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Benneteau: We aren’t like South Americans

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Originally published on: 17/04/12 00:00

Julien Benneteau grew up playing on hard courts, which he regards as his best surface, but has had his best results at a Grand Slam tournament on clay at the French Open. The 30-year-old Frenchman believes he has benefited from the special atmosphere at his home Grand Slam event as well as the comparatively quick conditions.

“The balls and the surface are getting faster and faster,” Benneteau said after beating Marcel Granollers 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in his first match at this week’s Monte Carlo Masters 1000 tournament. “Look at Mika [Llodra].  He went further in the French Open draw than in Wimbledon. Playing in the French Open is always very special with the crowd. You can sometimes turn a match around more than anywhere else.

“It's true that my best results in a Grand Slam were at the French, but it's also because I have five or six weeks' preparation before that. We are not like the Ferrers or Nadals or players in South America and get a game established on clay and can play well immediately. I’ve been playing on hard courts since I was 12 and it takes me some more time to get used to the clay. Hard courts are where I feel naturally at ease or comfortable.”

Benneteau’s best performance at a Grand Slam tournament came six years ago when he reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros before losing to Ivan Ljubicic. He reached the fourth round two years later, beating Robin Soderling before running into Roger Federer.

“When you play on clay, you are mainly looking at the French Open and you try to set up a schedule that will get you totally fit for the French Open,” Benneteau said. “Playing on this surface means having a lot of patience and humility. You have to prepare very specifically for this surface and for the long rallies. So for the beginning of the season, I scheduled many tournaments, but also did some physical preparation as well.”

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