16 April: Pierre-Hugues Herbert
Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters
Tuesday, 16 April 2019
P. HERBERT/F. Verdasco
THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.
Q. At the end of the match, you made a heart with your hands for Notre-Dame. We know that you are French. Do you have high sensitivity about being French? What did you feel yesterday when you saw the fire? Where were you when you saw the images of the blaze?
PIERRE-HUGUES HERBERT: I think many French were affected by what happened in Paris, Notre-Dame. And when we are French and we enjoy Paris, this beautiful city, we are proud of Paris. And when we see Notre-Dame on fire and the spire crumbling down, that was really shocking for me yesterday evening.
I said to myself that if ever I won, I would like to send a message of love for Notre-Dame that was crumbling down and that I was very affected yesterday evening.
Q. You stayed up very late yesterday evening watching TV?
PIERRE-HUGUES HERBERT: No, no, not very late. I actually watched before going to bed, but at some point I had to switch off the TV and go to bed, because this morning I had to wake up at 7:00 a.m., and otherwise it would have been very difficult for me. So I watched until 10:30 p.m.
Actually, I didn’t find out very early in the evening. It took me a little while to learn that the fire was on, and the images were so shocking with this fire crumbling down. When you see this image of Paris on fire, it was really impressive, shocking.
Q. Now, as regards to the match…
PIERRE-HUGUES HERBERT: No, no, I will only talk about Notre-Dame today (smiling).
Q. So you started very well, playing on clay court, knowing your opponent. He’s a very difficult opponent on this surface. Are you satisfied with your victory?
PIERRE-HUGUES HERBERT: I’m not really starting playing on clay, because I started quite early. I was playing in the Challenger Sofia two weeks ago. So this surface requires a certain time for me, because I have this offensive, aggressive style, so I need to adjust my style to this surface. I need to adjust my being more patient or go quickly. This surface requires, for me, more time to adjust.
I’m very happy for the result today. This is my fifth match on this surface this season, and probably this match was the most accomplished one, the best I have played so far.
Now, as regards Verdasco, I have played three times against him and I have lost three times against him, different surfaces and specifically in Roland Garros on clay. It was in 2017, I think, so I’m really happy because I have never won against him.
Q. So you were able to find the good rhythm? You were aggressive? You have changed rhythm? You had a varied way of playing? So you think you are already well adjusted for this clay season?
PIERRE-HUGUES HERBERT: I think in my case there is a very fine line between being in a good balance or rather a well-balanced game or not. So the balance of being efficient or not efficient, the line is really fine. So I cannot really tell you, Okay, I’m fine, I’m well adjusted, and the rest of the clay season is going to be okay. No, I cannot say that. We will see that.
In any case, I’m very happy to have this victory. And today I managed to find the right solutions when to be patient, when to change rhythm, because I think that if we don’t play with a good rhythm when we have an opponent like Verdasco, then you can be very overwhelmed, because he’s a very strong player and he tends to make you run around the court.
Q. Yesterday you played doubles with Nicolas Mahut, and unfortunately you lost. But despite that, you have won today against Verdasco. Don’t you think that that defeat sort of helped?
PIERRE-HUGUES HERBERT: Not at all. I was so disappointed the whole evening yesterday, and I think I could have saved more energy had I won doubles, because I would have been very happy for a victory and then going to the second round.
In any case, I chose some weeks during which doubles are as important as singles during my calendar. So, no, the defeat was very hard to take. But if there was a positive thing I could draw from that defeat is that I spent less time on court. That’s for sure.
Q. Next round you’re going to play against Nishikori. It is going to be a test. How are you going to approach that match?
PIERRE-HUGUES HERBERT: Well, I have never won against him. I played him twice, I think. It’s going to be a big test, like in the case of Verdasco. It’s going to be a big match knowing that he had a very good beginning on his clay season.
So I hope that the five matches that I have already won on this surface will help me to win that match, but when we are against a top 10 and it is not your favorite surface, at least I hope to play a good match. It would be good if at least I can cause him a little bit of trouble. I would be very happy if I manage to do that.
Q. On clay surface, do you have a specific match in your mind during which you felt really good?
PIERRE-HUGUES HERBERT: I think last year at Roland Garros I played really good. I think that in Madrid, even if the conditions are different because we are at a little altitude, I had played good, and the surface is really nice. I really like it.
I grew up on clay, and you have many possibilities of playing. You can slide. You can have different effects. There are many different ways of playing on clay. You can slide when you are doing a dropshot, and you can be both defending and playing aggressively. It is a very complete surface. It’s not probably my best surface, but is a surface that I really like to play on.
Q. On the new Roland Garros, Court No. 1 is going to disappear after this year’s edition. What do you think of Court No. 1? Have you played on that court? Last year you played actually on this Court 1, didn’t you?
PIERRE-HUGUES HERBERT: Yes, I played on Court No. 1 last year. So is it official that it’s going to disappear?
In any case, if it is going to disappear, I am very happy for all the time I have played on that court. I remember last year I spent lots of time playing against Jeremy Chardy. And on doubles, we played there in a great atmosphere, so of course I am sad if that court is going to disappear.
But this year we are going to play on that court, this year again, a great court. It is an iconic court. It is next to the Musketeers Place, and we are going to regret its disappearance. But then changes have to be made in Roland Garros, and therefore big decisions have to be taken.