Interview with Guy Forget and Sebastien Grosjean
Guy, 1-1 after the first day. Is that what you expected?
CAPTAIN FORGET: Let's say that's the normal scenario that you could forecast before the tie. I knew Sebastien had more chances than Mathieu to win. Talking about Mathieu, I thought after all, why not? Sometimes Marat is not very consistent in the beginning of the matches.
2-Love for us would have been too beautiful. I believe during the first match, Marat was a lot above Mathieu. He was moving well, he was hitting hard. I don't believe Mathieu has anything to regret. So 1-1 is logical after what we saw today. The two best players won today.
Can you explain the details of the match of the Mathieu.
CAPTAIN FORGET: In the beginning of the match, he had problems finding his bearings. He lost some points stupidly. He was not far away. I believe he lost the set because of one particular game where he didn't play very well. He had a break against him. Against a strong player like Marat, with all the crowd there, it was a bit difficult. But after he reacted very well. He became more and more aggressive. Marat started making some mistakes. He had a letdown in the beginning of the second set. Suddenly we were one set all with a beautiful match.
At 30-All there was a very long rally. Mathieu missed the passing shot. That gave a breakpoint. I thought, "It's not possible, the other one is not playing so good." I was thinking really there it's stupid. After he was not aggressive enough in the rest of the game. After that, I realized that he was dominated completely.
He made fewer mistakes, but then he was hitting short balls, being attacked completely. Marat was hitting very hard from the baseline. Mathieu was making some mistakes. He was playing too short. After, Marat started playing better and better. Marat was playing ping-pong standing on the table. Also Mathieu didn't serve well enough to win easily his service games. After, the trend turned completely in favor of Marat.
In the end, Marat is a lot stronger. Against this level of player, Mathieu doesn't have enough cards in his hands.
He could have tried to play a slice backhand.
CAPTAIN FORGET: Yes, he could have gone up to the net, surprising Marat. When he did it, it was good. He was passed sometimes, and after he hesitated to go to the net. Marat was playing so good that the attack had to be perfect. It was difficult.
But today Marat Safin was a lot stronger than in Moscow. Today Mathieu was a bit below the level he played in Moscow. The result is absolutely logical. There's nothing to say.
Communication-wise, how did it go between you two?
CAPTAIN FORGET: Paul doesn't speak much, but he listens a lot. He thinks about what you say. He's not used on the changeovers to have someone dumping advice on him. I said very simple things, very short things. It was working. The problem is that at a certain time, I was confronted with Safin who was better in all parts of the game. I was thinking, "How can I help him now?" He was playing too short, he was two meters behind the baseline. In those moments, you feel powerless.
But at least Mathieu fought until the end of the match. In the last game, if the other one had become tense, who knows what would have happened. But he served two or three times above 200 kilometers per hour.
Do you believe on Sunday Paul will be good?
CAPTAIN FORGET: Well, I started wondering, but I tried not to think about it because we have a very important doubles match to play tomorrow first. Sebastien will play against Safin on Sunday, so there are two big matches there. I don't have time to concentrate on anything else.
I am not sure Mathieu will play on Sunday yet. I can give you no certainty. I hope we'll win the doubles tomorrow and maybe the match of Mathieu won't even count. But this is a point I have to think about. I didn't make a decision yet. I haven't made a choice.
So you're not sure he's strong enough to face the challenge?
CAPTAIN FORGET: No, not at all. I saw a number of things in Kafelnikov's game. I have to speak with my staff. When you are able to make Kafelnikov move, he becomes slow. Grosjean took advantage of this very well today. It will be up to me to determine whether Paul-Henri or Fabrice has more chances to win. They both have completely different style of games. But it's a good thing to have two good players to choose from.
What Paul-Henri did today gives you no doubts?
CAPTAIN FORGET: No, I believe it's a logical loss. I think Kafelnikov is not as strong as Safin. It was obvious today. Therefore, I will have to think a lot.
What do you think of Sebastien's match? Although he played very well, didn't you believe that Kafelnikov was disappointing?
CAPTAIN FORGET: This is what I was explaining. It's a matter of one dominating the other. In the beginning, the trap would have been to lose the first set. But in the second, he broke early, he became confident, he was playing close to the baseline, taking more risks, and Kafelnikov was behind in the score, became tense. I believe the match followed that trend. Kafelnikov was playing worse and worse, and Sebastien was playing better and better.
The only risk was Sebastien would lose his concentration, but he didn't.
The doubles tomorrow, how do you see that?
CAPTAIN FORGET: It's going to be very difficult. Honestly, I knew Sebastien had good chances to win today. I knew Mathieu would have difficulties. But the doubles will be balanced, I think. I think I would give a slight advantage to our players.
Why? Because they are used to playing together?
CAPTAIN FORGET: They have a better sense of playing doubles. They know how to serve well, return well, win the important points. We will see what they do tomorrow. But there are many tactical choices that I can draw from videotapes, and I believe we have the weapons today to give them a lot of problems.
Sebastien, when you came onto the court with one point for the Russians, what was your state of mind?
SEBASTIEN GROSJEAN: I tried not to think about it. I tried to concentrate on my own game. I knew Kafelnikov was very motivated, but physically he was not at his top level compared to the former years. I tried to concentrate on my game and be aggressive. I served well during the match. I was able to relax after the beginning of the match.
Given the context, your attitude, how would you assess this match in Davis Cup? Your best one?
SEBASTIEN GROSJEAN: No, I played also another very good match, was very aggressive, had the crowd behind me. Today I didn't start off right from the beginning of the match. I was able to improve with the match. I was particularly able to relax at the end of the match.
The communication with Guy is working better and better? Is it easier than before with him?
SEBASTIEN GROSJEAN: Yes. I think I always listen to what he says. This is a good thing. I realize that he's improving. I'm better on the tour also, so this gives me some more freedom. All this is part of my attitude and my eagerness to play well in this competition.
This victory in three sets, is it surprising to you or is it logical due to his physical condition?
SEBASTIEN GROSJEAN: Well, when you're at the end of your career, physically you're weaker. The tennis is the same. At the end of the first set and afterwards, he was always a bit late hitting the ball. On clay where there's some bad bounces, it's a problem. I think his physical condition is not as good as before.
When in the match did you believe you were dominating completely?
SEBASTIEN GROSJEAN: I think when I broke him back in the second. There were three breaks in a row. I really believed I could break him at any time. The only thing I had to do is hold my serve, have good second serves. From then on, he started playing not so well, and I was dominating.
Talking about the crowd in Davis Cup, I don't know what you think about it, but do you have regrets, thinking maybe in Marseille, for example, it's better than in Paris?
SEBASTIEN GROSJEAN: No. The crowd is always present when you need them. Sometimes I looked at them and asked for their support. They did encourage me, they supported me. It's like in the French Open. I think the public was present today. I think tomorrow they will be even more present.
Do you feel more and more a leader on this team? I'm thinking about the results you have this year.
SEBASTIEN GROSJEAN: No, I don't want to think I'm a leader. There's a unity in the group. I'm just one of the players trying to give his best to the group. I want to do my best in Davis Cup. That's why we have good results lately and during the past years, because everyone is trying to do his best without having to be a leader or not.
What do you think of Safin?
SEBASTIEN GROSJEAN: Strange question. We knew he would be there. I believe he served very well today. In the important moments, he was able to have very good first serves. He played a solid match because Paul played a good match. He didn't serve as well, but he hit the ball very well. I think it was a good quality in this match. We'll see what will happen on Sunday. I will try to prepare perfectly my match with Guy and Thierry.
When you see Marat playing at this level, what is the way to destabilize him?
SEBASTIEN GROSJEAN: Against Marat, you have to try to mix it up a bit more. It's difficult to play only with your power. You have to mix it up, try to hit harder every time you can. His shots are very heavy, so you have to stick to the score and maybe sometimes he loses his concentration, misses one or two points, and this is the moment you have to take advantage of it.
Can you talk about St. Petersburg, what things you remember?
SEBASTIEN GROSJEAN: In St. Petersburg, the organization is perfect. I was without my pals, as you said. It was cold. It was February, very cold. But the hotel was great. It was well-organized. There were many people because the stadium was very big. It was a very good indoor tournament.
Can you compare Sebastien in '89 and Mathieu starting this year? Can we compare both of you?
SEBASTIEN GROSJEAN: No, because in '89 I completely missed my match, but he didn't. I think he played his match, and he lost against a very good player, Safin. I think he's more confident than I was when I played at the time. I hadn't won any tournaments before, whereas he did this year. That's a good thing for the whole team, to feel that players like him can bring a lot to the team.
ATP: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Michael Llodra, Roger Federer, Mardy Fish
WTA: Kim Clijsters, Victoria Azarenka, Vera Zvonareva