June 8, 2019
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.
Q. How proud are you of Dominic for the way he got over the line today?
NICOLAS MASSU: Well, it was history, this match. It start yesterday, was suspended, like, two, three times, and then again today. Was more than four hours.
Is not easy when you are in the court and suspended because of the rain one time, you have to go to the locker, and then you have to come back. Sometimes you're winning, sometimes you're losing. But is not easy. It doesn't matter sometimes the result.
Yeah, yesterday was so windy. Today less. So the conditions today was a little bit better.
But anyway, was incredible match. I mean, semifinal of a slam, playing against the No. 1 in the world, 8-6 [sic] in the fifth. Is unbelievable feelings for him like a player and for me like a coach.
I think, yeah, I mean, he made before two semifinals in '16 and '17 and final last year and finals this year. So amazing achievements. Is so, so good.
Q. Can you tell us from your perspective how things unfolded last night? Because play was called off about 6:20.
NICOLAS MASSU: Yeah.
Q. But your player had the momentum. And there was another, as it turned out, about another hour and 25 minutes when you could have gone back on and played on.
NICOLAS MASSU: Well, I knew that you were going to ask me this question, for sure (smiling). So I was prepared.
I think that -- well, the match was suspended at that time. They told me that they spoke with both players, with Dominic and Novak around that time, because supposed to have a cloud coming at 7:00, something around, that is a chance that it's gonna rain and they have to go again to the court, then stop it again. So they said that the best decision is to play today. So the two players were, like, saying okay.
They informed me after the players. Then I went to the referee office and I talk with them, and they said that they took the decision because they wanted to give more rest to the players.
We had the same situation in Rome. Was long day there, and they said that it's better that there is a chance that the players can rest more and then prepare for play today.
I don't know, because I didn't saw exactly with this things that they have to see the, I mean, the weather. They said that it's gonna rain, and sometimes happen, sometimes not. Normally, like, a coach, I put my point of view. And, well, we have to be prepared to play today and that's it.
Q. How big is the disadvantage now for Domi tomorrow against Rafa, who is the favorite, anyway, but now having to rest and he had to play so long today?
NICOLAS MASSU: Yeah, this is other story. I mean, yesterday when we went to the referee's office and we talk about the situation, we were talking about before a winner. We were asking -- I mean, today they will know who wins, Dominic or Novak. I mean, before this, I think is important to ask why or if it's possible to play on Monday. That's the question. And they said there is no chance.
If you ask me, of course I prefer that Dominic have one day off, because also, I don't know if it's good luck or bad luck, because one part of the draw play one day before and the other part of the draw play one day after.
And Dominic was playing the last four days in a row. The other part of the draw play only one match in four days. So they are not in the same situation. That is the thing.
But sometimes you expect some things and these things change. The weather, of course the tournament try to do the best they can. Is not so easy to make decisions, because they want also that the tournament's going in the right way. So I understand this, and I was talking like a coach. They explain me the situation.
But of course I want my player, or Dominic, I would like to be in the same situation because is not only the physical part. The physical part is one thing, and the mental part is another thing. You have to come to the club. You have to be in the locker room, to prepare the match. You know, it's different.
Okay. All this situation is real. But when you are in this world, like tennis world, you have to be prepared for everything. We have to be prepared to play the match tomorrow. There is no chance to change. So we accept that.
And Dominic is a guy who practice many, many hours in his life. I think that he will do everything tomorrow to try to recover, and we try to think in this match. So the match is tomorrow, and we have to be focused on this match.
Sometimes the things are not in the way that you want, but you have to play the match and you have to do your best. You never know what happen. It's a final of a slam and he's going to try to give 100%.
He's a guy who have, like, positive feelings. Today he beat the No. 1 in the world. It's amazing match, amazing feeling. I think that tomorrow he's looking forward to try to show his best.
So you have to take the two parts: the part that happen in this tournament and the other part that you have to play the match anyway.
Q. When you said something like both players more or less agreed or accepted to postpone the match, I thought that Thiem was not so happy about playing today instead of going on and play yesterday. So you said you were informed afterwards.
NICOLAS MASSU: They talked with the players first. With both of them.
Q. And both players said, Okay, we play tomorrow, or Thiem would have liked to play yesterday?
NICOLAS MASSU: You know, they inform, because the players are thinking about the match. They are not thinking about -- they are not with the TV looking if it's raining or not. They inform the players.
So they said that the weather is not going to be well after 6:00. So they said that they took the decision to suspend it, because it's better for them to rest -- I explain before, but...
Q. So the players couldn't say anything?
NICOLAS MASSU: I don't know. You have to ask maybe the players. You have to ask -- I prefer that you ask Dominic, because he was there with the referee. I'm saying what I talk to the referee and when I went yesterday to the tournament director or with all the people and said these things.
You know, I prefer to talk about the match from tomorrow. I don't want to continue with the thing. Because yesterday in the social media, I hear so many things and this and that. But I'm, like, I was ex-tennis player and today I'm coach. I try to focus on tomorrow. I don't want to think what happened yesterday, this and that was.
I tell before. I think the tournament, I think Roland Garros, they tried to do the best. Sometimes things go well; sometimes not. But, I mean, all the people that wants this tournament go in the right way, and I support that. I mean, sometimes you like some things and sometimes not because of the weather, whatever.
But for me, I like to see the match from tomorrow and focus on this.
Q. Just to ask you, Dominic met Rafa in the final here last year. Preparing for it tomorrow, this year, how do you think his game, the approach, what it looks like compares?
NICOLAS MASSU: Difference between last year and tomorrow?
NICOLAS MASSU: First of all, I was not here last year in the final. I was looking the match from TV (smiling). I don't remember where I was, but I saw it completely.
Well, I think that they played together each other, I mean, few times before. Dominic in some moments of the career beat Nadal. Nadal also beat Dominic many times.
I think they are the top four or top three players in the clay in this moment. Dominic have unbelievable season. Not only clay, also hard court, Indian Wells.
Rafa won 11 times here. I think he's the best player in the history on clay. I don't know if there's going to be another guy like him. We respect a lot Rafa because, besides his unbelievable talent, he's great player, a great person.
So unbelievable match tomorrow for the people, the crowd, for the French Open. The final is against guys that have unbelievable results on clay. And Dominic understand that tomorrow, if he wants to win, have to be very focused from the first ball to the last one.
Today was one of the biggest wins of his career, semifinal against No. 1 of the world, and tomorrow play with the best one in the history of clay.
So when you arrive to this stage of your career in a tournament, it's because you are doing the things well. And tomorrow I think that he gonna try to do his best, and I think he have a chance.
But he play against the No. 1 in the world of clay in the history, it's true. But we will try to do our best.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish.
Q. What do you think will happen tomorrow for Thiem? Do you think it will be all in his hands or do we have to hope for mistakes from Nadal? What do you think as a coach?
NICOLAS MASSU: Well, as I said in English, I believe that tomorrow they're going to play the finals. The results, as I said, Dominic and Nadal have had their best results on clay, including Novak, as well. Well, the match they played in Barcelona a while ago, Dominic played very well. He was very solid.
Tomorrow will be a great match. First of all because it's two players who know each other very well, and they understand this surface very well.
Rafa, as I said earlier, apart from being a great player, a great person, a great fighter, is an example for youth, for children who play tennis through his image. He never gives himself for defeat. He never accepts defeat.
But Dominic has his opportunity. He knows he's playing against the greatest player on this surface in history.
So it's a beautiful challenge for him as a player and for me as a coach. I believe that he is very happy, as well, to have had one of the most important matches in his life today and to have won it in this way, and the most important thing is for him to recover physically and to be sure today that he'll be able to recover and to play the way he wants and to play with the cards he has in hands.
Obviously, if I had to decide, I would like him to have a day off to recover, but sometimes things play in a different way. You have to include the weather, the environment, and he has to play tomorrow and he must focus on the match tomorrow. He'll do his best.
There is nothing you can do about the -- apparently you can't push the match over to Monday.
Q. (Question off microphone.)
NICOLAS MASSU: It's true that we have been working together for three months and we have had incredible results. Three weeks after I started working with him, he won Indian Wells, and then we talked a lot about what he was looking for. We communicate very well.
Because when I used to play, I had more or less the same thoughts as he has now. Should I play with one hand? Two hands? He plays with one hand, I played with two, but we thought about things in the same way.
And he is trying to improve his results. He's been many years on the tour, but I also played with some of the players he's playing with. From what I see, I think he can still improve things.
As I said, on a fast court, he can move forward, backwards, catch the ball earlier. He can go up to the net. He has a lot of courage. He can hit very well.
If you look at the match in Indian Wells and how he was broken, but he was aggressive, he was trying to play the points. And if you look at the match point, he managed to get out of the situation, which, for any other player, whether you're No. 1, 2, or 4 or whatever, if you're 5-3, 40-15, at such a point, remaining focused at that point is not easy.
Mentally, I must say, he has improved a lot. He is remaining very strong, and his ultimate results have shown that. He hits tremendously. He has great strokes.
And he's 25. I believe there is the mix of youth and the great results he's had, which have given him some experience. So I believe he could be at the top of tennis next year.
Q. In 1990, Patricio Rodriguez coached Andres Gomez who won the title here. He was your captain and coach in 2004 in the Olympics. Now, over 20 years down the road, you are also coaching one of the finalists. It seems there is continuity and memories of players and coaches from Chile.
NICOLAS MASSU: Well, I think you have to thank life for the great moments.
I have had very strong feelings over the past year. I was captain of the Chilean team for eight years. Our team went up to the best level, world level for many years. And now working with Dominic and great results. I believe there has been great results if you include the Davis Cup and working with many people.
So I have to be thankful for everything that's happening. Sometimes you get results; sometimes you don't.
The important thing is to work. That's my motivation. That's what I prefer doing. I like pressure. I like being here. I like watching the matches and helping Dominic as much as I can.
Obviously the feelings are very important, thanks to Patricio Rodriguez as a coach and also Andres Gomez. There is a lot of what happened in my past is helping me now, and this comes from what they gave me at the time. I believe that they, as well, have been basic, fundamental part in my life to make me what I am.
I'm rather young as a coach, but I have the strength and energy, and I want to continue learning and helping and continuing with these great results.
But this is the world. Things change from one day to the other, but you have to be mentally prepared to continue doing what I like best.
Q. Only two people won against Nadal here in Paris. Who could hurt Nadal? This is the biggest challenge.
NICOLAS MASSU: Well, having won several times against him on this surface can give you confidence. Not many people have done it. Dominic is one of them.
This happened to me when I was playing, and it happens to any player when you get a victory against a player or you have had a positive result. You can face the situation with more confidence.
On the other hand, and I said it in English earlier, Rafa is an incredible player, and I think many years will pass before anyone can surpass him. He won here as a junior, and then he won I don't know how many times.
But, you know, you play tennis, and you play the sport to look for situations like this. Dominic has been training since he was a child to look for these challenges. What best challenge can you hope for when you like clay than to play a final in the French Open?
But how can he face the finals tomorrow? Try to play his game, try to play his own tennis. And I will talk to him. We will talk about his tactical plan, his technical plan, but we know it's difficult. But very often Dominic is the favorite, and sometimes he's not.
You have to win the match. You have to play it first before it's decided. He'll do his best possible tomorrow and we'll see what happens.
Q. Apart from his mental change, now he's much stronger and he's shown an incredible personality playing against Djokovic. Do you think he's going to take this in and face the match tomorrow with all this in?
NICOLAS MASSU: As I said, Dominic is very strong mentally. And when he played his best tennis, he's the one who did it most consistently throughout the year. So he's able to play well for the longest time.
As he showed today and with earlier tournaments, he is a great player. He has a talent. He has the shots. He has everything, which is why he's here now.
But tennis, there is various things. There is the physical part, the mental part, the strokes. He has huge potential. And if he can manage it properly, he can have the results.
I consider him as playing very well. I was reviewing the match for one or two minutes before I joined you, and I think he'll do his best tomorrow.
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