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May 30, 2017

Laurent Lokoli

Paris, France


7-6, 6-3, 4-6, 0-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Can you evaluate this match, how it happened, and maybe why did you refuse to handshake with Klizan after?
LAURENT LOKOLI: This match was, I would say, weird because he was doing -- like, I mean, yeah. We're going to go straight because it's going to be better, I think, straight to the point, because I think a lot of people are wondering why I didn't shake the hand of Klizan.

This is quite simple. You know, I have my personality. I have the thing that, for me, when you're on tennis court, you have to be respectful. What he did, it's not respectful. Because, come on. He's four -- he's 48th in the world. I'm 280. I have a wildcard. Okay.

But why he's acting like that? I mean, he's like this (indicating) during one set. Then second set he's winning. Oh, it's a bit better. And then he's losing. Oh, when he's doing the drop shot, No, I'm not going. Third set. And then fourth set, Oh, no, I'm not going, not going.

And he's like -- he just look at me, look at my ass. And, you know, me, I'm wondering if he's going to retire or no, because now he's not running anymore, you know?

So, I mean, this is not respectful. Because if you have something, just say it, then call the doctor. Maybe he can do something for you. But you don't have to do that. You don't to do this. It's not -- yeah, it's not -- it's not -- how can I say?

For me, I will never do this. Because I have my opponent. I always respect my opponent. This is why. You know, after it's five set, five sets, almost four hours, this is a bit -- yeah, I was angry, angry because there is the player. He is very good player. And after there is the man and what he did. This is not respectful.

Again, I have to insist on this because, for me, this is the most important point. That's it. After, yeah, of course he's a great player. He's playing really, really good tennis, strong and everything. But yeah, there is two part for me, two part. We are -- it's like a battle, you know? Man against man. And at the end, okay, the better win. He was better than me. That's why he won. It's not because I lost. I don't care. Of course I'm disappointed, but I don't care.

I have the man. The guy respect me. I respect you. This is -- for me, it's like that. I mean, a lot of people will not understand. I'm not here to say that people have to understand me. It's okay for me.

I did what I did. That's it. It's because I have my, yeah, strong personality. Okay. I'm like that. But the people who know me, they would say that, okay, Laurent, I know why you did this.

It's because all the tournaments that I play, I never had one problem, never. You can ask everyone. On the Futures, on the challenges, when people are asking me if I can play with their kids, I'm always the first to say, Yeah, yeah, me, me.

That's it. For me, this is not good to say that -- to say that, okay, I got the wildcard and this is disrespectful against the wildcard because I did this? No. It's not about the wildcard.

The wildcard I put 100% of my energy, my head, my legs, everything in this match. This is what you are expecting when you give a wildcard to a guy. I was losing two sets to zero, coming back two sets all, and then, okay, I lost.

But I think we have to do both two things against -- again, sorry, but respectful. He wasn't respectful. And after the match -- the wildcard is about the match and after I'm playing against one guy. He's in front of me. I mean, if he was like, okay, doing the best that he can and he do not call the doctor, but he's not like this or like this (indicating), of course I will shake his hand, of course. Because I have no problem with him. I just have the problem with his attitude because he wasn't fair. That's it.

Q. So has someone said to you about disrespecting the wildcard or you're saying that?
LAURENT LOKOLI: That's what I heard.

Q. Where did you hear that? Who from?
LAURENT LOKOLI: I just heard that because I have a friend that he said that a lot of people say that.

But I don't have to do this. Again, I have a strong personality. But this is not -- I mean, I will not hide myself behind this. I did what I did. That's it.

For me, even if -- I mean, how can I say it? It's not because it's Klizan. I have no problem with this guy before the match. I have the problem with what he did, you know?

Q. Yeah.
LAURENT LOKOLI: That's it. And for me, yeah, there is two things. When they give you a wildcard, people are expecting you to give 100, 200, 300 percent, almost die on the court. This is what I -- yeah, for me, this is the most important thing, to give everything. That's what I did. And I can go out on the court with the head like this. For me, it's the most important thing.

And then after there is a second thing. It's not because I didn't shake his hand. I know that it's always like that. I mean, sometimes in life, you have choice to do and there is people will agree with you and there is people will not agree with you. But if you are okay with this, it's okay.

Q. And we saw that at one change of ends you had words with him. What did you say to him and what did he say to you?
LAURENT LOKOLI: Yeah. I just said to him that -- because was starting to get tight a little bit. And he just said to me that this is not respectful what the people are doing in the stairs. And I said, Do you think I can control them? Do you think I can control the guy who is clapping? I cannot. But you can control what you are doing. That's what I said. Me, I cannot control them. You, you can control your body. That's why you're not respectful. This is why. That's it.

And then after there is nothing to say. I mean, again, for me, it's -- yeah, I grew up with some value, you know? When I'm losing -- when I lost, I lost. It's because he was better than me. That's it. It's not -- again, it's not about the thing that I lost and I don't want to shake his hand because I lost. I don't care. Seriously, I don't care.

It's on me him what he did. You know, that's it. Me, I'm like this. I'm full. You know, really nice, everything. But you don't have to be disrespectful with me. That's it. I will always respect everybody. I do not care about everything. But the respect for me, especially on the court, because it's a fight, man against man. We are doing everything. We are giving everything on the court.

I just expect a little more respect. That's it.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. Even though you considered that he was faking, okay, this is a Grand Slam, and therefore don't you think you should have been more classy at the end of the match and then you could have discussed the whole matter with him after the match? Because this is something we'll remember. This is something we don't see frequently on a Grand Slam, people who refuse to shake hands and walk away.
LAURENT LOKOLI: As I said before, this is a choice I made. I accept my choice. Some people will regret. Others will not. I did it and I know why I did it. I did it because all of my matches -- you can take any match I've played, Futures or far away in the middle of nowhere, or at a Roland Garros. Here at the French Open, I agree with you. For the French Open, you need to have ethics and you need to behave well.

But, you know, for me, after a while, when we were on the court, you forget about being here in Paris. You're playing a tennis match against a man with values that are supposed to be the values of the fighters, the ones who play as best as they can and give as much as they can.

You know what? You're minimizing what he was doing. You're minimizing this.

Q. (Question off mic. )
LAURENT LOKOLI: Well, when you're on the court -- sorry about this. If you're not on the courts, you cannot understand. You cannot understand. It's very complicated.

You know, he was like this, acting like this, holding his hand. What would you be thinking about? Okay. Don't pay any attention to him. And then, afterwards, maybe he's going to stop doing this or maybe he's going to retire. Who knows?

But then he was holding his leg for two sets. He was fighting like hell and then, all of a sudden, you don't know why, you do your drop shot. He doesn't run. He doesn't run. He doesn't do anything. That's why I won 6-0 in the fourth one. And then during the fifth set, who knows why? All of a sudden it changes.

Q. Well, it's happened 10,000 times. Maybe it will happen again 50,000 times again at Roland Garros. It's something that we've seen before. That's what I mean. Each time someone loses against another player, well, does that mean we need to not shake hands?
LAURENT LOKOLI: No, no. It was his behavior, I think, the way he was. You know, and we talked on the courts, he and I. All of these tiny details, after a while, I'm sorry. That's a total lack of respect. A total lack of respect.

If you have values, -look at my values in sports. That is to be there 100%. From the first point to the last point, I respect my opponent. And it has nothing to do with the fact that I've lost. I'm very disappointed to have lost. Okay. But that's a different thing. I was given a wildcard. I wanted to be present there two billion thousand percent there on the court. And now I consider that's my choice. It's my way of looking at things. I consider that after a while you have to show some type of respect, even more when it's a Grand Slam. Because these matches are very long matches because everybody's eager to do their best.

But I'm not waiting. You know, I'm -- well, let me rephrase. Maybe 50 percent of the people in the room will say you're right, they agree with me; 50 percent will say they're against me. I'm not trying to defend my cause. I'm just saying that, you know, there are ways of doing things. If you're injured, for instance, well, you're injured. So what? Call the doctors.

This is what really bothered me. I think it would have been better had he called the doc and then, no, this time I thought it wasn't good. It wasn't something to do.

Again, again, we are necessarily less clear about what's going on when the match is long. I spent almost four hours on the court. Lots of pressure, lots of tension. Of course, I can't say the contrary because I was given a wildcard.

But here again, I don't share the same values. I don't share these values and that's why I did that. When I'm on the courts, I respect everybody. The umpires, the players, the crowd. That's all. That's how I look at things. You might like it or not, but I'm like this. That's all.

Q. I couldn't follow all of your match, but would you say that he was pretending? That this was a fake? When did it start getting on your nerves? And my next question is couldn't you draw lessons from this loss, mentally speaking? What can you do in the future so that you would overcome this and not suffer from all of these details that bothered you?
LAURENT LOKOLI: Well, I played my match. Mark my words, I played my match. But there's a moment when, well, look at reality. The person just on the other side of the net is doing things that are very, very weird, strange things.

Well, it started during the first set. We didn't really know. And then, after a while, he won the first set. And then during the second one, he was up, and all of a sudden no news from him. He was not doing this any longer.

And then it started again during the third set when, again, I turned the match around and I was up. And here again, third one. The fourth set, the fourth set was the maximum. And do you know he was there and, at the end of the fourth set, he changed again completely.

And a few big shots and some drop shots, but he was not there any longer, not on the court. And then I was always in my match. But, you know, you know what is happening on the other side of the net. You're focusing on yourself, but you know what the opponent is doing. And I looked at him and I saw that he was not respectful. That's all.

Q. You were saying there was a bit of tension connected to your wildcard, the fact that you were invited. There's a bit of an argument on this because we know that you're close to the president. So did you feel like you were obliged to do something good?
LAURENT LOKOLI: Let me clarify something. Everybody, and I mean everybody, has said that Bernard and I are close. He's my president from my tennis league.

Okay. I'll say something. I'm not going to repeat it twice. But I qualified myself twice for a Grand Slam. I'm not coming out of the blue, contrary to what people think. I was the only one to be qualified in 2014 for Roland Garros. I was qualified for the Australian Open in 2015. I was injured for a year when I had reached 207 ranking, and I went down ranked 1000, and then I went up 270 in six months.

And, you know, it's not because it's me. I don't understand when people come to me and they say -- or some people I hear them think that it's a shame that I should be given a wildcard. You know what? After a while, what I'm trying to do is to be objective, to be objective.

And, you know, I didn't choose to give myself the wildcard. But when someone comes to me with the same question, I answer them the same answer. I'm saying Grand Slams, yeah, I got qualified twice for the Grand Slam. I have the level to play in the main draw. That's how I look at things. That's what I think.

I'm not waiting for -- how can I say? I don't -- I'm not waiting for everybody's approval. I have received my wildcard. I was there one billion percent on the court.

But given what happened at the end of the match, well, you know what? Very often people tend to set aside all the good things that you do. And I feel really good at the end of the match because I played as much as I could and that's what I thought when I was in the locker rooms. That's all. That's all that I have to say.

Q. Well, the good things then, let's talk about the good things, not the arguments and the fact that you're disappointed by the results. What satisfied you during the match? What would you say?
LAURENT LOKOLI: Well, I believed in this win until the very last moment. I was fighting hard. My guts were on the court. I was down 2-0, two sets zero, and I had the impression I was down. It was difficult for me to hit hard. It was a bit tough.

But then what's good is that I was always in the match. I was fighting for it. I was doing my best to turn the match around. And, well, you might say it's normal. It's normal. I was given a wildcard. It's normal for me to fight.

But I tried to believe in it until the very end. It's the best of five sets and it almost turned around several times.

And here again, and I want to insist on that. You know what? I talked about the fact that I thought he was disrespectful but he won. He won the match. Let's face it. He won it. What happened on the court, there's -- you know, there's the man, and I'm criticizing the man, how he behaved.

And then there's the tennis man. The tennis man played excellent tennis. We know what he can do. Five sets against Wawrinka at the Australian Open. He's a wonderful tennis player. I'm not saying the contrary. And this is it. I mean, after all that's happened I have lost. Okay. But he's won. This is it. He was stronger than I was.

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