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May 26, 2019

Nicolas Mahut

Paris, France

N. MAHUT/M. Cecchinato

2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. What was this backhand with your two feet blocked? It was almost like Boris Becker.
NICOLAS MAHUT: Well, I tried several things over the five sets. Sometimes I didn't get through. Sometimes they were too long. This one got through, and it was a good thing.

The fact that I play a lot of doubles, this is really returning like in a doubles.

Q. It's rather incredible victory. How did you live through this? What do you believe now?
NICOLAS MAHUT: Well, listen, it's rather complicated. First of all, some people took some risk by giving me this wildcard. I know that the captain, Thierry Champion, and the national technical manager also, and the president, as well. It wasn't obvious, because I hadn't been playing well, and I had been hurt over the past few weeks, and they trusted me.

So I would like to seize this opportunity to thank them, because it wasn't a given. And for the anecdote last Friday, a week ago -- well, before the qualifications we were training. It didn't go well. My back was still hurting. And I felt like giving back the wildcard and saying, I won't be ready. Then my staff said, Look, you have until Sunday. Take some time, take some rest. I felt better and better. Saturday and Sunday I was feeling better. And I had a week of preparation with coaches, with Jean-Michel. They didn't let go.

My wife every evening would tell me, Relax, don't put any pressure on yourself. Things will go well. And I trusted them and this was my payback today.

Q. For you, what does this victory mean? Because in a singles match you hadn't had a good result in a long time. What does it mean?
NICOLAS MAHUT: I don't know. For the moment, I'm just enjoying the pleasure of this victory. It is by far my best victory in Roland Garros, in a French tournament, I hadn't had many. And playing on this extraordinary court, I felt that if there was a possibility of playing on this court, it would be incredible and there would be an incredible atmosphere.

And this is what happened today. He was winning two sets, and then I made an effort in the third, fourth, and in the fifth it's no longer the 20th seeded against my rank of 250. And it's also an advantage of being French when you play Roland Garros.

And this victory will rank very high in my memories.

Q. Do you remember having such radical strategy on clay, a mean first short ball and blocking your return and whatever it was happening, you continued?
NICOLAS MAHUT: I remember a year when I lost against Gilles, and I had tried to play with this strategy, and it didn't work.

But this, today, he has a ball with a lot of rebound and a lot of bounce. So he got me running and in two, three shots, I lost the point.

So I felt today that this was my only solution if I wanted to win. So I went there head first, and it started with a lot of difficulty and then progressively it set in. I believe I had no other choice today.

Q. You talked about the court. What is specific about it in terms of atmosphere and the decor?
NICOLAS MAHUT: Well, the fact that it's like a -- it's in the greenhouse. You have to walk. You get into the greenhouse, and it's beautiful. It's really a great court with these plants and greenhouses and these windows.

You feel like it's a big court, but the spectators are close to you. I believe that in terms of court, it's great for an attacker and there is a lot of noise when the public is behind you.

So it was really pleasant. I felt a lot of emotions today.

Q. You are the first man to win on this court today. Well, what does it represent for you?
NICOLAS MAHUT: Well, this being the first, playing on it, winning in five sets, well, everybody will have forgotten that in a while, but I will keep it within me. I'm very happy.

Q. It could have been your last match in Roland Garros. Was this something that was in your mind? Did it play a role?
NICOLAS MAHUT: I don't know what to tell you. I don't know what to tell you, because if I say yes, it means that I'm ready to stop. If I say no, I won't be totally honest with you. So I don't know how to answer you.

Q. Did you feel you were capable of doing this?
NICOLAS MAHUT: Well, in any way case, I said whether it be me staff, my coaches, my professional environment or my wife, they all put this in my mind. And in the end, I started believing in it.

When I saw the draw, I thought, well, it won't be easy. The next day I thought, well, maybe I'll be playing on Simonne Mathieu, which was not obvious. Then I thought, well, I already beat him, even though he wasn't ranking that high at the time, so maybe if I play this kind of strategy it will work.

So it was a small possibility, but I seized it, and they put this in my mind and it worked.

Q. Can you tell us about this game 3-3 in the fifth set? You saved three break points.
NICOLAS MAHUT: Yes, I was having problems. I was not serving so well. I could feel he was trying harder, and if he broke at the time, he would feel freer.

And in the fifth set, at the same time, it's obviously an advantage if you have a better score, so I felt I was going to fight every ball and 0-15, 0-30, and in the end, you end up two balls away from the match. So I knew it was an essential game.

Q. Are you going to ask to play on this same court for the next round?
NICOLAS MAHUT: Well, I asked for many things: Wildcard, this court, and I asked to play doubles after my first round in singles match, so my credit may be somewhat limited now.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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