“I’ll continue as long as I can” – Amélie Mauresmo on Fed Cup and a bit about Murray – interviewed by l’Équipe’s @sophiedorgan

From the Équipe print edition April 16 2015 page 13. Interview by Sophie Dorgan

Amélie Mauresmo, pregnant, won’t revise her commitments with the French team. As for her coaching role with Andy Murray, she hopes to be with him until Wimbledon, then take stock with the Brit.

In a friendly atmosphere, the French Fed Cup team gets set to take on the current title holders, the Czech Republic, in the semi-finals Saturday and Sunday in Ostrava. Caroline Garcia, who arrived on Monday a day after her team mates, is recovering and her partners are acclimatising themselves to a surface considered “neutral” by Alizé Cornet, not too fast, not too slow. As for the captain, Amélie Mauresmo, who’s had the job since 2012, she prefers only to talk tennis. She only talks about her pregnancy, which she made public a week ago, in passing before coming back to her priority for the week: the Fed Cup.

You announced your pregnancy last Thursday, with the birth expected in August. How will that change your calendar?

It won’t change any of my Fed Cup commitments. As for Andy, we’ve talked about continuing as long as possible, which means including Wimbledon [June 29-July 12]. After we’ll talk quietly about the follow-up to our collaboration [begun last summer].

You’ll be making a professional choice?

“Of course.”

You say it changes nothing for the Fed Cup, but if you win this weekend [the final is set for November 14-15. The other final this weekend is Russia-Germany], you won’t be able to follow your players. Will you function differently?

I won’t be at the US Open [August 31-September13], but that won’t change things much. Since I started working with Andy, I’m not at all of their matches. There’ll be times when I can talk to the girls. I’m not at all worried about that. I’ve known them for a few years now. If someone needs to be with the French or their opponents, Gabi [Urpi, coach of the French team] will take care of it.”

I have a course of action and I’m sticking to it

We know that you were pregnant during the last meeting with Italy [3-2, February 8, last round]. It must have been wrenching emotionally?

I totally cracked at the end [smiles]. It was very tough. It would have been in any case having just arrived from Australia [after the final lost by Murray to Djokovic] together with the fatigue from the trip and the intensity of accompanying a player of that level to the final of a Grand Slam. I had the duty and responsibility of steering this French team into becoming the best it could be. It wasn’t easy, but it’s probably one of the best weeks we’ve ever experienced.”

To what do you attribute this French team’s success? Mature players, a solid staff and a bit of luck?

When you talk about achievement in sport, success is inevitable at certain times. But you have to induce them at a certain point, make some choices that are a bit daring, be strict about certain things. I have a course of action and I’m sticking to it. We have a young team, the girls are maturing, improving and realising so many things individually. I always tell them: “The stronger you are individually, the stronger the French team is. And the group gives you things as individuals.”

You’ve evolved too in your role.

Of course, I learn during every round and outside about how to position myself in relation to their individual structures. Now there’s a symbiosis.

How will you tackle this meeting with the Czech Republic?

It’s a heck of a challenge. What happened during our last round has expanded our horizons, even if we’re far from being favourites. The goal is to play our cards right and be opportunistic this weekend.

There’s a lot of talk about the return of Petra Kvitová, who was absent from the American swing [fatigue]. What are your thoughts?

We don’t know. That’s why we’re not focussing on Kvitová [ranked 4 in the world]. We haven’t seen her compete recently, first of all, and we’re not sure she’ll be on court. So, perhaps more so than in other rounds, we’re concentrating more on ourselves. The girls have all arrived in different states, and our priority is getting into the best shape possible Saturday and Sunday.

You’ve taken on a left-handed hitting partner, Jonathan Dasnières of Veigy, to prepare for possible lefties Kvitová and Šafářová (13th)

I like everything to be covered. It might be the little detail that makes the difference. If the girls who have hit with “Jon” hit a winner on break point off a lefty serve, there you go … It may not happen, but we’re giving ourselves every chance.

Translation by MAN

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“It would be mission impossible” – Marion Bartoli has no thoughts of a comeback

Translated from l’Équipe print edition April 3, 2015 page 11. Article by Vincent Cognet.

Marion Bartoli is “getting such a kick” from her “second life” that she’s never thought of returning to competition.

Marion Bartoli divides her life today between Dubai and London and admits she “spends a lot of time on planes.”  This week the 2013 Wimbledon champion, only thirty, is in Miami commentating for TennisTV. Just before the Suarez Navarro – Petkovic semi-final, and sitting at a table in front of a large salad, she agreed to take stock of her new life and women’s tennis.

A month ago on Twitter you asked your fans if they’d like you to come back to the tour. Was the idea in the back of your head?

[laughs] They say often that fans don’t get a chance to express their opinions. As I kept hearing some my fans constantly asking me the same question, I told myself I’d tweet asking their opinion. The answer was clear: I should stay with my win at Wimbledon.

But you would have seriously considered it if the answer had been the opposite?

I don’t think it would have changed my decision. I had a very clear head about it. And I’m so involved in my “second life”, being creative, painting, fashion etc. The fact is that I’m getting such a kick from this life that I don’t think about tennis.

You’ve got remarkably trim in the last few months. Are you sure you don’t miss the competition?

It’s for my swimsuit in Miami [laughs]. Seriously, I’m very happy with my private life and my restructuring. I needed to get back into shape for Strive, a charity. I ran three marathons and did 1,400 km cycling. And I’m still playing exhibitions. I love playing tennis so much. It’s a pleasure now to go onto a court. But I never tell myself: “It really was good when I played.”

What you’ll never get again is the adrenaline …

Exactly. It’s impossible to get back the adrenaline rush that I felt when I served for the Wimbledon title [she served an ace against Sabine Lisicki to win 6-1, 6-4 on July 6, 2013]. I knew what I was leaving when I quit. I put a cover over it. It would be a mission impossible. If I didn’t, I would be eternally frustrated and it would tear me apart. On the other hand, when I need a lift, I put the Wimbledon final back on, and it’s there again.

You watch it often?

I refuse to count! My friend knows it: when I’m feeling a bit blue, he takes the DVD and slides it into my computer. And I watch the match again … and I’m pumped up again.

What do you think of today’s women’s tennis?

I’m wondering about Eugénie Bouchard who’s sliding badly down the rankings and who undoubtedly made a mistake changing coaches in the middle of the season (her split with Nick Saviano was announced on 25 November 2014, not the ‘middle of the season’ [MAN]). In general I see a new generation arriving, Pliskova, Keys, Muguruza, Garcia, Dodin who are a new prototype of player: they all have a big serve and try to end points after two or three shots. That’s the evolution of tennis. And it’s not by chance that Serena and Sharapova are the only ones staying at the top. They’re the only ones playing like that. With the exception of Halep who has exceptional defence, I think intermediate games will disappear.

You’ve followed the formidable Fed Cup run of the French team?

I watched the matches on the telly. Seeing them get back into the World Group shows a real cohesion on the team. It’s Amélie [Mauresmo] who made the link. She has the ability to bring together, to instil confidence … suddenly the players are moving mountains on the court.

You don’t regret not having experienced a collective adventure like that?

– First of all, it wasn’t the same captain during my time. And my rule is never to live with regrets.

Translated by MAN

Caroline Garcia: “Hey! There’s a 2 now in front of my ranking number”

An interview by Frédéric Bernes in the 15 March 2015 l’Équipe print edition.

Garcia is “Miss Latina”.  The trend is confirmed.  Now ranked 28, the 21-year-old native of Lyon won her only title in Bogotá last year.  And now she’s reached two consecutive finals in Acapulco and Monterrey, each time meeting the same woman: Timea Bacsinszky.  Goodbye Mexico, it treated you well.  Now the locale has moved to the Californian desert where heat was oppressive yesterday (34°C). Yesterday, Garcia was in a tussle and escaped with a 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 win over the Slovenian Polona Hercog, ranked 75, in 2 hrs 17 minutes.

Would you say your Mexican tour was a success or was there one more win missing, like a title…

“Considering the circumstances before making the trip, I’m very happy with the two finals. I might have gone out in two first rounds.  There were no titles at the end of it but going through all that was good experience.  I’d gone to Dubai just after the Fed Cup.  We all know how the Fed Cup eats up energy.  Especially when you win the deciding doubles 3-2 [which is what happened in Italy].  I reached the doubles semi-finals in Dubai, so I left Sunday evening—for Lyon.  It was either that or spend seven hours waiting at an airport.  After that, I took three flights: Lyon-Frankfurt, Frankfurt-Mexico, and Mexico-Acapulco.  Because the final there was scheduled for Saturday, I had to play on Tuesday.”

It seemed that between Acapulco and Monterrey there was a change of season…

“It was summer in Acapulco.  It was 30°C and very humid.  And then we went from the seaside to a refrigerator.  It was 10°C sometimes in Monterrey.  Even 8°C, I think.  There’s a heat limit in the rules, but not one for cold.”

You didn’t lose a set on the trip…

[cuts off] “Yeah, except in the final! [laughs]. OK, that means I had some solid matches.”

The one against Ivanovic [6-1, 6-4 in the Monterrey semis] made an impression. Was it a good match?  A great match?

“A good match.  I wasn’t playing out of my head—not that, no.  I put her under pressure from the start and she couldn’t deal with it [Garcia meets the Serb in the next round].  It’s my best match this season but I wasn’t putting everything I had into it by hitting like a crazy person.”

There are good vibrations between you and Latin America…

“I love that part of the world.  I made the finals there in Casablanca [Mexico] as a junior and I won in Venezuela.  I like the people in those countries.”

And they must like a woman called Garcia…

“It’s a good name to have there, true.  It plays well.  There are a lot of Garcias in Mexico.”

Did you get the impression that you found more solutions from one final to the other against Bacsinszky?

“I won three games in Acapulco [6-3, 6-0] and I won more in Monterrey [4-6, 6-2, 6-4]—so, yes.  Like she disappeared for a bit and we didn’t know her game. She runs everywhere, she gets everything back.  She has this incredible backhand. You can’t tell where it’s going.  She shifts gears on her backhand [like Benoit Paire].”

You’ve never been ranked as high before as you are this week.  Is that important to you?

“Getting into the top 30, that means something.  Hey, there’s a 2 now in front of my ranking number! [laughs].  It’s one of those small peaks you need to climb over; it gets you seeded in the big tournaments [here she’s seeded 25].”

We saw that your left thigh was very well taped up…

“No, it’s OK. It’s nothing now.  [Her father and coach interrupts: ‘It was still a muscle pull.’]  Yes, but it’s gone now. [Louis-Paul: ‘You couldn’t hit for three days.’]”

When will Nathalie Tauziet, who’s been advising you for a few months, join you?

Louis-Paul: “We don’t have any finalised plans.”

But it’s still on?

Louis-Paul: “We’ve always worked in stages—with Nathalie like with others.  We have a base core, Caroline and me, which we add to.  But we have no finalised plans there.”