Gilles Muller Interview - US Open, Sept 2Posted on September 2, 2008
Q. Some of the most spectacular tennis we've seen in this tournament so far. What was it like to be a part of that match?
GILLES MULLER: It was great, but ‑‑ I mean, especially the tiebreaker was amazing. I think it was the most exciting tiebreaker I've ever played in my whole life. I think there was some shots. I think the shot he did at 5‑4 was the shot of the tournament for sure.
It was hard to accept it, but the good thing is I smiled about it and kept going, and it really helped me.
Q. This is in a way an improbable run. You've played some spectacular tennis, and to get this far you said the other day that you've developed an attitude that, hey, I have nothing to lose. Is that what's helping you to prevail in these big matches?
GILLES MULLER: Yeah, I think so. I mean, it's true I have nothing to lose, but on the other hand I have a lot to win. There's still some pressure, but I'm ‑‑ it's easier to deal with the pressure to win something than to lose something.
It's true, it helps me a lot. But I think in general it's just ‑‑ the way I am on the court right now, I would love to stay like this through the rest of my career. I'm getting sometimes upset at myself. I'm sometimes throwing my racquet, or saying some bad words or something, but the good thing is that two seconds after I'm back in the match and I'm focused again.
That's really helping me here.
Q. You have won four of your seven matches against top‑10 players now in your career. Do you think maybe they take you too lightly?
GILLES MULLER: I don't know. (laughter.)
It's hard to say. I don't know if I can say now if Nikolay played bad or good today, but what I can say is I think I played one of my smartest matches today. Everyone told me that Nikolay likes to play in rhythm. I played him twice already, and I was playing good matches, also those two matches, but every time I lost.
I was hitting the ball every time and that's what he likes. This time I just kept changing the pace. I played a lot of slices, which he doesn't like, and then I went with the high ball. I changed my serve all the time. I changed spin, then slice. I think at one point of the match, he was really, like, out of it.
The bad thing is I couldn't take advantage of it because I was up 6‑4, 4‑1, and I lost the second set, but the good thing again is I was positive, and I kept on going. And I knew that I was going to have my chance again.
Q. We hear that you can't get through on the phone lines to Luxembourg?
GILLES MULLER: I can't?
GILLES MULLER: I don't know. I'm not going to do it, anyway. I just spoke to my girlfriend and to one of my closest friends, and tomorrow I'm going to call my parents, but that's it.
Again, I mean, last time I said ‑‑ last time I beat Roddick, I spent all night answering to every text message, and I'm not going to do the same mistake again. I'm going to need some sleep.
Q. You've got your knee taped up, how are you feeling? How are your legs?
GILLES MULLER: They're tired. Mine, I'm feeling tired, but, I mean, it's being in last 16 really helps. I mean, you just stop thinking about it. I mean, at one point my knee was really hurting. When I put pressure on it. That's why I called the trainer. He pulled the tape to take off a little bit of the pressure. Afterward it was pretty much gone, the pain on my knee.
Q. Do you think you played tennis at the same level as when you beat Andy Roddick years ago, or better, maybe?
GILLES MULLER: I would say ‑‑ it's tough to say if I'm playing better or not, but the thing which I can tell you for sure is that I'm feeling much better, I'm feeling much better about myself, and I'm very confident on the court, and ‑‑ yeah, I mean, I'm really positive about everything. That really changed things, the match against Roddick.
Q. Coming into the match, you came off of two long five‑set matches. Today was a four‑setter that ran the length of a five‑set match. It was a long and tough contest out there. Are you feeling like you're holding up well in terms of your strength?
GILLES MULLER: I'm very surprised about myself, because, I mean, to be honest, before when I was playing, I felt like I wasn't very good physically‑wise. I wasn't feeling great, because I was playing a lot through the whole year because I was playing challengers, and I wanted to play every week because I needed points. And so it's been a long time since I've really done a few weeks where only hard, physical work to be prepared for those matches.
So actually, I came into the tournament without really big preparation. So I came in two days before. I'm really surprised about myself, the way I feel, because I mean, I'm feeling tired, but it's not like that bad.
Q. You said you've been playing qualifiers all year long, and we don't know what's going to happen out on the stadium right now, but there is a strong likelihood that you'll be playing Roger Federer in a semifinal match at the US Open. Is that something that if somebody had asked you that probability a week ago, you would have sort of thought they were nuts?
GILLES MULLER: For sure. (laughter.) Definitely. I mean, what I said, I was talking about, one of the physios, he said he said he's got tickets to the Giants game, and I was all excited. And he said it's Thursday, the second week. I said, oh, damn, I'm not going to make it. Now, I'm still there and I'm going to be there on Thursday, even.
Yeah, it's really crazy. I wasn't thinking about it myself, to be here the second week, and Thursday of the Grand Slam. I was used to watch second week, and especially quarterfinals, from home, I mean, on my sofa, watching on TV. Now I'm here, and I'm in it. So it's really exciting.
Q. You're a fan of American football?
GILLES MULLER: No. Fan? I mean, we don't follow it so much in Luxembourg, but I really like it, yeah, I went to a game last year for the first time in Miami when I was practicing there. It was the only game they won. (laughter.)
No, but it was a lot of fun. I like the atmosphere in sports, in the arena. I go also to the Heat games in the winter while I'm there. I like the atmosphere in the stadiums, arenas, but I prefer European football. Soccer you call it here.
Q. How big a deal would this be in Luxembourg if you won this tournament?
GILLES MULLER: This tournament?
GILLES MULLER: Well, yeah, it would be big for sure.
Q. Will there be a parade for you or something?
GILLES MULLER: I don't know. To be honest, I have no idea, it's been a long time since someone won something big in Luxembourg. Right now I think we have probably the best chances to win something big are in cycling. We have three very good guys in cycling. Two of them had the yellow jersey this year in the Tour de France, so I think all the hopes were on them, also. Now I'm close, also.
But again, I'm only in the quarterfinals. I'm in the quarterfinals now, and I mean, I have another match there, and to even think about the finals is way too far away.
Q. Not too many, I mean, I think in the Open era, probably a couple times somebody who was a qualifier has reached this level of a tournament.
GILLES MULLER: I heard it was Escude. Did it in '99. He's the only one.
Q. I think he is. I think you're in a pretty rarified era. Talk about that accomplishment.
GILLES MULLER: Yeah. I mean, it's tough to say something about it. Like I said, I came in here without very good preparation two days before the first match. I almost lost my first match in qualifying, so for sure, it's an amazing accomplishment.
But I don't want to get too excited about it, because, I mean, I have another match now in quarterfinals. And again I'm very hungry and I would love to win that match. And I'm trying to focus on that, and all the rest, I can think about it after the tournament.
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