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May 27, 2015

Gael Monfils


G. MONFILS/D. Schwartzman
4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Playing at home in France in front of a crowd of Frenchmen, do you find that more helpful or more stressful than playing elsewhere?
GAËL MONFILS: Yeah, for me it's more helpful, definitely. No question about it for me. Always help me, you know, never put pressure on me. Actually, it's much better that way. Actually, today I won because I had the crowd behind me.

Q. And in what ways does it help you?
GAËL MONFILS: Well, I think I was a bit off, you know. As you can see, when I serve the break points, the crowd start to be with me, behind me, and actually motivate me more than I am, and then they give me, let's say, some wings. I think I rise my level at that stage, and then what's I think a different face that the opponent can see.

Q. Do you ever hear specific things people are yelling, or do you just sort of hear the whole loud noise that...
GAËL MONFILS: It depends. If I focus on my family, I can, you know, I can pick few words. But, you know, at the end, I take all crowd energy. You know, at the end is everyone.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. Were you scared? Did you scare yourself?
GAËL MONFILS: Scared. I don't like this word. I don't like to say you have fears. There are moments when it's more difficult than others when we are looking for solutions, but we are not scared. We are not afraid. I don't think that's the proper word.

Q. Nervous. Would nervous be a more appropriate word?
GAËL MONFILS: Well, you can see it like this, but in the beginning at 3-2 I was playing okay. At one stage, don't forget the other guy on the other side, he was playing fine, too. I mean, at one stage you might think I was playing short, but the other one was playing very well. He had very fast balls. He was hitting very early. And then nervousness, okay, stress of the match, but the guy played really well. He imposed his style, which is not mine, and at 4-All or at 5-4, I'm not going to play exactly in the same way. I was fine in the beginning. I was fine. My first serve, fine. Forehand. Everything fine. I was not nervous. But it was difficult today, because from a tactical perspective, he was playing something different. It took me time to find a solution.

Q. Could we say you were not expecting such a resistance from a guy you probably don't know well, and maybe this is what was a bit of a problem in the middle of the match?
GAËL MONFILS: A bit of a problem, I don't know. Because he played his card, and he played very well. I had seen him Istanbul. He had played a match and lost to Rog, and he played very well. He played Rog and he lost 6-4, 6-4, and I thought, My gosh, this Schwartzman, he can play. What surprised me is that there were not many ups and downs. In the second set it took him one set and a half to start being less aggressive. This is when I turned around and took the second set. Then he was very strong again. It's not very often when you face a guy you don't know very well and he would keep the rhythm perfectly, which he did. So it wasn't easy.

Q. Do you know where you stand in terms of your game after this match?
GAËL MONFILS: Honestly, this is not a question I'm asking myself, because each match is different. And today I could have lost, because you like to say this, this, and that, but this guy, he can play tennis. He showed it. Diego played a perfect match. It's just a few points in difference, and I'm very lucky. Because maybe -- maybe it's his first five-set match. Maybe I'm slightly more used to playing five sets than he is at the moment. So I didn't ask myself the question of knowing if I played well or not. I just wanted to win.

Q. After the match, you drew a smiley on the court. What was it and why did you smile it?
GAËL MONFILS: Well, for two reasons: First, because I was happy, I smiled; and second, I'm sponsoring a platform called Melting Good [ph], and I wanted to send them a message. I could have done that in the first match. I did that today because I was particularly happy. It was a tough match and I won it, so it was good. It was good for the crowd, as well.

Q. At 2-All in the fourth set, and you had two break points and you have this forehand that you can play so well, and you won the point. Was it an important point for you?
GAËL MONFILS: Well, not necessarily this one. There was another one which I played very well before. But it might sound a bit strange. I always sound a bit strange anyway, but it's easier for me to do this jump forehand, because I feel more comfortable. Now, you can tell me whatever you please, but I feel more comfortable playing like this. It's at this moment I need to jump to feel comfortable to win the point. I jump because I feel more comfortable.

Q. A different question. Jo has a leadership position in French tennis, even though there is not a big gap with you. Do you feel that this leadership is not as strong as it used to be in the past? Would you be happy to become a leader amongst the French players?
GAËL MONFILS: Well, I'm cool. I'm the joker. I like it. People like me as a joker, and it's a very good, very comfortable position. So now Jo, leader, you decide. If you decide that I'm a leader, you'll write it. There you go. But I'm quite happy being the joker. It's cool. We don't care. It's simple to you, okay, but we are very happy with the organization we have. We all have our role to play. We don't want to break this harmony. I mean, Jo is something that we can trust. Of course he has lots of responsibilities. We don't want to put too many responsibilities on his shoulders because we are a team. All of us, we know where we stand. We have a good team. Now, who is the leader, not the leader, that's kind of a joke for us.

Q. If you are leading in one area, it's five-sets match at Roland Garros, do you like that?
GAËL MONFILS: Oh, no. Fuck, I could do without that. There is just one match I regret, maybe another one. I can't remember the third one I lost. I'm not even certain -- well, I regret -- I have regrets for Murray, Fognini, and what was the third one? I can't remember. I can't remember who I played in the third five-sets match I lost. No, honestly, I could do without five-sets match, because you lose more energy mentally, by the way, more than physically. Today I played an hour and 15 minutes at a very high mental intensity level. So it's mentally that you wear out.

Q. (Off microphone.)
GAËL MONFILS: What can I say about Pablo? I know him well. We played in the World Cup for under-16 in La Baule for the first time, and we played three sets. It was crazy. We lost to Uruguay, but it was great. We had great fun. I have known him for quite a while. We also practiced together quite a lot. We played each other in the US Open. And on the Grandstand I won 6-4, 6-4 at 11:00 in the morning, please. So 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. He's a great player. He's many wins on clay. He won titles last year and I think he did also this year. It's going to be a beautiful match between clay-court players. He played a long match today, as well, so we'll have to recover in order to be able and play a good match. Then I will try and step up, play more powerful and play better. I hope he won't have me run on the court for too long, so recovery first.

Q. You talked about the crowd in English, but there were many young people and many kids. They were shouting a lot. As an athlete, you have experienced all sorts of situations because you have been in this game for a long time. But is the crowd still important to you?
GAËL MONFILS: Yeah. Honestly, I love that. It was a problem for him, but I am very happy about playing tennis in the noise. It's not more difficult to serve than throwing in a ball during the NBA matches. It would be fun, because you have guys, they have their routine, and it would break their routine. The more noisy, the more energy. So I want to play on Mondays, not on Sunday, to be able to play on Wednesday.

Q. Talking about noise, 32 years after Yannick Noah, what would be the impact if a French guy was to win the tournament?
GAËL MONFILS: I don't know. I'm not a journalist.

Q. Don't you have an idea of the repercussions?
GAËL MONFILS: Honestly, honestly, no, because five matches, that's a long way ahead.

Q. Not just you. A French guy.
GAËL MONFILS: Honestly, I don't know. I'd be curious to find out.

Q. The Champs-Élysées?
GAËL MONFILS: I don't know. Honestly. (Laughter.) As for me, it would be Guadeloupe.
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