January 13, 2003
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. I was wondering if you were aware of the fact the Australian Open is trying to promote itself as an Asia-Pacific Grand Slam. Did you know about that? If so, how conscious are you of that, playing here?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: Well, you know, it's really special for me that first match on Monday open, you know, Grand Slam. I feel really appreciated. Australia and Asia is really close to each other. I know that Paul McNamee, he tried to get some Asian player to try -- I mean to get them playing Australian Open because they have one wildcard every year. So I think that's really great for Asian tennis.
Q. After your incredible year, I understand that life changed for you enormously back in Thailand. Can you maybe explain the impact that that great success has had at home?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: Well, after I went back home after Paris Masters, after that I won Stockholm, after I won Long Island, it's a big change when I going back home. A lot of people recognize me. They always asking for the autograph. Normally, I go to the mall, it would be no problem, nobody going to stop me asking for autograph. But now it's like everybody was coming to me and then asking for autograph, even asking to talk on the phone with their family (smiling). Which is really, you know... I feel great. It's like they proud for me that I'm doing well, and they really respect me a lot. It's feel great.
Q. I've heard you've had such a big impact.
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: Is the Thai culture, that you doing that when you saying "hello" and "sorry" or "thank you." So I do after the match because I, you know, is Thai culture. I say "thank you" to everybody.
Q. I've read that in Thailand it was dying out; that a lot of American culture has taken over. But since you started doing it in tennis, all the young people are adopting it again. Is that true?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: Especially to the young Thai people, some time they forgot the culture, you know. I mean they normally have to do bows like in Thai. And then I did that, and then after my match every match -- well, my matches been live is really every match for the last -- for six months. So the people talking about it. So they call me, I'm the culture ambassador (smiling).
Q. I understand a lot of Thai kids now are really taking to tennis and dreaming about being tennis players themselves. Is that something you've noticed, that it's had an impact on participation ranks?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: Yeah, well, it's a lot more young kids starting to play. Even the sport equipment, the tennis equipment, the sale is much better. So that's the impact when I'm doing well.
Q. Given the Australian Open is sort of calling this Open Asia and Pacific Open, do you regard this as your home Grand Slam event?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: Well, I would think so and, you know, is really close to Asia and close to Thailand. There's a lot of Asian people here. When we're on court, it feel like a lot of people want to see I'm playing and maybe just want to see how this guy play.
Q. Do you feel a lot of pressure from home to perform well, to continue to perform well and maybe break into the Top 10 and take a Grand Slam?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: There's a lot of people talking about that, that, you know, "Paradorn gonna be under pressure because he been doing well for the last six months." I just prove it before I came to Chennai, and I won the first tournaments of the year. So it doesn't mean I have no pressure at all. I just try to enjoy myself, just having fun on court. A win or loss, it's just a game.
Q. Could I get your opinion of Lee winning in Sydney on Saturday and what that perhaps means for Asian tennis off the back of your own success.
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: Well, I'm glad for him that he won his first title there and, you know, he's qualifier and won a tournament. I think he's the third Asian to won the ATP tournament. I think it's great for Asian tennis 'cause, you know, after he won that, that's means it's one more Asian great tennis player coming up, but he's 27 but, you know... (Smiling). But he's a great player. Actually, if I'm talking about five years ago, I been playing the future tournaments in Asia and I always playing the same tournaments of him. Yeah, I'm sure it's gonna be a lot of also Korean kids starting to, you know, following him.
Q. Is there really an Asian identity for tennis players? It's such a diverse region. Do you feel like you really have a European or North American sensation to the community?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: I mean, actually, even, I would say Asian -- well, Asian country or the sport athlete, I would say they tough. But, you know, they have to do it right some time. I don't know...
Q. Is there really a feeling that you are all in it together? Do you feel like you're separate countries with different identities on the circuit?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: For me and Lee, I am really close to him, another Asian player on tour, you know, because we are same profession. I think we feel like, you know, we are same country, yeah.
Q. Today's game was a four-setter, 1-6 in the third. Was it just a lack of concentration, or did the heat get to you at all?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: Well, he's a great player. I think he won in Wimbledon junior. He's lefty, and he's really -- he's try to play his best. First two sets was tight, 7-5, 6-4. I'm kind of lost my serve in the beginning of the third set. Then he start to play well, and, you know, big lefty is always tough. In the fourth set I start to pick it up a little bit. It's really hot out there, especially the ground. I just enjoy the match and, you know, just...
Q. You also seemed to have a problem with your finger there at one stage. Anything there?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: Yeah, well that's happening after first game. I didn't see it before the match. It's like -- it's kind of blister. It's just like the skin just go off. It feels painful. So I have to tape it when I'm playing, so that's fine.
Q. I read a quote from you at the end of last year about the significance of the color red, that you like to wear red. Can you talk a little bit about that?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: Well, I'm starting it, this story is starting in Washington, I playing final. Actually, the Thai people wear the red color on Sunday. That day I playing final. That day on Sunday is about 250 Thai people all wearing red, so it's like that corner is all red and they sitting together. And then I won Long Island a week after, and I wearing the red shirt. Then, you know, is kind of -- I have just one shirt to play in a match, too, and I always winning with that shirt. So just try to finish it off with that shirt. I have many win with that shirt, with the red shirt. Is means winning color.
Q. There's you and Lee in Asia. What do you see for the future of Asian tennis? Any other young players out there that you think will come through?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: In Thailand, I can't see anyone right now. But I'm sure in a few years, next coming few years, I would say that's gonna be upcoming, but I'm not sure when.
Q. You think the success that you've had and that Lee's had recently will....
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: Yeah, will give them some idea that, you know, if we can do this, they also can do it. Because when I was young, I always looking up to Michael Chang when I was, you know, really young, watching his tape. Then just thinking that, "If he can do it, I can do it."
Q. Is military service definitely off the agenda now?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: Well, I don't have to go now, so, which is good news.
Q. That's for this year?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: That's for - I hope for whole life (laughing).
Q. You've got some pretty good connections now who can support that.
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: Yes. I know a lot of people in the government, and the Thai person in the (inaudible), he's in the government. So, you know, they have to work something out for me, which is really -- I really appreciate that. I don't have to go to Army.
Q. If you were to play Mark Philippoussis in the next round, certainly that would be something a lot of Australians would like to see. Do you feel you'd be playing him at a good time since he hasn't played much tennis, or is he still a dangerous opponent for you?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: Well, the draw, when is coming out, I saw the first round I gonna play Melzer; tough second round, Philippoussis and Martin Verkerk. If Philippoussis tonight, I gonna play him Wednesday. I'm looking forward for a good match, just try to enjoy the match. He's a great player, and he's playing in his home country. I always feel good when I'm playing at home country, I always play well. He wants to play his best, so it's gonna be a tough match.
Q. Just on the matter of military service, can I just clarify something. If you don't do that, does that mean you have to spend some time training as a monk instead, or have you been excused from both?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: You mean if I'm not going to the Army?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: If they call me, I have to go, yeah.
Q. Can't you train as a monk instead?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: No, no.
Q. It's not an option?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: No, is not option.
Q. Tiger Woods is somebody else who's had a lot of success wearing red on Sunday, and obviously has a similar heritage. Do you get inspiration from him?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: You know what, I didn't know before that he's wearing red color on Sunday. I just know that when I'm start to wearing it, then the people, "Are you trying to be like Tiger Woods?" I said, "What?" "Oh, he wearing red on Sunday." "Oh, okay. That's good."
Q. There was an Aussie guy with your entourage today. Who was it?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: Which one?
Q. You don't know who that was?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: When was that?
Q. Today, courtside at your match, there was an Australian guy, an older guy.
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: Oh, wow, that's a long story. I was playing at a qualifying in Wimbledon in '99, 1999, then I qualifying. He's following me. He's the tennis fan, he's real tennis fan. I mean, he don't like the big-name player, he just like to support the guy who's really coming up. That time, 1999, is like five years ago, I'm playing at the qualifying at Wimbledon, like nobody there, he was there like, you know, cheering me up. Then he always following me in the match. You know, he's just really a tennis fan.
Q. Have you met him?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: I know him now, yeah. But I didn't know that he's here, well, until I heard his noise, "Keep working." That's what he said.
Q. As everyone knows, your father now is your coach. Do you think he is the most suitable coach for you?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: Well, is not now he's my coach - he is always my coach because he's the first coach when I'm starting at six years old. You know, a lot of success that we been done together, and I think, you know, me and him is going well together. He understand how I'm feeling, how, you know... Even some time we don't have to talk and he knows what I'm thinking. So, you know, is some time the player and the coach have to be really understand each other to doing well together.
Q. Do you know the name of the Australian gentleman?
PARADORN SRICHAPHAN: They call him Big John (laughter).
End of FastScriptsâ€¦.