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May 24, 2016

Nicolas Mahut

Paris, France

N. MAHUT/R. Berankis

7-6, 6-2, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. Less than two hours on the court, that's the ideal start, I suppose.
NICOLAS MAHUT: Yeah, of course. You expect a tough match. You don't want to spend that much time if you have to play singles and doubles. That's really excellent news.

And, you know, I'm very, very happy. I'm not going to say, yeah, you know, in front of the family, et cetera, but that's the case. You know, yesterday evening my child who is five. He was going to bed. And he said, You know, if it's doubles you win cups, but singles, you lose all the time. First time he's here.

I'm very happy to be back home this evening and say I have won this one. That's what I'm really satisfied with.

Q. Now, this is a clean match. The very first set was really tough, but then you were more aggressive, moving to the net. It's more consistent. That's an interesting start, as you were saying. Whereas for doubles, you do incredible things. That's the type of thing we expected from you, that you'd be more daring for singles. It was the case today.
NICOLAS MAHUT: Yeah, that's true. Well, in any case, this is how I'm going to be able to win matches here. I have had so many losses in the past here in Roland because I was not playing my game, it was five-set matches. These were too long. And losing this way was something I didn't like, but for many years I have improved.

I don't know how many Roland Garros I will still play, I mean, singles. I try and make the most of these moments with the crowd, the audience. It's extraordinary. I have to play my tennis the way I play.

And what's difficult for an attacker, an aggressive player, is when you have passing shots. You know, you have more passing shots. My serve is not as good as usual. It's difficult for you to have the upper hand to do that, but that's how we have to play. We are aggressive.

And that's how we can really bother the opponent, the other players. Because usually they don't have players who play this type of game, but today it was really good for me. So double satisfaction.

Q. You can tell your son you've never had such a ranking. No. 44 in the world.
NICOLAS MAHUT: No, that's a mistake. I was 37 already. But not far.

Q. So you can tell your son that. And you can tell your son, as well, that you can go as far as the third round even though there is Rafa Nadal on your way.
NICOLAS MAHUT: I have not gone that deep to Rafa. The second round is going to be difficult for me. Fognini. I think they were still playing, weren't they? Yeah, in any case, it's going to be really tough for me. I expect a complicated match.

But then I'll enjoy this one. I will enjoy this win. Because I was watching this, you know, Rafa, you're talking about him, I played my first Roland Garros 16 years ago.

I won fewer matches than Rafa won the titles. He won nine times here. I have won fewer matches than he won the tournament. I thought, Okay, I've got to win a few of those matches. I thought, it's impressive what he's done so far. He's on my side of the draw, so I saw that. Well, possibly. So that means I'll have to win the second round.

But even after winning the second round I'll have fewer wins than him.

Q. Don't tell him.
NICOLAS MAHUT: No, I'm not going to tell him. But I think he knows that.

Q. What about your motivation in terms of motivation? I know you're thinking about, you know, No. 1 in doubles. You're not far from this with Pierre-Hugues at present. You're playing really well. What about singles? Is singles something that goes with doubles? Are you as motivated or not?
NICOLAS MAHUT: Well, in terms of my preparation, physically I'm prepared for a five-setter game. You know, I'm in the top 50 still. I want to do good things with my singles matches. The objectives are different for doubles. You want to win the tournament. It's different. You want to be No. 1. You want to reach the Masters, so the objectives are different.

But you can't oversee this, as well. Today I'm well-ranked. And I feel I can do good things in singles. The difficulty for me is to continue like this. To be strong and solid physically, because apart from the U.S. where we won, the other Grand Slams it was difficult for us, because we had singles to play, as well.

It's complicated to have a singles match and then doubles when it's a Grand Slam. The good news though is that I managed to win a three-set match. I didn't spend much time on the court. So tomorrow I will start doubles. I'll be quite fresh.

You know, to reach No. 1, well, I got that -- I mean, I thought about this. It's in the back of my head. But when you start a Grand Slam that's not at all the objective. The objective is to try to go as deep as you can to try and win the match. You have to go through the first round.

The ranking is secondary. When you play such a tournament, you want to do your best. You want to use all the tricks to win the tournament.

Q. I feel you're developing nicely. You feel really good. What's the reason?
NICOLAS MAHUT: Well, I'm the reason. You know, I feel good. My health is good. I play well when I play singles, when I play doubles. Everything is okay. Everything's fine.

So I don't know. Today was my father's birthday. I forgot to say happy birthday to him. I'm happy. And my wife is here, my son, my family. I won a match here, Roland Garros. Everything is good so far.

Q. Everything's good you're saying, but then you had a massage. Did you have a backache during the match?
NICOLAS MAHUT: Yeah, I think so. It's the conditions. It's so cold. I hesitated playing with another T-shirt that's tighter, below my polo shirt.

But I don't usually do this. I thought, I'm not going to do this, wear a second one. And I think it was an error. Because even though it didn't rain today, it's so cold. With a little sweat and wind, I thought that, yeah, I was a bit tight. My muscles were tight and this massage was good for me. So if the conditions are the same in two days, I'll be more careful.

Q. Kristina Mladenovic said this morning that the French players will be talking about the Olympic Games. She said she will play mixed matches with Pierre Hugues. Do you have anything to say about this?
NICOLAS MAHUT: Roland or the Olympic Games?

Q. During the Olympic Games.
NICOLAS MAHUT: Well, you have to wait for the Federation's official selection. They're going to decide the six players they are going to take or they're going to send. That's for men. It's going to be Pierre-Hugues and myself. But it's not yet announced officially.

So I can't say much about this, but, yeah, it's probably going to be the case. Then, yes, we can perhaps play mixed. We try to speak about this with the girls before the tournament. We didn't think with Pierre-Hugues we'd have double mixed to play, but that's an option and that's the very last tournament when we can truly try and play mixed. You know, Wimbledon is five-set singles, and doubles, no, you can't add a mixed match.

So we call the girls, Caro didn't want to play mixed matches here. Yet I decided to go for it with another player, a woman, to play mixed.

Q. In terms of doubles, there was a final here with Mikhail Llodra. This year, I suppose, it's going to be a good thing for you to forget this very painful loss?
NICOLAS MAHUT: Yeah, very, very painful when I was defeated in the finals. But the rest was really good. Well, we're far from that. You have to win five matches before you reach finals. It's only the first round. I'd like to have this discussion in a week. We'll see. Or ten days with you. We'll see.

But as we speak, it's a long road. We have done that before. We know we can do it again with Pierre-Hugues. But it's a long, long road. Look at the conditions, as well. Look at the conditions. Who knows? Singles matches can be stopped or the doubles, as well. It's the objective, of course.

But tomorrow we're going to have a first round. That's not easy, I'm telling you. I keep on repeating the same, but, you know, we have to practice and be ready for tough matches each time. It's always the case. If we think about semis and finals, playing the first round, I can tell you you're really close to being defeated.

So no, no, I'm not beating around the bush. I'm just saying we are really focusing on the first round. It's not going to be easy. I hope Pierre-Hugues is not going to end too late this evening so that he's fit tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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