“It’s up to me to make my mark”
Adrian Mannarino may be 38 in the world, but he’s still unknown to most people.
He won’t be pestered by paparazzi and drones won’t fly over his house any time in the near future. At twenty-six, Adrian Mannarino plays it discreetly. So much so that that it’s not generally well known that he’s one of the seven Frenchmen in the top 40 and that he has a wonderful deadpan sense of humour.
We left you in Melbourne at the second round taking morphine with a bloated stomach…
“I was afraid of becoming dehydrated, I’d drunk an enormous amount of very cold water, and my stomach swelled… Some losses are worse than others (he was ahead 6-4, 6-4, 4-0 against Lopez, 14 in the world, and had had match point at 5-3 before giving up in the fourth set). The match stayed with me for a while. I still got the feeling a month after that I was on court 2 over there with match point. Some losses make you want to improve. That one bugged me.”
You’re number 38 in the world, but it’s not well known. Does that bother you?
“We have a super generation, some very charismatic guys like Gaël [Monfils], Jo [Tsonga]. I’m aware that outside of the tennis world, no one knows me. I don’t necessarily feel bad about it. It’s up to me to make my mark.”
But instead of taking the spotlight in Montpellier and Marseille, you play in Zagreb or Memphis! Why that schedule?
“I found myself seeded second in Zagreb without being sure of being seeded in Montpellier. I scheduled tactically, like I usually do. I compare the conditions, I look where the entry list is the most favourable…”
French number 7—do you feel you’re in the middle of the group of eight or nine players Arnaud Clément talks about for the French team?
“Not yet. I’d have to pass some more tests. When I thought Gaël wasn’t going to Germany (before changing his mind), I told myself it might happen, even if I think a player like Jérémy Chardy deserves it more. But I look forward to playing it one day.”
You’re surely one of the ones who spends the most time in the States. You like it that much?
“I love it. There’s a always a terrific training infrastructure. The people love athletes here, whereas in Europe we’re often considered to be idiots.”
You’ve been coached for the last ten months by Éric Prodon, who’s thirty-three. Isn’t it bizarre to have a coach the same age as Federer?
“Our relationship has evolved. Éric was still a player when we started at Roland Garros. But he’s managed to put on a coach’s hat this winter. On the court, he can be very tough. I think I’m into it and he tells me: ‘You haven’t moved your arse for half an hour. You haven’t hit one clean shot!’ That’s good because sometimes the player isn’t aware.”
Why did you leave the Federation?
“Because I felt that Oliver Ramos [the coach he was sharing with Rufin] wasn’t there enough for me. Today, I pay Éric out of my pocket and that’s fine. It’s a shame that some players need to stay for financial reasons when they’re not happy with the situation.”
You’re a lefty, you have a flat game based on timing. Do you like your game?
“Not too much, no. I’d like to have a punchier game, sharper. When it’s going badly, I get annoyed quickly and I don’t enjoy it. My coach tells me to enjoy myself, but if I start enjoying myself, I play 15/4 [laughs]. I volley, try different things… This morning, I played a super practice with Falla. We end in a tie-break and Eric tells me: ‘Go on! Enjoy yourself!’ OK, well, I took it 7-1 and I was ridiculous” [laughs].
Translated by Mark Nixon.