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April 16, 2001

Jerome Golmard

THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. At what stage are you physically?

JEROME GOLMARD: It's improving. I'm happy with my back. It's improving week after week, but of course there's a lot of work, and for the time being it's not a victory yet. It still hurts, but I know what I have to do. I feel that it is developing in the right direction; therefore, I hope that before the French Open I'll be in good health to play without stretching at each change of sides or without calling the trainer three times a match.

Q. Is it always the same problem, the lower part of your back?

JEROME GOLMARD: I have scoliosis, which became worse after the years, and it hurts more and more. In the beginning, I took anti-inflammatories for two years, so I didn't feel the pain. And, in fact, at one stage the medications didn't help me, and I didn't know what to do anymore. Now I found some solutions. I am happy, and mainly I can manage this problem during the match because when it hurts, I can stretch myself, and this is a relief for a few minutes. So that's what makes the difference in the present.

Q. Before Bercy you were saying that you were following a very precise program, that you had a lot of treatment every day with a Brazilian physiotherapist. Do you know what program it is of stretching?

JEROME GOLMARD: When I'm with her, we work four hours a day. When she's not there, we work less because it's difficult to work alone, and also because I try to play tennis. Because when you work five hours a day to rebalance a back which is hurting, you don't have much time to do anything else.

Q. Apparently, you look good.

JEROME GOLMARD: Yes. What's good is that I don't need to practice a lot to feel my shots, which allows me to do less practice in tennis and to concentrate more on my physical fitness, to do physical exercises on the court also. Since my back is hurting all the time, I can't spend a lot of time. That's why I am fit physically.

Q. Did you cramp in the end of the match?

JEROME GOLMARD: No. Physically, I was feeling fine. I was a bit tired at the end of the first set, but Arnaud gave me the break without my doing anything almost, which encouraged me. And I said, "It's his first match on clay," and I had a desire to play long rallies, et cetera. Changing surfaces like I did two weeks ago is not easy, I know. But Arnaud is really someone who fights a lot, and he proved that he was able to hold five-setters. He had a chance in that match.

Q. And the points sitting down on your bottom, do you practice them?

JEROME GOLMARD: That was luck. I fell and the ball was just on me. That's all.

Q. Marie-Angelie, your physiotherapist, you asked her to follow you. What was her answer?

JEROME GOLMARD: We work together, but she doesn't want to give up her life, she has a family life. It's also new. We are only working two weeks a month. The program is a bit tight, because before she was working at home. And she came last week and we worked the whole week in Casablanca, and she went back on Saturday. Here, I'm all alone. I will see her in Atlanta next week.

Q. It's better because you had scheduled to go, both of you, to Brazil for two months?

JEROME GOLMARD: In the beginning, that was my schedule. She had given me exercises to do without her help, but it was not enough and my pain was coming back week after week. The weeks before Key Biscayne, it became urgent. It was hurting a lot, so I made decisions. Everything is coming into shape. It's a good thing.

Q. Are you going to play the same tournament as Guga?

JEROME GOLMARD: She's not working with him anymore.

Q. What does she have better than the other specialists?

JEROME GOLMARD: She's the first person who really rebalanced my back rather than making me build up muscle, which was hurting me even more. She's working on my scoliosis. The others saw the scoliosis, but they thought it was not an important source of pain. As soon as I am with her, after five minutes I start feeling the benefit of what she's doing. Whereas with all the other treatments I had, there were treatments lasting three weeks or a month, and at the end I was hurting as bad, even more.

Q. Aside from the problem of having a good feeling on the court, are there medical reasons to believe that it's only this that is your problem?

JEROME GOLMARD: I am not a doctor. I was told that I had the scoliosis. She showed me exercises which relieved me, and I feel better. The other doctors explained this or that, and I said, "Yes, I believe you." We made exercises, and it was not working, so I don't know who's right, who's wrong. The only thing I want is to have a back without pain.

Q. Is it difficult because, after all, all your press conferences are talking about matches normally, but with you, it's the back. Wouldn't you like to talk about tennis rather?


Q. Did you feel that physically you had a good chance against him? Did you feel physically stronger than he was?

JEROME GOLMARD: It was his first match on clay, so we didn't know where he was. I had the chance of working two weeks on clay. I played well physically. I was really strong, and I didn't have the asset of playing two aces, as I can do when I'm not hurting in my back. So automatically, I knew I had to play more rallies, and I know that physically I was feeling good. Arnaud had played many events back-to-back, I knew he didn't have a good chance to have a long preparation on clay. The way the second set happened, I saw he was not physically at the top level. It was a great physical battle.

Q. Did the fact that you were playing another French player disturb you? Did it give you special pressure or not?

JEROME GOLMARD: Arnaud doesn't like that too much because he lost in Indian Wells to Nicolas quite easily, and he had a result to manage with Australia. People see him differently now. I can see him going to practice, people are around him. All that is new. I knew it was going to be difficult for him against me, especially that we practice very often together. We know each other very well, and he has a lot of respect for me. So these were favorable assets for me. I believed in my chances, and it saved me today. Even if I had lost, I would still be saying the same thing. I am happy with the way I played. I played at my maximum with the means I had, and that's it.

Q. Still, you have to feel good in your mind to believe that you can defy Clement physically from the baseline on clay. What did you do for your preparation?

JEROME GOLMARD: I did all the exercises that I wanted to do for a year and a half and that I couldn't do because of my back. The fact of working physically gives me a new dynamic. This is a feeling I didn't have for practically one year and a half. For me, it's a renewal. I don't feel the tiredness. For me, it's a new start. I'm very pleased to work with Marie. It's a breath of fresh air to play tennis. Although, my back is still hurting, I have some problems that I didn't solve, but for a year and a half I really had a hard time having treatments, seeing doctors, abandoning matches every three weeks. Now I'm very motivated. Whether I win or lose somewhere, it's not very important because I know I will play my best tennis, and this is very important physically. I am working to be able to say, "I am playing tennis," without saying, "My back is hurting, what am I going to do? Do I stretch or what is happening on the other side of the net?" It was hell.

Q. Statistically, how do you assess your level of game physically and tennis-wise?

JEROME GOLMARD: I am at 75 percent.

Q. When you played that forehand lying on the ground, what did you think in your mind?

JEROME GOLMARD: Nothing. I had enough luck so that the ball was right on me. I didn't have time to get back up, so I just put it back into the court and Arnaud made an error. After that, it was 5-4. I had two serves to follow to win, and he returned into the net, so it was 6-4. I was very concentrated point after point. I was not thinking about winning or losing - it was not important. I wanted to give my maximum. I had good opportunities in the game before, but I missed them. It was love-40, but this is part of a clay court match. It was a super match. There were many people, and they were very happy on center court, and everything was there to play at your maximum level.

Q. Didn't you find it strange that they changed the program to put you on center court?

JEROME GOLMARD: I met briefly with Patrice Dominguez, and he told me he preferred to put the match on Court No. 1 because matches between French players were not brilliant. I respect his choice. I have other concerns other than wondering whether I'm going to play on No. 1 or center court.

Q. Two years ago there was a semifinal between Rios and yourself here. You were among the Top 20. Do you have objectives this year, or do you take it match by match?

JEROME GOLMARD: It must be my fourth match on clay this year. Therefore, you shouldn't overreact. I am holding on, I am holding tight, and we will see what happens. I would like to be able to be among the top players.

Q. And Davis Cup, do you intend to come back?

JEROME GOLMARD: No, not for the time being.

End of FastScripts....

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