“How do you feel after this victory, and how did you feel before entering the court for what could be your very last match?
There I am tired, and on the court I was very tense, it was a difficult, very long day. I was playing well lately so I knew I could play well. But it was really hard to concentrate on the game, and even more so against Andy, against whom I never have a very good feeling (Murray led 16-2 in head-to-heads). The start of the game was very tough, the game as a whole was very tough, at different levels, at different times too. I’m just very happy to have won because it was going very badly. I’m happy, for once, to be the winner.
Did you have the impression of winning this match tactically, of getting into his head?
If there is one that is in the head of the other, it is rather the opposite. Usually it’s always Andy who wins these matches. Every time I was in position to finish against him it was tough, so I’m glad it went the other way this time. But he really went down physically in that game, at one point (The Scot explained that he suffered from cramps from the middle of the second set). I felt that he was falling, that when my shots were precise, it became hard for him to defend. In the end he could no longer serve, whereas before he could play for eight hours (laugh).
You have been saying lately your fear, sometimes, of taking very severe defeats. Did that feeling cross your mind today?
It’s true that I have a level that can change, because on days when things are going well I still play very well. But I am often prevented, arrested, like in Brest last week (forfeited after his second-round win). It becomes hard to make three matches while being calm. That’s also why I quit, because it’s frustrating. When you make a lot of effort, and in the end, you have one or two good matches and the third, you can’t play anymore, you tell yourself that it’s really useless.
Did you manage to ignore all those familiar faces in the stands?
Entering the court was very hard. Fortunately I had met some of them just before, like Jo (Tsonga) and Gael (My son). “Ah, you guys are there…” (laugh) I preferred to see them there than when I was on the field, facing them. At the start of the match, you don’t know, you want to watch them but there are a lot of things that come to mind and suddenly you are no longer focused on the game at all. And you know that you have to play well because you have an opponent who doesn’t make a mistake, who won’t give you anything, not a game, and then it’s 1-0, 2-0, 3-0 and you say to yourself yeah, indeed he won’t give me anything. I recognize the Andy who bothers me so it’s not easy. Winning the first game (1-3), it was already freeing up…
What do you want for the rest of this tournament? Does it end “well” on Wednesday, against Fritz, or does it continue a little longer?
I do not know (smile), I would have been good if it had stopped tonight, because I still have this concern to be at the level of the next match, but we will see. It’s in two days. Here I am tired. I had a very long day. I will try to recover well, to manage my day well, the time I will have until the next round. I always have a lot of conflicting feelings that jostle each other. I want to win, of course, but there’s a part of me that can’t wait to stop, because it’s really very hard. I try not to think about it too much. I will do as I have done all my life. I have a match in two days, I’m in such a state, I have 48 hours to recover and do the best I can. When I’m focused on that, it allows me to forget the rest. »