17 April: Gilles Simon
Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters
Wednesday, 17 April 2019
F. FOGNINI/G. Simon
THE MODERATOR: Please tell us about your injury.
GILLES SIMON: I withdrew today because of my back. I slept very bad last night. When I woke up, my back was blocked and there’s nothing I could do.
I tried to see whether my physio, with some massages, we could unblock that, but it was impossible. I’m really in pain, so it is just impossible.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.
Q. You felt it yesterday a little bit, didn’t you?
GILLES SIMON: It’s been one month and a half since I have been feeling all that. I remember that as from Miami I had pain in my back. All the week there, it bothered me.
And ever since, it hasn’t really gone away. It’s always there in the background. It hasn’t really prevented me from playing, so I played many matches in few days. But it was a weak spot. Today it was actually the pain that woke me up at 6:00 in the morning, and it was already too late to do something about it. This doesn’t come as a surprise. I was feeling that pain all along these last days.
Q. Is this the same thing that happened to you with your neck? Is it the same thing or is it lower than that?
GILLES SIMON: No, it is lower than the neck. I have the back I have, and that’s what it is. But it is lower. It’s been a long time I haven’t felt any pain on my neck, so when I turn my head, I’m okay, but since now I have this pain on the back, I cannot lift my head.
Even if I take a good stance on the court, it hurts. The slightest movement is really bothering me. There is a threshold of pain up until which you can bear, but no more.
Q. So you need three or four days without any sport?
GILLES SIMON: I’ve had an MRI, because this pain has been there for a little while, and it is not the usual pain I’m used to. Normally the usual pain goes away after treatment, but this one has been there for a long time, and it doesn’t feel good.
As I was saying, it’s not as usual as regards to recovery process and the healing process, as such. Because normally I can move again quite easily, but in this case, every single day I’m in pain, more or less, so I wanted to check that.
The result is that my spine is as right as it has always been. In theory, there is nothing to worry about as it was the opinion of the people who travel with me, my team, and other people I trust, they told me that mechanically speaking, everything was fine. But since it has been going on for a long time, I wanted to make sure there was nothing serious.
Q. Since what you’re saying is a little bit worrying for me, I guess I might not see you in Madrid or Rome. So I’m going to ask a question in the preparation to the celebration of ten years since Federer won.
GILLES SIMON: You mean Roland Garros?
Q. Oh, yes, I’m sorry. My mistake. What are your memories of Roland 2009?
GILLES SIMON: Well, I have two main memories. First — well, three main memories. Well, when Rafa lost against Robin. This was something extremely important. It was important then, and then we saw how important this was afterwards. Because the following years confirmed that when he was around, things were more difficult. So this huge performance of Robin, that was memory No. 1, it came out of nowhere.
Then he won afterwards against Tommy Haas and the match was really bad for him, he was very stressed. We could see little signs when he was overtaken by his opponent. He was losing two sets. And then that huge shot down the line that manages to fall into the court, amazing. And many other points, but that point I remember very well, because I think that was “the” point for the tournament, because he could have finished there.
Then he started getting confidence. And then semifinals against Del Potro, that was important because that was the first time I saw him changing tactics. I think that beforehand, he wanted to play his own tennis and win with his own tennis, but that was the first time I saw him changing tactics with lots of dropshots. And he had to change tactics, because probably he may have lost.
So that Roland Garros in 2009 was very eventful.
Q. And what did you think of Federer’s victory, all the joy, all the emotions?
GILLES SIMON: Well, when I was watching that final, I had the impression that he had already won even before actually playing the match. And I think the day before, he sort of predicted that when he finished his match, when he was asked about the final against Robin, he said that that final with Robin was going to be great because he had great statistics against him.
I had the impression that he knew he was going to win. Sometimes there are all the ingredients there, and it’s just a little something that makes you win. So I’m not sure whether it was out of his own conviction that he won against Tommy Haas, and then he was playing not very well and all of a sudden a great shot, and then he turned around the match. Then he started smiling.
And then he won against Del Potro and he won. So the final itself I had the impression that it was somehow sort of obvious. This is what I mean when I say that I had the impression that he had won the final before actually playing the final.
Q. Have you ever experienced such a wild atmosphere in the locker rooms when there was this defeat against Rafa? I imagine that in the locker room there was, I don’t know, players only talking about that?
GILLES SIMON: I don’t know, because unfortunately I had left already the tournament. (Laughter.)
But that day, because I have the impression that he played very soon against Haas the same day or the day after, but it was a combination of all these ingredients. In any case, seeing from the outside, we had the impression that he was a little bit affected, and that match that changed everything, the opportunity was there. He saw the opportunity.
Q. I have a question that makes a link with both subjects. When you were talking about your pain in the back and the fact that Federer hadn’t come back to clay since a little time, we thought that he had said that he was afraid of an injury on clay. Many people find it very surprising, because normally clay is not as hard on the body as a hard surface. What do you think? Do you think that clay also has its dangers? Although we know that Nadal is always injured when he plays on hard surface. What do you think of all this?
GILLES SIMON: Well, it’s not exactly the same thing or the same dangers. The big problem on hard surface is that it’s not the same kind of hard surface as before when there were some surfaces that were really, really fast. For instance, in the United States, we are playing on sand that sticks, and the knees could be easily injured. I remember that when I played over there.
They are very slow, and they bounce very high. They could be really aggressive, and you have all the sorts of hard surfaces that are really fast, and the courts are a little bit more worn out and are a little bit more slippery, and the rallies are shorter and we are not hurt. And on clay normally the knees do not suffer.
What is really bad is when you take a good stance and then your knees have to absorb the shock, and on clay that is fine. When you are on hard surface, sometimes you feel this sort of wave going through your knees all the way up to your hips, and it is true that on clay, on the other hand, when you have to turn around, it’s a little bit more complicated, like in the case of Roger that he maybe has the same spine as mine. So probably as Roger, I also have the same pain in the back.
Probably this explains why, for him, clay is more dangerous or aggressive for him than for Rafa. And when Rafa slides on clay, that’s all right, but he cannot do the same on hard surface.