception is different.  But the surface is exactly the same, and it's impossible that it would be otherwise.
We make sure there will be no changes with humidity.  I mean, it's impossible for the surfaces to be different all between the tournaments.
The speed is exactly the same.  Now if we wanted to have a slower or faster court by 10% or 15%, we could do that, because GreenSet people are so precise that they could do that.

Q.  Back to Davis Cup.  A lot of interest is on this event right now.  In previous years we were not as interested with Davis Cup.  Don't you believe that generally speaking Davis Cup has lost a bit of its interest or brightness?
GUY FORGET:  No.  I think this competition is still there.  I have been at a lot of Davis Cup events, and every time I saw a phenomenal, popular involvement.  I can see Masters 1000 on television ‑ like in China where the stands are pretty empty ‑ which doesn't happen in Davis Cup.
Next year first round of Davis Cup in 2015 France will play in a stadium that will be full.  Of course we try to change the format to adapt to the players, but the success of Davis Cup in no way is questioned.
110,000 people wanted to be connected to follow this France/Switzerland tie.  It's impressive.  What is the problem?  Certain years some players choose to give priority to their own career and didn't play Davis Cup.  It might be commercial reasons.
Also, sometimes federations have only Davis Cup ties as a source of revenues and they don't give anything back to the players.  So the players think, you know, I'm going to risk to be injured and everything and I'll get nothing from it.
So some players are angry at their own federations because of that.  But the competition itself is absolutely extraordinary.

Q.  McEnroe, Wilander were playing always Davis Cup; whereas Federer and Nadal...
GUY FORGET:  Well, Nadal almost played every time.  He played many times.  You know he has now physical problems in his back and his arm, appendicitis.  But really, Nadal always was there.  Now he just thinks he has to rest a little.  He was honest.  He said that very early.
He said, Well, listen, you can't count on me for this early.  So there's nothing to say.
But as you said, many champions always had Davis Cup as a priority.  Now it's up to the ITF to try to find ways of keeping players motivated.
Previous champions are now thinking about this, trying to make Davis Cup more attractive for the players.  I'm not worried about the interest of the crowd or the media.  You always give a wonderful space and room to Davis Cup in your media.
If you just talk about Davis Cup in one paragraph at the end of your newspapers, of course the interest will decrease.

Q.  You were talking about ITF.  Now you have an experience as a tournament director, so you know how tennis is organized.  What would you do for the stars like Nadal, etcetera, to participate first round in Davis Cup every year?
GUY FORGET:  Honestly, it's a very long discussion.  I don't think we can give an answer here.  It would need to be thought thoroughly about.
I think this final will be extraordinary, and it might be an incentive for other players to try to take a chance for the next years.
The best message you can send is what is going to happen in Lille in a few days.

Q.  You were captain of the French team.  You know how the group functions.  What about a woman Davis Cup captain?
GUY FORGET:  Why not?  Are you thinking about Amélie?

Q.  I'm thinking about the Spanish captain.
GUY FORGET:  Well, there are several things about Spain.  Nadal is not playing.  Many other players are not playing.  I think it's curious the team is in the second division.
It's a bit sad, because Spain gave a lot and has many, many good players.  I'm disappointed to see that.  But now having a woman captain, she might do an excellent job.  I mean, she might be top.  Was Rafa consulted?  I don't know.
But if not, I think it's a mistake from the Spanish Federation leaders.  I really can imagine Amélie coaching boys and have very good results.

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