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May 29, 2017

Paul-Henri Mathieu

Paris, France

D. GOFFIN/P. Mathieu

6-2, 6-2, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. It's been a tough match. Probably not what you dreamt of at the end, I suppose, for Roland Garros tournament.
PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: No. That's true. That's not something I'll linger on. I don't want to remember this match. It was a tough one.

When I woke up this morning I thought that, oh, yeah, physically that's going to be hard. I was a bit with stiffed muscles and my hip was hurting a little. It didn't improve with the day.

So against such a high-caliber player that is David Goffin, who is extremely solid, if physically you're not 100% there it's going to be difficult to fight back.

Q. Well, what about your emotions then? This day in Roland Garros, it's always a special moment in a career. The fans were there to be with you and support you at the end.
PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: Well, yeah, yeah, that's true. I was prepared, though. Yet it's always difficult to turn the page and today was probably my very last match here at Roland Garros.

Yeah, lots of things that go through your mind. My problems here when I was a junior or on the main draw, men's main draw, it wasn't so quickly. The first time I was here was in 2001. Today we are in 2017. I have probably missed two or three due to injuries. And all of these years have flown by at the speed of lightning, almost.

And this is it. This is it. I'll have to turn this page and consider something else.

Q. I suppose that there were more emotions at the end of the qualifying rounds, more than today. And the real good-bye is today.
PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: Yeah, it was dear to my heart to play this very last Roland Garros. As I said, this tournament has been the driving force in my life. Since the age of 6 my dream was to play here and to win, perhaps one day to win here. When I started playing this tournament when I was finishing one edition, then the next day I was thinking about the following year to come back.

It's true it was really dear to me to be playing this tournament, my last tournament. I didn't think I would finish this way on the courts at the other end of the stadium and qualifying rounds, as well.

So I'm happy I went through these qualifying rounds. Yet, of course I'm disappointed with my results today, but that's normal, part of the game.

Q. The least we can say is that lots of things happened to you. You didn't receive a wildcard. You had to be qualified and there was no ceremony at the end. Was that shocking? Did they want to do this or you refused?
PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: People talked about it, that's true. People talked about it. There is no secret about it. I decided to go to Guy and to meet him, and I said, if they have planned something, I'd rather we shouldn't organize anything. We didn't organize anything. I didn't feel it was proper to do this and saying good-bye or adieu is not my thing. I was happy to finish, well, this way because the crowd put their hands together for me when I left the court. It's enough, it really is.

So this is what I wanted.

Q. We didn't think you would also pat people from the Federation, given what's happened, pat their backs.
PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: This is what you are saying.

Q. Last time you had a conference with the press you said, I've things to say, after the qualifying rounds. Do you want to say something today?
PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: No, today is not the right day, the right day to talk about this. Roland Garros is such a tournament for me. When I was a spectator, when I was a player, I dreamt so much. I don't want to argue about anything about the tournament. I respect this tournament too much to do that.

Q. Well, can you tell us more about three important Roland Garros moments for you? There is probably 1000.
PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: 1000? No, no way. But three of my best moments here? It's impossible. What should I say? Well, it's gone by so quickly. So many moments I can think of.

It started with this win when I was a junior in the year 2000, and then when I played against Agassi in 2002, round of 16 on center court. That was a dream come true for a child. And to be on this court, this iconic court, round of 16. I was 20. I was careless, totally. I thought I couldn't be defeated. Nothing could stop me, I thought. I had so much confidence in myself at that moment. I thought I could win this tournament.

And, to me, this tournament or rather this was the beginning of lots of things, and that was the 2002 edition. Then there were other moments, tough moments, as well. Well, of course. For instance, when I lost against CaƱas with match points for me, and I lost. That was tough for me. And he was playing, he had been suspended. He was, however, playing the tournament. So that's something he stole away from me.

That year physically speaking I was ready to reach the quarterfinals to play Puerta, against Puerta. So this was quite close.

And then this other match against Rafa. Very famous, tough match against Rafa in terms of emotions or physical condition, and it was such a fight, a difficult one, as well. I was disappointed at the end of the match to play against him so quickly, because that year my level of game was so good. I was prepared to go deep in the tournament. And to play against him third round is not a gift.

But then there were so many other matches, as well. When I was back from my injury, after my injury, that was in 2012. I thought maybe I'd never play again at the French Open. Then it was a five-set match on court No. 2. First time I was playing on court No. 2. It was so huge. I defeated Isner, five-set match again. Well, this was such a win to me, and it was worth a lot more than the second week at the French Open at the time.

What else? So many moments. When I was defeated against Granollers, on Court 1 to center court, people were there aligned to cheer me up, and these memories, I'll never forget.

Q. Well, your career or the season is not over, but I have the impression all in all that you have had so many bad things, these injuries, then the Davis Cup and all that. I have the impression you were not really that lucky, were you? Now that you're at the end of your career, are you totally worn out? Do you have the impression it was a fight, a constant fight or struggle to fight and it was tough to elbow your way through?
PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: I wouldn't call that that difficult or toiling or elbowing my way. I wouldn't use these expressions. But then I can't say that my career was up and smooth all the way through.

No, physically and morally I have had my own hurdles to overcome, to manage, and that was tough. That's true when you're back after being injured, well, you have to do twice as much work to be back. It takes so much time from you. You have to be so engaged, so involved and use so much energy so you wear more quickly than usual.

And also, I started playing international tournaments when I was aged 14. Today, you know, I can say I have done that all my life. Sometimes I thought I'm totally worn out. Sometimes I was doubting. I thought, well, shouldn't I stop? Then I made a choice personally. I thought, no, come on, take a grip and come back. Sometimes it was difficult to come back, to accept to come back at a level I knew would be a lot lower than the level I'd reached before. This was difficult to accept in the recent years.

Q. What about the end of this season? Do you want to finish with the French at Bercy or not? Or do you know? Or don't you know?
PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: Well, the tournament that was dear to my heart is here. For me, you know, it was very important to play here at Roland Garros for the very last time. Then the rest of the season I'll try and play and enjoy these tournaments I have always loved in recent years, the ones I play with great pleasure. I hope my ranking will be honorable at the end of the year, and I play tournaments that I like. After Bercy -- well, no, Bercy is too far away. I don't know.

I was given a wildcard last year, and I knew maybe it was the last time I would play at Bercy. So I'll try. I'll try and enjoy. Enjoy these very few matches to go until the end of the year, and then I'll decide what I'll do with Bercy. I will see what my ranking is like.

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