February 1, 2021
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Richard, tell us about your experience as a captain, your new experience, and how you see the first tie against Italy on Wednesday.
RICHARD RUCKELSHAUSEN: First of all, it's a privilege to be representing the grand nation. Unfortunately I don't speak any French, so I keep it in English.
It's been good. First few days has been good. Of course, everybody was not able to prepare as good as we would have liked to. We're taking it as good as we can. It's going to be very exciting against Italy.
Q. Gael, how do you feel you've prepared?
GAEL MONFILS: I felt before coming here that I had strong preparation. Then obviously slow down a little bit with all the events. But slowly I can feel I'm myself getting back in shape. I'm quite confident for the next few days and weeks to be much better.
Q. If you were to put it at a percentage, where would you say you are?
GAEL MONFILS: I think as strong as 70%.
Q. Benoit, you had some very close matches last year. Do you feel this event provides very good preparation ahead of the Australian Open?
BENOIT PAIRE: Yes, good for sure. Just most important for me is the team. If we win with the team, it's good. After, even if I lose, it doesn't matter, if the team win.
For me, for sure it's good preparation for Australian Open. Didn't play for 14 days. I was hard lockdown. It's not easy. I'm going to try to prepare to do as good a match against Fognini as I can on Wednesday.
I really enjoyed last year. I want to do the same and enjoy with the team.
Q. Nicolas and Edouard, your thoughts on the doubles? In these team competitions the doubles match becomes so crucial. What are your thoughts going into the first tie?
EDOUARD ROGER-VASSELIN: Last year we had bad results. We didn't win any matches in doubles (smiling). We are really excited to play again. We'll try, for sure, our best to win all matches we can and help the team to win games and to qualify for semifinal.
NICOLAS MAHUT: Well, not much to say. We're under pressure (smiling). We didn't help the team much last year. It's kind of revenge for us this year.
Q. Do you actually feel the pressure, with all the experience you've got?
NICOLAS MAHUT: When you have Gael on the team, you always feel the pressure, believe me (laughter).
Q. What is the advantage of having the team courtside with you? Do they try to keep things casual or to calm you down, do they try to fire you up? What is the team dynamic?
NICOLAS MAHUT: Obviously it's a big help. In this kind of competition, you have the captain of course, and you have the guys just behind us on the chair. We really can count on Benoit and Gael to fire up us.
Well, like I said, last year, I mean, we didn't play as good as we wanted to. It was a good experience. We look forward to play again and have the chance to bring some points to the team.
EDOUARD ROGER-VASSELIN: Yeah, definitely. I mean, we know the guys will be just behind us on the court. Try to get a positive attitude. Hopefully we can deliver and win the matches.
Q. You said there was a lot of pressure off because you didn't have good results last year.
NICOLAS MAHUT: I said we had pressure with Gael on the team (laughter).
Q. Do you think there's also more pressure because you haven't played in front of crowds for quite a long time?
NICOLAS MAHUT: No, that will be just fun. I mean, it's good to have fans back in the stadium. It was a long time ago we didn't play with fans. I think was pretty much last year. No, the pressure, it's just about having fun with the crowd.
Q. Will it take you a long time to get used to playing in front of the fans again?
EDOUARD ROGER-VASSELIN: We'll see. Usually we get used to it. I think when we get the noise more from our friends, our teammates, we will, yeah, look forward to have this fun.
NICOLAS MAHUT: When we play doubles, we don't have too much fans in the stand, so...
Q. Benoit and Gael, both of you are among the most flamboyant players in the sport. That crowd atmosphere, the importance of that? Also the fact that it's so important to be able to hear the ball making contact with the strings of your opponent. Are you able to talk on that point, to have the crowd there, the finer aspects of it.
BENOIT PAIRE: I think it's easy when you look at the result of Gael and me last year. Without the crowd, it was like no victory. It's impossible for us to play without crowd, without the atmosphere. We like to play in front of people with the pressure.
I think it will be something very good for us to have the crowd, to enjoy, to have fun. Since one year we didn't play with fans. It's not easy to find the motivation, even if it's team matches and we want to win for the French. But it's much better with the crowd, I think. That's my opinion.
GAEL MONFILS: Yeah, for sure. As he say, with the new technology, it will be the same. Just aspect to have positive vibes and energy on the stands, some screaming. No, it will be definitely a big help, a big boost for us.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports