Tell us about that 56-shot rally to seal the first-set tie-break. It felt like a match on its own?
It was an important point in the game, for sure. It was my third set point, he had served very well on the previous two. I was on my serve, I had the opportunity to finish. I think we both just refused to make a mistake, we knew the importance of this point. Often the best rallies in history arrive at the important points because you know the importance of the point and you don’t want to make a mistake. At the end, the pulse rose high and the legs began to shake. I was just able to let go of the long line backhand at one point and I went for it frankly. Obviously, it gives motivation and energy to start behind the second set.
Would you like to be number 1 before the final or fight for it on Sunday against Carlos Alcaraz?
I think the fairest thing would be for both of us to reach the final and whoever wins the final becomes world number one. That would be, I think, the ideal situation.
If Alcaraz qualifies for the final, not only will the title be at stake, but also the world number 1 spot, how do you think this match will play out?
I think if I want to beat Carlos, I will have to be very precise in all my shots, try to keep him a little further in the court, play with a lot of depth and length. If he steps forward, he can do anything with the ball. He also has excellent touch on the ball. I think he has one of the best drop shots on the circuit. He can play both shots at the same time, which can sometimes surprise you. If you play with good depth and good length, it is more difficult to hit the drop shots. This is something I will try to focus on. Then, yes, if we find ourselves in the final, we will play for the victory of the tournament but also for the first place in the world. Of course, there will be nervousness and we will both feel it.
How can your final at Roland-Garros last June serve you before this one?
In the final, he (Rafael Nadal) obviously gave me a good beating. After the final, I said: “If I ever reach another one, I hope it won’t be Rafa on the other side! ». Because it’s kind of an impossible task. I’m glad it’s not Rafa on clay. I hope this will have prepared me a little. At least I kinda know what I’ll be up against when I step onto the court and see the trophy at the back of the court.