“I can’t imagine retiring, I’m too young! »

How was your visit to Bordeaux organized?

It was Micah who asked me to come and take part in this little party. It is his jubilee and it is also the club’s 125th anniversary. Loïc Courteau (former coach of Lucas Pouille, Amélie Mauresmo …), who is one of my best friends, is the son of the club. I am attached to the region I love so much and to this Primrose club. I won the Grand Prix Passing Shot twice here on clay and then by force. It reminds me of good memories.

Mica Llodra has often said that you marked your career a lot, what does it mean to you?

With Mica we have a lot in common. We are the same size, we are left-handed, we trust a great service. With Henri Leconte we won the Davis Cup in 1991, he was young and that must have marked him. Back then there were also players of our style like John McEnroe who inspired me a lot. Then I captained Mica in the Davis Cup. I started him in doubles and then in singles because he understood his game system and the Davis Cup was a competition that transcended him. He could have been a team sports athlete. He is someone who feeds on that spirit. His father also played football at a high level. He was strong in tennis, he would have been even stronger if he had played football. The Davis Cup is something that marked him hard, just like me.

Six months after leaving the post of director of Roland-Garros and the Paris Masters 1000, how are you doing?

I took advantage first! For a few months, I took time for myself. I got into golf, I love it and I’ve progressed well, but it’s a bottomless pit! And then, little by little, I put my foot down again, I have two projects that are not linked to tennis but I am still linked to this sport. I’ll be working during Roland-Garros with Prime Video, commenting on the night’s matches, and putting my eyes on the outside while I know how things are going inside. I am happy to live this fortnight, it is an inescapable event in France. Since the age of 13, this tournament has been a part of my life, it is my second home.

A few weeks after the start of Roland-Garros, are you still sad to have left this post?

You know, sometimes people don’t like mayonnaise. When communication does not pass, it is preferable for everyone to go their own way. After Roland-Garros it’s still a tournament I want to experience. I love this game and will never give up tennis. I will live this tournament perhaps more fully. I’m going to take advantage of it now that I have a little more perspective, and not head to the mill like in recent years.

Since 1999, you have always held a position in the Federation and you have been a great French tennis player, what do you plan to do now?

More than in the Federation, I have always gravitated towards tennis. Everything I do involves tennis and it will continue. Today I am an ambassador for the brand. I’ve been asked and I have some ideas. I still can’t imagine retiring, I’m too young (57 years old). There are so many things that interest me in sports.

Have you been in contact with Amélie Mauresmo since she took over?

We haven’t seen each other in a long time, at least since he took office. I haven’t been to Biarritz yet.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon will end their careers, you have them by your side for a long time in the Davis Cup, how are you feeling?

There is a time in our career when we need to move on. Either because the motivation is gone, or because of physical problems. They are convinced that now is the right time. Me, it was my body that dictated the end of my career and I did not live well. They both went to great lengths. They’ve had a remarkable career and we have to take their hats off for what they’ve done.

Turning the page on French tennis, how do you see the future in the short or medium term?

For a long time we had Richard, Gaël, Jo, Gilles, before them, we had Arnaud, Cédric Pioline, Sébastien Grosjean. We’ve always had regular players in the top 15. And then when we had so many, we complained that none of them had won a Grand Slam title. And now, we say to ourselves, ‘Oh, they’re leaving, we don’t have anyone left’ … We always tend to see the glass half empty. These guys had a great level of play. In two or three years we will not have two, three or four players in the top 10. There are cycles. We have good youth players, but we still have a long way to go. There is a huge amount of work to be done.

Is it worrying to see that there is no Frenchman at the table of the Masters 1000 in Rome female and male?

I will give an example. I think a player like Ugo Humbert should be in the top 10 someday. He’s approached the top 20 where he’s at the bottom of the wave, but when you have players like him, it’s encouraging. Then, above all, I hope that the four young Frenchmen who reached the Roland-Garros semi-finals last year as juniors, seeing Carlos Alcaraz enter the top 10, will say that it is possible. It should stimulate them.

Mention Carlos Alcaraz, do you see him as the future locomotive of tennis?

He will be the number 1 in the world, winning Grand Slam tournaments. Then, it’s hard to say if he will win 1, 5, 10 or 20 … But today he scores so many squares. When we talked about succession we mentioned Zverev, Tsitsipas and Medvedev, today, when we see Alcaraz play, we already have the impression that he is stronger than these players when he is only 19 years old! He also has a great coach with Juan Carlos Ferrero. He is strong and will be very, very strong.

A little prediction for this Bordeaux tournament?

There were Lucas Pouille, Richard Gasquet … I’m a little sorry to have seen them leave so fast, especially before Roland-Garros. We see a Verdasco that easily beats Hugo Gaston (6-2, 6-2) and the next day is cut by Pablo Cuevas (6-3, 6-0). There are some very strong guys. It is very difficult to say.

And for Roland-Garros?

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