“It has been a long time since we last saw you so diligent on a tennis court. What happened to arrive at this result?
What happened was that it had been a very long time since I entered a court with people around me supporting me. Being in empty stadiums is not something that I like. So being in Madrid in a Davis Cup atmosphere with French people who support me from start to finish, it makes me feel good and makes me love tennis again. That’s why I play and it warms my heart.
Like I said before, it’s a tough time for me. I have trouble feeling good in my head, in my legs, in my tennis … But I don’t just play for myself, I also play for the people who are there and who support me. I had to, for the recognition of this support, not to let go. It was not easy, I had to put myself in my head. It’s not easy to get back to the circuit. For me, it’s a bit like the start of my season. Today, I will only retain the public. I only play to feel emotions on a court and that’s what happened today (Tuesday).
“I know that a lot of people criticized me and I really wanted to show them that they can be silent”
The end of the match was tense. What is going on in your head?
Yes, it was difficult to finish the game. There is the adrenaline, the people who support you, it warms my heart and I had a lot of emotions when it came time to serve. I wanted to do well. I know a lot of people criticized me and I really wanted to show them that they can shut up. It’s not easy for me to lose every week, to travel from country to country and to feel bad. With the support of the people in Madrid, it put extra pressure on me because I wanted to do well and it paralyzed me. But what I find very positive is that I knew how to stay focused as it had not happened to me for a long time. It’s a kind of renewal. And I also want to thank Pierre-Hugues (Herbert) who stayed from start to finish. Sometimes I looked for his gaze because I know he’s an honest person, a great guy that I respect a lot. In these moments, there are looks that do good and his made me feel good.
In the attitude, you were very good. But is there a risk of relapse?
Perhaps. If I find myself in a closed-door tournament tomorrow, locked in a bubble, I’m not saying I won’t feel bad. Today was great, but if the conditions are different it will be difficult. But for now, I’ll take advantage. As for all the people who talk about me, I tell them that in a normal atmosphere, I am able to come back to a very good level. Before the pandemic, I was 22nd in the world. I am eighth at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. This break was very difficult, but you have to remember that I can play tennis.
“Everyone thinks I don’t know how to play tennis, but I can play. I have something that others don’t have, I don’t need to be hard in training to play well ”
We know that you don’t train a lot and you manage to pull off a high level match like magic. What’s your secret?
Everyone thinks I don’t know how to play tennis, but I can play. I have something that others don’t have, I don’t have to be hard in training to play well. I need to feel good in my head. My vacation did me a lot of good because there were a lot of things to say and it touches me. I didn’t do physics for ten days, nothing. I did not touch the racket. Five minutes of paddleboarding, but my girlfriend fell so we stopped. But that cut was what I needed. I did a training session with Carla Suarez Navarro when I arrived here on Saturday afternoon, another yesterday (Monday) with Arthur Cazaux who is a friend. And I felt I was ready to play.
What has happened in the last few weeks is unrelated to the level of tennis. It was in the head. On the morning of my matches, I felt like I couldn’t get out of bed. But today I wake up without pressure. I was in a good mood, I laughed, my legs were moving well. So I had signs that showed me that it was okay. And the reception on the court finished putting me well. Because I feel that there are people who don’t like me, but there are also people who like me a lot. And that makes me feel good.
We learned that you will not be selected for the Olympic Games, what is your reaction?
I wish good luck to those who will be there. I will not be at the Games, but I will be doing other tournaments during this time. It’s part of the game. I talked about it for a long time with the Federation, it was not a decision that was taken overnight. I have no problem with that. But maybe I show them that at the Games I could have done a little better than they thought. “