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October 30, 2019

Gael Monfils

Paris, France


6-4, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French, please.

Q. You mentioned the tension that you felt. For how long have you been feeling it? Is it because of Paris? Is it because you're aiming for a top 10 finish?
GAテ記 MONFILS: I'll be pretty straightforward, as I often am. Since Asia, I'm dead. I'm exhausted physically and mentally.

I'm still there. I felt a backlash in Asia, because I didn't succeed in Asia well. My game level dropped drastically in Asia. Physically, I started having more slip-ups in Antwerp. It was a tough match against Sinner, but mentally it was harsher. It was not good at all, and that hadn't happened for a long time.

So we sat down. We talked. It's all this pressure accruing on me, because I really wanted to finish in the top 10. And people keep on talking about the London Masters, you know, since Asia, and I have enough of it, you know?

Of course my goal is to aim for the top 10 finish, not really the London Masters. And I have had too much pressure because, okay, I'm close to the London Masters, but I'm still not that close. And I stress myself too much.

And playing when one is stressed is not easy because I enjoy myself less, and I really want to enjoy myself when I play tennis.

And then matches become harsh. I'm on the defensive approach. In Vienna, for instance, I didn't want to play because I didn't feel good both physically and mentally.

It hurt more and more. I had physical problems, because I had too much pressure. I wanted to practice too much. I wanted to do too much to be in good conditions, and these are not my best conditions. This is not the way I am. This is not the way I manage pressure.

It's funny, because when we try to do things in a more academic way, actually, that doesn't suit me at all. Of course, the way I operate is not really far from the academic way.

When I try to do things differently and more in line with the standards, then it doesn't suit me. I do not manage to unroll my game plan.

So we went back to the basics in Vienna with defense. I don't have a lot of points, not at all, because I feel less well. I'm stressed. But I run better, and this is what I couldn't do the weeks before.

And this is how I held my own. I found my serve again. I could run. My footwork was better. I played deep, but I had no winners. I couldn't move to the net.

I played Diego. It was hard because he doesn't make any mistakes and he manages to attack, and he played well that week. So the score was quite hard, but this is what I had done that week.

And today, I served well but I ran so much. And I have a wait-and-see approach. Because I have so much pressure, you have all the matches together, there are too many things at once.

And in a way, I manage pressure well, but on the other way, I don't manage it so well. Because my tennis level is not performing as I would like it to be.

Q. So you felt the bottom in Vienna, especially during the first round against Novak. Wasn't it a time when you opened your eyes and changed and decided to go back to basics, and then against Bedene you felt better?
GAテ記 MONFILS: Yes. Against Novak, he had more winners than me, but this is how I found my serve again. It clicked inside me during this match. And I realized that even though I had problems with the upper body, I managed to get out of the court, to be healed.

He thought that it was the lower part of the body, but it's the only thing that made me stop. And the coach told me not to stop because he knew that I could run and I could serve, and this is what I used as an asset. And this is what I did all throughout the week.

And then my confidence was back on. I could run more than play. It's still hard for me to have a good forehand, a good backhand, but I'm robust on cross-court shots. This is what I do. When one is stressed, you know, it's just hard, but we have to go back to the basics.

Q. You have your friends, your family, your relatives. There are more expectations. People love you in Paris. You haven't come back for four years, so maybe that's why there's so much pressure on you. You feel more tense than in Vienna?
GAテ記 MONFILS: When you really want to be part of the top 10 -- well, the rest of the tension I manage, because there's so much tension anyway. But I want to reach my goal. I want to wrap up the season on a good note and to fulfill my goal for this year, which was to be back in the top 10. And we know how daunting it is.

I'm nearly there. So, whew, I'm going to continue to get close to that goal.

Q. Do you think that you can be loose again with a good match?
GAテ記 MONFILS: If tomorrow I manage to get it, if I'm sure that I'm going to be top 10, of course I'm going to feel light again. 99.9%. It's not 100.

But quite often people would blame me saying that I don't care, that I do not have a care in the world, but it's so hard for me to have so much pressure on my shoulders.

So I would be happy to feel worry-free, you know? It would be so satisfying.

Q. So you played against a friend. How did you apprehend this match, mentally speaking, from the outside? It seemed that you enjoyed yourselves.
GAテ記 MONFILS: I felt good with him. As I said earlier, all the pressure that people try to put on my shoulders, I didn't have it. The only thing I want is to be top 10. If I'm told, okay, you're going to play against a friend, I don't care. The only thing is I want to end up in the top 10.

And he helped me because we were laughing, actually. We were enjoying ourselves. That's my only goal is to be top 10. As for the rest, I don't care.

I don't even go back home, you see. I don't do anything anymore.

Q. To end up top 10, you are going to have to prepare for tomorrow's match.
GAテ記 MONFILS: Oh, come on. I'm nearly okay. I'm in the race. Don't worry. I'm nearly there. There are two or three guys that could be in front of me.

So we have to relax a little bit at one point. Luck has to come at one point.

Q. Can you talk about Radu Albot, your opponent tomorrow?
GAテ記 MONFILS: It's the type of game that's going to be horrible tomorrow. I don't even want to talk about it because it's so hard. He doesn't make mistakes. He plays deep. We have to go to the net to get winners.

His serve is better. But he doesn't have a big serve, so I'll have to be more aggressive on the second ball. I'll have to show him that I'll be faster with my serve.

He knows me well. We've practiced together during preseasons. He knows me very well. My coach knows him well. He's won a lot of matches this year. He also has had huge matches. He had three sets with Roger, with Zverev. He's had big wins also this year.

He has a lot of confidence. And I think he's on a roll, because he managed to win very easily during the first round.

And he likes to put pressure on me, you know? He's going to be happy and to try to outpace me.

Q. You were talking about pressure. How did you manage it during the match?
GAテ記 MONFILS: I don't manage it at all.

Q. Did you try to be more defensive, playing cross court?
GAテ記 MONFILS: I'm playing naturally really. I'm defensive. I don't manage. I have to say it.

Q. That was during the match. Do you try to anticipate other strategies before the match?
GAテ記 MONFILS: I can't do it anymore. I'm natural. I'm so tense when I arrive on court. I arrive there, and I just hope to have a bit more inspiration on the forehands and backhands. I try to serve well. I try to stick to basic things such as service. My footwork is good. This is what I rely upon.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.

Q. A solid performance today but throughout this year you've been playing great. Just tell me what has been working so well for you.
GAテ記 MONFILS: Before this tournament, I think I changed quite a lot of stuff. And my game, I was very good with my serve and very performing with my forehand I think, this year before this tournament.

Because here I think I'm defensive, but I used to be very aggressive. It was a big key for me this year. I used to come way more at the net, used to change a little bit my game, and that was great. It was working very good for me.

Q. How about Davis Cup? You'll be playing other top players. How excited are you and tell me about the great team you have.
GAテ記 MONFILS: Yes, it was good, especially, you know, I think we have a great team, a strong team, very homogeneous. I think we'll play great in every spot. I think doubles, sub, second, and myself if I have to play first. You know, I think we're very solid.

You know, the only thing that we don't know is the new format, you know, how we will be, how the team will react with this new format. But it looks pretty good for us. We have a good bench and double team, so it looks good for us.

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