“How are you experiencing this return to competition in Paris this week?
Well, I’m happy to be on the circuit again. It’s been a long time. I haven’t been able to play any matches for the last five weeks. It’s always nice to come back to a city that everyone knows how important it is to me, even if it wasn’t in this tournament that I experienced a lot of positive things during my career. But as always, I can’t wait to get back to competition.
Was it more difficult than usual to leave your home leaving your baby behind you ?
It’s a different approach than usual. But it’s always hard to leave the house. It’s quite interesting to see that after two or three weeks, leaving your son at home and not being able to see him, when we still barely know each other, you already miss him. It’s a new experience. All changes are difficult in life but at the same time, we are lucky today, with technology, to be able to make video calls all the time and that helps a lot.
“When you come back after a long period without competition, it’s hard to know how you’re going to behave, how your body is going to respond”
You played in Bercy the final of the tournament in 2007 against David Nalbandian. Now you’re up against a whole new generation and yet you’re still in the running for the No. 1 spot in the world. What inspires you?
I’m proud of everything I’ve accomplished to still be here in 2022. It means I’ve achieved a lot of good things, not just in my life but also in my career as a tennis player. Keeping the passion, the love of the game, the fighting spirit every day, in every training session, is a source of pride. I hope to have as much fun in the last two tournaments of the season.
How do you feel physically after a season where injuries have not spared you?
I don’t know, we’ll see how I react in competition. For all bodies like mine, it’s easy to know how they feel after several tournaments in a row. But when you come back after a long period without competition, it’s hard to know how you’re going to behave, how your body is going to respond. The level of the circuit is different from the amount of training I can accumulate at home. It is true that this year has been incredible in terms of results, but at the same time it has been tough in terms of injuries. But I’m happy to be here to give my best and accept things as they come. We will see tomorrow.
“I am no longer fighting to be number 1”
Are the faster terms right for you?
I like them as long as I play well. On just about any surface, if I don’t play well, I don’t enjoy them. It’s difficult, if not impossible, especially on this kind of surface, if I don’t play well. Because you have to be confident, aggressive, serve well. Playing on this kind of surface after a long break is the hardest thing for me. You need to have automation, unlike clay, which gives you more time to adapt. I have improved my tennis a lot on these surfaces in recent years, so why not play well? Let’s take it day by day.
The world No. 1 spot is still within your reach by the end of the season, does that change anything for you?
To be clear, I am not aiming for first place. This is a point that interests you but I am no longer fighting to be number 1. I have not done it in the past, I have achieved this objective several times during my career, which I am proud of, but as I I often say, I’m at a stage in my career where I’m only fighting to be competitive in every tournament I play. »