October 28, 2002
ESCUDE‑SANTORO/Coetzee‑Haggard 6‑1, 6‑0
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. It's your third match together.
FABRICE SANTORO: Yes.
Q. Is it the best of all of them? How can you explain this improvement already after three matches?
FABRICE SANTORO: Well, since the first match, there's been great improvement. The second was better. It's difficult to compare the second and the third, but compared with the difficulties of the first double, we found our marks.
Q. I suppose you don't spend your whole day practicing together in doubles, so how can you explain this improvement?
NICOLAS ESCUDE: I believe Fabrice is a very good doubles player. He has good qualities for that.
Me, myself, many people have been telling me that my technique would allow me to be a good player if I practiced. The only question about our team was the fact that Fabrice has started playing on the left side in the beginning of the year, now he has to play on the right side.
The worst match was the first one because of that. But after, he got used to it and now we get along very well together.
Q. Are you surprised that you feel so good playing on the right‑hand side, Fabrice?
FABRICE SANTORO: Yes. In fact, I was saying to Escude that I was at ease on the right‑hand side. In the beginning I was a bit worried, but now I got used to it, and I'm more efficient.
I would like to change over to the other side, he plays on his best side anyway. Myself, I'm going to try to be as best as possible and find my reference points on the right‑hand side, like at the time when I was playing Olivier, a long time ago.
So I know on the right‑hand side I'm able to play well. Today it was not bad at all.
Q. Nicolas, what is going to happen soon, does it motivate you for playing doubles?
NICOLAS ESCUDE: I always play doubles anyway, it has nothing to do ‑‑ every time I was able to play doubles, I did, except for certain tournaments like Wimbledon because it's five‑setters. So I wanted to do well in singles, and I didn't have time to do doubles.
But every time I had the possibility, I played doubles. And every time, I tried to win, of course, otherwise it's no use being on the court. It's a waste of time.
Q. Since the beginning of forming a team together, what improvements can you make from now on? What parts of your game can you improve?
NICOLAS ESCUDE: I think our strong point is the consistency in our returns. We are able to return well every time almost. We are not perfect on monster servers, but we have a good quality of return. Our serving games, we are very good, so these are our strong points.
It's just our third doubles, as we've been saying.
Q. How did it happen that you played this tournament together, and why didn't you ever play this kind of tournament before although you knew each other well?
FABRICE SANTORO: Just because the opportunity didn't come up. I played with Arnaud, after I played with Michael, tournament after tournament; things went on. Nico was winning matches on his side, I was winning my matches. We had different paths. Now we're going to play the finals (laughing).
No, anyway, what I mean is that Guy Forget asked us to try something different, and the only possibility that had not been tried since the beginning of the season was Michael and Arnaud and Nico and myself. This is what we're trying to do here, to have a third element for the selection of Davis Cup.
Q. What mark would you give to your partner for those three matches?
FABRICE SANTORO: Difficult to say...
I think our strength, after three doubles only, we are not very well ranked for the time being. But I feel good playing with him because we play serve and volley naturally. We play well at the net. When we are at the net, we are really above the other team. We are dominating.
If we want to play long, we play long. If we want to play a dropshot, we play a dropshot. But we are very much at ease at the net.
Today, Nico had very good returns and myself, on the right‑hand side, I was okay. So if I can improve my returns there, it will be a plus.
Q. The French championships are starting on Saturday. We'll see, Fabrice, you are with Michael Llodra and Sebastien Grosjean. Will this be the opportunity of trying new combinations?
FABRICE SANTORO: What is he talking about?
Q. I'm talking about the French Championships (laughter).
FABRICE SANTORO: Oh, my God. Oh, well, you know, the championships among clubs, yes. It's true it's Saturday, but I hope the way is very long and we'll be a long time here in Bercy first ‑ the next Saturday.
Well, the next Saturday, I'll be on holidays. I need a break after a very heavy season if I want to be at the best of my shape in the future.
Q. So was it difficult to go on the right‑hand side? Guy forced you? What happened? Nico, are you incapable of playing on the right‑hand side?
NICOLAS ESCUDE: Well, before I used to adapt to my colleague, but it's true that on the left‑hand side I feel a lot more at ease, and I thought it was better. I asked Guy to play on the left‑hand side.
Q. How did you present your argument?
NICOLAS ESCUDE: I just said, "I want to play on the left‑hand side." That's all (smiling).
Q. How was the atmosphere today? There was a lot of public, a lot of crowd, many children.
FABRICE SANTORO: It's true that you are not used to this kind of atmosphere on the first round in this kind of tournament, but it was ‑‑ there was electricity in the air. There were many people. People were enjoying this doubles match. It was a pleasant feeling to go on to the court seeing that it was full. After, during the match, we enjoyed it a lot.
Q. Fabrice, what do you prefer, which partner do you prefer for Davis Cup? Secondly, how did you talk with Michael about it? Did this decision come naturally?
FABRICE SANTORO: Well, we decided to try all the combinations and we decided there were absolutely no problems and we decided to try this new combination. Guy decided about the combinations for this tournament. There are really absolutely no problems with Michael. In fact, Michael wanted to play on the left‑hand side for a long time. Now he has the opportunity.
Now, as far as my partners are concerned, Escude or Michael for me, what I try to do is my best, whoever is with me. I feel at ease with both of them. I try to give my best, and to play as many matches as possible.
Anyway, I'm not the decision‑maker.
Although nothing is done yet, I feel the probabilities are good that this will be the Davis Cup doubles team for the final, and that would be only justice for Nicolas.
Nothing against Micka Llodra but he's younger, he can wait! (and improve in the meantime)