March 3, 2005
CARSON, CALIFORNIA, CROATIA vs. USA
TIM CURRY: We'll start the press conference with the Croatian team, a team that began playing in 1993 in Davis Cup competition. They are in the World Group for I believe the fourth year, and have reached the quarterfinals twice before. Open the floor for questions in English first.
Q. Nikki, how do you see Croatia's attitude different towards Davis Cup differing from the United States?
CAPTAIN PILIC: Well, in one point, I don't see the difference because America want to win and we want to win. America has very strong team, extremely strong, and I think we have very solid team which at the moment is in good form. I think Patrick McEnroe think how he will make three points and my thoughts are also how I can make three points. So in that subject, there is no big difference.
Q. Philosophically, the countries look at it differently?
CAPTAIN PILIC: Probably, yes. For us is very, very important. I guess for our Federation, it's also very important to win that match. In America, obviously there is probably a lot of sports that are also very, very important. But for Croatia, I think in that regard it's much more important to win than probably in America, for (indiscernible) anyhow.
Q. Do you welcome Ivan playing your first match? Is that the pairing you had hoped for?
CAPTAIN PILIC: I don't think so there is any more difference if Mario or Ivan playing. The most important is if somebody win the first match. Maybe Ivan had a chance to win the first match if he play good. So, I mean, really it's not big difference who is playing, Mario or Ivan.
Q. Can you explain why Ivo Karlovic isn't on your team?
CAPTAIN PILIC: Why he's not in the team? Because I don't think so he wants to play.
Q. He chose not to play?
CAPTAIN PILIC: Yeah.
Q. You were honored on Wednesday evening in San Pedro. You were given a dinner by the Croatian community there. Were you surprised by the number of Croatians there are in the area?
CAPTAIN PILIC: No.
Q. Do you think that will translate into support?
CAPTAIN PILIC: No, I don't think so. I have a history of Croatian people, and I'm very good in geographic. I knew that a big community is in San Pedro, like 34,000, and in all California is 183,000 Croatian living. One of my far family was also somewhere, I don't know, 70, 80 years coming also in California.
Q. Do you think that will translate into support from the fans over the weekend?
CAPTAIN PILIC: Well, some of the people will be I think pretty loud (smiling).
Q. Has this court been reconditioned for this match?
CAPTAIN PILIC: Well, I guess. Americans are not stupid, they tried to get the best surface for what suits them, like we did a couple years ago in Zagreb. We took the best surface which is good for us. Thanks God that both of my players playing on very similar surface one week before. So there is no big difference.
Q. Do you expect since they've got four guys and you've got two that they'll just try to grind your guys down to make the points very long, basically wear out your two guys?
CAPTAIN PILIC: Sorry, I didn't understand the question.
Q. You're outnumbered.
IVAN LJUBICIC: We have four, too.
CAPTAIN PILIC: We have four, too.
Q. Do you think they're going to wear out your guys?
CAPTAIN PILIC: Well, depends. Depends. If something happen on Friday that the matches are very, very long, and let's say four hours each match, which happen in Hartford that we have against McEnroe and Mayotte, 11-hour day. So take the guy off and somebody else will play doubles. We have four guys, not two.
Q. You've only nominated two.
CAPTAIN PILIC: Yes, yes. But this is our tactic.
Q. Ivan and Mario, can you talk, both of you have had problems with Andy Roddick, talk about why his game causes you problems and what you might try to do to beat him during this tie.
MARIO ANCIC: Well, I mean, both times when I play with him, it was extremely tough match. You know, was couple balls now and then when he played better. But now I feel for sure much more experienced in these situations, and now I feel I'm a better player than when I played before. You know, it's going to be much slower court than where we play. We play both time on grass. No, like I said, I'm feeling extremely good. So, you know, we'll see tomorrow. There's couple things I saw in those matches which I'll try to play on. You know, Ivan play against him, so we talk little bit. But, you know, there's not too many new things. Just playing good on the day.
Q. Mario, you've spent a lot of time with Goran. What is the funniest experience you have had with him?
MARIO ANCIC: I don't think I only spend lot of time with him. All here spend lot of time with him. Unfortunately he's not here. It would be really nice. We all here could learn a lot of him. He was great inspiration for us - not only for me. Maybe will be more expose because we're from same town, but we're all four of us here can learn a lot of him. He's great guy and we had lot of fun with him also.
Q. Nikki, do you expect Agassi to play at his top level because it's a Davis Cup tie or do you think maybe he's been injured a little bit, he's getting a little bit older, that he's not going to be the player we've seen over the years?
CAPTAIN PILIC: Well, Davis Cup could be inspiration for him. But average to take 10 matches, definitely he is not in a level that he was six years ago. But in Davis Cup, probably a guy like him can raise his game on a top level. You never know that. I mean, we will know that on Sunday afternoon late. You can never say a guy like that, that he will play bad or something, because he has lot of experience. I saw him playing many matches against us when I was captain of Germany. I think he is great player, great personality. I would say that these people are always very dangerous because they can raise the game in a high level through the experience.
TIM CURRY: Thank you.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.