January 9, 2001
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
JASON STOLTENBERG: I have some good memories from last year. It's always nice, providing the weather gets better.
Q. You're having a lot of fun, Jason, with your tennis at the moment?
JASON STOLTENBERG: Yeah. I had a nice break at the end of last year and, yeah, it's always nice to come back after feeling fresh. And playing in Australia is always much nicer. I've had some good results here the last few years, so, yeah, it's always nice to come back to Sydney and play. I feel good.
Q. Do you attribute your results to having a break? (Inaudible)?
JASON STOLTENBERG: Yeah, pretty much the same. I just had a good break. I think a break, for me, is sort of getting away from travelling and getting away from tournaments and the same people every week. And, yeah, I didn't do anything different. It's just feeling fresh. I feel like I play well when I'm fresh. No real secret. Just doing the same thing, having a good break, and, you know... Plus, I am playing quite well on top of that. So it's a combination of a few things.
Q. Have you played many tournaments before this?
JASON STOLTENBERG: I played a few tournaments in October in Asia. And so from the beginning of September -- well, say the end of August until January I played three tournaments.
Q. How do you compare your form in 2001 compared to 2000?
JASON STOLTENBERG: I guess it's pretty much the same. I felt like I played well in Adelaide last year. I lost to Lleyton in the quarters. Yeah, it's pretty much the same. Semis there this year. I felt I was pretty close to winning a tournament. I felt if I could have beaten Haas, I had a good chance in the final. Semis are still a good result. Once again, I feel good. You know, when I feel like that, I think anything can happen. And going in, there's not much pressure. I'm just playing relaxed.
Q. Can you talk about the draw.
JASON STOLTENBERG: Yeah, it's probably the hardest draw I could have got here. Personally, it was a very tough match for both of us, and hopefully, we won't have to do it again. It's a bit of an unusual friendship. We've got a very close friendship, and we put that ahead of tennis. And today, I think we both struggled to perform at our best, but I think Scotty was probably at 50 percent at best. You know, it was just -- I hope people didn't mind. But I think it was just a tough situation and one we're glad it's over. Didn't really matter which way it went. It was a no-win situation.
Q. Between the two of you, you conceded quite a few points (inaudible)? Did that about sum it up?
JASON STOLTENBERG: Summed it up. It wasn't a tip-top match, and I can honestly say having won the match, I really would have been happy if I had lost. I think Scott felt the same way. But, you know, we're tennis players. This is what we do. We got to go out and treat it like a normal match, but it was very hard to do that today. I think certain things come before a tennis match, and friendship's one of them. And it's a very -- it's a friendship that, you know, I hold dearly. I didn't want to jeopardize that today, not that it was -- anything was going to change regardless of what happened. But it was difficult.
JASON STOLTENBERG: Yeah, it was tough. We had been talking about it. We actually had to sit down yesterday and talk about how we were going to attack it, because it was difficult. And I think we both, from the first two sets, there was no intensity there. We kind of expected that. We decided we were going to go out there and just give it our best shot and whoever wins is going to win. But the third set, we kind of changed our agreement. We said, "Let's go for it the third set and see what happens." The tennis was a little bit -- I thought the tennis was okay. But once again, the intensity wasn't quite there that normally is, and I'm just glad it's over.
Q. You must have walked away when you won the first set, (inaudible.)
JASON STOLTENBERG: Yeah, I think I was down Love-40 there, 5-4, 4-all or something, 5-all. Yeah, it was an up and down match. I was down a break in the third. You know, it just kind of turned quickly. Scott made a few unforced errors and didn't put me away like he normally would. It could have gone either way. I honestly couldn't have cared either way.
Q. Did you just feel you as you went through a bit of a flat match? It was really hard to get up for that match?
JASON STOLTENBERG: Yeah, I think it was a bit of a flat one all over. We played what I thought was a decent match. We didn't play bad. It wasn't a bad match. But, yeah, we kind of expected it. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. But, bottom line, we're professional tennis players. We drew each other, big deal. We got to go out and play. But it's a situation that probably Scott and I can only appreciate, and it was tough.
Q. Would it be fair to say that it really wasn't a match you wanted to play?
JASON STOLTENBERG: Oh, I never want to do it again. Yeah, obviously. As soon as I saw the draw, I said to my wife, I said, "Oh, God, can you believe it?" She said, "Go out and play, don't care what happens." And that was what I did. So, yeah, it was a tough draw. We'll probably have to do it again perhaps one day, but we'll get through it. I mean, it's just a tennis match.
Q. Strange, first time you ever played him.
JASON STOLTENBERG: Yeah. Was.
Q. How long have you been friends?
JASON STOLTENBERG: Geez, I don't know. When Scott came on the Tour, I guess, we got quite friendly with him and with his wife Kellie. We're all good friends. Scott and I, it's a little bit unusual.
Q. Why? Tell us about it.
JASON STOLTENBERG: Oh, no. I just -- obviously with his wife Kellie, we were very good friends. And I don't want to go in to too much, but we've been through quite a few things, and we're very close. So like I said, some things are more important than a tennis match. We understood that going into it and understand it now.
Q. Obviously, when Kellie got sick, you and your wife were there to help Scott.
JASON STOLTENBERG: Oh, yeah.
JASON STOLTENBERG: Yeah, we have. A lot of other players have, too. We're not the only ones. He'll tell you, he got a tremendous amount of support from everyone. But, yeah, it's tough. I mean, I've played a lot of my friends in matches, and today was exceptionally tough.
Q. Everyone wants him to get an even break.
JASON STOLTENBERG: Yeah, me included. Me included. There's no other player in the draw I'd rather see get through than Scott. But I think really, today, like I said, he was probably playing well below what he can play. That was just because of his emotions. And I do believe he's on the way back. He's done a lot of work in the last four months to prepare for this Australian summer. But it's just one match. It's one week. We've got the Australian Open next week. He'll bounce back. I mean, he's done too much work to not bounce back, and he'll be all right.
Q. Was it a bit teary at the end?
JASON STOLTENBERG: Teary, no. I mean --.
Q. Because the emotions can get the better of some people. There's nothing wrong with getting it all out.
JASON STOLTENBERG: Oh, we're human. No, you know, it was hard, I mean, to look him in the eye and try to look like you're happy. I mean, that was tough.
Q. Do you feel that you're capable of getting on further this year?
JASON STOLTENBERG: You never know. Being in Sydney last year, I probably didn't expect to make the final and I did. Last week was a good week. So, you know, funny conditions, playing in Australia, I'm used to playing in Australia obviously. So it's home crowd. I mean, anything can happen. This draw's so tough that you just -- you can't get a break. So it's one at a time and try to get through the next one. I think it will be Pioline or Bjorkman. Very hard match.
Q. Scott said the other night that he's moved on. He's ready to move on. As a mate, have you seen a change in him?
JASON STOLTENBERG: I have. It's been a slow process, but he's shown tremendous courage the whole time. He's amazed me and everyone else. Yeah, he has. I think in the last four months, he took a break after the US Open and went home, and I think -- I can notice a big difference in that time. So he's committed himself to his tennis again, which is great to see because he is one of the -- one of Australia's greatest talents, I think. He hasn't really had a chance to give it a real good shot. I hope now that he will. Because I think if he gets going, you know, you don't know what the limit is. He's got so much potential. It's just a matter of doing the hard work. He's got a few -- a couple of injuries. If he can manage those, then he'll be good.
Q. Do you talk about playing doubles?
JASON STOLTENBERG: We used to, but we could never get serious. We used to play doubles. We played here actually, last year. We played the Australian Open once or twice. But we have. I've tried not to play too much doubles. I feel like now, as I'm getting later in my career, I'd rather try to focus on the singles. And basically I just want to just play that. I don't have the energy to go out and play doubles. You know, I have to try and look after my body. If I can just play singles and prepare for the next singles match, it makes it easier. I probably won't play in Melbourne and Scott will play with one of the other Aussie guys.
JASON STOLTENBERG: No, we're due in the beginning of May.
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