P. MATHIEU/J. Isner 6‑7, 6‑4, 6‑4, 3‑6, 18‑16

 

 

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU

 

Q.  Congratulations on a fantastic win.

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Thank you.

 

Q.  After all the close matches that you’ve played in the past and lost, how does it feel to win one like this?

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Yeah, I lost a couple ‑‑ I mean, at the end of the match, I did not even believe I won the match.  We played for more than five hours, and I thought it was not going to finish.

So I’m really happy with the win.  First of all, I was happy to play again on this court, because I didn’t play for so long.  So, first, I enjoyed the moment.  But of course when you win, it’s better.

 

Q.  How important was the crowd to you during the really difficult moments?

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Well, it’s always nice to have the crowd behind you.  I mean, when you have some tough moment, even at the end of the match, I mean, when they had some couple match points and I didn’t win them, it’s nice to have them.

So it’s always important.  So I think it’s, for us, very good for the French guys to play here with the crowd.

 

Q.  And when you didn’t convert those match points, what was going on in your head?  Do you say, I’ll just stay home?

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  I was pissed.  (Laughter.)

But, no, I mean, you always play good the match point.  I mean, once I miss a passing shot, but, I mean, I was really far away, I guess the side and I went for it.  But, I mean, after five hours and 30 minutes, it’s not a little push on the legs.

He serve good on the match point, but it’s not easy to be focused on your serve again after the match point.  But I think I really play good the first two or three points on my serve every time.

 

Q.  How do you celebrate something like this?

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  I don’t know.  I mean, at the end of the match, I didn’t even believe, I mean, that the match was done.

I don’t know.  I don’t think I’m gonna celebrate.  Look, I have the drink to celebrate (holding up bottle of water).

I mean, when you play this long, yeah, I didn’t even realize that the match is finished, I think.

 

Q.  Was there ever a time during your time out of the game ‑‑ was there ever a time during your injury when you thought you wouldn’t have a day like this again?

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Yeah.  Some, for sure.  I am human, like everyone.  I have some doubt for coming back, and I have some very tough moment last year.  Sometimes I was asking myself every day if I was gonna play again.  And so this was really hard, I mean, the way to come back.  So for me today, even if I play five hours, this was really easy.

THE MODERATOR:  French questions.

 

Q.  The record is six hours and 33 minutes, Santoro/Clement.  It’s not for tonight you’re going to break that record?

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  I just don’t care.  I couldn’t care less right now.

 

Q.  I guess you’re extremely tired.

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Well, if I was told to go back on the court and play three sets, I’m not sure I would be able to.  It was a long time.  I hadn’t played for so long and against such a tough player.  I can’t lie and say I’m fresh.  I’m tired.

 

Q.  Do you believe the Paul‑Henri you were before your injury would have won that match?

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  It’s tough to say.  I think I would like to say yes, but this injury changed a lot of things for me and made me more mature, maybe.  But now I can’t prepare the way I prepared myself before.

He’s a very special player.  He serves extremely well.  I know that from the baseline I was at his level, but I was not thinking about anything else on the court.

So to come back to your question, I think I would have won that match, yes.

 

Q.  But in the end of the match, did you have more experience now?

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Yes, because before I used to become very tense at the end of a match like this.  I have more experience now.  But in the fifth set I was always ahead.  I was up in the scores and I was serving first so that it was an advantage.

 

Q.  You seem to say it’s not possible, not possible, not possible.  Do you mean it’s not possible to win that match or not possible what you did after being away for so long?

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  No, I just thought it was not possible the match had finished.

I remember Mahut’s match.  So I just couldn’t believe it was over.  I had match point.  It was tough.  Every time I needed to concentrate and focus again on my serve.  So when the match was over, I had trouble realizing it was really over.

 

Q.  So now you believe it was really worth it to fight so much?

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Oh, yes.  Having the opportunity of experiencing such a thing as I did tonight, it’s incredible.  Playing like this on a big court like this is fantastic, especially after being injured.

This is why I fought and tried to come back.  It’s to have those moments again.  Even if I had lost, I would have said it was a wonderful day on a beautiful court with the crowd with me.

So I was ready to lose even if I had to, but these moments are superb.

 

Q.  (Question off microphone.)

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  I asked Nicolas for some advice.  I asked him where did he serve on break points, and he said, He serves everywhere.  But I said, There’s certainly a serve he does more often.  He said, No, he serves everywhere.  He’s unpredictable.

I think playing on center court was an advantage for me because I was able to step back on my returns and to be far back, so I was able to return high, and that made him a bit tired in the end of the match.

My tactics was just to return his serve whenever I could, and at the end of the match to make him run as much as I could right and left.  Because when he starts playing his forehand, he becomes very difficult.

 

Q.  Did you surprise yourself in terms of fitness?  Because in the end of the match you seemed in better shape than he was.  Did you expect you were able to play six hours at this level in spite of the fact of not playing for so long?

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  I never practiced more than two hours or two hours and a half during the past two years.

So I didn’t expect I would be able to do that.  Before the match I didn’t even ask myself the question.  I thought I would have to play a three‑set match.  After my first matches, I had no cramps, nothing, so I thought, well, it’s okay, my body is getting use to it.

But the way I feel now is okay, too.  Two years ago I wouldn’t have felt worse.

 

Q.  I heard you hurt yourself.

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Well, four days before this tournament, I can say this now, I broke a toe against a bench.  After the match I have two bruises on two nails of my toes, because I hit the shoe for six hours.  It’s just a bruise.  There are worse things than that.

 

Q.  Can you tell us when you started hitting again after your surgery?

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  I think I started hitting around August, slowly, but just 10 minutes or quarter of an hour every two days, every other day.  Or maybe a little bit before.  I think I had my leg in a cast in April, and I hit a quarter of an hour every three or four days.

But I always kept a certain contact with the ball during all that time.

 

Q.  You were saying it was a great match, one of the best of your career.  But can you compare this match with another match?

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  No.  I was talking about the feeling I had on the court.  It’s difficult to say as far as the level of game was concerned, but, well, I think I played extremely well today.

But now I’m not trying to compare this with other matches.  Three or four years ago I had a better rankings, and maybe I was looking like this, playing like this more consistently.

But what I was talking about was the emotions, the intensity at the end of the match.

 

Q.  Did you see the Mahut match on TV?

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Yes, because my match was canceled two days in a row.

 

Q.  What memories do you have of that match?

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Well, for that match, every time, like everyone else, I thought that match would never end and I was extremely sad for him at the end of the match.  It was a pity we had a loser in that kind of match.

 

Q.  When it was starting to be 9‑All, 10‑All, were you starting to think about Nicolas Mahut and his match?

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Yes, a little bit.  I had him on the phone when I came here in this tournament, and I told him, I’m going to have a revenge for you.

 

Q.  How would you feel tomorrow morning?  What will be your program?  Try to walk normally?

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  First I’m going to have dinner.  That’s going to be good.  Then I will have a rest, have a good night’s sleep.  Absolutely don’t know how I’ll feel tomorrow.  I think my legs will be a bit heavy, but I’m not going to complain, am I?

 

Q.  When you play against Isner and it’s 9‑All, 11‑All, do you think you should never lose your serve otherwise it will be impossible to win?

PAUL‑HENRI MATHIEU:  Well, that’s something I thought during the whole match.  When you play against those players, it’s extremely tough because they put a lot of pressure on your return games because they always win their serve.

During the last four games, he was not serving as hard.  I saw it was difficult for him to push on his legs.  Even if I get broken, I might be able to break him back.  That made me relax a little.

But against those players, you should try not to lose your serve, of course and not be tense.

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