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November 1, 2018
THE MODERATOR: Questions in French, please.
Q. Guys, we have the preselection. You're in. It's wonderful. What is your reaction?
NICOLAS MAHUT: Last year, the selection announcement was later so we're delighted. There are so many players who wanted to be in, it is a privilege to be part of the six players who are going to represent France in the finals. It's also a responsibility because we have to be there. This encounter might be the most difficult one we would have to play over the last three years.
We're very happy. But we still have things to do by then. Of course it's your job to ask us questions about the finals and it's our job to think about it but not to think about it too much yet.
PIERRE-HUGUES HERBERT: I'm proud and delighted to be a member of the group. It was not easy for Yannick to make such a decision. I'm very happy to be part of the group.
And as Nicolas said, there's a bit of pressure on our shoulders because those who do not play, they want to make sure that we bring back the trophy home. So we have to bring a second trophy to the French people, but we're not there yet. We still have some milestones to reach in the meantime.
We also are happy to have won today. Maybe you don't care enough, but we actually played a doubles and we played quite well, and we're going to play again tomorrow. I don't care. I don't care.
Q. Please, Mr. Herbert, mind your language. You're going to beat a Croatian. This is what is good is that you managed to do it. How does Yannick talk to you? Is it on WhatsApp?
PIERRE-HUGUES HERBERT: Well, he sent us an SMS. He sent an SMS to the selected players. And I think he contacted those that he didn't select. He called those who he didn't select.
Q. You are the two doubles specialists. We know from history and experience that this is not a problem for Yannick. But Julien is not here. In case of a problem, do you think that it is an issue not to have taken Julien?
NICOLAS MAHUT: I understand your question, but don't count on me to answer that question.
When you think about the group, you think about all the possibilities. In the mechanics, Julien could have been a member of the group; he's done a wonderful season. But Yannick certainly anticipated and thought that with Richard he could play. Jo on indoor clay, he could play as well. This is what Yannick must have thought.
Did I answer well?
PIERRE-HUGUES HERBERT: I think you couldn't answer better.
Q. You are six. There will be only five people playing. You played last year.
PIERRE-HUGUES HERBERT: I wasn't supposed to play but I was prepared not to play actually.
Q. Are you afraid to go through such experiences, to have such disappointments again?
PIERRE-HUGUES HERBERT: I think we're ready for everything. And it's the third year in a row that we have Yannick as a captain. Those who want to anticipate everything have not understood anything. We have to be ready to play or not to play. We have to give our utmost not to be disappointed.
And this is the mindset we should have with any captain. This decision is not in our hands. So we'll prepare to play. And we'll make sure to be there for the team.
NICOLAS MAHUT: I think you asked me the same question. When Pierre-Hugues sustained an injury in the Masters, I remember that clearly and I told you -- what did I tell you? Do you remember my answer? Because I remember your question, but do you remember my answer?
Q. Did you think that you would play?
NICOLAS MAHUT: What did I say? Because this is a good test for you. I'm going to give you the same answer because the only thing on which I have to focus is to be prepared to be as the better player possible.
And if Yannick wants to make other players play, it would be hard, but I have to be willing to accept it and ready to accept it. I have to focus on being the best player possible and then it's up to Yannick to make such choices.
It could be painful. I won't hide it. Maybe it will cross my mind. But it would be a mistake to focus on this. The aim of everyone is to be well prepared. I'm going to give you the answer because, come on, you asked me the same question last year.
Q. You said that you would have less emotional investment early enough with the finals. Is it something that rings a bell?
NICOLAS MAHUT: I don't know if I understood your question.
Q. You said that you didn't want to think ahead too much. Does it actually result from what you lived through last year?
NICOLAS MAHUT: It's just because I don't want to anticipate the tie too early on. We can't actually try to anticipate the Davis Cup finals too early. If we want to win, actually, playing at the Masters is the best preparation possible. I can't say I'm going to play, I'm not going to play. It's up to Yannick.
What I want is to be good on the court, to have a good preparation if we're going to play on clay afterward or not. My concern is here. It's not whether I'm going to live through or not what I lived through last year. I'm going to try to do like I did last year. And I will react once things happen.
Now I'm not in this mindset. We all of us will have to be at our best levels if we want to win.
Q. On the surface that has been chosen, namely clay, in doubles does the surface have an influence on the doubles team as much as on the singles match? Some would say that Croatians were less good on doubles on clay. This needs to be demonstrated.
PIERRE-HUGUES HERBERT: This is something that we both said. On this tie, we didn't think that the surface would change a lot in the doubles and indeed there's much more difference on the surface choice for singles matches than for doubles matches. I think that the choice was made based on the singles matches.
NICOLAS MAHUT: And it's indoors. Because had it been outdoor it would be different. The fact that it's indoor, we never know how it's going to be, if it's going to rebound or not, if it's going to be faster or not, which temperature it would be. So I'm not sure whether it's going to have an impact or not.
Q. We're going to see next time with the trophy, there's no doubt with this, but I would like to have a word on the Masters coming up. It won't be a first for you. The previous time it didn't go that well.
PIERRE-HUGUES HERBERT: No, I thought it went well.
Q. That experience, did you get in your approach maybe?
PIERRE-HUGUES HERBERT: Every year before the Masters we think, okay, it didn't go well last year, so we're going to correct our game.
NICOLAS MAHUT: Every time we think that we're going to do it differently.
PIERRE-HUGUES HERBERT: Yeah, every time we fell into the trap and we thought that we would do it differently. As Nicolas has well said before, personally, as for last year, I really was angry at myself because I had only the Davis Cup on my mind. And at the end of the season it's more difficult to play tennis at the end of a tournament when the only thing you have in mind is the finals of the Davis Cup tournament.
So this experience will help me to manage the end of the season better. It has helped me so far already. So I hope this year it will be the right one. And we have a bit more experience than last year so I hope it will help us.
NICOLAS MAHUT: Yes, we'll try to find a way. For many, many years we've put too much pressure on our shoulders, especially in 2016 where we had won so much. So we were so tense because we thought we have no margin for error. But there were several things that happened. We have more reduced staff, right?
We haven't changed. You're always on my left.
Maybe we have to be more flexible and relaxed and keep our cool and it will all work out.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports