Mathieu looks ahead to “new career”
Originally published on: 03/06/12 00:00
Paul-Henri Mathieu began the French Open as the world No.261, but the 30-year-old Frenchman should climb about 70 places in next week’s updated rankings list following his performances at Roland Garros. That may seem like limited progress for a former world No.12, but after a miserable 14 months out of the game while injured Mathieu has been happy with his progress in what he calls his “new career”.
French players have been involved in some outstanding matches in Paris this year and Mathieu has featured in two of them. His five-set victory over John Isner lasted five hours and 41 minutes, which made it the second longest match in French Open history, Arnaud Clement and Fabrice Santoro having battled for six hours and 33 minutes eight years ago. More was to follow in the third round as Mathieu finally went out of the tournament, beaten by Marcel Granollers following his third five-set match in succession. After recovering from two sets down he ran out of steam in the decider.
Mathieu, who was playing with a broken toe, said afterwards: “I'm not saying I'm happy with the third round in a Grand Slam, but I'm proud that I was able to play a Grand Slam. And playing several matches in five sets in a row, I think I turned the page of my first career and now it's something new. I see things totally differently. I'm proud, and this is an encouragement for what is coming up, because I'm able to fight in those Grand Slam matches.”
The Frenchman said his legs had felt heavy against Granollers but his mental strength had pulled him through to a fifth set. “Even in the tough moments I was thinking: ‘Well, with all you’ve had in those past months, you're happy to be there, you have to find a solution.’ So I was trying to say to myself that I didn't feel tired. It's just a pity I wasn't able to do that before. It's difficult to be in that state of mind from the beginning of the match, so it took a while before I was able to get into that state of mind – and that cost me the match.”