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April 21, 1999

Hicham Arazi


ATP: Questions, please.

Q. It's been a long time you hadn't won two matches in a row. Does it feel good?

HICHAM ARAZI: Yes, it feels good, especially after winning the first round. It gave me mental toughness. Today was a good match and I was very pleased to be on the court. Especially with the rain, I was happy to end in the first place in the day because waiting in the locker room is difficult, and you never know when you're going to play.

Q. How can you explain your letdown after the London tournament?

HICHAM ARAZI: I was being serious. I trained a lot, but I played against good players. I won my first round in Indian Wells. Okay, it was a walkover, the other player retired, but then I lost to Henman, who is a very difficult player on hard courts. In Key Biscayne, I lost to Norman. Every time we played, that means five times, I lost against him. So these victories are very good for me.

Q. You are almost playing at home, being a resident here. Does it feel better? Does it give you more motivation?

HICHAM ARAZI: Of course. Monte-Carlo is a very big tournament for me. It comes second after the French Open on clay. I didn't always do well here. Last year I lost second round against Moya. But it's a big motivation to play well here. In the former years, it was the same: i didn't play well before the French Open.

Q. Did the example of Karim give you more incentive?

HICHAM ARAZI: Yes, it motivated me. But I'd rather think about myself for the time being rather than watching the results of the others.

Q. With whom are you practicing? Do you have a coach?

HICHAM ARAZI: Yes, I have Mr. Charton. I've been training with him since I was 13 years old till 21 years old. I'm back with him now. He has a tennis school close to Paris, but he has a family and he doesn't want to travel so much. At this time, it's a holiday period in Paris, so he was able to free himself for this week. After, we'll see what we'll do.

Q. And the rest of the time, are you alone?

HICHAM ARAZI: I have my physical preparer, Mr. Alaoui. There's the new Davis Cup captain, Mr. Kadiri. He's the new captain. We have a tie next week. My schedule will be, before the French, Hamburg and then Rome.

Q. It seems that there's a sort of Moroccan cell, you and Karim. Does it explain your success, not in Davis Cup, but in the tournaments?

HICHAM ARAZI: We are very good friends. We've known each other since we were six or seven years old. We get along very well. But we are separated now with Karim because he's playing a lot in Argentina. He has an Argentinean coach. We are only together during the tournaments, so it's rather individual successes.

Q. Is it why it doesn't work so well in Davis Cup?

HICHAM ARAZI: No, but each time we had a tie, we had problems with the Federation or Karim was hurt or one of us was hurt. We were never all together at the right moment. It's quite difficult when you don't have a complete team to go further than what we are doing now.

Q. What do you think about Rios, your next opponent?

HICHAM ARAZI: He played a very good match yesterday. I saw the end of it. It's the third left-handed player I'm going to play in this tournament. I'll try to do as well against him as I did two years ago in the French Open, which means I'll try to be cool and relaxed.

Q. You've been liking a lot playing in the French Open during the past two years. Do you have pressure now having points to defend?

HICHAM ARAZI: No. I'm in the same situation as last year. The weeks before the French Open, I was able to train well, but I didn't have good results in my tournaments. But I was able to become accustomed to the atmosphere very fast for the French Open. I have high spirits.

Q. Do you believe you are a player that everyone wants to beat on clay, and we are waiting for you on clay?

HICHAM ARAZI: No. I don't have very good results in the tournaments, except in the French Open. But in another tournament, I'm a good draw, in fact.

Q. Do you think with better preparation you would have better results?

HICHAM ARAZI: Well, that's what I'm doing. I must win some matches to become more confident.

Q. Do you really want a coach?

HICHAM ARAZI: I want this particular coach, but he has a family and a young child of 11 years old. It's quite difficult. We'll see what we'll do.

Q. You won't change anything in your preparation compared with last year?

HICHAM ARAZI: Last year I lost early in Rome, so I had two weeks to prepare myself in Paris. I hope I won't lose early in Rome this year. If I lose, I will have time to prepare. I will have the same schedule and go immediately to Paris after Rome.

Q. You are always fit for the French Open. Is it because you have time to prepare, you are closer to your family and your home?

HICHAM ARAZI: Maybe. It's not obvious to be able to travel all the time and not see your friends and your parents. You're suddenly in the French Open. You have everybody around you. It's a lot better.

Q. Can you say to us a few words about Puerta? Everybody says he's going to be a very good player, but apparently he has a weakness on his backhand.

HICHAM ARAZI: I never saw him play and I never played him before, but he's still young. In one match, you can't really judge a player.

Q. He didn't give you too much trouble?

HICHAM ARAZI: Not very much. I'm very pleased to play against a left-handed player because it's his forehand against my forehand. I enjoy left-handed players.

Q. Did you have a problem with your back at one stage in the match?


End of FastScripts….

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