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May 29, 2019

Benoit Paire

Paris, France

B. PAIRE/P. Herbert

6-2, 6-2, 5-7, 6-7, 11-9

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. Congratulations on your victory. What does it taste like, this victory, today?
BENOIT PAIRE: It's beautiful. It's true that playing against Pierre-Hugues today was a specific match, because I said yesterday he's a great friend. I played one of the most difficult matches in my life, one of the most beautiful.

We were going 6-2, 6-2, 3-1, and then he got hurt. I was losing concentration. I served for the match, and then I couldn't get concentrated. But the fact that he had gotten hurt seemed to relax him. So he started becoming more aggressive, and his shots started to bother me.

When you serve for the match again and again and in the end you don't manage to get through, it's difficult.

But in my mind, I remained focused. A while ago, I couldn't have remained focused. The fifth set, when I was being led by one break, I would have let go. I would have said, Well, you see? You're playing a fifth set. You're getting broken. A while ago I would have let go.

But there I remained concentrated. I came back into the game. I hung on. The beautiful thing about this victory is that when you want to play a match like this, there's got to be two of you. And with Pierre-Hugues, we enjoyed very much this game, this match. I'm happy I made it.

But the most important thing was that we really enjoyed these emotions, these feelings. This is why you play tennis. This is why we have been trying hard since we were kids. If, when we were 13 or 14, we had thought that we could be on the Suzanne Lenglen, which was full, completely full to the brim, we would have signed for it.

But once again, as I said, it was a great victory, but it was also thanks to the great match played by Pierre-Hugues. I'm glad I shared it with him.

Q. In the third set there was a sort of difficult ball. It was on a limit...
BENOIT PAIRE: Well, I saw that he was hurt. He's my friend, so that's where it's special. This is when I lost my concentration. Because having him in front of me and not knowing what was happening, he wasn't serving well in the beginning, and then he was not moving so well.

I guess he was testing his body a little bit, and then he saw that it was okay, and he suddenly started playing very well. It's true that in the fourth and fifth set he played very well. I rarely saw him playing that well.

I could have made it easier by winning in three sets, but the most important thing is to win and to have gotten great pleasure from this match, playing against a friend and managing to win in five sets.

Q. Would you say that you were a bit in a limbo at the end?
BENOIT PAIRE: Well, it's already, when I lost the third set, I was in a bit of a limbo, and then I was playing the points. But I didn't know what was happening. When I had the match point, I just tried to put the ball inside the court.

He shot a terrible shot, and I returned with a short cross passing shot. So the last one I thought, well, I just have to put it into the court, and it was magical. Because when you have been playing for almost five hours on a court and you see a ball out, whether it be Pierre-Hugues or someone else, I was just happy it was out.

Q. Roland Garros is the last tournament of the Grand Slam that doesn't have a tiebreak in the fifth set. Can you think of what a tiebreak would have been?
BENOIT PAIRE: Well, no, because I lost most of my tiebreaks in the US Open, so I'm very happy there is no tiebreak. It's part of the pleasure of tennis. Emotions like this would have been spoiled if there had been a tiebreak.

It's what I think. I was talking about it a while ago. I was asking whether it was a good thing. No, I'm against the tiebreak. When you see the public, they are, like, crazy in those moments. They are taking great pleasure in these moments.

And when you see a standing ovation and then supporting, saying Allez, Benoit, or Allez, Pierre-Hugues, when you play tennis like that, you have a lot of pressure. It's no more a question of pressure. It's just in your mind who is going to hang on better, who is going to manage it.

And I'm in favor to continue like that with 9-9, 10-10. You play tennis for emotions like this.

Q. How do you explain this series of victories on clay since Marrakech? You're saying you're playing the tennis of your life on clay?
BENOIT PAIRE: How do I explain this? Well, as I said, I had trouble finding motivation. At the beginning of the year, I could feel my tennis level was good. I was hitting well in training, but when I got into the match or on the court, I didn't play so well. I was doing well outside the court. When there was no competition, I was doing well; and in the competition I was not doing well.

And this had never been the case for me. I like matches. Not so much training. And what happened on clay is that I was able to take some time off. Before the season I went on holiday. I asked myself the right questions, I said, Benoit, are you going to continue the season like that? Nothing will happen. You won't be happy. You'll be on the court. Matches will go by. You'll win one or two because you managed to play tennis, okay. But it will be a rotten season.

Or do you decide to be okay in your head? To have the right mindset? And then you don't know what will happen.

Like in Marbella, I went to the challenger. I played well. I felt that my mindset was back. It didn't start in Marrakech. It started in Marbella where, in the first match I fought and fought and fought, and when I went, I had won a future that year, and I need matches, I need confidence. And when I feel okay on a court, I think I can beat anyone, whether it be in a future, a challenger, a 250 or Grand Slam.

So the reason why I'm doing well on clay is that my mind is working well. When I got to Marrakech, I was playing my game, I was liberated. I played like I wanted. A match like the one today, I wouldn't fight if my mind, if my head was not in the right place, and I would end up with 6-1.

So I was training well last year, and I felt if I managed to get the same sensations as I have in training and have the mindset plus the physical status, I'll be okay.

Q. 2019 will be the year for Paire?
BENOIT PAIRE: I don't know, but since the beginning of the clay season, I was doing well. Now that I have finished with the match with Pierre-Hugues, I'm ready to fight Carreno Busta. I'm ready to recover and to do something well, because I really want to be here for the second week. This is why I'm playing.

And even though I won last week, I will not consider this as enough. I want to be here, to hang on, to fight, and I hope I can keep that mindset for the grass season, as well. Because if I do that, I think I can get back to my best ranking. And why not improve it?

Q. Pierre-Hugues used the public much, was calling to the public. You seemed to be speaking to yourself.
BENOIT PAIRE: Well, there were so many people in my mind already that I didn't need anyone else (smiling). I was already saying to myself, Benoit, keep cool, just think about the match.

6-2, 6-2, 3-1 is not important. Even though I knew it was important, I was trying to focus, to get back into the match, to find the right strategy, not to escape by thinking about the public.

I looked two or three times at my staff or when it was difficult, but the main thing was to try not and blow it, which is difficult for me. Remaining quiet and calm is difficult for me. Even though I spoke a little bit, I tried to speak as little as possible, to play one point after the other.

I know I could see, in the first match, that a lot of people in the public support me, and this was a great pleasure. The second match was a great pleasure. Even though I'm playing against Pierre-Hugues, and even when they were supporting Pierre-Hugues, I felt it was perfectly normal. We're in France. We are both French, and they are supporting us, and no problem.

But I felt the public is not going to make me win this match, because they are really divided in two, behind the two players. Which doesn't mean that I didn't take pleasure with the public.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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