QUÉBEC CITY, Canada - As the French say, "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose," and indeed, Pauline Parmentier was expecting a big change in what she thought would be the last season of her career. Instead, the 32-year-old is playing better than ever after taking home a second WTA title in 2018, conquering the lightening-quick carpet courts of the Coupe Banque Nationale and closing in on a Top 40 return for the first time in over a decade.
Now ranked No.48, Parmentier is adjusting to this surprising twist in her tennis and feeling pressure-free as she remains in control of her career's exciting new chapter. Over the phone in Québec City, the French veteran discussed the keys to her on-court improvements, compared the emotions of winning on Sunday to capturing the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup in April, and outlined her fall schedule with the aim of maintaining this intriguing momentum.
David Kane: What were your emotions after match point when you won your second title of the season?
Pauline Parmentier: It’s a little bit different than the first one, because the first one, it had been ten years, so it was just amazing, I couldn’t believe it. This week, I was playing really good, and to win the second title, it’s just I’m just really, really happy. I didn’t cry this time! But I was really, really happy.
DK: Did you feel this sort of tennis coming for you this week? Did you feel in practice and matches it was possible to take home another title?
PP: Yes! Not at the beginning, but I was playing good matches, and I knew I was playing good since a few weeks, but I didn’t have a really good draw at the US Open, I played Madison Keys first round. I didn’t win a lot of matches since the clay season, but I had a really good first match here and I was playing better and better every day. Practice was really good, my body was really at peak, so everything was perfect to go through this week.
DK: You've talked about how much you love clay, and I can’t imagine a more different surface than Québec City's. What do you make of the surface and how did you to adjust?
PP: When I said I’d go to Québec, everyone told me, ‘Do you know which surface it is there? Because it’s not really a surface you'll like.’ And I was like ‘Uh-oh!’ Then I arrived here for practice, and I was like ‘Wow, it’s fast!’ But then I was serving good, so I felt pretty good. I’m more surprised to win here than to win on clay, for sure, but, I don’t know.
DK: Does it mean more to have won given that challenge of adapting to a different surface?
PP: Yes, of course it’s a challenge, but every week is a challenge because we have to adapt with the ball, with the surface. Everything is different every week, so I’m used to it, but I couldn’t expect to win here on a carpet court.
DK: Back in the Top 50 for the first time since 2008. What does that mean to be back among that group of players again?
PP: Yeah, it’s unbelievable. I was almost done with tennis, and now I’m back, and I will have almost reached my best ranking, which was No.40. So, I cannot explain this, just that I keep fighting, and now I’m really enjoy the time on tour, because I know it’s almost the end. I really want to take everything as it comes, and for the moment it’s going well.
DK: Is that the mentality you’ve had all year, playing for the love of it? Do you feel like you’re doing anything different on the court or is it just purely mental?
PP: I feel that my game is really consistent. I’m playing better on the backhand, my serve is good, I’m moving well. Maybe the mental is a little bit different because I know I take things a little bit lighter. I try to not stress that much, even if it’s not really easy all the time.
DK: How is your team composed; is it the same time you’ve had for a while?
PP: My coach I’ve had for two-and-a-half years now, it’s a French guy who was playing before, Olivier Patience. He travels with me like 15 weeks, but he’s not here this week, I’m with the physio of the French team this week. I try to go sometimes with her, with the physio, sometimes with my coach, sometimes with my mom - I was with my mom in Istanbul. I try to change because Olivier cannot go to every tournament. He was with me at the US Open and Chicago after.
DK: What match this week did you get the most out of, where you felt best on the court?
PP: The biggest battle was the semifinal against Heather Watson, 7-6 in the third. It was a really, really big fight. We played a really good match, and after I finished yesterday I had to play at 11 this morning. It was a little bit of a short time to recover, but it was the best match of the week.
DK: Being French and getting to be in Québec City, did it feel like a home tournament?
PP: Yes, for sure all the people were really nice with me during all this week. We had a lot of fun, because you know they have a really thick accent here, and some really fun expressions. It was a really good time, we had some good food, restaurants every night. The crowd at the end was cheering for me so it was almost at home. It’s not quite like at home, but kind of.
DK: Looking ahead in the next few weeks, are you heading to Asia?
PP: No, I’m not going to Asia. Normally I have to go to Tashkent. I’ll go home next week and then I have Tashkent, and then I'll play Linz, Luxembourg, an ITF Pro Circuit event in Poitiers, and then the WTA 125K tournament in Limoges. I won’t go to Asia this week because I would have been in qualies before this, so I didn’t want to go.
DK: Having won these titles, being in the Top 50, how does that change for next year, off-season preparation, where you want to play?
PP: It’s strange, because before this one, I was like ‘Okay, I’ll go until the French Open, and then I will see.’ So now I’m like, ‘Okay, I will go until the end of the season,’ so I know that I will make one year for sure. So that’s for sure. And then it makes a little bit change, because I can choose the tournaments, like I can choose the tournament I want to play, it’s easier for scheduling. But I really want to enjoy until the last four months I have to play tennis.
DK: What was your favorite memory of the city or the tournament from the week?
PP: Maybe the time with the people in the player lounge, they were just amazing. We had so much fun. The whole city was just really, really nice.
DK: Congratulations, and I suppose we'll speak again when you win another title?
PP: Exactly, yeah! (laughs)