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April 16, 2012

Paul-Henri Mathieu


6‑0, 6‑1

THE MODERATOR:  Questions in French for Paul‑Henri.

Q.  How does it feel to win a match on the tour again?
PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  It happened to me already two months ago.

Q.  But in a Masters 1000...
PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  I'm very happy that I won this match.  But it's tougher on clay.  There are more rallies.
I had a good first round and I took advantage of it.

Q.  There were really not that many rallies in that match.
PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Yes, indeed.  But I was happy the way I was moving on the court and I was keeping the ball in the court, which was good.

Q.  It's been a while you've been playing again.  Are you confirming your comeback?
PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Yes.  Things are progressing.  I had this groin injury last year, so it's been two years I haven't played on clay now.  I need to get used to the special strategy you need on this surface.

Q.  Are you confident now or do you still have some fears about your injury?
PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  No, the injury's behind me now.  It's healed.  But, of course, I don't have the knees of a 20‑year‑old.  But I'm able to play 100% without any problems.

Q.  Does this change your vision of the game and of tennis?
PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Yes, of both.  I'm seeing things from a distance.  Being on center court today was something difficult to imagine because last year I was dreaming about it, and now I was there.
Also about the game, I know I can't play as I used to before.  I have to make different choices, choose different tactics.  It will take time before I will be back to my previous physical level.

Q.  You won 0‑1.  It's not a very significant win in your career, but you seem very pleased about it.
PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Well, I'm starting a new career now.  I don't know if it's going to be a long one or a short one.  But when you stop for so long, it takes considerable effort to come back.
It's a totally new career that is starting for me.  I will try to go as far as I can, but it's extremely difficult.

Q.  Do you have now an inner strength; do you feel stronger than before?
PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Yes, mentally I feel a bit tougher because it took a lot of patience and perseverance to come back.  I had periods where I had many doubts.  I was asking myself many questions every day.  This is how I can have this detached view.  Those who have suffered from no injuries can't have this.
I realize now that we are living a fabulous life and we are very lucky to be able to do that.

Q.  What did you miss?
PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  I didn't miss everything about the life.  What I missed most was the competition itself, the nerves before going out on the court, even winning or losing as well.

Q.  Do you now have all the routines you had before?
PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  The good routines.  But I tried to eliminate the bad habits I had that were affecting my game.  This is part of that detachment I'm talking about.

Q.  What bad habits did you eliminate?
PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Plenty of them.  We would need another press conference to talk about all of that.
What I mean is when you can't get a practice court at the time you want, you know it's not that bad after all.  Many details.

Q.  You said you didn't reach your full physical potential yet.  What can't you do?
PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Well, before when I was playing on clay, I knew even if I didn't play well, I could stay out there for hours even if I played badly.  But now I know I can't do that.
When you go 15 months without doing any sport, then you have to be very careful how you train.

Q.  Do you have a coach?
PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  I'm alone for the time being.  But I only knew at the last minute I would be playing here.  I have a physio with me.

Q.  Are you going to have a coach later on?
PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Well, if things go well, I will, once I will be well into this new life.  I think it's better to have someone with you.  The most important thing is to keep healthy and that's why I'm going to focus on having a physio with me for now.

Q.  Do you see things day‑to‑day or do you have a long‑term perspective?
PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  No, I'm making choices day‑to‑day.  In the beginning of the year, I was playing well on hard courts.  Then in Rotterdam it seemed I hadn't played for two months at least when I played that match, so I have to take things day‑by‑day.

Q.  How does it feel having a family now?
PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Well, it not easy to leave your family behind and travel.

Q.  Now that you're back, do you feel the other players remember you?
PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Well, some of them don't care.  Others admire me for coming back.  They even come to me and ask for details.  It's not only French players, but also other players that are asking questions.
I think, generally speaking, my comeback is well‑received.

Q.  So now you're ranked 350.  How high do you expect to get?
PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Well, I know on a good day, for a given match, I can play top 50.  Lately I had problems with players who are giving me no rhythm.  But today was a bit better.
As far as I'm concerned, ranking is really not very important.  I need to wait a year or two before I can have an acceptable ranking.  The ranking is not significant for the time being.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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