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June 1, 2018

Gilles Simon

Paris, France


6-3, 6-1, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. We have a feeling that there wasn't much you could do, really. You fought till the end, but there was a real difference between the two of you, at least today on the court. What is your feeling?
GILLES SIMON: It was a difficult match, but he managed to make it easy for -- well, easy. We did fight for two hours for such results.

But he won all the important points, all the important moments. So in the beginning I was 3-0, Love-40, and I managed to fight it to get to 3-1, but then he won all the break points and all the difficult games. So it was difficult to put pressure on him.

I have fought three times in this tour on clay, Khachanov, for example, Dimitrov.

You know, 6-3, you could see him with his legs hurting. We were wondering whether he would get a cramp, but every time he had a good stroke whenever necessary, a good backhand, a good forehand. And I didn't manage to do so. So every time it progressed again and again.

Q. Can you tell us about this court No. 18, which is very specific? The public tends to like it. What are your feelings on it?
GILLES SIMON: Well, it's a court that is rather pleasant to play on. The only thing is that there is a huge noise. I don't know, or there was a competition between ambulances around the stadium. I don't know. There was a lot of noise.

But otherwise, the court is nice because the size is good. It's not too big. But it's quite dense.

You're surrounded in front, behind, and on the sides. Nice to play. Just a little bit too much noise from the outside world.

Q. I believe that in practice it's always very difficult against Nishikori. What did you try to implement so that what happens during practice didn't take place today in the match?
GILLES SIMON: Well, you know, practicing is always very different. I wanted to see how I was going to feel. I believe that today there were two key points for this match. First of all, on my side, I wasn't as focused as usual. I was a bit on automatic pilot.

I get the impression he was, too, with the points coming one after the other, but my automatic pilot, well, was below his.

And then where you could see it more is when I was returning his serve. I really didn't return well. He varied his strokes. He served with a lot of accuracy. He varied his spin, the speed. And every time I had trouble returning. And there were many points on his side where he was able to serve well and play well after his serve, which I wasn't able to do.

So it was difficult. I couldn't attack him on his second balls, which was my basic plan in the beginning, but he returned about 70%, I believe. And it's important with a player like this to vary your rallies, because once you're 50/50, he's on his line, he's not going to move from his line.

I ran, but when there was a difficult rally, there was always a fast point, one serve, one point afterwards, or with a difficult player like him, he's not forgiving.

Q. Tactically, do you have some regrets about not being more aggressive, not going in a little more? Obviously with a safety margin you always have to keep, but aren't you sorry you didn't attack him more?
GILLES SIMON: No, honestly, I don't think so. I just think I should have been a bit more dense in my play. At some moments, despite the score, he wasn't that well. In fact, I believe that in the end he's happy he finished and didn't end up with 5-4.

It's always easy to say I should have attacked on paper, but he hits hard on both sides. He plays from the line. He took a great number of lines at the end. He takes more risks.

I don't know how to do it at such level. I don't know how I could have faced this. But once again, if I launch myself a little bit more in the rally and if I had gotten him to take more risk, I would have done it. But once again, there were too many simple strokes, like a good serve, a good return, and a good serve, a good forehand, and that hurts.

Q. With one title, a good final, and a more difficult tournament, what is the balance of your season?
GILLES SIMON: Well, I do what I can. I wasn't ready for your question. Sorry about that.

The balance of my season after Roland Garros, I hadn't seen that question coming. But it's coming back okay, but all matches are very difficult paradoxically. In this ranking you have to fight. There is no easy match.

I beat a player who won against me last year, then Sam, then Nishi is the one who got me out. It's difficult because you have to play one match after the other. You have to seize opportunities. And also create opportunities, because I had a terrible draw last time, and I managed to win a tournament. But as soon as you decrease your level a little bit, you lose.

Okay, so on the one side I feel good for the game. I move well. I know I can do something. But there is also this feeling that as soon as I let down a little bit, it doesn't come out as I would like.

Q. I don't know if you know what Fognini said about the new generation. Does it ring a bell?
GILLES SIMON: No, but I'm sure he said something, a dream expression.

Q. Shapovalov is 25th in the world. He's progressing. But at the same age Rafa had won Roland Garros, and you see that he's programmed on the Suzanne Lenglen when Muguruza is on No. 1. Zverev, Shapovalov are playing well, but he didn't like it. They should eat pasta, run, and win matches. What do you think about that?
GILLES SIMON: I love Fabio, but it doesn't inspire anything. That's the answer. Sorry (smiling).

I love him just for this kind of thing. I don't know why he said that. I don't know in what context he said that. I think that young people are great. What they do is great. And they have a personality and style of game. There is a lot of them I like a lot, and they have a very good attitude on court for many of them.

But it's true that at the same age, and I'm well-positioned to say it because I lost against them throughout my career, all four of them were unbearable. Obviously they did better. Still very well.

I don't know. I don't know. I don't follow the media so much, so I don't know if there is a big story about that. But I think it's a good thing that they are young players playing well and with a pleasant style. Obviously they are not Rafa, but Rafa...

Q. I wanted to ask you to react to another sentence. Okay, Fognini was interesting. But Toni Nadal was saying to Le Monde that he was bored with present tennis, less variation in the rallies, rallies didn't last, the big servers were holding the game. He was suggesting to have softer balls and reducing the size of the mesh. Do you have an opinion about that?
GILLES SIMON: Well, it's been a while since we have seen tall guys hitting hard. It's maybe a bit more monotonous.

But still Rafa is winning on clay. Some players have a lot of variation in their game like a Dominic Thiem who has, well, different trajectories, I would say. But there is a big generation of hitters, of sluggers, who don't really want to defend. But that's the way it is.

I believe that tennis -- well, you have to see what's efficient, really. And you can see that nowadays the players who make a difference, in my opinion, are those who can defend. When I see a Zverev who is coming out of his generation, what he does better than the others is that he defends better. He doesn't hit harder than they do.

But in the end, whether you talk about Novak before or Rafa -- well, Novak is a bit different, because he counterattacks right away, but you always needed one more thing, a little extra.

And this kind of monolithic players were very often very good performers but rarely came to No. 1 or 2. And the players who would win the Grand Slam had this little extra thing, especially this ability to defend and not just to hit as strong as they can all the time.

It's true for men; it's true for women, as well. So that's it. You always have players who surprise you.

Q. Apart from Roland Garros, the reform of the Davis Cup which is coming up for next week, what do you think?
GILLES SIMON: Well, I don't know. I'm waiting, like everybody else. I think we hear a lot about it, but it changes all the time. You have announcements. As everyone else, I'm the spectator of what's happening. We will see the format that comes out.

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