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UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE
March 27, 2012
TIM CURRY:Â Thank you, everyone, for joining us today for this media conference call with U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier.Â Earlier today the rosters for the 2012 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas quarterfinals between the U.S. and France were announced.
Mardy Fish, John Isner and the Bryan brothers will represent the U.S.Â France's lineup will include Jo‑Wilfried Tsonga, GaÃ«l Monfils, Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra.
The match will be played on clay next weekend at the Monte‑Carlo Country Club, which is technically in France, so it's a true away tie for the United States.
The matches will be streamed live on USTA.com for the first time ever and will be free so fans can watch the competition over the three days if they are not watching the tie on television on the Tennis Channel.
With that being said, we'll open it up for questions and answers.
Q.Â Jim, a question about Mardy.Â He's won his first back‑to‑back matches in Miami.Â He's leading Almagro right now.Â Just wondering how concerned you are about his state of mind as he expressed in Indian Wells?
CAPTAIN COURIER:Â Well, I'm pleased to be watching him right now streaming on my computer as we talk.Â So pardon me if I get a little distracted.Â He just dumped a backhand at 4‑2, deuce, that he should have made.
More importantly, Mardy is feeling better, having won a couple of matches.Â He's in a better frame of mind this week in Miami.Â He's been working in the past few weeks with Mark Knowles as his coach.Â There is a new voice in his ear.Â That always hits a bit of a refresh button for a player, which it looks like he needed after the start of the season.
Other than Davis Cup, it had been a pretty tough start for him.Â I think he's gotten himself back on track and is back out there fighting, competing and grinding, all those things that he said he wasn't doing after his match in Palm Springs he's been doing in Miami.
He's not playing his best tennis yet, but he's playing better and competing a lot better.
Q.Â A general question.Â Coming off the huge win in Switzerland, what are the keys going into this tie?Â It's a tricky tie, away, clay, France has a lot of variety on their team.
CAPTAIN COURIER:Â The keys are no different.Â I wish there was something really catchy I could give you to say here.Â But they have a deep team.Â The general overview is France is a very deep team, as was Switzerland.
I should rephrase that.
There will be five tough matches.Â Switzerland's team is definitely not as deep as the French bench.Â There are going to be five tough matches for us.Â We have to play our best to stand a chance.Â We did that with Switzerland.Â We'll be well prepared.Â We like the environment.Â We'll be comfortable in Monte‑Carlo.Â We're happy to be playing there and we'll look forward to laying it out there.
But there's really no specific key that I can give you other than just taking our chances when we get 'em.Â Sorry to be so cookie‑cutter, but that's all I've got.
Q.Â Have you selected practice partners for the tie?
CAPTAIN COURIER:Â We have selected a couple of them.Â Ryan Williams, Dennis Kudla are going with us.Â Jay Berger is really in charge of that for us.Â Jay is the one who puts that together.Â I think there's one more, but I don't have it off the top of my head.
TIM CURRY:Â Austin Krajicek.
CAPTAIN COURIER:Â Austin Krajicek.Â There you go.
Q.Â Jim, obviously Mike and Mardy played extremely well in doubles in Switzerland.Â How nice is it to have Mike and Bob both?Â Talk about what a huge asset and confidence that gives you.
CAPTAIN COURIER:Â Well, as a captain, to have the world's best on your team at any level is obviously a great comfort.Â Bob and Mike are a pretty self‑sufficient entity.Â They get out there, they get after it.Â It's pretty remarkable to be on the bench with them and watch how they operate and to see what they do.
Mike and Mardy made a great pickup team in Switzerland.Â But I think it will be to everyone's benefit to have the singles guys focused on singles and getting some rest on Saturday and Bob and Mike getting ready to go to battle on doubles Saturday.
Q.Â Jim, after Andy Roddick's victory last night, was he available at all to play in this?Â Was there any consideration given to perhaps moving him to the team for the Davis Cup tie?
CAPTAIN COURIER:Â You win the prize for asking that question.Â I was wondering who was going to get it.
Look, Andy said pretty clearly after we had our victory in Switzerland as a team that Mardy and John deserved the right to continue on with what they started.Â I agree with Andy's assessment.
Obviously I'm very happy for Andy that he played so well last night.Â I'd love to see him and Mardy square off in the quarterfinals.Â Whoever wins that is a win for U.S. tennis and our team, if that were to take place.
But Andy is not coming, nor was that a consideration on his part primarily or my part.Â But he remains open to opportunities down the line for the team.Â As he clearly stated, if you look back at transcripts, if one of our guys were to be injured, he would be available.Â So that's the kind of team guy Andy is.
Q.Â I was wondering on a day when it's announced basically that Murray isn't playing for his country, Djokovic isn't playing for his, how big is it for you that you have these guys that you can continually count on?
CAPTAIN COURIER:Â Well, you get a prize for asking the 'What's wrong with Davis Cup' question.
Look, I think Davis Cup is a personal decision for players.Â There's sacrifices that are required from the players to be there at Davis Cup ties.Â The scheduling is certainly not convenient for all, and that's why you'll see some players choose to make the sacrifice and some players not.
Our players are firmly committed to Davis Cup at the moment.Â I hope that will remain the case for as long as I'm the captain of the team.Â But I certainly can't promise it.Â The schedule is an imposition on the guys, there's no question about it.
Q.Â Obviously as captain you're a coach in a very, very individual sport.Â My question is about the players who are out there on court, how you talk to them when you feel the momentum is switching away from them, when doubts are coming in and they're struggling.Â I know it's a general question, but can you talk about that process and how you try to switch the mindset, whether it's Mardy or Andy Roddick or whoever is out there.
CAPTAIN COURIER:Â Sure.Â Well, it's an interesting psychological question because you're asked to invade a very private space for players who are used to dealing with those moments by themselves.Â So it's a delicate situation for a new captain, which I am.Â I don't have a lot of time under my belt with these guys, but I'm getting better at understanding what makes them tick and how they like to receive information.
So it depends on the player.
I don't have to give Bob and Mike much information.Â They like positive feedback.Â They certainly want to know if I'm seeing anything, but they're very self‑sufficient and used to having themselves to talk to.
When it comes to Mardy and John, our singles players for this tie, they receive information differently.Â John is more accepting of a lot of information.Â Mardy likes information at times and sometimes he wants to sit and process by himself.
It's my job to take the temperature and know.Â I don't always get it right.Â I'm still trying to figure out how to do that better, be better for the guys on the court, make sure I'm helping them and not getting in their way.
But it's the most interesting piece of the job, I think.
Q.Â So far in terms of the best Courier has done in that aspect in terms of giving a tip, turning the tide, what would be the go‑to example so far in your tenure?
CAPTAIN COURIER:Â Nothing really jumps out at me.Â It all kind of blurs together.
Q.Â Bob and Mike, they're two people but one, dubs specialists, how do they get it together?
CAPTAIN COURIER:Â It's one of the great mysteries.Â I'm not a twin, and I'm certainly not an identical twin, so I don't really know.Â But I'm fascinated by it.
You're better off asking them the question because I'm observing it maybe in a different location than you, but I'm observing it in some cases in the same way.
Q.Â Jim, another question about John.Â He has been playing so amazing, beating Roger, getting to the final in Indian Wells.Â How much benefit do you think there is to being in a team atmosphere, even for someone like him?Â You mentioned you were talking to his coach nightly, but how much can Davis Cup help somebody, especially somebody like John?
CAPTAIN COURIER:Â Well, John is very comfortable with the team environment, having played four years of college ball.Â So I think he likes it.Â I think he feels a responsibility to the team, and that seems to help him focus in.Â It certainly did in Switzerland.
He's getting more experienced at Davis Cup, as well.Â He hasn't played a ton of live matches.Â It will be fun to see how he develops in Davis Cup as well as how he's developing just in general.Â He still has a lot of upside potential.
I do think that Switzerland was a key point for him for this year and possibly for his career as to gaining confidence and playing against the top players.Â He's taken that confidence, had a great run in Palm Springs.
Hopefully he's going to have a big year.Â He's already having a really good one, but there's a lot of big events ahead.
Q.Â Can you talk a little bit about the French team.Â Tsonga has not had his best results on clay.Â Monfils is always a bit of a wildcard with his knees.Â I presume that Llodra and Benneteau are the doubles team.Â What are you thinking they're going to do at this point?
CAPTAIN COURIER:Â I think it's too soon to tell.Â You have to keep in mind that Guy has really until next week to determine who the four players on his team are going to be.Â He could change two of those guys out.Â From what we hear, Simon is going to be there with the team.Â I'm not sure about Gasquet.
So I'm not convinced the four players he presented are the four players that will be nominated come next Thursday.Â They might be.Â But we're not too focused on that.Â We'll be able to focus in on Thursday when we know exactly who Guy nominates and we'll go from there.
Great team he has to work with.Â Great choices.Â So many combinations he can use in singles and in doubles.Â He's done a terrific job over the years.Â He's been a fantastic captain.Â We know it's going to be a tricky one all the way around.
Q.Â The conditions also will be different from Switzerland.Â You'll presumably have a pretty good clay court and you're not going to be at any kind of altitude, right?
CAPTAIN COURIER:Â We will be a couple hundred feet above sea level with a beautiful view.Â Those are nice courts in Monaco.Â It should be an excellent, excellent spot for both teams to compete.
Q.Â Isner on clay; in some ways it's counterintuitive in some ways it's not.Â How do you see him?Â The results have been good and scary for the best guys on it.Â How do you see him going forward?Â What are the perils and promises of clay for him?
CAPTAIN COURIER:Â Well, I think, one, it doesn't matter what surface John is playing on, his serve is going to be a nightmare to deal with if he's having a reasonable day, a normal service day.Â His first and second serves are both so extreme as far as what angle they're coming in from.Â He's I think gaining in confidence in that department, which is something to see.
He's talked pretty clearly about how he doesn't mind clay.Â He's very comfortable on the surface and feels confident he can have good results on it.Â Not having a mental obstacle, that's a big part of the puzzle.
Look, if he has time to set up and put some power behind the ball, as I think I said maybe in December, he's the most destructive force in tennis.Â He's unplayable against if he does what he does very well.Â You just don't have the conversation at all.Â It's one‑way traffic.
The slower surface in some cases might help John.Â I mean, I believe he can be every bit as good on grass as he is on a slow hard court or a slow clay court or a fast hard court.Â I don't think he needs to limit himself to thinking that a slower surface is his best chance to win.Â But I certainly don't think it hurts him.
Q.Â If you put on your analyst's cap here, talk of the state of the men's game.Â Novak hasn't been imperious.Â How do you see the play heading into the spring in the men's game?
CAPTAIN COURIER:Â It feels like they're jostling for positions in a way right now.Â I don't think anything has changed as far as the favorites for the majors right now.Â It's still the top three guys.Â I think maybe Roger has gained in confidence, having won so many big matches in big tournaments here since the US Open last year.
But really Novak is the guy to beat until proven otherwise at the majors.
Q.Â Is Ryan Harrison going to be traveling with the team?Â I know he's not officially been named.
CAPTAIN COURIER:Â No, he's not.Â Unless we have some sort of an injury issue, we'll be going with the four players plus the three practice partners.
TIM CURRY:Â Everyone, thanks again for joining us.
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