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August 12, 2005

Paul-Henri Mathieu


THE MODERATOR: Paul-Henri advances to his first career ATP Masters Series semifinal. He is also the third Frenchman to reach the semifinals in the Open Era here in Canada, the first since Fabrice Santoro in 2001, and also Patrick Proisy in 1972. Questions for Paul-Henri.

Q. Could you tell us, how did you end up at Bollettieri's?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: I was in Bollettieri when I was 15. I left when I was 18. I went back in France, and I had the opportunity to be coached by Thierry Champion. That's why I left.

Q. Why did you go there in the first place?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: Because when you are kid, is a dream to go in Bollettieri, just to practice, to see the other players. I think it's a good school.

Q. Do you feel like you're practically playing in front of a hometown crowd here?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: Here? No, I mean, because the people speak French?

Q. Yes.

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: Yeah, I mean, all the French guy, I think we feel good here because many people speak French. I don't know exactly if I feel like a Canadian when I'm playing. But I know the crowd was with me today. It helped, for sure.

Q. It looked like another relatively easy win against a tough opponent. It looked towards the end of the match you were really waiting that extra second on every ball to wait for Karol to move, then put it into the open court. Was it your plan to wait a little longer?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: In the beginning, I knew he played two tough matches so I tried to make him move and do not miss so much. At the end it was difficult because he was going for everything, so I try to put the ball in play and just keep him moving.

Q. He's been on the side courts the entire tournament. You started off against Roddick on centre court. Do you think that made you feel more comfortable?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: Yeah, for sure it helped me a little bit. When you play on centre court in the first match, you know a little bit the court. I knew the crowd little bit, so it helped little bit, for sure.

Q. Is the centre court a little faster?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: I don't think so. I play on the central court and Court BN. It's fast, too.

Q. You've had a lot of injuries in your career. Are you healthy now?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: Hope so (smiling). No, I mean, I started playing good in 2002. Right after that, I pull a muscle in abdominal, so I was -- I didn't play for four months, then I start playing again. When I was playing good again, I got injured in my wrist, left wrist. I stopped for seven months. It's exactly one year I start to play again, so I started in the same period last year. Is not easy to come back. You have to do everything from zero. You have to play the small tournaments again, play the quallies. Is not easy.

Q. Once you get back to where you are now, it becomes easier?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: No, because you want always to go better. I was 30 before, so I hope I can go more.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. Compared to yesterday, you played the same match but with a totally different score. Yesterday we had the impression that Olivier hit very hard. Now there were many more highs and lows.

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: I knew he was like that, the nonchalant type at times. I had played him at Queen's. He did the same thing. I lost the first set, won the second set. That's a danger against this type of player. We have the impression that he only tries a little, halfway, doesn't give his full effort, then when he has a chance, he passes you. I really tried to stay concentrated the whole match. Thanks to that, he could not come back into the match.

Q. Today your serves were for sure an element on which you could build.

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: Yes, for sure, and it helped me a lot. But since the beginning of the week, I served well. When we can count on a good first serve, it's important and it helps, even for the rest of the match.

Q. It's your first Masters Series semifinal.


Q. Can you tell us how you feel achieving this.

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: I'm very happy. It's obvious I did not think coming here that I would be still playing in the semifinals. Today I am. We always want to go further in the tournament. It's true that I'm very happy to be there today.

Q. What is the explanation of the success that you experience this week?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: Like I said yesterday, there's no secret. If there was one, we would do it week in and week out. It's true that I experienced a period of time where I didn't win many matches, so I was bound to win at one moment or another. I trained very hard. Today I'm seeing the results of this hard work.

Q. Can we say that in the weeks before this tournament, you were really deep in trouble as far as your play is concerned, even more importantly so than when you were injured?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: It's quite different than when I was hurt. I know that after Davis Cup it was a difficult period. I was very sad to have lost those matches. The reaction to this is either you let go and you go deeper in the hole and it's very difficult to come back. But when I went to Stuttgart, I made an effort to overcome this feeling that I had and I won a match. Right there it put me right back on track. I could train a few days on hard before coming here, and it helped me. I really wanted to bounce back.

Q. Do you think it was a very important effort of your will to bounce back after what you experienced?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: I don't think so. It takes an effort, but I've made efforts that were much more important than this.

Q. Would you say also one reason for your success is the peace of mind that you have found again with the arrival of Thierry Tulasne as a trainer?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: Physically I think that I'm a little better than I was before. I had a difficult period after Davis Cup. I was a little tired, but I feel better now. Since I'm with Thierry, I feel much better. When you have someone by your side to talk with, it helps a lot. It helps to bring peace of mind.

Q. Would you say that playing on hard is less difficult than playing on clay?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: It's true that I like clay, but when you are physically fit, you can play well on either surface. I've played very well in indoor tournaments as well before today.

Q. Can you say a few words about your next opponent, even though we don't know who it is yet. Is Nadal someone you know well?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: I've seen him quite often on TV. I have watched many of his matches. He's a very good player. He's No. 2. Maybe he will become No. 1. He played well on clay, but he's showing us that he is playing quite well on hard also. He has a very strong mental state.

Q. What can you do to beat him?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: I think when you play a player like him, you have to be strong mentally. You must show him that you are as present on the court as he is, as intense as he is, that you are on court to win also.

Q. His opponent Puerta, you've played him before?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: Did I play him before? I don't remember. No. It's even more surprising that Puerta is still here. It's not a surprise when you win a lot of matches on clay, eventually you do well on hard. There are quite a few South Americans doing well. They are very confident, and that helps their game. They are dangerous on any surface.

Q. There are eight players from France in the main draw, if I'm not mistaken. I suspect there must be a competition amongst you, who will do the best.

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: They're not here. They've left.

Q. No one stayed to watch you?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: Richard is here still. He will leave tomorrow. There's no competition amongst us. We all try and win as often as we can. We had French players playing each other second round, which was good. That made sure one of us was third round. We're always happy when there are many French players. If there is a competition, it's a very healthy competition amongst us.

Q. You had a lot of success in the Juniors and your first year on the ATP Tour. Do you want to use the success that you are experiencing this week to show the world that you can be top 10?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: In the Juniors I only had one success. I won Roland Garros. But I played very well in 2002. I had good results. It's the first time I am playing so well in a Masters Series. I hope to continue and to do more of the same in the next weeks.

Q. Do you know the difference in your ranking that these results here will bring?

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: No. Last year I played in August and had a few points there. I'm happy to say that I defended all those points from last August. In a year, it's not easy to go down to 50 in the world. We play three, four months. Today I'm very happy to be back ranked amongst the 50 best players. I hope to have an even better ranking. It's difficult to know the difference in ranking that I will have now because everybody is so close to one another in the rankings. You cannot think that you'll be in the top 10 easily in a year or so. First you want to be in the top 50. Actually I became in the 40s. It's very difficult to have a specific goal as far as ranking is concerned when you start a new year. Most people never think about the ranking. Unfortunately, it's like this, but it's the same for everybody.

Q. You have admitted coming here to Montreal you did not think you'd be in the semifinals.

PAUL-HENRI MATHIEU: It's true that I had not won many matches and that I was just coming out from a difficult period. But to say that I would be in the semifinals, I had never expected that. But today I will profit from this and I hope to continue. I did not expect this at all.

End of FastScripts….

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