TOPSHELF OPEN 2013
First-Time Winner Spotlight: Nicolas Mahut
's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
by Greg Sharko|
During his run, Mahut won 46 of his 47 service games and lifted the trophy without the loss of a set. The Frenchman will look to carry his form into Wimbledon, where he was granted a wild card.
ATPWorldTour.com caught up with the new champion following his victory.
Did you ever imagine last weekend when you qualified into the main draw that a week later you would be here with the trophy?
No, not at all. I decided last minute with my coach that I would play qualies here since I got the wild card in Wimbledon and all of a sudden I had a week off where I could play.
How does it feel now eight matches later, losing only one set, to be standing as the champion?
It’s still very fresh and difficult to understand. It had been my goal for a long time to win a title. Six months ago I didn’t know if I would be able to play professional tennis again and here I am with the trophy. I worked hard to get here and it means a lot to me.
You were only broken once in the main draw and beat a Top 10 player in the final. What did you do well during the tournament?
I stayed mentally strong, even in difficult conditions I remained focused and only lost my serve once.
This was only your third ATP World Tour main draw tournament of the year in singles. You had some injuries. Talk about what’s happened this year...
I started playing well at the beginning of last year, playing in the third round at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Queen’s. But then my knee started hurting more during the North American summer swing and it got more and more complicated. I had to work hard to come back and I’m very thankful to be able to play again.
It was your third ATP World Tour final and first since 2007. Did you have a different approach going into the match?
No, I was very tense at the beginning. But during the rain delay, my coach Nicolas Escude spoke to me and I came back on court in better shape and more relaxed.
You came in ranked No. 240 and will jump in the Top 125. How does that feel? Do you have any ranking goals for the rest of the season?
This jump is very important to me. First of all winning a title but also my goal was to get back into the Top 100 after my injury and this is a very important step on that way. I’m very positive now and this feels like a launching my career again.
You’re the eighth player over 30 to win an ATP World Tour title this year. Do you feel that players over 30 are getting better?
I think that nowadays it’s very hard physically to arrive on tour early. Players in their 30s are still in form and performing well. Look at Tommy Haas or Tommy Robredo who came back after a tough injury. I think the age barrier is moving up for sure.
You will be playing Wimbledon as a wild card. You have to have a lot of confidence going into the tournament?
Yes of course winning this title makes me feel more confident. But we will start working on Wimbledon from tonight on, doing treatment and then we’ll start practising on-site tomorrow.
You’ve had a lot of different people help you during your career. Is there any one who you would like to thank for their support?
That’s a difficult question. You always forget somebody so I hope I won’t. Of course there’s Olivier Malcor, my current team with Thierry Ascione, Nicolas Escude and my physio. My wife is very important too, since she never stopped believing in me.
When you were younger growing up, did you have anyone as a role model?
Yes, I admired Stefan Edberg and Pete Sampras.