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January 29, 2015

Lleyton Hewitt

Wally Masur

Patrick Rafter


DARREN PEARCE: We'll start with a short statement from Pat Rafter, followed by questions.

PAT RAFTER: Thanks, everyone. I'm officially stepping down from Davis Cup captaincy. Wally Masur will take over as interim Davis Cup captain. Lleyton will then fill the spot when the time is right and ready. That will start as of pretty well right now. Wally will take on the first role in the Czech Republic and form his team and run his team how he feels it needs to be run. Lleyton being such a dominant part of our Davis Cup team for so long will be of strong assistance with Wally. So that's where we are right now.


Q. Why now?
PAT RAFTER: In December this year, January, started getting a lot more heavily involved with the job, especially in January. Sitting down during the Brisbane tournament, running over everything that had to be done, has to be done, just realized it's a really big job. I just can't do both roles.

Q. You would have had to dealt with some of the guys, as well, and this gives you carte blanche to deal with them if need be?
PAT RAFTER: Probably a little bit of that, but I think we've formed a pretty good relationship as well. I think we've had this mutual respect. I'm not always telling them what they want to hear, but I think it's right message sometimes. I think we sort of respect each other, all the guys on the team. A lot of it also has to do with the academy space, and also the women as well. I just feel for me to do the role that I need to do, I can't be traveling all over the place in this initial six months for sure. I just got to knuckle down and get things going.

Q. Wally, what does the term 'interim' mean for you?
WALLY MASUR: Exactly that. When Pat started talking to me about this, it was a case of we have a former No. 1, as our performance director. Lleyton has an undeniable link with Davis Cup and he will be captain one day. It's not in the model in Australian tennis to have a playing captain as such. Obviously spoke to Lleyton a few days ago about it, and we've come to the arrangement that he's still a player, he still has a career to flesh out and see where that ends. Until that happens, I'll be captain. I think, too, we have great stability in the sense that we have Tony Roche and Josh Eagle, head of men's tennis is involved. They've formed great relationships with the guys. Having worked with these two over the last couple years with Davis Cup, when Pat asked me, it was a pretty easy decision to make. I think it helps facilitate these two guys be involved in the way they want to be involved and hopefully make a seamless transition.

Q. It's a pretty high position in Australian sport. You must be proud.
WALLY MASUR: Yeah, look, I was involved with John Fitzgerald as coach. I was coach for a number of years and Fitzy never let me be captain. Never forgiven him for that (smiling). I have to say, the best memories I have of tennis is playing Davis Cup and being involved. These guys were a big part of the team when I was involved with Fitzy. You're right. Even though I'm involved in an interim fashion, and it certainly wasn't the way I accepted the Davis Cup role in the first place, you're right, very important in terms of Australian tennis. Pretty lucky to have Lleyton who has been the backbone of the team for so long, That he wants to be involved going forward, that Pat wants to be involved as a performance director. If you look at the other countries, it's almost unique. It says something about the fraternity of tennis in this country that they do.

Q. What does it say about your role, especially the Australian Open 2016?
LLEYTON HEWITT: I've thought long and hard. I plan to play the Aussie Open next year and most likely finish then. Obviously for me the Davis Cup is something we've worked extremely hard to put ourselves in a position in the World Group where we have a genuine shot. I believe with the guys now we have a lot more options, a lot more depth. I feel like I can still put my hand up as a player and help the boys get over the line. Whether that's singles, doubles, whatever is needed. Right at the moment that's the main focus for us. Personally I'll be looking towards the grass court season and most likely finishing here in Melbourne, which for me would obviously be special to play 20 Australian Opens.

Q. You're not entered anywhere in the next month. The Davis Cup is the next big thing for you?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, no, there's opportunities. I may hit with some of the guys here as well, some of the younger guys in Australia before getting over to the Czech early and getting prepared for that match. But, yeah, for me the main focus is Davis Cup, then obviously the grass court season after that.

Q. Does that mean you'll skip the French?
LLEYTON HEWITT: Most likely. Most likely.

Q. How is the body holding up in terms of next year? How do you see yourself? Nurse yourself through this year?
LLEYTON HEWITT: No, my body's fine. As I said, I think I trained harder probably than anyone in the off-season. I had probably the longest pre-season ever, probably three months. Yeah, the body feels great at the moment. That's the only reason why I want to keep playing. I'm excited about the prospect obviously of still being able to play Davis Cup. I've been waiting a while for these young guys to come and for us to have an opportunity of going deep. I think we have a real shot at trying to upset Czech away from home. It's not going to be easy, but I give us a real good opportunity there.

Q. Pat, how would you rate your time as Davis Cup captain? When you started, we were out of the World Group; now back in.
PAT RAFTER: First few years were certainly a learning curve, trying to get a relationship with the guys. I'd been out of the game for quite a while. Just sort of stepping back into it was interesting. And then I guess it's had its ups and downs just with the different players and me trying to stamp some sort of authority, which sort of backlashed on me a little bit. I always expected the guys to work hard, train hard, and then we can play hard after, as well, and enjoy it, because Davis Cup should be enjoyed. You also play in a team environment. I felt like all the guys put in pretty well. I formed some really good relationships and friendships with the guys. I got to know them very well, on a level some good and some bad. At the end of it, I can sit down and have a beer with the guys in 10 years' time.

Q. Do you think Pat has weathered the storm, he's gone through the tough times, and now you come in?
WALLY MASUR: Funny you should say that. Last time I took over the role we had Rafter, Philippoussis and Hewitt and the Woodies. Timing is everything, which is why I talked Pat out of the role and talked myself into it. I think it's important, too, that those young guys have somebody a bit more contemporary to deal with over the course of the Davis Cup fortnight (smiling).

Q. Team selection, is it becoming more difficult now?
WALLY MASUR: But in a positive way. Absolutely in a positive way. You go through that process. There's still a few tournaments to be played prior to the Davis Cup in March. You assess those events, see where everybody's at health-wise. We have to make a decision. Tony Roche and Josh Eagle will be a part of that as well. As Pat mentioned, just given Lleyton's role within the team, it's going to be someone that we bounce ideas off, too.

Q. Have all the guys put their hands up to play the next tie?
PAT RAFTER: Yep, they have.

DARREN PEARCE: Thank you, everyone.
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