“Gaël will be ready to work even harder.” Jan De Witt, Monfils’ coach, interviewed in today’s l’Équipe

“Gaël will be ready to work even harder.” Jan De Witt, Monfils’ coach, interviewed by @djub22 Julien Reboullet in today’s print l’Équipe.

Why didn’t you want Gaël Monfils to play in the Davis Cup first round?

− Together with Gaël and his physical trainer we’re trying to optimise the time we have available to reach the objectives we’ve set. Part of the time should be devoted to playing high level matches and improving his game of course. But another part should be set aside for working and resting. Look at the best players in the world: Gaël’s the one who had the shortest off-season because of the Davis Cup final and the IPTL. We need to find a balance where his body breathes a bit then gets stronger. He did exactly that superbly before the Davis Cup final where he put everything together and was totally involved.

This balance meant rest now?

− Gaël has played a lot of matches in a short amount of time. So I insisted and ended up convincing him that that it was time to recuperate to build up his body, to find his best form and make sure that no big injury puts the brakes on things again. We’re in complete agreement about that. In turn, Gaël convinced me that after the Marseille final the time wasn’t right for him because he felt the need to be with his team.

Is your relationship with the staff of the French team tense now after this?

– Arnaud [Clément, captain] and “Lio” [Lionel Roux, coach] are doing their job which is  putting the best team possible together for Frankfurt. We’re communicating very well with each other even if we don’t always share the same opinions. Of course we agreed that the team was stronger with Gäel but they couldn’t convince me it was the best choice possible for my player in the current situation. I love the Davis Cup and I want my two players to win it, but as a responsible coach have to look at the season as a whole. In the end, it was really Gaël who showed me how much he wanted to play and he convinced me that he would be ready to work a lot more during our next work session before Roland Garros. Because the big objective − or dream − is to win the French Open.

Is it win-win? In other words, is there some kind of deal with Gaël like: “You let me play the Davis cup and after I’ll follow to the letter everything you tell me”?

− No, that’s not how it works. Gaël listens now − more often than not − to the advice he gets. And there are many things in our working together that suit me, lots of aspects that are improving. Anyone who saw the Marseille final noticed that there were areas of improvement. And you know, I can can be convincing without being menacing. In any case, the player should follow my advice, or what would be the point of working with me?

Have you considered possibly stopping working with him because he’s sometimes difficult to understand?

− No. Gaël doesn’t have the same background as I, neither as a person nor tennis-wise. But he’s a super guy and we understand each other better and better. And remember, when we started working together it was you guys who said that our association was fire and ice. I imagine the ice was me, the cold-blooded German. And if that’s the case how can you ask me now if I want to stop because understanding Gaël isn’t easy? If you think I’m as rational as all that, then I would have realised that that part of the job wouldn’t be at all easy. I guarantee you I’m fully aware of it.

Translated by Mark Nixon

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Sunday fun with “The Monf-Bennet-Simon Show”

From the 14 September 2014 edition of l’Équipe. Quoted by Frédéric Bernès after the French team beat the Czechs 4-1 in the Davis Cup semifinals.

It’s never insignificant when the substitutes of a team, some of them legitimately offended by being cut out, improvise a comedy show at the press conference.

Julien Beneteau, called “the bridge player” by the two other provocateurs, who don’t need much convincing to make fun of his old age; Gael Monfils, teased for his baroque tournament scheduling; and Gilles Simon, called the “lemon slicer”; the three benched players of this semifinal were laughing like madmen when they arrived in the press room. It was a mess, but it was hilarious. We tried to reconstruct, as best as we could, this fun moment which says a lot about the atmosphere in this group. As we didn’t have any alcometers, we won’t take position on the nature of the liquids that were consumed in the secrecy of the locker room. But we have some idea.

Julien Benneteau [supposed to reminisce on this Davis cup campaign]: “Fuck, I don’t even remember who played in Mouilleron-le-Captif [against Australia in the first round].”

Gael Monfils: “It wasn’t me! (laughs)”

Julien Benneteau: “We’ve lost our memories. We’re all drunk (laughs). And we know that this is going to be a long evening. Pff, with the two beside me, it’s going to be very tough. We have to hope that we will all be healthy for this final. For those two, it’s not a good start. [We ask JB a question that starts with “as a doubles specialist…”] That’s nice! Like: you’re 30 in the single rankings and you suck.”

Gael Monfils: “Gillou, you smell of beer—you’re drunk.” (laughs)

Julien Benneteau: “The difference between Guy Forget and Arnaud Clement? Easy: twenty centimeters. One is a lefty with a slice backhand . And the other is not. ”

Gilles Simon: “My schedule until the final? Well, the Masters, it’s going to be hard to go, no?”

Gael Monfils: “You had a pretty bad start, yeah”

Gilles Simon: “But we have time before we have to think about this final. If we are going to compete with each other? What competition? Also a three-months-away match, it’s a pretty long time. Who do we want to play in the final?  It’s nice, Naples, in November. It’s warm. How are we going to adapt our scheduling? Well, for Gael it’s simple.  He does it all year long. [“As his new coach, reference to the last US Open, what schedule are you going to plan for him?”] You really like this one! Well, Gael, even if you don’t like going to China, you are going to go for five weeks!”

Gael Monfils: “Ah, coach Gillou! You’re laughing but you could make a lot of money in false advertising!” (laughs)

Gilles Simon: “For the advice, it depends on how much he pays me. We haven’t discussed it yet.”

Julien Benneteau: “It’s hard to tell ourselves that we’re not going to play too much and preserve ourselves for the final. If you only play a little, there’s the chance that you won’t be as good. Well, ‘la Monf,’ he can do it, he’s used to it. How does the competition between us manifest itself? We settle it at Fifa. And it’s violent.”

Gilles Simon: “Exactly, the winner plays the match.”

Gael Monfils: “Guys, no! It looks like I have lost at Fifa! I never lose at Fifa!”

Julien Benneteau: “It’s true, you’re better at Fifa than on the court.” (laughs)

Gilles Simon: “You’re the doubles specialist and me, I slice lemons.”

Julien Benneteau: “It’s going to be war, the competition. We are going to push each others down the stairs. It has already begun.”

Gilles Simon: “I’m totally drunk (laughs). Where’s the Corona?”

~

Translated by Suze.

“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.

If you would like to contribute a translation, please head to About Us to see how to do so.

Monfils in Marseille: “I’m not playing well”

From an article by Fabien Mulot in l’Équipe online.

“I played a solid first set,” was Gaël Monfils’ analysis after his 17 February match against Alexander Zverev.  “Then my level dropped a bit because I’m lacking a bit of confidence and I need to get more matches in.  It’s only by playing that I can keep my rhythm and intensity.  But I’m happy because I kept my concentration.  I still don’t have a match that’s a reference point for me this year.  I’m not playing well.  I’m trying to win not playing well.  Winning will help me to express myself. It comes from inside of me.  I didn’t start the year well physically, mentally, and game-wise.  I’ve had it up to here a bit with everyone’s reactions when I say I’m lacking the spark and that I’ll quit.

“When I say that, it means that I have to work on a few small things and I also need to get some rest because I’m all wound up.  I need to clear my head.  I also need to start physical training too.  I’m fine, but I think I can be even stronger.  I’m looking for confidence and consistency.  It’s been a while since I’ve been able to play five or six tournaments in a row without getting injured.  If I manage to play well and be consistent for five weeks, I think I’ll be able to last the two weeks of a Grand Slam.  Everything has a purpose.  I’m working with someone who does a lot of thinking (his new coach Jan de Witt) and it’s part of that.  I’m building to go even higher.”

~

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

If you would like to contribute a translation, please head to About Us to see how to do so.