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November 3, 2013

Guy Forget


GUY FORGET:  Good morning, everyone.  Thank you for coming.  I'm happy to see you again one year later.  And I'm smiling, as you might know.  I'm just about to give you good figures and to share with you all the happiness that the federation team had with this tournament.
So good news.  You know them as well as I do.  This 2013 tournament was extraordinary.  All the top players of the world were not only present, but they also showed their true personality.  I mean, the way they played at 100% and the fact that we had the top 8 players in the quarterfinals was something really exceptional in the history of our tournament.  It never happened in our tournament.  But also, it's very rare, even for other Masters 1000 tournaments.
The semis were exceptional yesterday.  Three previous winners of the BNP Paribas Masters were there:  Roger Federer, the greatest tennis player of all time; the No. 1 player, Rafael Nadal who hadn't played here since 2009; and now we have a final that is wonderful, although I know many fans of Rafa would have liked him to be there.
But he lost to a very talented player yesterday, and this shows that his victory last year here was not a coincidence.  He came to the final even though the best players in the world were there, so that shows how good a player he is.
Next Tuesday they will have a draw with players exactly the same ones as we had here, so we are smiling.  I thought we didn't need to go to London, because all the players were here on Friday.  So this was a treat for us.
All the figures were increased compared with last year:  television, spectators.  You can always do better, of course, but it was enormous.
For spectators, we have the same number as last year.  Last year we had broken all the records, so for 2013 we will have the same records beaten.  Thursday was a holiday, a bank holiday, so we had more spectators.  For Sunday we were sold out for a long time.  For the first days of the week, we had an increase compared to last year.
So these are encouraging results.  We had problems last year, so I thought this year would be also difficult.  So this is really incredible.  It's a bonus.
Next year, as you know, there is going to be a week between this tournament and the ATP final in London.  This means that the players who might be tired will be able to play this tournament at 100%, knowing they will have a whole week to prepare for London after that.
In 2015, this POPB, this stadium, will be totally renovated.  The work will start at beginning of January next year, and of course in 2015 the stadium will be the most modern stadium in Europe.  Next year, in 2014, there will still be some works.  I'm sure that you will all be welcomed in bigger settings, more comfortable premises.
We were very proud to have French players going far in this tournament, including Mr.Herbert.  He's very good on that surface, and he has a very aggressive game that really pleased the crowd.  And you, too, I guess, the media.  The articles you wrote were very nice to him.
Richard was able to qualify for the Masters here.  We thought he might be able to finally beat Rafa, but will have another opportunity in London, I guess.
As to the other French players, we had less achievements maybe than last year, but this is also because we had very good players this year.
Roger Federer unfortunately left yesterday, but he was very pleased with his stay in Paris.  He told me last year that he would really try to be there this year, although he played the final in Basel once again.
He came.  He did come.  He's also playing almost his best tennis.  This is very good for us, of course, but also for you.  It's good news for you to see Roger is back to his highest level.
I have many other pieces of information here.  I'm sure I forgot a certain number of things.  I'm sure you'll ask questions if I've forgot something.  It's just a few hours before the final.
You can ask a question immediately, of course.

Q.  Isn't this maybe not only good news of having the top 8 in the quarterfinal, is it really good news because we heard there were discussions about the fact that the Masters was so close?  Before we thought they were not coming because they were preparing for the Masters; now they're all here, and this is also a problem.  So both ways it's always a problem.
GUY FORGET:  Well, we talked about it.  I think the reasons for this year to be a lot better than other years, let's be honest, is due to the fact that Nadal and Djokovic are still fighting for the No. 1 spot.
Roger Federer, Jo‑Wilfried Tsonga, Stan, Richard Gasquet, Raonic, were all trying to qualify for the Masters, and there was really a suspense there.  That's why maybe the players were more committed to this edition.
We know that will not always happen, not every year.  So having a week in between is safer for us.
Last year at the same time there was no particular race.  Everybody was tired.  After Basel there was a knee problem with one of the players.  I mean, it's scary, so just the day before the start of the tournament I'm always a bit tense.
This year we had very favorable circumstances, but it might happen next year, too.  They are all very close and fighting.  Murray was not here this year, but maybe next year Murray will be fighting with Rafa Nadal and Djokovic for the top spot.
Of course, it's something we can wish for, but I'm satisfied because finally with what happened this year we can see the future coming with more optimism.
I'm very pleased with what happened this week.  I'm extremely motivated to keep it going.  One thing we have to say in favor of the players, I met them several times during the year, and we were talking about what happened last year ‑ and especially Roger Federer who didn't come.  Roger said something very elegant, I thought.  He said, I had a campaign so that we have a longer offseason and that London would take place earlier, but I believe it might have been a mistake to want that London be played a week earlier.
So I will try to have London a week later next year.  And Rafa said the same thing.  He said if we can come to Paris, we will do that, but these are promises.  They can always say they are coming and they're not coming, but I really want to thank all the players because they were all very professional and they all complied with their duty.  Because players have rights, but we must say that they have many obligations, especially on the tour.
I mean, this London tournament is a sort of showcase for the tour.  So really tonight I would like to pay a tribute to all the players.  They really played the game, and that made a difference.

Q.  So this dependency on the Big 4, isn't that something unique in tennis?  Do you really need to have Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, or Murray, or a French player ‑ for you to be less tense?  So maybe these players have a power over the tournaments that they didn't have before.
GUY FORGET:  Well, that's our mission.  The work of all the teams and the French Tennis Federation is to welcome those players in the best way possible.  You know, we meet with the ATP several times during each year.  We talked about it last year, too.
Maybe the new calendar is a bit forgotten right now.  It will come back into the discussions.  We're talking about the development of the prize money; we are talking about the bonus pool.  There is a bonus pool, as you know, for players who comply with their commitments, at the end of the year.
So there are many things that are being done so that the players will be willing to come to play the tournament.
Maybe the four Grand Slam tournaments are a bit special.  These are the tournaments that are really making the players, and you can't avoid playing them.
But for the Masters 1000 we do need the presence of those players.  Last year we didn't have a draw as good as this year; however, the spectators came and there was a great atmosphere.  The French players played well, so in the end we didn't do too bad.
But if you see the quarterfinal of Friday, I mean, everybody talked about it everywhere.  Famous football players came.  Even our sponsors said, We can't keep up with the demand.
So, I mean, the players should also understand that their presence is needed.

Q.  A word about the surface.  We were told that the surface was the same as London, but Roger seemed to say that it was a bit faster than London.  Is there a difference?
GUY FORGET:  Javier Sanchez, a former player on the tour, is in charge of the brand doing those courts.  It's resin that is made in big tanks, and the tanks for Basel, Paris, and London are the same.
So theoretically the surface is exactly the same.  They come from the same tanks.
Now, according maybe to the quality of the underground, if it's humid or less humid, there might be slight differences.  I read the article on Roger this morning.  He's smiling, and he said, After all, I will just see when I get there.
It's great this year, because I asked the players what they thought about the conditions.  They all said the surface was great.  We saw aggressive players like Roger be very pleased with the surface and play well; we see players like David Ferrer who is normally a clay court specialist being able to sustain rallies from the baseline.
So I think the surface is good in terms of speed and bouncing for the balls.

Q.  What changed compared with last year, and what stayed the same in terms of organization?
GUY FORGET:  In terms of organization, there were not major changes.  What changed was the involvement of the players.  We really need the players to be committed.  We need them to defend their own tour.  The Masters 1000s are really a showcase for the tour, so if there are injuries or counterperformances and they are not in the last rounds, it is bad for all the tournaments and for the tour in general.
They need to understand that, and they need to understand what those Masters 1000s are, why there is the ATP final just after that.  As organizers, we are always trying to do things as professionally as possible, and the players and the ATP supervisors are quite happy with the way this tournament is organized.
People managing the tournament on a daily basis are the same people working for the French Open, so we are lucky, because we have the two tournaments among the best managed in the whole world.  We can always try to improve on little details, but we didn't do anything drastically new compared with last year.

Q.  There were talks about an Asian exhibition tour for next year.  Is that a worry?
GUY FORGET:  Future will tell.  We need to be very cautious about this kind of thing.
Sometimes, and they are right to do that, players want an offseason a bit longer, because they think they play too much, that the game is too physical.  So that's why we started playing on faster surfaces.  That was an idea from Roger last year.
But if other players are going to commit on other tours at the other end of the world, they can't come back saying, Well, I had to play the Indian Wells tournament.  Often they won't come.  But then the ATP will have to take the necessary steps to make them understand or sanction them.
We're going to have a new president soon, and just to make them aware of their commitment to the tour, sometimes players have a very short‑term vision.  They always try to optimize their seasons not only when choosing the tournaments but also trying to get the greatest amount of money.  Sometimes money is what motivates the players to play these kind of exhibitions.
Some players, for example, that are at the end of their careers, they will have to make a choice between exhibitions or winning titles.  We know many of those champions like to win Masters 1000s or Grand Slams, and sometimes it might not be compatible to do the two things at the same time.

Q.  So you saw Richard Gasquet in his suit.  What do you think of his participation in the London Masters?  You saw his round robin, which is difficult.
GUY FORGET:  Well, there is never anything easy in the London tournament.  We are all happy for Richard, and not only now, but for the past year and a half.  He already qualified once but it was a long time ago, and in between he had a difficult time.  It's been more than a year that he's sort of made a major improvement.
I'm sure you feel in your interviews with him that he's more relaxed.  So I really believe this qualification, he deserved it.  And I also believe he can go even further.  I mean, if Richard is qualified for the semis in London, it won't be a miracle.
A long time ago he said, Ferrer is too strong; I can't win against him.  I told him, Of course you will be able to beat him.  When you will come out of the match, you'll say, Oh, yeah, it was possible.  And he beat Ferrer.  Even last September he did.
So Richard is still improving and crossing bridges.  He said Davis Cup would be a priority for him next year.  I'm very pleased with that.  I think Arnaud Clement with his group can really do something exceptional.  Even next year maybe they can win the Davis Cup.
Of course, Arnaud will need the best players, which was not the case in Argentina this year.

Q.  The success of this edition, did it make you change your mind about the place of this tournament in the calendar?  There were talks about having the tournament in the beginning of the year.
GUY FORGET:  We are open to any opportunity.  We meet with the ATP board and the players very often, and the future president.  The calendar is extremely important, but we are not controlling that calendar.  Players go to the tournaments they want to, so we meet together several times a year to explore the various possibilities.
We saw the draw this year and the draw of last year, and just because there were specific circumstances we went from a bad year to an exceptional year, so we have to be careful.  Just having a week in between this tournament and London is already an important step.  And like it's like Indian Wells:  we have a guarantee of having the best players.
For the next 10 years, if we can have the draw we had this year, I will sign for it immediately.  Gilbert is here, and I'm sure he wouldn't want to change the place of the Masters in those conditions.
But, again, I'm saying we are open.  We are ready to discuss.  If we are able to also play in the beginning of the year, we might take the opportunity.

Q.  Since we are now going to have a brand new stadium, would you consider hosting the ATP World Tour Finals here?
GUY FORGET:  Personally it's a lot of money.  A great budget is needed so you can have the ATP Masters for three years.  After that you have nothing, so it's a lot of investment.
So it's a good thing to have a sort of long‑term contract.  So maybe one day.  But for the time being, I think we should keep what we have.

Q.  You talked about renovating the stadium.  How will it be next year?  What are you expecting for 2015?
GUY FORGET:  Next year we know the stadium will be still with some works.  The stadium itself will not be very different but the other premises will have to be changed, especially for the sponsors.  There was a video clip that was made, and you'll see it's exceptional what will be done.
Djokovic was saying that the stadium is beautiful when he steps into the court.  I mean, it's a real great emotions.  You have all the lights.  It's thrilling.
In 2015 we will be able to make this tournament even more spectacular.  We will be able to welcome all the different types of populations even more comfortably.  The seats for the spectators will be more comfortable.  Where the players are the locker rooms are small; they will be made better.  They have to go up two floors and have a shower; whereas in 2015 they will have very pleasant premises and much more welcoming.

Q.  We saw the achievements of Herbert this year.  How do you analyze the reaction of Benoit Paire after his match?  Were you shocked by what he said, talking about the crowd in Bercy?
GUY FORGET:  I already said what I had to say about this.  I'm going to say it again:  I'm sad for Benoit.  Benoit is a very nice guy.  When people whistle against him, he's booed on the court, it's because people interpret his behavior as being just his personality.  I'm sad for him.  He doesn't deserve that.
However, the way he behaved justifies that part of the crowd misinterpreted his attitude.  He's sometimes clumsy.  I have seen him doing clumsy things five or six times this year.  When he plays on the US Open, on Court No. 14, a few Americans will boo him.  But when he's here on center court in France, there are more people reacting.
I didn't have time to talk about it with him, but I'm sure his team will tell him he needs to improve on this.  Four or five years ago he didn't have good behavior and he had problems with that.  That's why he was not well ranked.
He improved a lot, but what he misses to go even further is something‑‑ it has to do with his capacity of managing his emotions, his frustration, when the opponent plays well.
If one stupid guy in the crowd will laugh at him because he misses a dropshot, I mean, he shouldn't react.  The players who are better ranked than he is are able to manage that better than he is.  He's a nice guy.  I'm sure he's going to correct this for next year.

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