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May 11, 2003

Felix Mantilla

ROME, ITALY, F. MANTILLA/R. Federer 7-5, 6-2, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Felix, the highlight of your career?

FELIX MANTILLA: Yeah, of course, no? Is a Masters Series event, and for sure it's the biggest victory of my career, no? That is gonna give me a lot of confidence for the future. I think I am still young. I don't know the age, but inside I'm young. I'm mentally strong. And I hope that makes me work harder - if it's possible - and try to do something else in tennis.

Q. Particularly when you were fighting your way back after your shoulder trouble, could you envision a weekend like this?

FELIX MANTILLA: If I must be honest, no (smiling). But I was working hard on my physical training, and my coach told me that I was playing unbelievable since the first week of the year. That makes me feeling well on court, no? For me, it's important just to believe that I can be strong out there. And after, when I start the clay court season, I lost in Monte-Carlo against Ferrero, again, 7-5 in the third. After, he won the tournament, you know? I was really close. I said, "Okay, why not? If I could beat Ferrero today, maybe the winner I am in Monte-Carlo." Today, it happens that. I have another draw and I took my opportunities. I was really strong mentally. When I am like that, I think is very difficult to beat me because I am every point there and hitting the ball hard. I change the racquet in Monte-Carlo. That gave me more power in my shots in the baseline. And with that, I am feeling more comfortable. And then my physical instead on court is not -- I'm not too tired when I'm out there because I am feeling that I can hit the ball harder and more winners. That give me confidence.

Q. Everybody says that you work harder than anybody else almost. Then you come here, you say, "I want to work harder." How is that possible?

FELIX MANTILLA: Well, is something that when you win here and you win a big event like this one, you say, "Okay, I was working really hard." But you know when you have something that can give you a lot of elation, that try to do it harder, you know? I know that is gonna be difficult for sure, but I'm telling you that I'm gonna work a little bit harder (laughter). (Speaking Spanish.) When he was the tournament, he was running. I said, "This is nothing." (Inaudible).

Q. Can you clarify what happened at the end of the match when you said "Thank you" to your coach, your physical trainer. Who is the third?

FELIX MANTILLA: I couldn't speak. The third was to my other coach, that he was with me almost 11 years. His name is Jordi Vilaro. He was with me during my career. At one stage I said, "I must change something because, you know, we know each other a lot." I said, "I need another motivation." It was really hard to stop with him because he's my second father for me because he shows the way to me to humility and to humble, to be humble, and just to have respect for everybody. And that is very important for me just to remember the people who was with you always, no? And was my family, my girlfriend, and the three guys.

Q. Felix, so much is written about Juan Carlos and Carlos and Alex and Albert. Do you feel as though this is your moment? Are you going to enjoy this? Finally, it's Felix Mantilla's name whose name is going to be in the papers?

FELIX MANTILLA: If I must be honest, I don't care about this. Is something that I don't like too much, fame, because I am shy a little bit sometimes. I like to do my life. I don't have contracts maybe because I'm not working in some -- when I'm going home, on the TV. But is something that I like to enjoy, my private life. I am a tennis professional, you know. But after that, when I finish, I have a private life. I like that, no? Is something that I don't really care too much. But also, if they were in the papers, it was because they win a lot of things. And they are very better players than me for sure because they won Grand Slams, finals in Masters Series. If they are in the papers, for sure it's because they were winning more than me, no? It's something - how you said - that I don't really care.

Q. Is there a special reason why you choose that T-shirt?

FELIX MANTILLA: This one, it's because my girlfriend came with me last Friday and we make three years and she gave me that like a gift. She gave me that like a gift. It's something special because she's helping me a lot, and it's something that she couldn't come here, and also my physical. I said, "Okay, doesn't matter if I win or not, but I'm gonna put your T-shirt. I'm gonna give you a surprise." You know it's something nice when you have somebody that stay very close with you and give you that. That's why I did it.

Q. Can you analyze Federer's game today?

FELIX MANTILLA: Well, I think today the first set he was playing really well, but he wouldn't take the chances. He had a lot of breakpoints. If he convert some of them, maybe he won 6-3. I was a little bit lucky also because one guy like him, he has experience in the finals and he's No. 3 or 4 in the world. Normally, he could take it, you know. But, I don't know. Yesterday, I was also down one set and 6-5, and I came back also, 4-all, Love-40. I came back, and that shows something that I am really strong mentally. And that was the key, I think. Because after that, my confidence went up and his was a little bit down, no?

Q. Was this different racquet the same manufacturer or a different model?

FELIX MANTILLA: Is a different model. Is Volrel also, but is wider. That makes more spin to my racquet and give me more power. Because the other one, with my arm, I couldn't serve really hard. The ball was bounce not too much. With that one, when I serve well, the ball is bouncing little bit more, and it makes me more -- gives me more confidence.

Q. When you face somebody like Federer who can hit many winners, what is the most important thing for you to do tactically?

FELIX MANTILLA: I think put to his backhand. When he is playing with his forehand, maybe three times he makes a winner, you know. Just to try that, not come to the net, put the ball up in his backhand. He has a good backhand, but not as good as his forehand, you know. And I think my tactic today was just try to play all the time in his backhand.

Q. What does this victory do for your hopes of winning the French Open?

FELIX MANTILLA: Well, it's something that give me for sure a lot of confidence. The matches, they are five sets. I have still two weeks to try to finish my preparation to play in Paris. For sure I have my chances, you know. Is something that is far. I must first think of Hamburg because I must play next week. Also is a big event, important tournament. But for sure if I have that level, I am playing like that, I'm gonna be one of the guys that could win.

Q. If you compare with '98 when you were in the semis in Paris, do you feel you're a better player? If yes, which part of your game?

FELIX MANTILLA: I think - how I said - is I think when you are getting old, I don't know if Alex...


FELIX MANTILLA: Older. Alex, he said that you enjoy it more. You try to enjoy every match that you play, no? For sure it's happen to me like this. It's something that when I am going out there, I am feeling that my game is getting better because I hitting the ball better and my forehand is more consistent than before, you know. For sure is one of the things, and also my serve and also my ambition. When I was younger, I said, "Okay, why didn't I win one Masters Series event?" Because I had the level, I thought. My thoughts was like that, you know. But finally, I think today I won because I was really hungry and I wanted to win that match, you know? I played with heart and courage and everything that I had. I think that's the result, that win today.

Q. You think it was a very important change, technical change, that you changed the color of your beard as far as I remember?

FELIX MANTILLA: No, the beard today is something that I had won bet. When I played in Barcelona, almost one month, wit my physical trainer, when I finish the match that I lost against Guga, I said to him - I was very upset - and I said, "Until I didn't won a tournament, I'm not gonna cut my beard." I was really lucky because normally that happens and I'm like (inaudible) this with afro, you know. But I think today I'm gonna shave it because was a bet. But the look, I like it. Maybe I just shave a little bit here and I stay with that. I don't know yet. Because I had just once Russell Crowe (laughter), is good-looking.

End of FastScripts….

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