“It’s a heartbreaker”: Gaël Monfils on his decision not to play Davis Cup

Interview by Sophie Dorgan in the 21 February 21 2015 print edition of l’Équipe.

Will you be playing in the first Davis Cup round against Germany?

“No.  It’s a decision made recently with Jan [De Witt, Monfils’s coach] and then I talked to Arnaud [Clément, the French DC captain].  To be honest, it’s more Jan’s decision than mine.  Jan reckoned that I’m not getting into shape, that I haven’t done the basic training he would have liked and that my results are average.  He finds that I’m playing too much.  That’s why he didn’t want me to come and play here.”

Was the decision difficult to make?

“Horrible.  It’s so important to me.  It’s a heartbreaker.  I love playing on the French team, being with my mates, and I’m never reluctant about playing the Davis Cup.  It’s a sacrifice.”

Why did you make it?

“It’s working very well with Jan, but there are quite a few of his decisions I’ve ignored and that annoys him a lot.  He didn’t give me an ultimatum, but almost. He told me: ‘If you hire a coach, it’s to listen to him.’  He knows that for me the Davis Cup is a goal just like the big tournaments.  We discussed it a lot.”

Do you regret playing the ITPL [a new exhibition tour] in December?

“No, even if I hurt myself a bit towards the end.  It didn’t slow me down, but it did shift my training around.  It was mostly personal problems that ate at me.  I didn’t arrive in good shape at the Australian Open.  At Montpellier (almost 15 days ago), I had flu.  Now it’s better.  But Jan sees that I’m not getting into shape.  The guys [other team members] have been in better shape than me from the start of the year.  You have to trust the guys and tell yourself the truth.  I want them to win!”

If you didn’t have a coach, would you have played?

“Yes [smiles].  I would also have played Dubai (next week).  I haven’t been playing well—I need to win and feel better.  I didn’t agree with Jan, but I couldn’t not listen to him because I’ve run out of chances with him.  It’s only the start of our working together.  He wants me to work with the long term in mind.  My goal is to win a Grand Slam, and he keeps reminding me that the team doesn’t absolutely need me and that it would be better in the end if I didn’t play in the Davis Cup.  In the end, I trusted him.”

Did you try and convince your coach?

“Obviously [smiles].  But that’s also why I chose a tough coach.  He has his say and I trust him.  If it turns out to be a bad choice, I’ll have to make the necessary decisions.”

What did Arnaud Clément say?

“He doesn’t agree.  But he respects my choice.  I talked to Jan and we’ve talked all three of us.  Most importantly, I’ve talked with all the guys.  We don’t lie to each other.  They know why.  Gilles [Simon], Richard [Gasquet], and Jo [Tsonga] understand my choice.  That’s easier.  I trust my mates—they’re playing well right now and it should be OK.  Arnaud knows very well that if it goes badly, which I hope it won’t, I’ll be there for the play-off match.”

What will you do after Marseille?

“I’m going straight to training.  I have some big training sessions ahead of me.  I’d have preferred to be with the French team than go running in the mountains [smiles].”

~

Translation by Mark Nixon.  Feedback and criticism are welcome; please let us know what you think in the comments.

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