“How did you experience this very close match against Tsitsipas?
I started as well as in my quarter-final. There was clarity in what I had to do and I executed it perfectly. I was very solid, I felt every shot well, which allowed me to take control of the game. I won the first set 6-2 then at the start of the second I had a few chances, at 0-30, but he found the right shots by serving well. He went to get the public and the match changed. I made a poor serve game that I lost, and he felt better, more confident, he made fewer mistakes and I had more trouble reading his serve.
In the third set, I still had a lot of chances at the start, but at 4-4, there was this long point at 30-40 which I lost on a forehand foul. I was a bit short of breath and energy but there were some very exciting points and great tennis for the crowd and for us. We pushed ourselves to the limit and it became obvious that it was going to be decided at the last moment, in the last points because both deserved the victory. I am proud to have been part of this fantastic atmosphere. Playing one of the best players in the world at that time means a lot to me. To be able to push myself, to motivate myself and to continue to believe that I can win this kind of game, makes me feel good, more than anything, mentally and emotionally. I need to show that I’m still there, with the youngsters, and capable of competing with them.
“There is no doubt that he is the future of this sport, along with Alcaraz and others. »
What does this final against Holger Rune, who has just beaten 4 players from the top 10 in as many days, inspire in you?
I know him well, because we trained a lot together on different surfaces. I really appreciate it a lot. A nice guy, an awesome family, a great team around him, a fantastic work ethic: he deserves his successes. I’ve followed him for the last three or four years, his rise from the Challengers to the top 15 in the world. There is no doubt that he is the future of this sport, with Alcaraz and others.
I just hope to be able to push back his first Masters 1000 title (laughs). We get along well off the court but on the court we are competitors, I only faced him once at the US Open last year, it was a good fight in four sets but he progressed a lot since then, there is no doubt. He is fit, he’s young, he doesn’t have much to lose, he gets into the ball, I saw him play today and yesterday was impressive. He reminds me of me when I was younger, solid backhand, big defense, who doesn’t give up a point and leaves his heart and his legs on the court. It’s beautiful to see, and good for our sport in general.
Among all the great courts where you have accumulated so much success, where do you place the Rolex Paris Masters?
It’s obviously one of my favorites, my results here prove how good I feel there. There are few courts where I have done so well: the center of the Australian Open, that of Wimbledon, and among all the Masters 1000, this is my favorite, perhaps with those of Rome and ‘Indian Wells. »