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July 2, 2014

Ashley Cooper

Neale Fraser

Rod Laver

John Newcombe

Ken Rosewall


THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Your opinion of what happened yesterday.
NEALE FRASER:  Absolutely fantastic.  Probably the best result from an Australian player in 20 or 30 years.  Maybe 40 years.  Absolutely fantastic.
It shows that we've really got a player that's the real deal and he's here for a long time.

Q.  Ashley, what did you think?
ASHLEY COOPER:  Well, I've watched Nick play a few times as a junior and I didn't know he could play like that.  He's got no fear.  He got his opportunities and he took them.
I think he's got a lot of flair and great potential.
ROD LAVER:  No, I was amazed.  I saw a little of his game down in Melbourne in January.  You know, it seemed like he was raw down there.  He was just bombing away, but hitting big shots.  They weren't all going in.
But he won a bunch of rounds down there.  But just to see how he played against Nadal, with the pressure that was on him, being on Centre Court, I mean, it just showed that he doesn't have nerves.
I think he's got very confident about his ability.¬† That I think makes all the difference.¬† The way he hit his groundstrokes and serving the way he did, as well as he did ‑ I think 38 aces ‑ it seemed like that made everything confident.
I think if you serve well, you're going to play well.  I think that's probably where he sees himself that way, too.
JOHN NEWCOMBE:  The interesting thing is I've called all his matches during this tournament, so I've had a close view of what's happening and how it's transpiring.
Some of you may have seen all his matches.  But he's got better with every match.  Yesterday he got better with every set.
Todd and I are doing the broadcast.¬† After the second set we sort of in a break said, Nadal will step up here and Nick's got to have a letdown somewhere and Nadal will take over the match.¬† Maybe 6‑4, 6‑3.¬† But it's a great match.
He just went from strength to strength.¬† At the end of the third set, you're thinking, What is going to happen now?¬† He got 93% of first serves in in the fourth set.¬† I mean, that's just incredible for a young 19‑year‑old kid.
He comes around to serve for the match.¬† You're thinking, Any nerves?¬† No, no nerves at all.¬† Same against Gasquet when he served for the match after that brutal five‑setter.¬† Saved nine match points and serves it out to love.
He's just going one step higher every time.¬† The question is being asked, How will he go mentally and physically today with a 24‑hour recovery period?¬† Before the match I didn't doubt him, because every time there's been a serious question asked, he just answers it perfectly 10 out of 10.

Q.  I was talking to Rochey this morning, asking him about a letdown.  He said he didn't think there would be one because he felt deep inside Nick expected he might have been able to win the match.  Do you agree with that?
ROD LAVER:¬† I do.¬† Not on your question, but sometimes when you play a match, you win the tournament ‑ not me I'm talking about, but someone ‑ the next match they play, they lose second round.
I don't understand letdowns.  You just played beautifully to win the tournament where you just came from, then you say you're having a letdown.  I never understood that side of it.
Nick has to be that same way.  Just the way he plays the game, you know, he's playing his game, he's not playing the other person's game.  I think that is really a big help.
His confidence is good.  He's got all the shots.  He doesn't have any weaknesses.  Maybe if he has to hit it nice and slow, get it in the court, it might be tough.  If he bombs it, they all go in.
JOHN NEWCOMBE:  We didn't give the senior member a chance to answer the question.  You have more experience than us.  We're probably all wrong.  What is your voice of experience?
KEN ROSEWALL:¬† No, look, I had the experience as a 17‑year‑old my first time on the Centre Court when I was here in 1952.¬† So I know how intimidating it was to be on the Centre Court at that stage.
For Nick to have his first appearance on the Centre Court as a 19‑year‑old, I think it was an amazing performance.¬† I must admit, I hadn't seen him play in previous matches too much this week and only a little bit in Melbourne, but I think it was a fantastic performance.
As Neale said, it's great for Australian tennis, and it's going to encourage a lot of others to work harder.  Hopefully that will include our group of young boys that are about the same age as Nick.  It's really going to put Australian tennis back on a strong point.  It's going to be better in the very near future for Australian tennis.
JOHN NEWCOMBE:¬† Didn't you win the French as an 18‑year‑old?
KEN ROSEWALL:  Yeah.  But the field was pretty weak then (laughter).
ROD LAVER:  They were all just tiny people, were they?
KEN ROSEWALL:  Well, the biggest person I played then was in the semifinal, Ricky Morea, who is here.  He's not in very good physical shape now, but he was from Argentina, about 6'3".  I was 5 foot nothing.  It was quite something.
Like my Australian win earlier that year as an 18‑year‑old, which I wasn't expecting too much, then the same with the French.
But I'd already had a win against Vick Seixas.  I thought maybe I have a chance to have a chance in the semifinal against Vick Seixas, which turned out all right for me.
NEALE FRASER:  I don't know how much of a run he's going to get, but he's on the court enjoying his game.  He seems to love playing tennis.  He's appealing to the public, not like some other players.

Q.  You've got a couple of other young guys who are in the quarterfinals here, Dimitrov and Raonic.  Why do you think it's taken this long for obviously very talented young players to come through to this level?
ASHLEY COOPER:  Dimitrov and Raonic I think are a couple three years older.

Q.  Why has it taken the younger players that much longer to apparently reach their potential?  Is it court speed?  Equipment?  The dominance of the big four?
ROD LAVER:  To me it looks like you've got everybody playing a faster game, maybe serving, big forehands.  You've got to develop that to be competitive.  Say you're not very accurate for a while.  Like the big serving.  I don't know whether Nick was always able to have a big serve when he was 16, 15.
But that's what you've got to have, is almost a complete game that you can improve.  A big forehand and a big serve is how everybody is playing pretty much today.  Yes, they've got good other shots, but that's one of the things that you learn.
Sometimes that takes 19, 20, 21 before you really perfect that feeling of, How do I keep doing it and not be out of position when I do do it?  That feeling I think is there.
ASHLEY COOPER:  Nick has made a tremendous leap in a very short period of time.  Reminds me a little bit of Becker when he first won Wimbledon.  He came from nowhere and actually won the tournament at 17.  No one expected him to even get to the quarters.
Nick's playing tennis that I haven't seen him play before.
JOHN NEWCOMBE:  Sampras did it at the US Open when he won.  Came from nowhere.
ROD LAVER:  He did.
KEN ROSEWALL:  A lot of players have that desire and expertise at 17 and 18, then all of a sudden they're in the senior level and they sometimes find it's a little bit hard.
To mention those players, they might not have done as much as other players, or in the junior areas.  Once they've moved into the seniors, it's taken them a long while to move into their game, feel more comfort about their game.
Maybe that's why it's taken them a couple years to become good.
JOHN NEWCOMBE:  I think with Dimitrov the light bulb didn't come in until Roger Rasheed came in.  Roger Rasheed said, I'm not going to coach you unless the light bulb comes on because it's a waste of time.

Q.  Nick said yesterday after his win that Kokkinakis is better than he is.  Is there any reason for that, do you think?
JOHN NEWCOMBE:  Absolutely.  He's a real talent.  It might take him a little bit longer, but the talent potential is there.  You know, it's a question if they put in the hard work and have the right people around them.

Q.  Is it good to have a group coming through together to kind of spur each other on?
JOHN NEWCOMBE:  Traditionally in Australia when someone makes the breakthrough, the rest of the pack start to get better and better.  The ones with the real talent, they shine through.

Q.  I'm from Canada.  I watched Raonic, and he's serving unbelievably well.  How do you think Nick is going to adjust mentally to a completely different match?  He's going to have to return well, not have many rallies.
JOHN NEWCOMBE:  It's going to be the same for Raonic.  He's going to have to handle what Nick is doing.  The question is who handles it the best way, because they're both playing great.

Q.  A lot of people are kicking Australian tennis over the last 15 years.  Perhaps a couple of false storms with the arrival of new talent.  How encouraging is it to see what's almost a phalanx now of young people coming through?
ROD LAVER:  I haven't seen enough of it.
ASHLEY COOPER:¬† Like Duckworth, Saville, Matosevic is a late‑bloomer.¬† Been around a long time.¬† And Kokkinakis; now with Nick.¬† There's probably a couple of others I can't remember.
But they've got four or five.  If they all work, help each other, keep their feet on the ground, their head out of the sky, we'll see these guys sitting up here more often.
JOHN NEWCOMBE:  The change started about four or five years ago.  The last piece of the puzzle came together when Rafter took over the captaincy of the Davis Cup.
Now he has a tremendous amount of say in who gets what.  I think he's taking a very tough stand on wild cards.  You misbehave, he's not going to pick you on the Davis Cup team.  He's not going to give you a wild card.
The one thing he wanted to do when he took over was to reestablish the culture.  We all grew up with that culture.  Without the culture and the discipline, you're not going to make it.  He understands that 'cause he went through it himself.

Q.  To what extent is that Hewitt cage fighter mentality or attitude, do you think that's filtering down a bit?  Will history judge Lleyton's influence in the coming years?  Will a bit of that filter down?
KEN ROSEWALL:  I'm sure it will because all of the young players know of Lleyton and his attitude towards competition.  Doing 110% every time he's on the court.  I think that's going to have a strong influence with the younger players.
If he's to have anything more to do with the group in the future, I'm sure it's going to be the best thing that can happen.
As John said, I mean, Pat really has been good with the younger players.  Everybody likes him and respects him.  I'm sure they'd do the same thing with Lleyton.

Q.  Obviously these kids would have been eight or nine years old when Hewitt won Wimbledon.  Do you think that is significant?
JOHN NEWCOMBE:  This is going to have a huge effect on the kids that are that age now.  They'll see this wild thing, Centre Court, beating Nadal.
At nine, ten, eleven years of age, you sort of decide, if you're a great athlete, I want to be an AFL player, rugby, cricket, a tennis player.  A lot of super young athletes are going to choose the tennis path now, which is going to help us a lot.

Q.  Some of the players have been talking about the time their peers are taking between points.  When you watch tennis today, does that ever bother you?  If you remember, roughly how long did you take between serves?
JOHN NEWCOMBE:  It didn't happen.  There was one great player.
KEN ROSEWALL:  You're not talking about yourself (laughter)?
JOHN NEWCOMBE:¬† No.¬† He was from the United States that bounced the ball four times.¬† Unless he was down 15‑30, 15‑40.¬† Then he'd bounce the ball 14 times.¬† You'd be waiting to receive serve and you'd start cramping.
ASHLEY COOPER:  That was interesting yesterday between Nadal and Nick.  Nick was straight into it every serve; Nadal did his routines.  It certainly didn't seem to bother Nick.  He didn't waste any time.
KEN ROSEWALL:  Nadal was off for four and a half minutes during the first set.
JOHN NEWCOMBE:  Most opposition players would have sat down and waited for him to come back out on court.  He walked out on the court and was dancing around.
When Rafa walked out, his opponent is out at the back of the court dancing around.  You could see Rafa look and suddenly start hurrying.  He rushed to his chair, rushed out on the court.  I thought it was a pretty cool tactic from Nick.
KEN ROSEWALL:  Rafa shouldn't have been off at all.  If he's going to change his shirt, he can change his shirt on the court within the two minutes supposedly.
NEALE FRASER:  I think something's got to be done about the toilet break.  We never had a toilet break.  It didn't exist in our time.
JOHN NEWCOMBE:  What about the towel?  Can we stop the towel, please?  Hit one ball, towel.
NEALE FRASER:  For him to walk off the court after one set, I think there's something wrong with him physically, mentally, or it's gamesmanship.  You can guess which one I think it is.

Q.  I think we were all impressed with how Kyrgios walked out there on Centre Court for the first time and looked as if he belonged.  Stretching your memories, can you remember the first time you walked out to play a match on that Centre Court, and did you feel as confident as Nick looked?
ROD LAVER:  I think my first association with the Centre Court, I think it was a doubles match.  I played with Bob Mark.  He wanted to serve first, and he did.  Of course, his first two serves, one hit the bottom of the net, the other went way through and hit the baseline.  He was a complete wreck.
But it catches everybody differently.  You know, I didn't mind walking on the court.  I concentrated a whole lot better when I did walk into any of the big occasions, where a lot of times you get a letdown.  They just can't fire.  Their concentration is not there, so they don't play well.  Then they keep folding even further down.
For me, I never did really mind about the Centre Court.  Yes, it gives you some nerves.  Before you walk on you're a little bit apprehensive about how your game will play, who you're playing against.  If you're playing Newk, you better worry.
JOHN NEWCOMBE:  Wish you told me that (laughter).
ROD LAVER:  But it's different for everybody.  I think Nick was just unbelievable, how he did walk out there with his chest up high, straight back, shoulders.  Hey, I'm here.  He wanted to be there.
I was going to head into that one little thing about the serving.  Because Nick serves fairly quickly, he wouldn't let Nadal go down and find a towel and towel off because he was ready.  You know, you're supposed to be ready when the server is ready.
I think it probably jostled Rafa a little bit.

Q.  The LTA have taken the plunge and employed Bob Brett to be our head of player development.  What significant changes do you think he might bring to the sport in this country?  What are his special qualities?
KEN ROSEWALL:  I don't know the situation over here, but I think he's done well from where he's come from with the players that he's handled over the past number of years.
I don't know how they have their grassroots program over here, their leading players program, but I'm sure he's going to help a lot.
JOHN NEWCOMBE:  It's a question that's been asked ever since I've been coming over in the beginning of the '60s.  You haven't come up with a real answer yet.
It seems to me, you know, like I was talking before about the top young athletes, then bringing them through on a culture.
Looked as if you might have been on the right track when Billy Knight used to take the young kids over to Europe, John Barrett.  They were pretty tough with them.  Seemed to be getting somewhere.  Then it just went away.
It's that culture of 100%.  You can't let up.  You have to put out 100%.  You just don't make it.
I don't know, that doesn't seem to be here.  I don't know whether you're getting the best young athletes, but you got great athletes.  You even got more medals than us in the London Olympics.  I don't know if you did in any other.

Q.  Since your days, sports science and everything like that has taken hold.  There's different ways of bringing youngsters through.  Do you think a little bit of a return to the Hopman method might do everyone a bit of good?
KEN ROSEWALL:  Couldn't agree with you more.
JOHN NEWCOMBE:  Absolutely.
ROD LAVER:  All of us were on a touring team or Davis Cup team heading away.
Neale told me yesterday that there were four top players with Sedgman, different ones.¬† The Australian association felt it was good if you could send a couple of juniors.¬† So Neale and Roy Emerson were the juniors with the big‑hit players.
When they were practicing, they're getting such unbelievable practice.  Then you're also looking at Frank Sedgman thinking, How can I ever be this good, when you're just a young 17  year old or 18 year old.  That I think improves you very quickly.
We're all together, and this happens every day when we're practicing.  So I think that helps, a team.  It would be nice if we took four or five of the same group that's out there in Australia right now and see if they can go away as a team.
Now it's so much more individual with the tournaments you play.
KEN ROSEWALL:  They have their own entourage with their coach or father or whatever.  It's hard to work and to travel as one group, just like what you were saying, years ago.

Q.¬† Looking ahead in the future, do you think that the type of player we're going to find on Centre Court looks like Nick ‑ a tall, powerful guy ‑ or is there room in the future for regular people size‑wise?
KEN ROSEWALL:  I don't know.  I wouldn't mind being a losing first rounder for $30,000 or £30,000, so I'm thinking of making a comeback (laughter).
JOHN NEWCOMBE:  I'm hoping the players of the future, as they come up, will have a better understanding of the full court, from the service line to the net, how to advance through that, how to play the right approach shot.
We see Roger now going back to what he used to do when he was younger.  Putting some of those nice chip backhands.  Not worrying about hitting them hard, but he's getting them deep down the middle of the court, giving him plenty of time to get net position, and he's all over the net.
That's the art of playing the net, not hitting it 100 miles an hour and just running in and hoping you get an easy volley.
I'm hoping that the coaches, you know, start teaching the kids the art of net play when they're 10, 11, 12, 13, rather than worrying about groundstrokes.
You add that to the game, you have a beautiful match.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.

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