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June 3, 2019

Benoit Paire

Paris, France


6-2, 6-7, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. It's a great match, but can you talk about your feeling, your emotion when you were serving for the match on the fifth set? You were tight or couldn't make a first serve especially. Can you talk about that?
BENOIT PAIRE: Yeah, I think it's never easy to finish a match. Normally I supposed to lose in three or four sets. I was a little bit tight in the tiebreak. It was the same for him. He made two or three double faults in the tiebreak in the fourth, and normally he used to win this one.

For me it was a little bit the same at 5-3. I made a good return game at 4-3, made a lot of winners. I don't know what happened. For sure, is not easy for me, is first time I am last 16 in Roland Garros. I can make a quarterfinal. I can beat Nishikori, who is a very good player.

So it was tough emotionally, yeah, for sure. I'm very sad to lose this match, but glad for what I did this week.

Q. Last night, the match was suspended at 1-2 sets. At that moment, did you feel like you were helped by the darkness? How did you come up today?
BENOIT PAIRE: Honestly, yesterday we never know what can happen. After the third set of course I was a little bit nervous and it was not easy because it was 6-2 for him. But we never know if I return very aggressively, if I make some winners, I know I can win the set and I can win the match.

The thing is when it's finish because of the night, we have to take rest and we have to have a good night. This morning, I was feeling good. So honestly, when I start the match, physically, I had no pain, no injuries. So I say, Okay, maybe you can do some things if you serve better than yesterday. And that's what I did.

Yeah, I won the fourth, and in the fifth I'm 4-1 up. Yes, not easy for me, but I could lose in three sets or four sets. We never know. The thing is mentally I start much better today, and it was a good match against Kei. We never know what can happen if we finish yesterday. The only thing I know is I finish today and I lost.

Q. You mentioned about the first time for you to be last 16 in Roland Garros and that makes you a little bit nervous. Can you talk about the importance of being, like, a quarterfinal in this Roland Garros or this tournament itself for you?
BENOIT PAIRE: The thing is I didn't start very well the year. So when I saw I won a lot of matches on clay, my goal was to do something good in Roland Garros, to reach the second week. That's what I did, but when you're in second week, you want to do better.

And for sure with the support of the crowd, the thing is you serve at 5-3, you want to play the quarterfinal against Nadal. The importance is when you play in France, you are French, you want to do something good.

Honestly, to make quarterfinal, it was very important for me, and for every French player who play in Roland Garros, it's very important. And of course when you know you can play against Nadal in quarter, it was my goal, and I miss it.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. You said you're happy to be here. What will remain: The satisfaction of the journey or the disappointment?
BENOIT PAIRE: I don't know. Right now if you ask me the question, of course one hour after the match, it's the disappointment. I reached the second week. It was my objective. But when you're in the second week your objective is to get to the quarters, semis. I didn't want to stop there.

I knew against Kei I had my chances, and we stopped at two sets to one. And when we resumed, I'm taking over, I'm hitting the balls better, and feel physically in full shape.

When I won the fourth set whereas I should have lost it, and I am leading 4-1 in the fifth set, it starts turning my head and I start thinking about the next round, you're close to victory, it's not what you're supposed to do. It's not my fault. Everyone does that. I can say to myself, Don't think about it. You still think about it.

I serve at 5-3 and it's complicated to serve for the match. Of course I'm disappointed I didn't have my first serve in. But first serve at 5-3 when you're serving for the match, it's not like at the beginning of the match.

And it was the same thing for Kei. In the fourth set he made double faults at the same point. And the idea was only to play the ball on the other side of the court. At 5-3 I was in the same situation. I made one or two double faults at the wrong moment, of course. He played very well.

For me, this match I should have lost it in three or four sets but I should have won it in the fifth set. If I'm in the fifth set I should have won it. But in three or four he had the occasions to win. That's why I'm disappointed.

But I'm very happy about my week. I won Lyon last week, and it's not difficult to have these two tournaments one after the other. I played a lot of matches, but I feel pretty well physically. I don't have many injuries. So for me it will remain a good Roland Garros. But of course right now it's a lot of disappointment.

Q. Can you talk about what happened yesterday with your strings? Did you have not enough strung racquets, or is it an issue with the string tension?
BENOIT PAIRE: I have enough racquets. I have four in my bag. It's enough. I rarely have so many racquets. But the only thing is that I had one which broke at the node after five minutes. One was really too loose, the string tension was too low. One took 45 minutes to come back from the stringer.

These are not excuses. If I lost two sets to one yesterday, it's nothing to say with the stringer. But I only had one racquet left. And when I ask the umpire, Where is my racquet, he tells me, I don't know where it is. I had been waiting for my racquet for 40 minutes: 15 minutes to string it, 2 minutes to go to Court No. 1, 2 minutes to come back, so 40 minutes is too long to have a racquet strung.

When you're so tense because I'm in round of 16, I want to do something fantastic, I have a racquet which breaks at the node, one which is too loose and I only have one racquet, I say to myself, What do I do if I break my string? It's like a Damocles sword. If I break the string, I would like to ask the racquet of someone in the audience. It's never been seen in the history of Roland Garros.

With a bit of tension, you have all these things appearing, so it was a bit bothering. It's absolutely not why I lost two sets to one. If I lost, it's because I was tense, it's the round of 16, it's Roland Garros, I have a lot of expectations. I want to do better.

Today I went back in the match, and I'm sorry I said cunt. And it was on the social media, so I have to apologize for saying cunt.

Q. The conditions were radically different from yesterday, the heat and the fast court, and today cold and slower. Did it have an impact?
BENOIT PAIRE: It changed the conditions, of course. It was no longer the same match. I don't know if it was an advantage for me or for him. I saw physically I was in better shape than him.

That's what frustrates me. I knew at 4-1 that all the games were difficult for him. And where I complain about myself, I thought too much about the next round. I said to myself, Oh, you have to do this and that, or otherwise you miss opportunities.

And when I'm serving and I didn't win my game, if I had played relaxed and played my game, I would have been ahead in the fifth set.

What is surprising is that the third and fourth set, especially the fourth set, he should have won it at the tiebreak, but he really had the opportunity to finish the match. And in the fifth set, as I said, I lost the fifth set alone. That's why I have regrets.

It's not him who played exceptionally. It's myself who missed a few games. Even at 5-5 when he broke back, I made a double fault, when it was advantage for me.

And at 5-3, two double faults, and in these moments there is a lot of pressure. So why it's trying incredible shots I should have made him play. Of course I say I should have done it this or that, that's the sport of tennis. That's why the sport is beautiful.

What I also remember is the audience, I haven't mentioned it, but I rarely see such an atmosphere. I rarely have seen this at Roland Garros. Right from the first match it was exceptional.

And between yesterday and today, this will be lifetime memories, these atmospheres, and a crowd which is totally supporting me. It's rarely happened. Often there were those who don't like me because I get angry, but here it was more France against rest of the world, and it's true that I had a lot of pleasure and enjoyed it.

So of course I'm disappointed I lost, but it whatever happens, it will remain incredible memories. When I have children, when I'll be older, when I have a girlfriend, I will be able to tell them that and show them videos. But for now, for the time being, I'm disappointed for the defeat, but I'm happy with everything that's been happening for me, because I want to do even better.

Q. You were talking about the audience. Is it something you thought about before coming to the court yesterday or today to have them along with you?
BENOIT PAIRE: I didn't have to go and get them. They really answered -- they were present immediately. Of course I wanted that. It helped me in the tiebreak of the second set.

What I saw also in the fourth and fifth set, they really pushed me forward, and it was fantastic for me, in France, to have this atmosphere.

So for me it was really like a dream. And here it's a dream come true. So they helped me, and I hope they will help in the future when I will be having difficulties. That's what I remember.

It was a fantastic Roland Garros. I would have loved doing better. I had the possibility and the capability to do better, but what I will take away is that it's been positive. I want to live more emotions like that, and I want to continue doing better for the rest of the season, that if I keep this level, I can do better.

And what I remember is good luck to Gaël, good luck to Stan. These are my two favorites. I hope they'll have good results. I hope that Stan has recovered well. That's it. Thank you for the two weeks.

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