“What does it mean for you to make the final draw at Roland-Garros?
All. Everything for which I took up the racket at the end of the year. It also comforts me in the idea that I still have a lot to give in this sport. Qualifying for a Grand Slam has a good meaning in terms of level of play. For everyone, it’s very difficult. I am extremely proud of myself and happy. For me, for all the people who have been helping me for months trying to come back. To win in front of my family, my friends and all these people in this state at the end of the match is a release. Emotions let go a little. I don’t even know what to say they were so strong. I don’t remember having experienced that or it’s been so long that it was above everything.
It’s been a year since you played in a Grand Slam…
And it wasn’t the best of memories either (defeat in the 1st round against Kolar in four sets). I remember, it was 10:30-11:00 p.m., I was with Thierry (Ascione)Felix (Mantilla his coach), my wife. We were at the table in the restaurant, no one said a word, I had my head down, repeating to myself like every day “what are you doing on a pitch? “It really wasn’t a good period but today I’m smiling and I’m extremely happy on the pitch. With all that the public gives me, it’s just fantastic…
“I try to only look at my coaches, Eric (Winogradsky) and Enzo (Py) who were a little less emotional to stay in it, otherwise it overwhelms me”
Clémence, your wife, felt unwell during the match…
Ah good ? I haven’t seen her yet. I don’t watch them too much because a moment ago at 3-0, I caught my brother’s eye and saw him a little moved, it touched me. I try to look only at my coaches, Eric (Winogradsky) and Enzo (py) who were a little less emotional to stay in it, otherwise it overwhelms me and it’s a bit too much. She was there every day, she’s been living by my side for twelve years, living tennis, she’s there in good times and in bad times, so it’s not easy for her either when I not well, but she always coped.
She seems to have always been convinced that you weren’t finished for tennis…
It was very tense last year when I quit. She had a hard time accepting it when I told her. At the same time, only I could feel what was inside me. And then she kept asking me the question: “And that doesn’t make you want to? “And when I said to him:” we are going to Bercy because I want to be there for the last of Gilles (Simon) » and that I retyped with Pierre-Hugues (Herbert), she came to the field saying to me “you never know, maybe it’s the last time I see you hitting. » She saw me having fun and said to me « you see I think it’s not over ». It’s a whole, it’s thanks to her, thanks to all my loved ones, my friends, my family and myself.
“I try not to think about the consequences, what this tournament will bring me in terms of points, in terms of money, of all that. To enjoy the moment and enjoy it »
Are you a different player on a court?
In any case here, for sure. But four weeks ago in the US it was far from good with a journey that started off in the worst way, where I didn’t have the best attitude and it wasn’t right. What is certain is that I will take advantage of things a little more, of these emotions whereas before I was always thinking about what was to come. That’s why I wanted to stay in the field with all these people who brought me nothing but pleasure and love. I try not to think about the consequences, what this tournament will bring me in terms of points, in terms of money, of all that. To enjoy the moment and to love it.
“If I fall against them (Alcaraz or Medvedev), I will not give 200%, but 10,000% to try to do the best possible with an audience that will, I know, be behind me”
Alcaraz and Medvedev await the name of their opponent, a qualified…
If I can avoid playing them that will be nice too huh… (laughs). Frankly, today it’s the best in the world of tennis and I don’t think I’m at the best despite everything, even if I played very well. There are still steps to climb before returning to that level, but on the other hand if I fall against them, I will not give 200%, but 10,000% to try to do the best possible with an audience that will be, I know it, behind me. But I would like an opponent that I can still play against on 14. Because against them, I will not play on 14, it will be on the Chatrier or a big court, where they will only run, they will bring everything back , it will be hell… (laughs).
How much did the public help you in this almost Davis Cup atmosphere?
It was almost over. From the moment I entered the field, there was an emotion that rose, which I had difficulty controlling from the first warm-up balls. But that’s what gave me the strength to come back from fighting at the start of the second set. There are no words to say how they were, it’s just amazing.
“Every day I discover a little pain in my body […]. It’s mostly the tension, the emotions.”
You haven’t chained 3 matches in a row for a long time. How do you feel physically?
I have at least three days ahead of me hoping not to play on Sunday, a little message to Amélie (smiles). Every day I discover a little pain in my body, in the foot, in the arm, everywhere. It is above all the tension, the emotions. I will have to relax well, do all my recovery, the necessary care, take time for myself tomorrow and leave at the end of the afternoon for training. »