Re: Best of Passing Potes
(They talk about their contrasting personalities and why they love each other so much =) )
Arnaud: At the start, I think that the media made out that we were closer than we actually were in real life. It’s true that it’s quite a beautiful story and there are some easy similarities- same age, same size, same place of birth, same coach…We progressed at the same time, we played the same tournaments, we saw each other all the time; basically, there were all the ingredients for a perfect friendship. But we were only mates and I couldn’t say that at that time we were at all true friends.
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Arnaud : I’m sure it’s because of this why Seb and Marie-Pierre asked me to be the godfather of Tom. When they asked me, I found it really touching. For me, it meant a lot. It was a huge test of confidence for me, to take a responsibility as significant as that. It scared me a bit, but I didn’t hesitate for a second
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Sébastien : The friendship between me and Arnaud has always been a healthy one, despite the competition associated with our sport.
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We have grown up together…but then again I guess we haven’t really grown up at all… (laughs) and we are like part of the same family. So, it was obvious to me to ask Arnaud to be the godfather of my son, Tom, born in July 2002. The fact that we have to travel so much in this kind of job, means that it isn’t all that easy to have all that many friends. Mates, no problem, but someone who you can confide to without thinking twice, it’s rare. The godfather of my daughter, Lola, is my cousin. “La Clé” was the only person that could be the godfather of my son. My wife had already asked him casually, but I asked him ‘officially during the Masters Series in Madrid, in October 2002. He seemed to be really touched. For me, it was a way of showing him how much he means to Marie and me. Apart from my friend Nicolas Vix, there isn’t anyone who I am as closer to. It was kind of a way of bringing him into the family. And then, I know that, when Tom becomes unbearable, I can send him off to live with his godfather for the summer!! (laughs).
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Arnaud : Sébastien is obsessed with playing cards. I have to play with him all the time, it’s like drug for him. And I don’t even really like playing cards.
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Sébastien : Arnaud usually leaves a first impression as being quite reserved and quiet. That’s what I thought, at least, when I first met him. He was always so neat and perfect. In reality, he really liked to joke around and he’s always had quite a unique sense of humour.
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Sébastien : Arnaud is like that, he really gives you an impression that he’s really sensible and well-behaved etc. but then when you get to know him better, he’s totally different and acts a lot more casual and relaxed. He can go crazy every once in a while and do some really insane things. But despite all that, he’s a really well brought-up boy. If he meets three people who he doesn’t know very well, he would greet all three of them with the same smile and the same friendliness.
On the other hand, he can sometimes totally shut himself off from everyone when he doesn’t give the slightest sign of life. He locks himself up in his room, comes out for meals but doesn’t talk to anyone. At the start, I had a lot of trouble understanding and accepting this kind of strange way of behaviour. I remember during this one tournament where he totally shut us off for three days and just stayed in his room.
With his craziness, Arnaud finds it easy to express himself to the public, like what he did after his quarter final victory against Kafelnikov during the 2001 Australian Open. I found his strip tease hilarious. He had warned us before the match that if he won he would do something crazy…but that…I guess when he took off his shirt it didn’t really surprise me- but then he took off his shoes and I remember thinking that he was insane…I thought he may even take off his shorts!!
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Arnaud : We sometimes talk about our differences and what we have in common. I never tell him what he should do. We usually agree on things when we discuss something. And then when that’s not the case, one of us can usually convince the other to agree. Of course, there are certain areas such as my musical tastes which we don’t agree on at all…
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Arnaud : That’s what friendship is. Sébastien, I love him for a billion reasons and it’s not easy to narrow it down into a few words. There’s something really amazing between us and we’ve spent so much time together that what we have will always stay really special.
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Sébastien : Arnaud and I have very different tastes. Especially when it comes to TV shows. During the week of preparation before the Davis Cup final in 2002 against Russia, one night, several of the team members went to a Marc Lavoine concert. Nicolas Escudé, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Arnaud and me stayed in the hotel. We watched Star Academy in my room, but Scud and me were waiting for the start of the football match at 10:30pm, so we kept flicking between channels. Arnaud couldn’t stand it, so he went into another room to watch his show with Paulo…He really loves Star Academy and he even orders room service so he doesn’t miss a second of it!
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Sébastien : It’s true that Arnaud has a really complicated personality and there are some things about him I still don’t understand today. For example, when he was in high school, he always listened to AC/DC, but since he was about 18 years old, he became a fan of Céline Dion and that kind of music. It doesn’t really make sense, because don’t they totally clash?
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Sébastien : For me, that’s a clear example of how he can be to the extremes. For example, he can become infatuated with new idols really often…it’s actually quite amusing. He likes a specific type of music and one day he can really like some singers but then he can suddenly switch and like someone else. He buys all the CDs of one singer- even biographies- and as sure as he knows all their songs by heart…he switches and is suddenly obsessed with someone else! There have been Céline Dion, Lara Fabian, Alizée (ugh! ) or most recently, Avril Lavigne. It’s his childish side. I give him 14-15 more years, he probably won’t be like that after then…
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Arnaud : My aim has never been to be better than Sébastien, but it’s undeniable that there has always been emulation between us. He kept getting better and better and if I didn’t try and stay up there with him, I would have taken a lot longer to get to the level I was able to reach. There’s no doubt in my mind that Sébastien is better than me. Sébastien is capable of beating anyone, even if he doesn’t play all that well on the day. I see him as a really spectacular player when he is in form, I think that he amongst the very best players…
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Sébastien : Arnaud is a lot more organised than me. At the end of a training session, he systematically spreads out all his shirts in the bathroom, and as for me, I just throw them all in the corner. When I eventually get around to washing them, they do really smell…(Lol…)…Arnaud is more meticulous. You should see how he gets his bag ready before a match: a shirt and bandana for each set…He has an order of colours, a specific shirt for the start of the match, another for the end. His superstitions are unbelievable. If a combination works, he will use it again. When he won Lyon in 2000, he spent every night in his room ordering room service. The following year, he wanted to do the same thing, but I needed to interrupt this routine because I wanted to have dinner together, for at least one night…And then he lost!
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Sébastien : One year ago, against the Aussies, when he wasn’t selected in the team, I had assured him that we would play more Davis Cup finals. I had really hoped that we would play together during the final against the Russians, at Bercy…Unfortunately, his wrist prevented this from happening… *awwwww =( *
Last two pages:
Arnaud: “A form of respect.”
Sébastien is, by far, the person I have played tennis with the most in my whole life- we have spent hours and hours of hours on the court together! I know him by heart and even before he hits a ball, I know what he’s going to do, and it’s the same thing with him. So, when we have to play each other, we anticipate a lot during the match. That’s why we have to try new things throughout the whole match to surprise the other…
Out of all the matches that I have won against him, I nearly could have lost them all. Frankly, Sébastien is the player I like to play the least on the circuit. I always think when we meet, that he has a better chance of going further in the tournament than me. No question about it. At US Open and in Lyon, I won, but needless-to-say I didn’t feel great before those matches.
I’ve won our two meetings in a grand slam (Australian and US) in five sets, so I tell myself that I have a slight advantage over him on hard court. In general, when it gets to a fifth set, I am always pretty happy. But when he starts to get tired, he still stays dangerous because he can still play really loosely, which means he can still play some unbelievable points. In general, Seb plays really fast, and I can counter that well; however, in each of our matches, there have been some really strange points and rallies where they have been really slow or we completely neutralise each other. So, it seems that nothing is happening! It’s because of this that some people have thought our match at the US Open 2002 thought it was of a really mediocre standard (Richie Gasquet included…), whereas we felt it was our best match that we had played against each other. In our matches, there is such a form of respect; we have never thought we have played a bad match together or we have never let the other win. It’s a true test of honesty.
It was during our match in Toulouse in 1998 when we decided to ‘play the umpire’, every time we played each other, meaning that we would never question calls. That day, Seb played a point, at the end of the third set at 5-4 for me, so it was a really important point. He served, and it was called a fault. But he was sure it was good! He asked me: “How did you see it?” I honestly had no idea, so I answered “Honestly, I don’t know.” He wasn’t happy about it and I felt it on the court…So that’s why from that day on, we decided to never to question calls during our matches!
Sébastien: “Did you see who was watching us play?”Arnaud can sometimes completely lose it when he’s playing me. My most marking memory was when we were playing in the qualifications in Adelaide, in 1999. For some reason which is unknown to me, he suddenly blew up in rage and threw his racquet into a court opposite; there wasn’t anything separating these courts. Arnaud was going to go get it when the umpire- Pascal Maria- told him that he wasn’t allowed to go onto the other court. That really made him go crazy…Eventually, he got the racquet back from a ball-kid, but he was still fuming. A bit later on, he finished his little exhibition by hanging onto the wire fence, like a bat (hanging onto like cave walls); he stayed in that position for a good minute or so! It was a shame there wasn’t a photographer to capture the moment! At Rotterdam as well, Arnaud did something really dramatic. Because he was disputing a call, he stopped playing for about five minutes and asked everyone about it…he even called for the supervisor…What a performance! He admitted to me after, that if it wasn’t for the fact that he was playing me, he would have even he would have gone a bit further and done something even more extreme.
In Boston, I remember it was a really heavy, humid day. Personally, I couldn’t keep going for any longer; the week before, I had reached the semis at Indianapolis and I was really in agony. I won a set before cracking and couldn’t go on any more. But the silliest thing I remember- and this sums up Arnaud’s personality perfectly- was during the US Open 2002. At the end of the match, he came up to me and goes, ‘Did you see who was watching us play?!” He had a sort of mysterious look about him, and his eyes were all lit up. I thought he was going to say a name of a movie start of a singer…But no! He goes, “Richard Gasquet, the prodigy, he came to see us play, it’s that fantastic?” Well, that’s Arnaud for you. =)
Séb Grosjean ; Arnaud Clément ; Guillermo Coria; Marcos Baghdatis; Jo Jo Tsonga
Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick are arrogant pigs