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August 31, 2008

Gilles Muller


G. Muller/N. Almagro
6-7, 3-6, 7-6, 7-6, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Obviously only two breaks of serve the whole match, four hours. When you were serving the ball, did you feel more confident with it or a lot of pressure on you because Almagro was holding so well?
GILLES MULLER: Well, I knew it was pretty important to win the serves. I mean, I got only one break in the whole match, but both of us won our service games pretty easy.
Toward the end it got a little bit tight, but the first four sets there were no break chances. I knew if I wouldn't serve well enough, it would be very hard to beat him.
Well, yeah, I mean, it's pressure, but on the other hand I was confident, obviously, because I was serving good against Tommy in the last three sets in my second round, so I knew I could do it.

Q. Could you talk about the emotion you felt on that match point. It was a great sort of drop volley you hit and you really got up in the air?
GILLES MULLER: Yeah, it's tough to say. I mean, to be honest, through the whole year already I'm only playing challengers, and I'm fighting to win some matches there.
Now I'm here. I went through quallies, and I'm winning three matches in the main draw. It's pretty amazing. It's tough to realize, actually.

Q. Why are you winning these matches?

Q. Yeah.
GILLES MULLER: That's a good question. (laughter.)
I don't know. I guess everything is in the head. Everything is confidence. I guess I lost a lot of it through the last two, three years, because I was playing pretty good in '05 when I beat Nadal, and then Andy here in US Open.
But then I had a tough time after that. I mean, I wasn't confirming my results. I was dropping in the rankings. I started to play challengers again and I was losing matches there. I lost a lot of confidence.
There were even moments where I thought, Should I still keep playing? Because, I mean, if you're playing at the challenger level, because pretty much every week you're losing money because you have more expenses than you are earning.
So it was a rough time, but I'm glad I didn't stop.

Q. You reached the round of 16, if I'm not mistaken, for the first time in a Grand Slam event.

Q. That's got to be, you know, quite a feeling of accomplishment.
GILLES MULLER: Oh, definitely, yeah, especially because I'm also coming through quallies, you know. My first round in the quallies. I almost lost that one because I was flying in late from Istanbul because I played a challenger over here.
And only came here on Sunday night and only practiced Monday here and then played Tuesday. I won the match 7-5 in the third. I lost the first set; I won the second set in the breaker. I could have lost that match, and now I'm still here two weeks after.

Q. You face Davydenko in the next round. Your thoughts on that?
GILLES MULLER: So far I play him twice and I never won, so, I mean, this time hopefully I can change that.

Q. Do you feel you're a much better player now than you were the last time you faced him, the way you're playing right now in this tournament?
GILLES MULLER: To be honest, the way I'm playing I think I play the same as before. It's just the confidence thing. I know I can beat him, definitely. If I'm serving well, you never know what can happen. If you get to the tiebreaker, one point can change the whole match, like today, also.
So I'm definitely confident that I can beat him, that's for sure. Because I think in tennis I always had it to beat those guys, but it was a confidence thing.

Q. Did you have any sense that you could play so well here? Did you come in feeling things were coming together? How was your state of confidence coming in to play qualifying, and then as you rolled along, could you just describe that?
GILLES MULLER: I wasn't having that much confidence, because I lost in the quarterfinals in the challenger the week before. Came in late. To be honest with you, I was already happy when I qualified. That was already a good thing for me.
But then I guess I had a good draw for the first round, a wildcard. I won that one. Yeah, and then, I mean, the other matches, those are the moments where you have nothing to lose.
I'm playing Tommy Haas. I mean, he's a great player. I mean, I went on court and I played terrible the first two sets. I said, Come on, Man. You have nothing to lose. Why are you playing so tight? Then I started playing better. Now I know I can turn around matches. That gave me a lot of confidence, and I can beat those guys.

Q. How important is the crowd when you're down two sets to Love? There's a kind of fickleness that, hey, they just want the match to go on longer. But could you feel the energy from them?
GILLES MULLER: Oh, definitely, yeah, yeah. When I had my first match point today at 5-4, I guess -- yeah, it was 5 -4, I mean, I got goosebumps before I was returning the serve there.
Yeah, it's amazing, especially here. I got the feeling that American people are not really supporting one player, but they just want a big show. I think that's why both of us, Nicolas and me today, that's what we did. We played a long match. I think level was pretty high, so I guess that's what they like.

Q. Where does this rank in the sports history of Luxembourg, you think?
GILLES MULLER: Well, I think, if I'm not mistaken, this is the first time a player from Luxembourg gets to a fourth round in a Grand Slam.
I think third round I did it before, and we had a female player also who did it a couple of times.
So, yeah, it's a nice thing. But on the other hand, you know, for Luxembourg, I don't want to focus on goals on having a record in Luxembourg, because there's not much -- not much players in front of you.
I'm the first one actually to do everything. I mean, that's not my goal, to be the best in Luxembourg (laughter.)

Q. Are you getting any text messages or calls or anything from home, parents, friends, guys on the tour who are on the challengers saying, Hey, what's going on?
GILLES MULLER: Yeah, lots of them, lots of them. But I learned also to deal with them, because three years ago when I beat Andy in the first round, I got plenty of text messages at night before I went to sleep. I answered every single one of them.
Now I'm not answering anymore. I'm just reading them and I'm calling, you know, my girlfriend, my parents, and maybe one or two friends, and that's it. Hopefully, they understand. I think they understand.
But I'm just not trying to reply to everybody. It makes you tired. I don't want to lose focus. I'm not done yet.

Q. This has probably added another year financially to your game, right? That means so much to just have that pressure taken off?
GILLES MULLER: Oh, definitely, yeah. I mean, not only -- yeah, it's also a ranking thing. I'm getting a lot of points now here and I'm getting to the top 100. That's where you make the big money. I mean, in the top 100, you play all the big tournaments throughout the whole year, and that's easier to live with.

Q. Technically though, what's been really working well for you here from a technical point of view?
GILLES MULLER: I guess my serve. I mean, my serve was pretty big.

Q. Lefty?
GILLES MULLER: Yeah, lefty serve. I guess that was one of the keys for all my matches. I mean, I was pretty much dominating my game, my serve games pretty easy. I won them pretty easy, and that gives you a lot of confidence. That gives you time to breathe and puts a lot of pressure on the opponent. So I guess that's one of the keys, my serve, for sure.

Q. Does this surface help you, you feel?
GILLES MULLER: Yeah, I like it. I mean, it's pretty fast, and I feel very comfortable on it.

Q. Not to get ahead of ourselves here, because obviously it's going to be a tough match against Nikolay, but it's not unreasonable to see you playing a quarterfinal match against Roger Federer. It's not out of the realm of reality. If somebody had told you, you know, a week ago today that you may be playing Roger Federer in a quarterfinal match, would you have thought them nuts?
GILLES MULLER: One week ago, yes. But now, I guess, like I said, I think I'm feeling good now. I'm confident in myself. I never thought that I could turn around those matches. I mean, against Tommy I was two sets down. I never did that in my whole career. I think that was one of the things which gave me a lot of confidence.
And now I'm just thinking, I mean, match after match, and now I'm focusing on the match against Nikolay. Like I said, I didn't win against him two matches, but I know if I'm playing well, I can beat him.

Q. Do you think right now anything is possible?
GILLES MULLER: Yeah, I think so. I really believe it. I'm thinking also about those guys like Marcos Baghdatis in Australia. Nobody knew the guy before and he went to the finals. Same thing this year with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. He came back from a lot of injuries. He went to the finals right away. Why shouldn't that happen to me?

Q. When you beat Roddick, is this really a matter of having your confidence, or have there been things in your game, but now that you have the confidence these past couple of matches, it's helping you even more?
GILLES MULLER: I think -- I'm not a better player. Maybe I'm just using my strengths better than before, and definitely it's a confidence thing.

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