April 16, 2001
MONTE CARLO, MONACO
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. So are you completely down?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: I don't know yet. I don't know how I feel. I don't know how I felt on the court. I don't know. In fact, clay makes me sick.
Q. Is it difficult to play against a French player?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: No. I'm fed up. It's really bad. No importance. I said that to someone that was interviewing me outside of the court, but I said anything just to say something. I was tidying my stuff, and I was a bit annoyed.
Q. You made fantastic rallies today.
ARNAUD CLEMENT: The thing is you have to win every point. All the points, I had a big struggle. On his serve, every time I gave him two or three shots for free. If I didn't do that, I should have finished off the match in two sets without problems. But on clay, things don't happen that way. You must keep concentrating for a very long time, the games are longer, you should give away no shots, you should build up your point, and every choice is more important than on other surfaces. Otherwise, you do stupid things and it's not good. You have to be relaxed. Today I was not relaxed enough when I was trying to be aggressive, especially at 4-4 in the tiebreaker. Plus, I felt strange. I lost points, and I was laughing and it was three hours I was on the court. At least if I was losing in one hour, I can laugh. But not after three hours on the court.
Q. Do you feel you lack patience on clay?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: No, because I tried. I think that on a certain number of rallies I didn't rush, but it's not my nature. My game is to do it different, and I need time to understand this new kind of play. If I'm lucid, I can say that they are good things for a first match on clay here with so little preparation, and I think it's very, very good. I only played three or four days on clay before, and the quality of my practice was not very high. Compared with the quickness of the surface last week, it was not too bad what I did today. There is something incredible. I usually string my racquets at 24/25, and it's very rare that I use a lower tension.
Q. Does it depend on the surface and on the balls?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: If it's on hardcourt, whatever the ball, it will always be the same tension. But here on clay I have less tension. Sometimes I string my racquets at 23/22 or 22/21. But here, I had two racquets at 23/22 and two racquets at 22/21, and there was one racquet with which I warmed up with, which was at 21/20 two days ago. And this was the only racquet with which I could play. The strings were rotten, the racquet was almost broken. In the second set, I used another one, but I was not able to topspin anymore.
Q. So you had only one racquet you could use?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: Yes. I took it back in the third set, but the strings were very fine. I know I'm not very powerful, but these balls are really in wood. I'm not the only one to say so. Last year it seems it was the same thing. Other people said so, and that shocks me. That's my excuse. Now I feel better.
Q. Is it difficult to play against a player lying down on the court?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: I couldn't see him anymore. I didn't know where he was. I didn't see him slip, in fact. I had made a good shot, I wrong-footed him, and he made me laugh. Then I laughed and I missed the point.
Q. Did it disturb you for the next three points?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: The next two points. No, I've been disturbed for three days anyway.
Q. According to what you said, we have the impression that there are things you don't control in your personality. You can't keep control? Are there things that escape you?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: I don't know what to say. I don't really understand what you mean.
Q. There are situations that escape you; you can't do anything even if you try to rebel? It's like that?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: It's not the situation that escapes me; it's my attitude. The way I feel in my mind doesn't fit with the moment I'm living in. I should have been tense today, but I was laughing. I was watching my friends who had come at 4-4, and I was making signs to them. I was happy and they were laughing. It was stupid, like if I was eight years old. I don't know why I was like that. I think I'm a very sick person.
Q. And this will never change? Can't you work on it?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: I don't know.
Q. You were talking about how difficult it is to change from fast surfaces like Neuchatel to clay. But apart from that, do you consider clay as your worst surface?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: Yes. Grass, clay, I don't know which. Yes.
Q. And especially this kind of clay, it's very slow compared with the French Open?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: Yes. Here the conditions are the worst I can have for me. I don't care about the clay being heavy or not, but when the balls are very heavy for me, it's not good. Here, the balls are the heaviest of the whole season. For clay, the trick is that physically I feel a lot stronger than before. For a first match on clay like that, it was great. Last year in the French Open I was cramping at the third set. I felt nervous, we had a tight set. But here, after three sets, three hours, I had a little bit of cramping, but nothing serious. And I felt good for a first match. If I practice well between now and one month and a half from now before the French Open, physically I think I can be very fit and I will be able to sustain matches in five sets lasting five hours, which was not the case before. I am more powerful than before. Normally, I should be better than before. This year, I should be well beyond my level on clay than last year. The trick is that on clay I'm laughing not so much. For me, it's more difficult to practice on clay. Normally, practice is physical training, hitting hard to muscle the top of your body, your legs feeling good. But on clay, doesn't make me laugh, and pleasure on the court is very important. On clay, I have a bit less pleasure because it's not my natural game. But, really, who cares?
Q. Are you obliged to hit the ball too often on clay?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: Yes, but it's always the same mainly. All the points are always the same. It's going to be an aggressive shot, a volley, and only after ten shots you can win a point. And sometimes you're playing average and you're always going to do the same thing. You're going to play a long cross-court shot, and it isn't very funny to watch that kind of game either.
Q. It depends who plays. With you, it's not bad. Just after the match, how does it feel to lose first round in Monte-Carlo?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: I couldn't care less, okay? No, this is not really what I mean. I'm a bit disappointed. In fact, I broke a racquet reaching the locker room, so it means I was a bit upset because it's been a long time I didn't break a racquet after a match. At least one year and a half or two. This time, I broke it when I went in to the locker rooms, so this means I was upset. I am angry with myself because of the match. In fact, if I had felt Jerome was stronger than me and that he beat me hard, okay, I would have thought that I lacked preparation and I would have gone ahead again. But what really makes me crazy, maybe I'm not thinking clearly, but I think that I should never have lost that match. In the first set, I think I had at least ten break points, and I only converted one. It's not normal. In the third set, I gave him two or three points when he was serving every time. At 6-5 there was love-15, and it could have been love-30 but I missed my attack. This kind of thing shouldn't happen. It's very bad.
Q. You are up 4-1 in the tiebreaker and we have the impression you played exactly the same way then as you did against Federer in Davis Cup. The opponent won six points in a row after that.
ARNAUD CLEMENT: I was thinking too hard about the match against Federer. I would have preferred to lose 4-1. Why do you ask that question? He played well, 4-1, 4-4. There is nothing to say about that. And there was that point at 5-4, and then my racquet was...
Q. This loss doesn't question your association with Philippe but with Emanuel. Is there a comment you have to make about it?
ARNAUD CLEMENT: No.
Q. Because we don't know the reasons.
ARNAUD CLEMENT: Well, if he didn't want to tell you, I should not be the one to tell you. But I know the reasons!
End of FastScripts....