Gael Monfils Interview - US Open, Sept 6Posted on September 6, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. First of all, great three setter today. You played fabulous. Last time you spoke, you had mentioned that you felt Richard was a stronger player than you were, and that you were most likely gonna face difficulty today. I think it was very clear that you took control of the match right off the bat. I wanted to know what kind of mentality did you go into the match with where it just showed where you were just, I'm winning this match, this isn't going past three sets.
GAËL MONFILS: I mean, yeah, I tried to be very tough and very hard with him, showing him that I'm the man and I'm the leader, you know. So I think I try also to get him a bit in the head, to show him like I will be strong and he might hit like good shot, but it's okay. For me it's like nothing. I will try and reach every ball and show him, like I told you, like put him like physical test today. I mean, try to have long rallies, and then if he come in, I will be everywhere. I think I did pretty good today.
Q. Your best Grand Slam successes have been at the French Open, but do you consider yourself a much better clay court player than the other surfaces?
GAËL MONFILS: Not really. I mean, not really. I think I can play everywhere. I mean, this year was a bit tough before the Slam. It's the worst year I think I played in slam. But before I was usually in round of 16 for sure, and then had like pretty tough opponents. Here I had small opportunity, so I think I took it. Now I will see if there will be more opportunities for the next one.
Q. He had some set points in this match. Maybe they could have gone either way. What did you tell yourself when he was that close to winning the set? How did you stay strong and approach those points?
GAËL MONFILS: I mean, I get lucky, I think, in the first set point he had in second set, because he could like pass me like easy. But he show me at that time he was not that good mentally. He show me like he was, I won't say weak, but it was like shaky a bit. Then I knew he missed, and I knew if I closed this game then he will break for sure if I put pressure on him. I was right. And then in the third set he get a bit lucky because I have like mini break points. I didn't made it, and then he broke me. It was the first time he was leading in the third set, so I knew to close it will be hard for him. Because he was in front, but, I mean, it was a bit luck. I save maybe six break point before, so I knew it's going to be hard for him to close it, so just try to play solid.
Q. Just what?
GAËL MONFILS: Try to play solid, put him a bit pressure on his forehand. He actually missed, and then he give me free points, double fault, I think. Then that was it.
Q. Did you have confidence in that third set when you were down a break that maybe you might not have had if you were down a break in the first set just because you had seen him be kind of shaky to that point?
GAËL MONFILS: Yeah, I was still confident. I won't lie, on that one set point, I had like to hit backhand passing shot. It was tough. But then when you save it, you know, for sure I knew if it was my set point and miss it like this, I knew like I will be thinking or this or that. Just try to be solid, put pressure for him. And also, Richard, he doesn't really like pressure. He love like good play, not play. He don't like a lot of crowd around, the crowd involved. He don't like see the opponent like show emotions. Just play with that, play a bit with his mind, and that was it.
Q. You won in three straight sets. Do you feel like it could have gone either way?
GAËL MONFILS: Yeah, it could have gone -- I mean, I could have got two sets down, for sure. Two sets down. But like I told you, I mean, my mentality today was to push him like hard in head and hard in physically and try to break him physically and break him in the head. That was my plan.
Q. Could you talk about the rivalry I guess in French men's tennis, and how Tsonga is not here and you're the top Frenchman now?
GAËL MONFILS: Yeah, Jo, we miss him for sure, because we need him for our country. I think he's a great player. I mean, we have like good guys coming up. I mean, now I'm the leader, but I don't consider myself like the leader. I think we have like Michael Llodra. He as well played very good; he's playing maybe his best tennis now and he is very dangerous. Richard is back I think his level. Then we got like Julien Benneteau played well also this week. So I think I'm in front because I was a bit more solid last year, I think. But I think we are like five, six, very tough and competitive for France. So now I'm the last one, but I get a bit lucky. And also, I not consider myself like the leader.
Q. Tipsarevic said after the last match he feels you're one of the best defensive players in tennis. Are you sort of able to use that speed offensively too and aggressively as you showed at times today? Is that something you're trying to do?
GAËL MONFILS: Yeah, I mean, for sure this is the next step. This is the next level. I think I have to reach it to use my ability to be more offensive, because for sure will help me. And I can do it, but is tougher and also is really different for me. I have another vision maybe on the court when I'm a bit, let's say, scared. For me it's more easy to run and move on my baseline and step back. To step in sometime is tough. I know I can cover it, but I need to improve on that. But slowly I think I try a couple points, couple games, to move forward. I hope I will arrive very soon.
Q. The New York crowd, because you're such a showman, they really seem to love to watch you. Do you feel that energy and can you use it?
GAËL MONFILS: Yeah, a lot. They helped me for sure in the second set. After I served the set point, I think I ask a bit the crowd to get involved, and they did. Then was great. That's why, you know, I broke him straightaway, because I had like positive energy. I love when it's intense. I love it. It make me feel like I'm stronger again. So for sure when the crowd get involved I play my best tennis.
Q. What is your opinion for the lack of teenagers in the top 100 making a big impact? What is your opinion for the lack of young players, teenagers, making an impact on the men's tour?
GAËL MONFILS: (Through translation.) Ah, that's a good question. I mean, you just tell me. I wouldn't know, but they will arrive. I mean, I not really follow like juniors, so it's tough. But I think Nishikori is still young, I think, no?
Q. He's not a teenager.
GAËL MONFILS: No? Ah. So I don't know. Maybe my brother. (Laughter.) My brother is on the way, 17. Two years.
Q. Playing either Novak or Mardy in the next round, do you have a preference on who you'd rather face?
GAËL MONFILS: Not really, because both will be tough and totally different. I mean, if I play Mardy he will be at home, so the crowd for sure will cheer for him. Not against me, but for him. So it will be like different. And also, his type of game is tough game. He's very aggressive; he try to play like two, three hits, he come in often to the net, so it's kind of game you need to be focused like every point, every second. So it will be a tough match. And Novak is different. I can get the crowd behind me. I know him like perfectly. We had like always tough match. And then, damn I had revenge to take it, because he won against me at home in Bercy. So this time I hope to win.
Q. Of course when the crowd is behind you it helps tremendously. But if the crowd is majority rooting for Fish, do you think that will affect your game at all?
GAËL MONFILS: I can love it also, you know, sometime. But I don't know really how I will react, so it will be a good experience. But I try my best, for sure.