“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’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].”

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

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