by Saqib Ali
Here is the print transcript of our interview with former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero. He took time from his busy schedule at the academy to answer some questions.
SA: You had a great career, won Roland Garros and was ranked world number one in 2003. How important was to be ranked world number one especially in an era when Spanish players were not seen as great fast court players. You and Carlos Moya before you were the guys who changed that?
JCF: Reach the number 1 ATP is important in every era. Is really hard to reach it. Spanish players has feel always more comfortable on clay court but the circuit is each day most based on hard court so all players including Spaniards are trying to be more competitive on hard than before.
SA: You represented a new breed of the Spanish baseliner who played very aggressive from the baseline with a great forehand. How did that style come along? Who were your tennis heroes growing up?
JCF: The tennis I played was the one I feel most comfortable with, so I start like that and improve my game bearing that in mind. Independently of my references. I always like tennis and watch as many matches as possible. My main “hero” when I was young was Jim Courier.
SA: During the peak of your career, you were diagnosed with chicken pox. Do you think it impacted your career, momentum wise as you had made the semifinals of Australian open in 2004 and had to miss time because of chicken pox? Were you the same player after the chicken pox?
JCF: Yes, it affected my career a lot and it takes me long time to recover and, after, to been able to reach a high level, playing again comfortable and enjoining myself.
SA: Nadal is still pretty good on clay, but we don’t see the next Spaniard who can challenge for majors and especially clay titles? What’s happening with the next gen of Spanish players? Any good juniors coming up?
JCF: There are many nice Spaniards on the circuit, and Spain still has been a reference where to practice and play tournaments as the level here is always really hard. The circuit in general had lost a complete generation of players but now there´s young players again that are starting to fight for the big titles to the big four. For sure will be Spaniards upfront as well.
SA: What’s your life after retirement been? How involved are you in the tennis academy?
JCF: I´m really involved. I live there with my family. I am on the day for the big decisions and when I can I try always to be on court. Talking with the players and even training them.
SA: Will you be up for coaching on the tour if some player approaches you?
JCF: Yes, I like to help nice player in the tour. I am already working with Pablo Carreño as he is player of the academy, but for sure I would be glad to work as coach of other players.
SA: What do you think of the Agassi Djokovic partnership?
JCF: It is just few days of partnership. Not sure if Novak will look after for a stronger relationship with other coach. I think Agassi prefer to enjoy his family than travel too much. For ex players as us, is normal. We had been most of our time travelling. For sure he will be able to help Novak during this short stay but then Novak should be keep working with his staff.
SA: Since Roland Garros starts in few days, who are some of the guys who can challenge Nadal this year?
JCF: I think he is the main favourite. But Murray and Djokovik as well as Wawrinka can be really dangerous if they find the motivation and start the tournament with nice feelings. We should also see Thiem and Zverev that has been doing a really great clay circuit.
SA: If you look back at your career, do you think you could have won more at Roland Garros?
JCF: Yes sure, after finish every player thinks they were been able to do more. That´s the experience you had won during that years what allows you realized of that but the things were given at that moment. I´m really happy with why all I win in my career anyway.
Interview with Edouard Roger-Vasselin
Q: We know that your dad made the semis at Roland Garros in 1983. Please share your tennis journey with our audience. How did it start for you? Who were your tennis heroes growing up?
I started tennis when I was 3 and obviously my dad was the 1st one to give me racquet in my hands ! My favourite players were Edberg and Rafter
Q: You had a good period in 2013-2104 in singles, when you reached the Chennai and Delray finals. This period also saw you reach your highest singles ranking? What worked more in this phase as your game clicked?
I developed a lot my movement on court and I focus more my practice on fitness and I think that was the key of my success
Q: You have won 13 tour titles and the ultimate for any French player – you won the doubles at Roland Garros in 2014. How was that experience and the success in doubles been?
I always had fun playing doubles but priority was singles. I think my game fit well with doubles so with good partners you have chance to win titles! Winning RG is definitely my best achievement so far.
Q: Wimbledon is seen as the pinnacle of the sport for most fans and you played in the finals there in 2016. How does that experience compare with the RG win? Is RG the most coveted tennis tournament for you or is it Wimbledon?
As a French I always dreamed winning RG !! Wimbledon arrives 2nd
Q: How is the rigors of the doubles tour different that the singles tour? For example singles always gets main courts and starts early too.
We get used to it. And singles players have always more attention than doubles players and that is normal.
Q: You have had great success with Julien Benneteau over the last two seasons. Are you continuing that partnership for 2017?
I’m not going to play much in singles because of hip problem so I wanted a full double partner so I’ll play with Nestor all year.
Q: You are one of the four best options for France in doubles. How big of a goal is yours to be in the Davis cup squad?
Davis Cup is a big goal but I have to play very very good to be in the team so I need to focus 1st on my tournament
Q: We see a lot of different pairs on the atp doubles tour. How does picking a partner come along? What skill set you look in a good doubles partner?
We all know each other so just need to find the good matching and there is no rules for that!
Q: French tennis is in a good shape with lot of top players and some good upcoming talents like Hayls and Bourgue. Who can be the next slam winners from France?