February 7, 2002
SLOVAK REPUBLIC vs. USA, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
RANDY WALKER: Questions for the US team.
Q. Patrick, what was your decision making on the switch with Mardy instead of Todd Martin?
CAPTAIN McENROE: Just based on what I saw in practice and based on the fact that Mardy is playing really well in doubles and playing a lot more doubles week-in and week-out. Todd, as always, is sort of our ultimate-team guy, you know, it is sort of tough for me having to tell him two Ties in a row that he's not going to play. Especially based on all he has done for the US and still how well he is playing, by the way. He's looking healthy and playing very well and played well in Australia. But I felt that this was a good opportunity to give these guys a shot. I think they have earned it both today -- I mean, both Mardy and James. They played well as a team together. I felt that they earned their spots. Comes down to what I see on the practice court and obviously the match is different but I think they will handle it well.
Q. Mardy, when you were in Houston I guess four, five months ago you talked about Davis Cup being your dream. Did you expect it to come this soon just tell us what you are feeling about being able to play this week?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, it was like a dream of mine to play and to play at such a young age is incredible. No, I didn't think it was going to come so soon. I just have to thank Patrick for the opportunity and, you know, giving me the opportunity to try for a spot on the team and I think that James and -- we played a few tournaments together and we play well together and we have a good chemistry on the court. Things should go pretty well.
Q. I had to ask the Slovakian guys about wearing the black hats. Can you talk about the significance of being given the white hats?
CAPTAIN McENROE: We really love these hats and we are going to take these home with us and we are going to put them up on -- I am sure we are all going to put them all on our mantle pieces; wonderful hospitality that we are getting here in Oklahoma City is great. We are psyched. I like the little buckle on the hat. That's my favorite part. It is beautiful. We thank Bob Funk and everyone for giving these to us. They are beautiful.
Q. Pete, any significance playing first or second in your mind?
PETE SAMPRAS: I don't think a big one. I just hope I can get us off to a good start and set the tone for the day and the tie. That's not a huge significant thing to play first or second.
Q. Easier to know that you are going to start out one, rather than Andy may start out at 3 or 5 depending on the match?
PETE SAMPRAS: It helps a little bit as far as warming up and eating. It is nice to know what time you are going to go out and play. So that's an advantage. It doesn't really make a huge difference.
Q. We apologize but there were some problems with the electronic media on the first question to you regarding Todd, would you mind repeating that again?
TODD MARTIN: The thinking behind putting Mardy in is that Mardy has got a lot of energy and he's an excellent doubles player. He's player better and better and at singles as well. One of the things I said when I became the captain was that, you know, I wanted to try to get as many of the young players in the team as quickly as possible. And all these guys that are up here starting with Andy a year ago, starting with James at Winston Salem and now Mardy have earned the opportunity to play. It is not me giving them an opportunity. It is them performing and playing well on the Tour, getting better; having a good attitude, and wanting to come in and be part of the team. A lot of that, you know, we all have to thank Todd Martin for that being the team guy that he is. He has helped these young guys more than anybody. Especially James and Mardy, he's out there playing doubles with them everyday, and sort of competing against them, but at the same time, helping them. That's invaluable to have somebody like that around - invaluable for the team and for helping these young guys and for their whole year not just for Davis Cup.
Q. So long as you have been playing is there still such a thing as butterflies before a match?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I think everyone feels a touch, I don't say, nervous but I think we are all excited more than anything. Doesn't matter if you are 30 or 20, we are all going to out there and play well. But sure, waking up tomorrow I will be ready to go at one o'clock, but I have been doing this for quite a while so it is the little experience that I feel will help. So it is another tennis match, just it's me against him and that's the way I look at it.
Q. It seems that most people are looking at this that maybe you are the extreme heavy favorite. They are now down to three players. They lost their top two guys. I see people thinking it is going to be 5-0. How do you guard against overconfidence?
PETE SAMPRAS: Well, that's something I think we are all aware of. To lose Kucera and Hrbaty is a pretty big below to them. On the other hand these guys are going to come out with nothing to lose. The pressure is on us. We are the heavy favorite, and we just need to go out and play well and just take care of our business, and not take any match for granted. You can't look ahead to the next round or to Saturday or Sunday. It's getting off to a good start tomorrow. I think that's our focus.
Q. How do you like the courts? Do they compare to Winston?
ANDY RODDICK: I'd say they are a little quick, a little bit quicker than Winston Salem but I think it's pretty similar to the same surface there. I think we all feel pretty comfortable on them.
Q. Pete, have you had a chance to hit with Jim during practice this week and does that bring back any memories for you?
PETE SAMPRAS: I haven't hit with Jim. He's been on the court just shaggin balls, (laughter) so that's a new --
TODD MARTIN: We had him playing doubles this morning. He looked pretty good. Pete didn't get to see that, he was still sleeping.
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, that's right.
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.