“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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