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June 23, 2017

Gilles Muller

London, England

G. MULLER/S. Querrey

6-4, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. 2017 has already been a memorable year for you. Your first win in Sydney, got the trophy from Rod Laver. You mentioned it took a big weight off your shoulders. Can you talk a little bit about that and how that's brought you through 2017 to where you are now?
GILLES MULLER: Yeah, I mean, definitely. You can understand that it was something that I was working for my whole career, and then, I mean, I had to wait 16 years. You can imagine the weight that I had on my shoulders to get that first trophy.

When I got it, it was tough, to be honest. The first weeks after that were kind of a lot of questioning in my mind. So what do we do now? It's something you work for for so long, and then basically you reach that goal, so what are we doing now?

So it took a while to digest the whole situation, but it gave me a lot of confidence and a lot of strength, also. I think now the last couple of months have been really good for me.

Q. You're 7-nil on grass already this season. Querrey is a really tough grass court player. You must be feeling confident to do quite well at Wimbledon and going even further here?
GILLES MULLER: Well, first of all, I'm not thinking about Wimbledon right now. It's still too far away. It's too big of a chance to play a good tournament here to think about other things.

Yeah, I mean, I'm going to play semifinals here for the first time tomorrow. I lost quarterfinals last two years, so I'm really happy that I was able to go one step further. I mean, now that you're so close, you want to go all the way. Tomorrow is going to be a tough match, but yeah, I'm looking forward to it.

Q. It's a little late in your career perhaps to have this break over the past 12 months in your 30s. What has made the difference over this past year?
GILLES MULLER: I think it's been going pretty well for the last three years. I mean, to be honest, when I had that last injury in 2010 -- yeah, I don't know. 2013. 2014 when I came back.

From that moment on, it went pretty well. I mean, what has changed? I think I changed a lot of things. When I had that last injury I was able to work very hard physically for six months, because I had problems with my elbow so I couldn't play tennis but I was able to work out other things.

I think I'm now getting paid for that. I mean, I was probably never able to work that hard for that long, because as you know, tennis season starts in January and ends in November, so you never have six months where you're able to work.

I mean, you can see also in Roger, it's kind of the same example. He took a couple months off and was able to work very hard, which he never did probably before in all his career. So that was very good for me, actually. Strange to say, but that injury was probably the best thing that happened to me (smiling).

Yeah, since then I'm able to play all year long with no breaks because of injury, and I think that's helping me a lot. To be able to play that long gave me a lot of confidence, also, and yeah, I trust my body now which I didn't do before, and I think that's what changed.

Q. How much of your run is about momentum at the moment? You're almost unstoppable at the moment.
GILLES MULLER: Yeah, I think it's a lot of momentum. I think on grass everything goes so fast, and I feel like even when you don't play well you can still stay in the match with your serve. I think what makes the biggest difference is that the big points, like you kind of feel like you're always taking the good choice on important moments like I did on break point today. If you look at the whole match, I mean, there was no break chances for both of us, almost. He had some break chances at the end of the second set, but the Love-40 I had in the first set was kind of coming out of nowhere. And then I was there right away to grab that chance. I think that's the biggest difference.

Same thing against Tsonga in the second round. I think he had three break chances. I was able to not give it away, and I think I had two and I took them.

I think that's the biggest difference when you feel comfortable and when you feel that the momentum is on your side.

Q. They have extended the grass court season, but do you think there should be more fast surfaces in men's tennis generally to encourage players like yourself who serve and volley on occasions?
GILLES MULLER: I don't know. I'm already pretty happy they extended the grass court season for one week. I understand it's tough to play more matches on the fast surfaces, but I think it's pretty good, also.

I mean, I like to play on the hard courts also, slow hard courts in the US. I feel comfortable on it. I think there is a lot of things for everyone. You have the clay, you have the slow hard courts, you have a couple tournaments that may be a little bit fast, and then you have the grass. I think it's quite equal for everyone.

Q. So this is your third time in this position of being able to finish and possibly come up with a trophy. What have you learned from those first two experiences that's helping you now?
GILLES MULLER: Well, I think I don't feel the pressure anymore that I used to feel when I played a final. I lost five finals before the one in Sydney, and so, yeah, I don't feel like I can lose something in the final. I feel I can get another trophy, but basically the whole weight is off my shoulders. I don't feel that pressure anymore.

Q. You have been on tour for so many years. What inspires you to keep playing?
GILLES MULLER: Well, I mean, first of all, I have never been in this position, so I'm very happy to feel that. I mean, I was never top 30 before in my life, and now this year for the first time I have a "2" in front of my ranking. That means a lot. Those are things you think about, you dream of as a kid, so when it happens it feels good.

Like I said, I feel I lost a little bit of time in my career because of injuries, and I kind of feel like I don't want to stop too early. I want to live that moment now and enjoy it. One thing that always kept me going was my two boys at home. I always dreamt of playing in front of them and them seeing me play the big tournaments. So, yeah, it doesn't feel like I want to stop.

Q. Does being a father -- because you're one of the lesser-known fathers on tour, perhaps. But having the kids, giving you a more balanced perspective on life, a balanced perspective on what tennis is and what it means, but maybe getting through a loss a little differently and realizing it's important but it's not everything?
GILLES MULLER: Yeah, probably I think it has changed a lot. Also, the thing that has changed is when I didn't have kids, you are kind of leaving home, and when you're not winning or when you're feeling bad, you feel like, oh, today I don't want to do this, I don't want to practice, or give me a break. But now when you leave, you have a reason. You know, okay, I'm leaving now. Obviously I would love to stay home sometimes, so when you're gone, just do your job and do it for them and give it your best.

I think that that's the biggest change that I experienced when I had kids at home waiting for me.

Q. A lot of people say becoming a father makes them a better player in some respects.
GILLES MULLER: I think so, yeah. The proof is there that I'm being at my best ranking that I have ever had. Yeah, for sure, it has worked out good for me (smiling).

Q. Going into Wimbledon, you said earlier that winning Sydney kind of played with your head a little bit going into the Australian Open. Is this the first time going into a slam feeling like a player who can win trophies and are seeded?
GILLES MULLER: I mean, that's the goal, yeah. Obviously I pulled out from Eastbourne next week because I had a lot of matches now, and so the reason I did that was to get some rest before Wimbledon.

Again, I really didn't think about Wimbledon yet. Like I said, I have big chance tomorrow and maybe the day after to do a great thing here. I mean, obviously the biggest target of the whole grass court season is Wimbledon. That's for sure.

So I'm looking forward to play there, but right now my focus is on the semifinals tomorrow.

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