Re: Articles & interviews
Sorry, a lot of work at the moment, here's a quick translation of the interview:
The interview was made during the off-season in Roland-Garros. He is playing with a PlayStation like crazy before answering the questions of the journalist. Always smiling, even though he didn't know at that time if he would be able to play in Melbourne. But it takes more to destabilize him.
- You were ranked 6th in the world at the beginning of 2009 and 15th now, don't you have a feeling of stagnation?
- No, it's been an interesting season for me, very different from the other ones. I kept playing against players ranked below me. I played 72 matches and faced better-ranked players only 7 times. That's 1 out of 10 times. It wasn't bothering me at the beginning. But little by little, I ended up asking myself a lot of questions, especially when I lost many matches during the clay season. After having injured myself, I started stepping on the court with a different state of mind: "The most important thing is that you're able to play, enjoy yourself, try new things if you can't run much!"
- You could assert your ambitions and say out loud "I'm going to win a Slam or be the French player with the most titles" like Gaël Monfils or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga do; or even "I'm going to be number 1 in the world" like Novak Djokovic...
- When you reach the top, you obviously dream of winning Slams, becoming the number 1. But I am... (searching for the appropriate word) - I don't want to use the word "sensible" because their statements are sensible, and even for me it would be a normal thing to say. But I don't want to take short cuts. To win a Slam and to become world number 1 are two completely different things. It may be possible on the women's tour to become number 1 without having won a Slam, but on the men's tour you need to have won two, reached two other finals and won 3 Masters 1000. We're talking about something which is not doable for me right now. However, it's my goal for the rest of my career. Maybe I will never reach it, but it doesn't matter, it makes me move forward.
- What are your goals for 2010 then?
- Right now: to win a big title, a Slam or a Masters 1000. Achieving this brings you closer to the top 5. Andy Murray, who is ranked 4th in the world, must have won something like 4 Masters 1000 events. It's not the same as Jo with his Bercy title or Gaël and myself with our Masters 1000 final. That's why I don't really have a goal rankingwise. I've been ranked at #6, I've been able to assess the gap between the top 5 and the others; my goals right now are centered on results rather than on the ranking. That's what I need at the moment to keep progressing. Even if I lose in the first round of 27 other tournaments. It doesn't matter if I finish the season ranked at #6, #10 or #15.
- A big result also means more recognition. It's more effective than stringing QF and SF together.
- But I'm not interested in a feat with no tomorrow either.
- You don't get as much media attention as the other so-called "New Musketeers" Tsonga or Monfils, who have big endorsement deals. You've been the French number 1 during a long part of 2009, but people didn't really know about it...
- It's true, but it's not important. I don't get the point of being French number 1 in tennis. We're too close in the ranking. Our seasons looked the same, a QF in a Slam, two R4, one title, etc. Anyways, I'm glad when people talk about tennis, no matter if it's because of Gaël, myself or Jo.
- Still, you get less recognition. Don't you wish to get more attention sometimes?
- No. I find it tiresome. Do I get less recognition than Jo and Gaël? Maybe. But they're seeking it too. Jo was eager to become French number 1. It means more to him than it did to me. He often mentions it now. I was French number 1 during 7 months, but I wasn't saying it. I'm not criticizing him, it's just a question of nature, a different way of thinking. As for Gaël, he does his own thing and lives in his own world (he laughs). Gaël or Jo are much more expressive, they like to draw attention. It gets on my nerves when a guy in a restaurant says "Oh, it's Gilles Simon" and looks at me during the whole dinner. Each to his own.
- But you're not going to pull a Davydenko, are you? When he says he doesn't care about sponsors and describes himself as a tennis "worker"...
- The marketing stuff has a big impact on the image, on the impression people get of one. But talk with the people or go to the stadium: even when I play against Jo in Bercy, it's 50-50 in the crowd. People don't care about this. And even if people see them more often, it doesn't mean they earn more money. (He laughs.) Don't worry! And you definitely shouldn't worry about Davydenko, he makes much more money than people think he does.
- When people talk about you, they always mention the piano, the fact you graduated high school. Aren't you afraid of being seen as the "intellectual" of the tour?
- It might be unconventional, but I'm not interested in all this. When I played in Australia for the first time a few years ago, people were like: "You're a genius, your game is incredible, you push the ball and then you crack a winner, you do tricks, etc." Last year, on the contrary, I read a couple of times that I'm a "laborious" player. I have no idea how I went from being a "genius" when I was ranked 120th in the world to a "laborious" player when I was ranked 6th... I've given up on trying to explain tennis to people who don't understand it. People can give me whatever image they want, on the court and off the court, "intellectual" or "hard-worker" - it's been a while I don't care about this anymore.
- Other difference with Monfils and Tsonga: when they play, it seems they have a big clan supporting them. M. Pokora (a singer) was even sitting in the box of Monfils during the final of Bercy...
- When Gaël starts inviting people, he sure invites many. I had about 20 persons with me in Bercy, but I'm not much into this "clan" thing. I have my team with me over the year, without any fuss. But there will be a lot of people for my first final of Bercy. If I'm allowed to invite 50 persons, I will.
- And there will be a singer sitting in your box too?
- Not sure, the most famouse guys in my phone list are Jo and Gaël. I hope they will be there. It's normal, I have a very quiet life, I never go out, even during Bercy and Roland-Garros. I'm very stay-at-home.
- Your girlfriend tries to encourage you to go out more...
- She's bored during tournaments. I don't do many things. I stay home at night.
- Isn't it frustrating to play a tournament in a wonderful city and to spend your time between the hotel and the tournament venue?
- We often play the same tournaments 2, 4, 5 years in a row. So we end up visiting the places. It's the 6th year in a row I'm playing in Rome, I know the city very well by now. I love it there, it's one of my favourite cities together with Paris and Sydney.
- Are there tournaments you prefer to avoid?
- I played in Zagreb 2-3 times, let's say it's different.
- And the Futures you used to play when you were young?
- Same as everybody, I'm glad I don't have to play those events anymore. Some places really were not great. It's tough to go alone to Romania when you're 16 or 17 years old. There is a big difference between the Futures and the Challengers. Challengers provide hospitality, you don't lose money, the prize money covers the flight. When you win a Future title, you get 1000 euros. After deduction of the flight, the lodging and the food, you're at a loss. That's why some French players don't play the Future events. We're lucky to have tournaments where you can make the same money in a week-end only. It's much more tempting than going to the other end of the world, in India, for example.
- And yet, that's what you did.
- Yes, and it puts you in your place.
- Does that mean you feel privileged now?
- I feel privileged because I always wanted to be a tennis player and I am now. That said, I don't feel privileged because I'm staying in beautiful hotels and I have a lot of money. Things were looking completely different for a couple of years, there was no guarantee I was going to reach my current level. I don't feel privileged because I don't know if a lot of 17-year-old guys have spent the night in the Bucharest airport with their bag tied to their ankle waiting for the flight to Oradea to play a Future event there. No, I don't have any guilt feeling.
Last edited by Truc; 01-23-2010 at 08:13 PM.