Veteran Nicolas Mahut will play on a stacked French team at the inaugural ATP Cup, to be held 3-12 January. Mahut, along with countrymen Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon, Benoit Paire and occasional doubles partner Edouard Roger-Vasselin, will look to outplay Serbia, South Africa and Chile in Group A in Brisbane.
Mahut talked with ATPTour.com about his French pride and his hopes for next month’s ATP Cup.
Which French players did you watch growing up as a kid and what did you like about them?
I started to watch tennis and really became a tennis player when I watched the Davis Cup final in 1991 with Guy Forget and Henri Leconte. They were my heroes at the time.
If you could take one stroke from any of your ATP Cup teammates and add it to your game, what would you take?
I would say Benoit Paire’s backhand. He can hit winners from everywhere. I would take Gael Monfils’ athleticism. He is the best athlete on Tour for me, one of the best. I would [also] take his serve.
If you were to have a team dinner, which player would most likely be late?
Definitely Gael. Or it would be a contest between Gael and Benoit, but I would say Gael.
What is your favourite thing about Australia?
The people. I love Australian people… It is funny because when you arrive from Europe and you arrive at the security, you know you are in Australia already. The weather, of course, but if I had to pick one I would say the people.
What are the things you love most about France?
Wine, food and I think in France you can stay in every part. You have mountains, you have sea and you have big cities. Paris, of course.
What are your memories of playing in teams, and what do you like about being part of a team?
I played in all the teams since I was 14 in France. I played under-14, under-16 and under-18. To me, French teams are really important. When you play tennis you are mostly alone on the court or sharing good or bad moments with your coach. For once a year, you are with your teammates wanting to achieve the same goal. It is what I like in team sports.
What are you most looking forward to about the ATP Cup?
It is a brand-new competition. I am really excited that we are going to have a new captain that will be Gilles Simon. I am really excited to be on the court, with him on the bench. That will be a really good experience. We will start in Brisbane and hopefully finish in Sydney. I want to see how this works. I am really excited about this competition.
Do you like hearing from a captain who can give you tips on the court during a match?
I like being on court with a captain, especially Gilles, who is a good friend of mine. Tactically, he is really strong. He can see quick on the court and I really look forward to it.
Can you sing 100 per cent of your national anthem?
Of course. When you grow up in France, this is something you learn at the beginning at school. Every French [person] knows the national anthem.