home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


February 7, 2005

Patrick McEnroe

DAVID NEWMAN: Thanks, everybody, for joining us afternoon's US Davis Cup team announcement with Patrick McEnroe. Before we come to Patrick, just a reminder that the US will take on Croatia in a World Group match March 4 through 6 at the Home Depot Center. One piece of news especially for the Los Angeles and California market, tickets are on sale now through a TicketMaster, 213-480-3232, or at ticketmaster.com. Without stealing any of Patrick's thunder, throw it over to the US Davis Cup captain, Patrick McEnroe.

PATRICK McENROE: Thank you, David. Thanks, everybody, for being on here to make the announcement officially that our Davis Cup team for the first match, first-round match against Croatia will be Andy Roddick, Andre Agassi, Bob and Mike Bryan, and Taylor Dent will also be joining us during the week in Carson leading up to the matches. I'm happy to take any and all questions.

Q. Taylor Dent as a practice player?

PATRICK McENROE: He'll be part of the team. Obviously, the plan is to go with Roddick and Agassi. I wouldn't term Taylor Dent a practice player, no. I consider him part of the team. You know, I've done this numerous times before. Certainly the plan going in would be for Andre and Andy to play the singles. Obviously, that could change.

Q. Is Andre's commitment just for the first match or does it go beyond that?

PATRICK McENROE: Well, you know, we talked at length about a lot of things. I would say we're going to take it one match at a time. To be honest, it's not just this match. To be honest, it's not every match. I think it's a case-by-case situation. You know, he's not coming back simply to play in one match or to play because it happens to be the week before Indian Wells. At the same time I didn't ask him to say, "Are you going to play every match?" I understand where he is in his career, personally, professionally, all the different things on his plate. We will take it one step at a time. The fact is, we have a tough first-round match against Croatia. They have two legitimate Top 30 players. They beat us pretty good the last time we went over there. We're going to try to win this match and take it from there.

Q. How did you get past that stumbling block? I knew you were going to try to tell him -- he was concerned about that aspect, about coming in for one or two matches, not playing every round.

PATRICK McENROE: Well, you know, look, I think we all understand - and I put myself in there because I have my media hat on sometimes as well - we all understand where Andre is in his career. To me, it doesn't make any sense to say to him, "Listen, you've got to play every match." Things happen, things come up, whether it's injuries, whether it's having a tough major, whether it's not having a tough major and maybe wanting some extra matches. I think you have to take all those things into account and understand that Andre is going to make the decision based on a variety of factors. Obviously, his interest in coming back was strong. His interest was in what the guys in the team have started to create as a team, the camaraderie, the chemistry that they've developed. I think Andre saw that from a distance. I think he thought, "Hey, this is something that I'd like to be involved in." Again, I don't feel it would be right to say to him, or to anybody, including Andy and including the Bryans on this, "If you don't agree to play every match, you can't play." It's unrealistic in the day and age of the schedule, how Davis Cup is set up, and the demands of the entire tennis schedule. I feel good about the fact that Andre wanted to come back. I had to do some convincing, obviously, and answer some questions for him. But his interest came from himself. At the end of the day, I think that's what's driving him to come back: to be part of something special.

Q. How hard was the convincing? How long did it take you?

PATRICK McENROE: Well, we had a great dinner, I'll tell you that. Andre was planning on cooking me a nice steak at his house. Due to some things that came up on his home front, we had to suffer and go to one of his classy restaurants in town, which we did. You know, he and I and Darren Cahill, his coach, sat for a couple of hours. I mean, it was at least two, two and a half hours. We talked about a lot of things. We talked about the experiences that Andre had in the past in Davis Cup and also about what I think -- we spoke about a lot of things. We had a great time. I think that we covered pretty much every aspect you can imagine, the commitment that it will take, also his own experiences in the past, and what this team in the last few years has tried to put out there. So it's a great opportunity for tennis. I think it says a lot about the guys on the team in the last few years, that they basically were able to get Andre Agassi interested again in playing Davis Cup.

Q. You went to the Bellagio, is that correct?

PATRICK McENROE: One of the restaurants there, yes. It was very good.

Q. Who picked up the check?

PATRICK McENROE: Who do you think (laughter)? I'm sure the USTA would cover it.

Q. You were less than 50% sure Andre was going to play just a couple weeks ago. What really turned the tide? He always said he really didn't want to commit unless he was going to commit to the whole season. What's changed in the last sort of couple weeks?

PATRICK McENROE: Well, listen, I think Andre has gone about his decision making as far as not just related to Davis Cup, but to major tournaments, to big tournaments, on sort of a case-by-case basis. You know, most of that has been determined by physically how he's feeling, his own responsibilities with his family, now with a wife and with two kids. He has a lot of business that he attends to with his foundation and his charity and all those things, so he has a lot on his plate. He's a great juggler in managing all that. What I just tried to say to him was, "Listen, there's no reason that you can't take the same approach when it comes to Davis Cup. There's no reason why you can't look at your commitment to play in a bigger picture as far as how it relates to preparing you for the majors, taking care of your own business, et cetera, and make those decisions as far as how they relate to Davis Cup just as you make them as far as, what is your schedule before the French Open or do you want to play Queen's before Wimbledon?" I said, "Listen, to me it's wrong that you would make this decision so flat out and say, 'No, absolutely not.'" None of us like the Davis Cup schedule. It's not perfect. If it were perfect, it would be played once a year or once every other year and there would be no doubt about the top players playing every single time, just like there's no doubt that the top players play ever major, assuming they're healthy. Obviously I'm sure Andre will answer some questions down the road, I think that struck a chord with him. So you all know, he wanted to call each member of the team personally before he made the final decision, which he did. He spoke to each guy on the team to make sure that they understood the scenario and the situation with him wanting to come back; not necessarily he's going to play every match, but maybe he will. Obviously, as I told him, I felt like all the guys that were part of the team last year would welcome him back because it makes us a better team. It certainly brings more of a buzz to Davis Cup. I certainly think that some of our players can learn from Andre, and I think that's important to him, as well.

Q. I presume you've spoken to Spadea and the other guys.

PATRICK McENROE: I've spoken to pretty much everybody, yeah.

Q. I mean, concerning that Dent is sort of your fifth guy, what has been your reaction from Vince?

PATRICK McENROE: Everyone I've spoken to has been very positive about it. You know, look, everybody understands that Andre is in a unique situation and everybody understands how much he put into Davis Cup in his 12 years playing, and it was a lot. So everyone gives him the respect that he deserves. He's going to bring a lot to the table. In addition to just what he brings as a player right now, I think overall how he can help our young players will be tremendous, not just this year but down the road. They all know that their future is still going to hopefully have Davis Cup be a part of it, whether it's Dent, Fish or Blake or Spadea, if he gets back in there. It's all been positive, at least from what they've told me.

Q. In addition to what you're hoping will be two singles points, can you talk about off the court more specifically, what having Andre Agassi as part of the team, what otherwise is a pretty young team, what having him there brings?

PATRICK McENROE: Well, you know, Andre is meticulous in how he prepares for things, whether it's having me to dinner in Vegas or whether it's a Davis Cup match, how he goes about his training regimen. That's why he's still playing top-level tennis approaching his 35th birthday, because he's a great player, but also because he takes it very seriously. When he goes out on the court to practice, he doesn't waste any time. He takes care of his business, and he takes care of his other responsibilities, which are big. Come up with another player that's had more sort of off-the-court stuff and sort of responsibilities to deal with in tennis than Andre. There aren't that many of them. He handles it all with a lot of class and professionalism, bringing that I think to our young guys, who obviously have done a great job in getting to where they are, but you can learn a lot from Andre. Andy's already spent some time with him, a lot more time I think in sort of the last year and a half. They've played some exhibitions together. They've practiced together. I know he's looking forward to having Andre there just sort of day in, day out, during the week of preparation to learn from him. And Andre is the kind of guy that can learn from other people, too. He's not past the point where he thinks that he knows it all. So I think it will be a two-way street. But certainly the Bryan boys have said a dream of theirs is to be on the same team at Andre Agassi. If that could make them any more pumped up for a Davis Cup match, I guess it will.

Q. You would say that the US is guaranteed a victory this year, right?

PATRICK McENROE: I am no Patrick Ewing, okay? I will not make that, but I'm guaranteeing that the experience for all of us is going to be that much better. Obviously, if you win, it's a better experience. I think it gives us a better chance to win. To be honest, I think we all know that. At the same time, it may not necessarily be Roddick, Agassi and the Bryans, whether it comes down to who is playing best, whether it comes down to surface, whether it comes down to injuries, et cetera. We're still going to need some other players I think to step in. That's why I'm happy that Taylor Dent will be there for the practice and be prepared. Certainly he could be a factor before it's all said and done on our team.

Q. As I look at the draw sheet, the strong clay court teams in there, Chile and Spain, would both be home to the United States if the US was fortunate enough to get that far. The final very possibly could be in Argentina. Did you and Andre talk that "If you only feel comfortable playing one more tie, we need you for a clay court match in Argentina if it comes to that"? Did you talk about clay court?

PATRICK McENROE: We didn't get to that point, no. As I said, my goal was to get Andre back for the first round. We got to win the first round, to be honest, before we can get further down the road. Let's put it this way, and Andre never told me this, nor did I ask him, but I'd be shocked if we won the first round and that was the only match that Andre played. Obviously, a lot of things can happen. Maybe he wins Wimbledon and he retires. Who knows? I'm just saying there's so many things that can happen over the course of this year, and that's one of the things I stressed with Andre. He says, "Look, I'm reevaluating how much longer I want to play constantly." Of course, he's constantly getting asked questions by the press about it. Meanwhile, he's still playing top tennis. So that's something he's got to deal with himself fairly regularly. The answer to your question is, no, we didn't bring it up. I wanted to get Andre back in the fold. I think he's going to have a great experience. I think that will impact his decision-making as we go along.

Q. What was the side dish at dinner?

PATRICK McENROE: There was a lot on the menu. We had a little fish. We had a lot of everything. Very, very solid.

Q. Obviously in Australia Federer pretty much dominated with his serve, and Andre it seemed really couldn't break down Federer's backhand. How would you compare today's Agassi with Agassi at his peak?

PATRICK McENROE: Well, I for one thought Andre came out of the gates in that match going for too much. I thought he almost came out with too much respect for Federer.

Q. Did that surprise you?

PATRICK McENROE: It surprised me a little bit, yeah. I mean, I knew that I think Andre thought he would have to go a little bit bigger than normal. But I thought he went too much to that extreme. I think he was almost so pumped up for it that he almost got too excited, which is surprising because Andre's played so many big matches. To be honest, that was another selling point I used for him about Davis Cup. I said, "Listen, I don't think it can hurt you to play a couple of big matches in Davis Cup, a couple of best-of-five situations, to keep you sharp and to keep you ready when you get to that quarterfinal at a major and you're playing a Federer or Safin or Roddick or somebody like that," because maybe he's not getting enough of those matches. So I think he listened to that. As far as where he is, clearly he's not the dominant guy he was, but he's also playing a more limited schedule. In my mind, he's playing top four, top five tennis. He's played last two majors. He certainly played Federer as well as anybody did at the US Open last year. Obviously, it was more one-sided at Australia. But he beat Johansson in four sets, who is playing top 10 tennis. You know, come up with a couple other players that have beaten him since the summer last year. It's pretty clear to me he's a top five player.

Q. Is there such a thing in tennis as aura? Can you talk about that? Andre Agassi, whether he's on the bench or on the court, does he bring an aura, an intangible?

PATRICK McENROE: Well, there's no doubt about that. I mean, I was lucky enough to be on a Davis Cup team with Andre. I can tell you from that experience that he's a leader. He's a natural leader. He's a guy that is so gung-ho. One of the reasons he didn't play Davis Cup, strikingly enough, was because he was so gung-ho about it, because he felt like he didn't have what it takes to give, is what he said numerous times. I'm extremely happy, not from just a front of it gives us a better chance to win, but because of his aura, because of what he brings to the table as a person, as a competitor. I think that will help Davis Cup in this country. I think that will help our younger players, in addition to what he does off the court, quite obviously makes it a bigger event.

Q. What does this do to change the atmosphere? How much does this add to the event?

PATRICK McENROE: Well, hopefully it's going to make tickets go a lot faster, I can probably guarantee you that. But, as I just said, I think it makes it more of a happening. I really feel that our guys on our team have got Davis Cup back with a lot of energy in the last couple of years because of the emotion they bring, the success that we've had. We haven't won it, but we've made the semis, we've made the finals. We had tremendous support in Delray Beach, Winston-Salem, Oklahoma City, Charleston last year. We've had a lot of really great Davis Cup weekends. You know, in my mind, it's like these guys have set the table, and now Andre's coming to sit at one end of the table, Andy is at the other end and the Bryans are each on one side. In my mind, it helps the whole situation. It helps our guys feel like, "Hey, we've got our best team now." One of the big frustrations for me always as a captain was to feel like, "Wouldn't it be great if we could play everybody with our best team." Now we're going to have the possibility this year to do that.

Q. If you had to put a number on it right now, how many events would you say Andre will play in?

PATRICK McENROE: I can't put a number on that, but I'm going to start with one and take it from there.

Q. He had been so steadfast about, "I'm not interested in playing," since he played that LA tie. How surprised were you that he said he had an interest?

PATRICK McENROE: Well, I always knew that when you talk to Andre and you look him in the eye and you mention Davis Cup, his eyes flicker a little bit. He's got a lot of great experiences about Davis Cup. So I always kept him in the loop as far as what we were doing with the team, if he ever changed his mind, I talked to him often about playing again. When I spoke to him after we won the semifinal last year, he sort of hinted to me at the time that he was considering -- it was something he was considering for next year, meaning this year. We spoke in Australia a couple times. I spoke with Darren Cahill during the tournament. When Andre went back to Vegas after he lost, I called him a few days later. When I spoke to him on the phone, he basically was still extremely hesitant. In fact, he told me if he had to commit at that time, he'd have to say no. But I sensed it was worthwhile for me to jump on a plane. I just sensed that he was still teetering. If there was a chance of him still coming back, I said, "Listen, would it help if I came to visit, stopped on my way back from Australia?" He said, "You're more than welcome. It would be great. We'll sit down and talk." I sort of took that as a green light that, "Hey, there's still a chance." In my mind, I had to exhaust that possibility as the captain, for the good of our team, to try to get Andre understanding all of the variables. I still wasn't sure when I left Vegas Tuesday morning. I flew home. Andre called me the following day, I think it was Wednesday, and told me that he wanted to play. I didn't know at all until he called me. He wanted to talk it over with his wife, with his team. But I think I was able to answer some of his questions and some of the dilemmas that he was facing and push him over the top. As Darren Cahill told me when we spoke in Australia, he had to see the look in Andre's eyes. Andre has to be into it. I'm happy to say that he is into it, and he wouldn't be coming back if he wasn't a hundred percent sure of coming back, because that's the way he does things.

Q. Did you get a sense at all during all of this of where Darren was leaning?

PATRICK McENROE: Well, Darren's Australian, so he's got a nice place in his heart for Davis Cup. Darren's job is to be there for Andre and to basically talk everything out with Andre and go through the positives and negatives. I don't think he was saying no, to be honest, but at the same time you've got to take the lead from Andre. Obviously, he was helpful because at the end of the day Andre said yes. I've spoken to Darren a couple of times, and we've already started talking about things in preparation. He seems extremely gung-ho about it.

Q. There was a lot of talk in Australia, obviously three Top 10 players pulled out of Davis Cup, then there's always frustration that the US may not be always as interested in Davis Cup. I don't think the rest of the world considers how much competition tennis has with other sports. But what do you think this does for the US in saying to the rest of the teams, "Look, we're putting our best foot forward," and a number of the other teams have had some of their top players pull out?

PATRICK McENROE: To be honest with you, that's not my concern. I could bang my head against the wall all day and go to conclude captains meetings and state my opinion. The bottom line is it doesn't matter. The bottom line is, you're right, there are top players that have already said they're not playing. The reason they're not playing is not because they don't care about representing their country, it's just that at some point it's too much. At some point, all the responsibilities of being a top player, for better or worse, it's just a fact. You can argue all you want, "They should still play for their country no matter what." I would love them to do that. Imagine if Agassi had played the last four years, we probably could have won this thing once or twice. But that doesn't happen. You've got to deal with the reality of the situation. I'm excited because when I took the job, I wanted to get our guys that were really committed and that were showing a lot of enthusiasm and energy, obviously being great players that we have now in Roddick, the Bryans, the other guys that have stepped in, have done a great job. They deserve a lot of credit for rebuilding the buzz back in Davis Cup. That buzz is part of the reason Andre is coming back. I try not to think too much about that bigger picture because I'm going to get too frustrated. So I'm just going to be happy that we've got a good thing going. I think we're going to do great in LA. Let's hope that we take it from there. You've got to focus on the positives. Sure, we would love Davis Cup to get more pub in the US, et cetera. It is what it is. We love it. The players are committed to it. I think that counts.

Q. Does location have any influence on how Andre is looking at this? If we stay in the US, is he pretty much committed or does that make a difference? Did he say?

PATRICK McENROE: Well, I would say -- I'm not going to go either direction as far as, I wanted Andre to play the first match. I look at every match on sort of a case-by-case situation. As I just talked about the frustration of Davis Cup and the schedule overall, may be the only way to go about that, because of the physical pressures and the mental pressures on all the players, particularly the top guys that are holding a lot of responsibility for their own country and then playing the Masters, all the big tournaments, the slams, et cetera. Certainly home matches I think is a better shot. But Andre and I did not talk about, "You're definitely going to do this, you're definitely not going to do that." We're going to have an open discussion and we're going to understand where he's at physically and mentally, what his schedule looks like, where we play the next match. The first thing is taking care of Croatia because they've got a darn good team. Ivan Ljubicic won three points against us a couple years ago. Not too many players have done that against the US ever. We've got our hands full in the first match. I'm happy to have Andre back for that one. We'll cross the next bridge hopefully when it arises.

Q. You mentioned somehow it would also depend on how people were playing at the time. Would you do something like Spain did with Juan Carlos Ferrero with Agassi, if he weren't playing well at the time, would you pull him?

PATRICK McENROE: Well, I mean, look, obviously -- can I repeat what I just said? We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. If I'm going to pull Andre Agassi from a Davis Cup match, that means that -- that must mean we've got some players playing darn well, okay? So far that wouldn't have been an option at this point. If it gets to that, then I've got a good problem on my hands.

Q. Did Andre, watching the US team lose in Seville, think, "Well, if I was there, maybe we would have had a better shot" go into any kind of decision about this year? As you were talking about before, you asked him last fall, Andy asked him last fall, the Bryans asked him to play last fall.

PATRICK McENROE: You know, I didn't get that indication from him. I think it was building for a lot longer than that. I think Andre saw from afar what these guys have brought to the table and how their passion and their camaraderie and their teamwork was something that I think he wanted to be part of. Whether or not it was one particular match... He wasn't over the edge certainly when I spoke to him in Australia. It wasn't like he said right after Spain, "Hey, I'm in. I want to win this thing." He wants to win it. But, as I told him, this is a bigger picture than just us wanting to win. For me it is anyway. Look, we want to win, obviously. But at the same time I think it would be great for tennis. I think it would be great for Andre. For all Andre Agassi has done in Davis Cup, the fact that people say, "Hey, how come Agassi doesn't play Davis Cup" is to me a crime. I think with him coming back and playing under the right conditions, his legacy should be written in a positive way. This is a guy who carried the Davis Cup team for many years and was a big part of what the US was doing.

Q. Four days before you went there, Andre talked about it, and he sounded pretty much like how he sounded back in the fall, saying he loved Davis Cup, had great memories, but he still had the same questions that he always had. When you sat down with him at dinner, what was the pertinent question that you had to answer for him that took him over the mountain this time?

PATRICK McENROE: I'll tell you what it was for me. I'm not going to put words in Andre's mouth because he's one of the great speakers out there. I'm sure he'll answer some of those in the following week when you guys speak to him. I will just say from my standpoint, Andre was having a dilemma about committing to play every single match, and something that he always felt was extremely important when it came to Davis Cup, and the reality that it was going to be very difficult for him to do that. You know, just clearly 100%, yes, I can play every match, no matter what. I told him, "Listen, I'm not asking you to do that, nor are any of the guys on the team, nor does anybody expect that you're going to do that right off the bat." I don't expect him to do that. If it comes to it, when it comes to those questions, we'll sit down, we'll talk about it. There's too many things that can happen between now and the next match, if we somehow get past Croatia, then between that match and the semifinals if we somehow get there. As I said to Andre, "Don't cut off your options by saying it's all or nothing, because to me it's not." We've never had a year where we've had the same four guys every match. It's too unrealistic for that to happen, with injuries, with different surfaces, with schedules, you name it. For him to make that decision, I just tried to convince him that to me that wasn't a deal-breaker. Nobody is going to question him in a way that is saying, "Hey, you're pulling out of Davis Cup just because you don't want to play." He's going to make decisions based on how his body's feeling, how much work he's put in on the court, how well he does at the majors, et cetera. We're going to make that decision together. I and the rest of the team understands how we're going to approach each match.

RANDY WALKER: Thank you, Patrick, for joining us today. See you in Carson March 4, 5 and 6.

End of FastScriptsâ?¦.

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297