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April 13, 2008

Guy Forget

Richard Gasquet


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Could you talk us through the selection process vis-à-vis Mathieu, Gasquet, what you said to whom and who said what?
CAPTAIN FORGET: Well, you know, without going through all the details, yesterday I had more or less two options, although I could even put Clément in, but his record was so poor the last few months that I took him out really quickly.
On one hand, I had Paul-Henri, who was really motivated and wanted to go out and have another chance because he knew he basically only could play that first match, or I had possibly Richard to go in.
I didn't know how Richard was physically, mentally 'cause, you know, since we were together for the last 10 days, you know, he had a blister, a bad knee, a bad thigh. I mean, you know, anything, you name it, he had it.
So, you know, he was not physically well. I felt it got to his head, as well, that he felt he couldn't play.
You know, I told him that, okay, he wouldn't play the Friday. But at one point, if guys were going to get tired, I was going to need him on the Sunday. He said he was going to see how he felt, how he was going to improve. He said he was playing very poorly.
So I had two options, either to put Richard in the first match or on the second match. On one hand you had Paul-Henri, who wanted to go out and was really confident, showed me a lot of signs, a lot of goodwill. On the other hand I had Richard who had a lot of doubts, that didn't want to play Roddick because he felt Roddick was playing too good for him, that he probably had no chance.
But I guess he felt that he had to probably do something and try to play a match. But I could really feel he was not confident at all. So I said, What shall I do? As I said, you know, yesterday and the day before, when you have a guy who wants to go out, you're not sure he's going to win, you have a guy who doesn't want to go out who thinks he's not going to win at all, you know for sure he's not going to win of the.
My choice basically was not a choice. So I put Paul-Henri. I felt bad because really early I felt he was really hurt by his first loss. I didn't think he was going to be affected that bad. He was really positive. Everybody gave him support. I think that really pumped him up. But when you see the way he played, as soon as he lost his serve, it seemed like he completely collapsed.
It was very hard because he kind of lost his game, his confidence. Everything was not going well. I felt like it was like a marathon for him, this whole thing. Very painful mentally, physically. His game wasn't there. Not at one point I felt he could turn things around.
So even if he plays his best, to beat Roddick is not an easy task. But when you play like that, I mean, he got nailed really badly. So it's very hard for a captain to see one of your players who has done so well on the first day just getting drilled and being so -- having no defense in a way.
Then the rest doesn't count. The way Richard plays, the fifth match, obviously for him it's easier because it doesn't count. But, you know, in my mind I've played four matches without Tsonga and without Richard. If you want to beat a team like the USA, you need to have these kind of players, at least one of them, at least one or two matches.
That's not without taking any credit from the other guys who did their best, Paul-Henri and Michael and Arnaud. They did the best they could. You can beat some teams, but you can't beat a team as good as the USA, especially away.
It's too bad I couldn't have the team in a way I had in Romania two months ago.

Q. We understood actually that Richard had told you he would play the fifth match no matter what but not the fourth. Is that accurate? Also can you speak to whether you're personally disappointed in him.
CAPTAIN FORGET: Well, he told me. Very early he told some journalists, before I mentioned it. I mean, what he tells me basically stays inside the team. But, you know, he told some journalists he was ready to play the fifth match, but wasn't ready to play the fourth match because he felt he had no chance against Roddick.
You know, I'm disappointed that he was not fit to play, he was not mentally confident. He had no will to going out, although he was probably not in the best possible shape. You know, I could feel he was not well. That's why it's difficult. When you have so little choices, you have someone who doesn't really want to play, who doesn't feel good, he feels he's slow, his hand still bothers him a bit, so would you put him on the court?
That's a question I asked myself last night. But I remember speaking to some French journalists. I remember telling them I felt our chances were 20% right now, and I really believed so, even though we had won the doubles. Had Paul-Henri won his match against Blake the first day, it was still very difficult, but I think the chance would be bigger. At 1-2, knowing the problem I had, Richard being out of his shoes in a way and Paul-Henri being tired and affected by this cruel loss, I had 1-2. You know, people were getting excited, we were coming back, but I still had one big problem to solve: I had to win two points.
When you have players like Andy and James, I mean, you have to offer the best possible player. And I didn't have any of that. So I was kind of stuck. I thought, you know, what are my options now? I felt both of them were really small in a way.
But, you know, that's the way Davis Cup is. Once again, you know, Jo wasn't here. In a way we missed him. When you want to win a Davis Cup competition, you have to have the best players at the right time. If one is injured, the other one has to be here. Once again, you know, here we were not -- we played good, but we were just not good enough.
It's sad. I'm very disappointed today because I felt bad for Paul-Henri on the court. But, you know, I mean, you have to give credit to Patrick and his boys. All the matches were close. Andy and James played great. They deserved that win.

Q. With all these variables cropping up, Richard's thought process, are you going to have any doubts about selecting him next time?
CAPTAIN FORGET: Well, yeah, that's true. But maybe next time around he'll be coming out of a win in a Masters Series tournament and Jo will be in great shape. I won't have that kind of problem.
Throughout the years, even when we won Davis Cup, we had some luck. I remember the finals match when we played Sweden, Edberg twisted his foot in the first match. In the last match, you know, Arnaud Boetsch saved three or four match points, hit the balls on the line. We had so much luck in that tie and we finally won the Davis Cup.
We won in the semis against Switzerland, Nicolas Escude being down match point in the last match. Hit a shaky forehand miss-hit, fell right on the line, and Bastl choked. You know, we win the finals after that.
Winning a competition like that, you need to have the good players at the right time, you need luck, you need to play some matches at home, you need a bit of everything. Unfortunately this year, you know, the first round looked really promising. This tie was unbelievable in terms of the site, the organization, and the players we played against. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough depth in the players that I had to compete at that level.
You know, I hope in the future Richard will be a better player and will be stronger physically. But at the moment he had kind of inconsistent results. You can see it in his game, you can see it in his humor, you can see it when he does some interviews with some French magazines. I mean, even the way he talks about himself and his game, you feel like he's not really confident. He knows he's like at the bottom of the wave, and hopefully he'll go up.

Q. Do you feel Richard, taking into account his mental fragility, can stay in the top 10? If he's afraid to go out and try against an Andy Roddick, that's what makes a great player, to keep going out there and trying.
CAPTAIN FORGET: Well, you know, he's not well at the moment. But Richard is just so good that if he gets his things together, you know, within a couple of weeks, he can just play incredible tennis. We've all seen him in the past do that. He was playing very poorly, and within like two tournaments he just plays out of his mind.
But unfortunately that was not the case for the last -- he didn't play well in Key Biscayne at all. He got killed by James in Indian Wells. Here, you know, he had all these little injuries on already a fragile state of mind. That's how he felt.
But, you know, I think every captain has to deal with players' injuries, with players being not confident at all. We have to do the wise choices.
I did the best I could and so did the players.

Q. Could you give us your thoughts on a U.S.-Spain semifinal on red clay?
CAPTAIN FORGET: Well, it will be -- I mean, it will be a great match, first of all, because you have two of the best nations in the world, one is defending champ, the other one won a few years ago, playing on clay against probably one of the best teams in the world. Two great personalities with especially Andy and Nadal. Great oppositions of style. I think everything is there just to make a great thing for the game.
You know, I think Nadal will be very hard to beat for both singles, although his knees have been bothering him for the last few weeks, we've seen. I don't know how he'll be at that time. But it will be a fantastic game.
I think the doubles, I mean, you know, Bob and Mike are a better team. They're gonna win that. I think they have one point there. The second player, I don't know how Robredo will be. In the meantime, if David Ferrer will be playing well... Throughout the clay court season, there's always one or two Spanish players that come out of the bag, whether it's Verdasco.
With players like James, who can play well on clay, he can win one or maybe even two matches, or Andy could win against a second player. And he's got a put a great fight against Nadal. So it's going to be an unbelievable match.

Q. As somebody who knows clay, you know Andy, you've seen James play, is it more in their minds they can't play on clay or do you see something they could to make their game adapt better?
CAPTAIN FORGET: They're going to have to, first of all, practice their game on the clay during the clay court season and hopefully they get some good results throughout these tournaments. They will go into that tie with more confidence. On the other hand, Nadal wins the French again, they will think that Nadal is unbeatable.
I mean, Spanish guys have been playing on that surface since they were six years old, and they have the best game for clay, period. You can't just learn that within a couple of weeks.
I mean, I think it's wrong to try to change your game. I think it's best to try to impose your game, even if it's on clay. We've seen a guy like Edberg in the past playing well on clay. John McEnroe at one point play good on the clay. You know, Andre Agassi won the French once, although he didn't grow up probably on clay.
I think, I mean, James is a great athlete, and he moves so fast, and he's got the weapons to hurt anybody, even on clay. Now he has to be patient and wait for the right time. You just can't hit every ball like you do out here. But he knows that. So I think it will be a great challenge for Patrick, just try to beat Spain at home. I mean, they beat them here because they're much better players on the fast court. But on clay, it's a great challenge for him, and I think he's got the players to do it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Gasquet.

Q. Can you talk about the process, the talks that you had with Guy about whether or not to play today. We understand you told him you wanted to play the fifth match but not the fourth. Is that correct?
RICHARD GASQUET: Yeah, it's true. I think Paul-Henri was in a better shape than me, you know, because I didn't play on Friday against Blake. He played on the court. So I thought he could win against Andy. He was in great shape than me.
Yeah, if it was 2-All, I could play on the court. It was really, really difficult. I am a little bit injured, but I wanted to go for it at 2-2. But against Roddick, I think it was difficult because he was in the best shape than me for sure because he played. He wasn't maybe mentally tired, but not physically for sure.
But, yeah, he lost. He was the best on the court. I thought he could win this match, but he didn't do it.

Q. It sounds like people are being very critical of you. Is that fair?
RICHARD GASQUET: I don't know. Maybe, maybe. I don't care. I think it was the choice. Maybe I will lose against Roddick, too. He lost. We tried something. But next time we try maybe another thing. We will see. But we did this choice and now it's over.

Q. Did you leave that decision to Captain Forget?
RICHARD GASQUET: Of course, we made both the decision, you know. If Paul-Henri didn't want to play, he had maybe to say it. I don't know. He didn't tell it. So he was ready to play today. I felt him, he was ready to play.
Yeah, maybe if he didn't want to play against Roddick, he had to say it. Because me, I could play. I prefer for sure to play at 2-All because I think he's in better shape than me.
But we can tell what you want. We lost. They were better. Tsonga didn't play. I didn't play on Friday. We tried our best. But they are better than us.

Q. Just to be clear, you wanted to play the second match today because you thought you matched up better with Blake, is that the reason?
RICHARD GASQUET: No, no, no. For sure, I told you, Paul-Henri was in a better shape than me. You understand? I think he could win against Andy. Me, too, but I think he was in the best shape than me for sure because he played on the court, he played everything. And when you have to play against Roddick, you have to be ready. I wasn't really ready. But at 2-2 I could try something for sure. I wanted to go on the court.
But I am a little bit injured, so it's not good to play Roddick. I'm a little bit injured. You have a guy like Paul-Henri, he has to play for sure. It's normal. It's normal.

Q. Of the injuries, which is the most bothersome to you?
RICHARD GASQUET: The knee. I have problem with the knee.

Q. Which knee?

Q. It's inflamed?
RICHARD GASQUET: Tendinitis. It's really hard to play. I wanted to try it at 2-2 with antiinflammatories, with everything. I wanted to go on the court.

Q. So the blister was not the problem?
RICHARD GASQUET: No, I think it was okay today.

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