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May 30, 2018

Benoit Paire

Paris, France


6-3, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French, please.

Q. You're deceived by the results, but is that more important than the quality of your match because you were able to push Nishikori?
BENOIT PAIRE: Yes, of course, I'm disappointed. Roland Garros is over in the second round for me.

I had said it before the tournament, the fact of not being seeded, I'm not protected. So I'm exposed to a difficult draw. I play against Nishikori in the second round. So as I said the day before, you can open your draw, and it was not the case and I lost.

It was a beautiful match, a beautiful fight. I did what I could and I really did my best. I would have liked -- of course, I would have preferred winning. You can't win every single match.

And I'm in line with my previous matches where I'm able to remain focused and fight the entire match, and that's what I will take away this evening.

Q. There is the defeat but also a lot of pride. What are you most proud of?
BENOIT PAIRE: I'm happy that my back is okay and I'm able to play matches 100%. The beginning of the year was a bit difficult because of my back. I had to withdraw in the match because my back was too hurting.

And since Madrid, Rome, I'm able to play 100%, and I don't have to worry about my physical health. I did a lot of the cure, a lot of treatments, and it's fruitful.

And part of my tennis level, although I didn't have the match of my life -- I've got to play better -- at some moments I could have won the match.

It was still a beautiful tennis match. And I didn't give in or give up. Before, I was able to give up over the last season. And here, I didn't want to have that again. Over the last months, I've wanted to make the most of every moment and to say I've given everything and I've fought as I wanted.

Of course, I'm disappointed I've lost, but there's a lot of pride, as you said, of having fought back and being able to win over the audience. And they responded and supported me and that was really heartwarming.

Q. Regarding the audience, it's the first time you're playing on the center court? Chatrier?
BENOIT PAIRE: Yes, indeed.

Q. It took you time to win over the audience.
BENOIT PAIRE: Yes, I was a bit tense at the beginning of the match. Nishikori started very well. I didn't know what to expect.

During the first games, he was playing very close to the line, so taking the ball very soon. I had difficulty starting well. He started the match very well and didn't enable me to breathe. So I had difficulty in winning over the audience. I was trying to focus on my game and to be loose.

And then, in the beginning of the second set, I was able to break him, break his serve. And then I couldn't get the audience while I was not in the match, but then at a certain point in time they responded when it was the right moment.

At the beginning it was quite calm, but, of course, because my level of game was not exceptional and the fight had not begun. But I'm very happy about what happened on the center court. I had the Ola's. It was a fantastic experience.

Of course, I'm disappointed that I lost in the second round. I can't say contrary.

Q. What do you think you have to improve after such a match?
BENOIT PAIRE: Quite a few things. My serve. I had difficulties at some points in the match having a better first serve, more percentage of first serves in.

Nishikori is a great returner. When I have a good first serve, he has difficulty. In important moments, it was true that my serve got broken twice in a row. In the end, it was really quite painful.

Q. Nishikori said that he tried to change his tactic after the fourth set. Did you feel something? He said, according to him, he tried to hit the ball with longer balls and to become more aggressive. Did you feel that?
BENOIT PAIRE: Yes, indeed. Kei had a few problems with his serve. I was aggressive on his second ball and that bothered him. I made a lot of drop shots. I was leading the game.

But Kei was able to raise his level at the beginning of the fourth set and that made a difference, because I was in a good dynamic. But the fact that he broke my serve right from the start and lead 2-Love, it was a bit difficult. Because I was saying to myself, I'm leading two sets to one and my serve is broken at the beginning, and I'm at 15-30 at his serve game. It was a pity.

But if he changed his tactics, of course, he did it. He said so. I was focusing on myself. But Kei is hitting the ball very fast and very smoothly but has difficulty in his serve, a few problems.

But, overall, when he's able to have a good first serve, he's playing very close to the line. So it's difficult for the opponents.

Q. You went from the yellow to silver in your hair.
BENOIT PAIRE: Thank you for the silver. I would like to stay purple, but silver, it was a nice comment. But I did a shampoo before the match because it was becoming complicated for my hair.

I'll see what happens. There's no more Roland Garros, so I'll have a hat, a cap. I'll see the evolution. It is going to be quite ugly. I have difficulty with my hair color.

Q. Why didn't you put your hat or your cap on?
BENOIT PAIRE: To show everyone my beautiful hair. I need people to say, Well, he's really changed his hair color. And once I had lost the first set, well, it's purple today, actually.

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