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May 24, 2019

Gael Monfils

Paris, France

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. I wanted to get news about your knee.
GAËL MONFILS: Well, my knee is doing better and better. Not 100%, but it's getting better. For the moment, I'm not overly worried about it.

Q. If your knee is doing well, I guess you are keeping all your ambitions about the tournament. You're here to win. What do you think?
GAËL MONFILS: I didn't say I was going to win Roland Garros. I said I wanted to win a great title, a great tournament. Well, that includes Roland Garros, the French tournament as a possibility. My ambitions are the same for each tournament, each -- every time I want to win. I want to win a title.

As I said, from time to time my game is okay and it's great, and from time to time you don't feel as good, but that doesn't mean that your ambitions are changing, and that's what I would like people to understand. You may have great ambitions even though your game is not at its best.

Q. I wrote a portrait about Dustin Brown who unfortunately lost yesterday in the qualifications. You played with him doubles, you played against him in the French tournament. Can you tell us about him?
GAËL MONFILS: I feel that Dustin is a person who's suffering very much in his body. I guess that's what happened.

It's not easy for him to continue playing every time. He loves playing. He loves playing tennis. He's getting a lot of pleasure out of tennis.

He's rather atypical, because he's extremely aggressive with some crazy shots sometimes. But he defends well, and he attacks even more.

Every time he tries to get the grip of the game, and with some genius shots. He fights well to get back into the game, and he has dropped his game recently, but I believe he's fighting to get back into it, and it would be great for him to be able to do that.

Q. So what have you done before the French tournament to get into the right mood?
GAËL MONFILS: Well, I rested. I had some MRIs, block tests to see what my body was doing, and then I started training. I had two major training sessions with Stan at home for the tournament in Geneva.

After that, we came a bit earlier to Roland Garros this year. I wanted to come here on Friday, but we arrived on Wednesday. So I would say same thing: Exercising, training, spending more time taking care of my body.

But what I mainly try to do is to get the right feeling. My feelings are not as -- my feeling of the game is not as good as it was at the beginning of the year. I'm moving a bit more slowly. I'm not hitting the ball as well as I would like to. I'm trying to renew with these sensations, these feelings. But it's taking time.

Q. I would like to ask you what you like to do in the last few days before a Grand Slam tournament, in this case, the French Open. What is your idea in the last training sessions?
GAËL MONFILS: Well, it's, for example, if you want to use specific tactics or to be as precise as possible, you have to train. Yesterday I worked on some specific shots to become more accurate in my shots and to give more impetus when I hit the ball, because even though I feel better and better every day, the fact that I feel better, I get more offensive, and I have to really work to be more aggressive and not so much defending.

So I work on quite a few details, and I work on that all the way to the end.

Q. What would make the difference for you to really have fun?
GAËL MONFILS: Well, for my knee to let go of me for at last, and to take a bit more pleasure like I have done since the beginning of the year, to be more rigorous as I have done since the beginning of the year, and to have this belief in me. I really have to believe in it.

And as I said, I do believe in it, and that's the main thing. The fact that you say you're believing in things is one thing. For many years, I have said I believe in it. But the main thing is, do you really believe in it? You shouldn't be afraid to say yes, I believe in it, and you shouldn't be afraid of the result. Because very often you're afraid of the result. And this year I'm not really afraid of the result.

I feel that I'm making progress in the right direction that I picked with my staff, and if I continue making headway like this, a lot of things are going to come into place and will make me a dangerous player that could potentially win a Grand Slam.

Q. The winners of the various Masters tournaments are quite different. How do you see the other players? What do you think about them?
GAËL MONFILS: Well, I don't think about that, because if I were to ask you who are the two favorites for Roland Garros, you would give me two names and it's always the same. No one is going to give me another name. I don't know which one. If you had to bet your life on someone, you would think about it twice before you gave me a name, even though, well, this one may be No. 3, he won in the finals of this or that, but you have to admit who are the two main favorites? They are Rafa and Novak. And that is not going to change right away.

Q. What do you think about the new Philippe Chatrier court? When you're in the middle of the court, does your visual impression change?
GAËL MONFILS: Yes, a little bit. It's more rounded. The TV block is quite impressive, the TV part. It's cool, it's great.

But it's a change. It feels bigger, you know. It's different. It feels slightly bigger. And now you have to see it when it's filled up with people.

Q. You're the top French player. Is it an additional pressure?
GAËL MONFILS: I get the impression it's the first time I'm French No. 1. No, it's happened to me before, so it's not an additional pressure.

Q. The draw took place yesterday. You're with Thiem and Del Potro. No Rafa or Djokovic before later in the tournament.
GAËL MONFILS: Well, it's a good thing, otherwise I'd be dead (smiling).

Q. Do you feel that you have more time to get started than if you had to play Rafa or Djokovic?
GAËL MONFILS: Well, no, I wouldn't say it's additional pressure or less pressure. Because each match is different. Each match can be complicated. If you go crescendo, the first round in a Grand Slam is never easy. Taro Daniel is a good clay player. Don't forget he won against Djokovic. Okay, Djoko was not doing so well at the time, but he has won in big matches. So second round I might be playing against a French player. It's never easy in a French tournament.

And don't forget that my first seeded player is Verdasco, who plays very well. I lost my latest matches against him. He is there. He, for the first match, he will be very present. As you heard, okay, if you play Thiem, Rafa, or Djoko in the fourth round, it's not necessarily easy.

I think the draw means I will have to play well and increase progressively my game and my level, but as of the first match, I want to get reassured and feel I'm there, and I can fight a good match.

The second match, I will be playing a French -- I might be playing a Frenchman, and you have to be very good. And for the third round I have to be ready for Fernando if it's him, because it will be a very difficult match.

Q. Earlier on, you said that you weren't afraid of losing this season. Would you say in some seasons this was really something that played against you?
GAËL MONFILS: Yes, naturally, I do feel that some years, some seasons, you really don't want to lose more than you want to win in fact.

Some tournaments you play well, and you feel okay, I don't want to lose before the semis, and knowing that you can come down in the classification, in the ranking.

It's hard work. I confess this, but I know that many players have this mindset. You don't want to lose where you won the year before, for example. And this might represent a hindrance for you.

Q. Roger coming back in Paris, many people talked about it. Nadal, many people talk about it. Not many people are talking about Novak, who could have a second Grand Slam in the season. What do you think about Novak? One feels he's in a Grand Slam mode now.
GAËL MONFILS: Well, I think he's solid even though he may be considered as an outsider, because the main favorite would be Rafa, but if there was another favorite, it would be him, Novak, because I watched his finals in Rome. He wasn't doing well physically, and he still played three games.

You can see that Rafa had some moments that were off. If you look at the first game in the third set, if there hadn't been a break, I would have liked to see the result.

I think he's doing well. He's in great shape. He feels good in that position. It's good for him that people aren't talking about him so much, and you'll have to be careful about him. Even Rafa knows that he has to be careful about Djoko.

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