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September 20, 2018
TODD WOODBRIDGE: A very warm welcome to our media conference with both of our teams today. We have the draw reveal away, so we have our day's matches for day one, which we are all looking forward to.
It's the second edition of the Laver Cup here in Chicago, and it's my pleasure to welcome out to the stage here Team World.
TODD WOODBRIDGE: Welcome, Team World. I will get things underway for this press conference.
First up on the court here at United Center is Frances Tiafoe. Frances, I'm throwing the first question at you. You opened at Laver Cup in Prague last year. You got the honor again this year.
What are you looking forward to with that match?
FRANCES TIAFOE: It's going to be fun. I'm pretty excited for it, play Grigor again. Played once before. Had a tight one. Opened it up last year pretty good, so hopefully I can do the same.
TODD WOODBRIDGE: We will open it up to the media.
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: We want to direct any questions to Kevin Anderson, because he has to get ready for his practice. And Diego, too, Mr. Schwartzman, and Mr. Kyrgios. And everyone else, except me and Patrick. (Laughter.)
VICE-CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: We'll stay as long as you want.
Q. Kevin and Diego, what do you think of the surface and the color, the black court?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, it's really interesting and unique. I played in New York this year, and they used the same surface, same color, so I had a little bit of experience there playing all week.
I think it adjusts pretty quickly. It's cool. I think it makes it different than most of the other tournaments. Obviously it's different, but I think the ball speed and the way the court is playing is actually really good.
DIEGO SCHWARTZMAN: I think the same. I think the court is great. I like the color is different than on the tour, so it's great to play in another surface. I think it's the same thing in the tour, so the court is great to play.
Q. Kevin, you played college tennis in this state. Can you talk about coming back, playing in Chicago and Illinois in general?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, it's fantastic being part of this event, and when I saw it was in Chicago, I was really excited about that. Obviously spent a lot of time here, University of Illinois, couple hours south. My wife's family is from the suburbs. I come back here two, three times a year.
I think most importantly, just having professional tennis in the city. I mean, there are so many people who love playing tennis. There are a ton of tennis facilities across the city, but we haven't had an event like this in a very long time. I'm really excited about that.
Q. A question for Jack. What do you make of playing Roger and Novak in the doubles?
JACK SOCK: Who's that? (Laughter.)
Yeah, obviously going to be a legendary team. We got a little bit of it last year. Obviously Novak wasn't there, but got to play Roger and Rafa last year, which is an epic matchup for their side. Sam and I had chances.
I'll probably take a lot of that away. Even though we're the home team, I'm sure they will have a lot of fans cheering for them tomorrow night while they are playing together.
As a half-court specialist, I trust my abilities out there and teaming up with Kevin who has a monstrous serve, great return, good hands. Hopefully get a W for the team.
Q. A question for Diego. Can you confirm or deny, have you been banned from the Rafa Nadal Academy after taking a set off him at Roland Garros?
DIEGO SCHWARTZMAN: Sorry? Again?
Q. There was something stated that Rafa may have banned you from his academy because you improve too much every time you get there.
DIEGO SCHWARTZMAN: Yeah, it's true. He said that (smiling). He said that after Paris, after Roland Garros tournament this year. I was there last year before Paris, as well, and I did great. I played Novak five sets. And now this year again was the same thing but losing against Rafa in four sets.
I beat him the first set, so in the rest of the set, after the rain, he say, You are not going anymore to my academy (smiling).
He's a great guy. I'm always been there trying to improve in his academy. It's a great place in Spain. So I'm glad to be there every year.
Q. John, Jack, Nick, you guys were a big part of the celebrations that you guys did last year. After points you had all these cool things going on. Any plans for that? Not that you can reveal any of that. Any plans? Second part of the question is I don't know how much time you have spent together out and about in Chicago, but if you go out for dinner, is there one guy who has to pick up the tab because he's a rookie? How does that all play?
JOHN ISNER: Actually, that's a good point. Diego?
JACK SOCK: Nico?
JOHN ISNER: Tonight could be on them. Nico? We are not going to have one of those $20,000 bills like the football teams, but we'll keep it to 10,000.
JACK SOCK: Yes, we will be celebrating on the bench.
JOHN ISNER: Yes, that's going to happen.
NICK KYRGIOS: Sure not going to be boring like Team Europe. (Laughter.)
JOHN ISNER: We definitely bring that better than they do.
Q. A question for anyone up there. Where would you rank the seriousness level of this competition for you? How seriously do you take it?
JOHN ISNER: Honestly, that question really annoys me.
JACK SOCK: I second that.
JOHN ISNER: 100% serious. This is not an exhibition at all. At all. 100%.
Q. This is for you, John. Good to see you.
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Can we finish up with these guys? Any questions for these fellas? We'll be happy to stay a few minutes, but anything else for them?
Q. This is for anybody up there. A lot has been made of on-court coaching in the aftermath of the US Open. How much should it go on? How much should tennis relax the rules while you're on court? Anybody have strong opinions on that rule and how it might change, or any possible adjustments?
JACK SOCK: I think this one is for Nick. (Laughter.)
NICK KYRGIOS: What's the question, sorry? We don't really get on-court coaching.
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Strangely he requested Mohamed Lahyani, it's really weird, as the umpire for the Laver Cup. I don't know.
NICK KYRGIOS: It's not allowed, is it? Obviously not, no.
Q. A question for Nick, going back to this being a serious competition, what's your strategy to keep your eyes on the prize and your feet off the basketball court until at least Monday?
NICK KYRGIOS: You know, this event is not about myself. It's actually quite easy for me to go out there and compete. Last year was heartbreaking. I don't really shed tears much, but as soon as I lost last year, it's the first thing that happened.
I'm going to do everything I can, and if someone needs me to be out there while they are practicing, picking up balls, anything like that, I'll be doing that. I will do everything for the team this week, so it's not hard for me at all.
VICE-CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: We can let you guys go.
TODD WOODBRIDGE: Thanks for the players that have to go. I'm sure there are a couple of questions for John and Patrick.
Thank you, guys. Good luck this weekend.
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: All right.
TODD WOODBRIDGE: The difficulty in choosing who plays each day, considering day one is worth 1 point, day two is 2 points, and the final day, 3 points, you have to strategize fairly cleverly, don't you?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I mean, part of you obviously wants to save your best players for days two and three because there is more at stake, but we got pretty far behind and that hurt us. We got almost all the way back.
There is a temptation to maybe use one of our better players -- I mean, they are all good players -- but maybe someone who we thought would have a better chance of winning the first day.
But we ended up sticking with sort of more or less what you would expect, which is try to save the best for last. I mean, any of these guys can beat anyone else on any given day. The matchups tomorrow are sort of a crap shoot. You don't know who is going to play whom. The next bigger decision is do you want to sort of dictate who each guy plays against Saturday or wait till it matters the most? So we chose to do that.
So we'll see how it pans out. The only surprise that Patrick and I saw was they're throwing those nobodies out in doubles tomorrow night (smiling).
But that's exciting, though. It's nice, I think, for the crowd and for the city. The fact that you'll see Novak and Roger all three days is good. That's a good thing.
TODD WOODBRIDGE: How do you think Roger and Novak will combine together? Doubles is all about gelling. And will they gel?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Well, I mean, there is the opportunity that it would be sort of tricky, and there's also the chance that they are going to be incredible. You're talking about two of the four or five greatest players that ever played tennis, you know, on the same court. Just from that standpoint alone, it will be extremely interesting to check it out.
We got a guy, Kevin Anderson, he doesn't play a lot of doubles, but he's a guy that can take a racquet out of anyone's hands. And Jack is the best doubles player in the world. They haven't played together, really.
So that's part of what makes the doubles sort of unpredictable, more exciting.
TODD WOODBRIDGE: To the floor.
Q. Obviously very few others in tennis history brought more passion and emotion and excitement to the court than you did. My question is do you think these days that the passion of the game is somehow being bottled up a little bit? Do you think there are too many rules or clocks or whatever? Do you think that affects the game or not?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: It sounds like a setup question (smiling). But to me there is too many, and rules -- I don't know anything about abusing rules, but it seems like they are there to be abused. And then they are arbitrarily -- suddenly someone decides he's going to, you know, go by the book.
So what players need is consistency, I think. But, for example, this year, in the second or third day of the tournament, I can't remember which it was, they decided to change the rule in the men's so that there could be a 10-minute break. I think that was a good thing that they did that. It was brutally hot and humid. But I can't recall, Patrick, I don't know if you can, a situation where they've changed the rules during the tournament.
But I think we need to be flexible enough to understand and do that when necessary and to eliminate other things. You know, it was humid, but they are changing their clothes three, four times. Six, seven, eight minutes they're off the court. It was unbelievable how long things were taking in a certain way.
So we should always be looking to try to, from the outside or the inside, ways to improve the game. I mean, to me, the fact that there is not a tiebreaker in the fifth set, for example, that's like a -- it's become a pet peeve. I'm not the guy playing. It's absolutely absurd at this stage, totally -- I have no idea why these other tournaments, the Australian and the other two don't do it. The amount of time it takes, the excitement that it would happen if they played.
You know, change takes place at a very slow pace. Suddenly, all of a sudden there is a lot of changes being made. You know, there is an event before Australia that's coming soon, a team event. Davis Cup could radically change suddenly, you know, in part because of this and in part because of for other reasons that we don't need to get into now. It's, like, all types of things happen suddenly, and then other things take 40 years and very little changes.
TODD WOODBRIDGE: Patrick, he said a lot there. I will go to you for a question. Working alongside your brother, we talked about the fact that you guys last played here when you had dark and curly hair and looked a little different than you do there. What's it like to work alongside your brother in this type of environment where you have to make these crucial decisions to try and see if you can get that cup?
VICE-CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: It's awesome. I mean, we're having a blast. It's an honor for me to be here. I'm happy to be along for the ride. We've got a great group of guys. We had a huge experience last year.
You know, like the guys say, I think they made a great point, there was one question about is it 100%, and to be perfectly honest, I don't think any of us really knew what to expect last year. Was it going to be sort of an exhibition?
And I think I give the organizers a lot of credit, and the players, because from the moment that everybody stepped on the court, it was 100% full out. The guys were having fun and they were into it, but it was completely full-out tennis.
So, for me, to be here is amazing. We're going to enjoy it, but No. 1 is we are going to win that Laver Cup.
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: It's very big.
Q. This is for John. You referenced the three new team events or the revamped Davis Cup, the one in Australia, and this here. From your point of view, is there a value, or what is the value in terms of marketing the game, getting people more excited about tennis, growing the fan base in team events as opposed to the traditional formats we often see?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I'm a little confused about what the question actually was there. But as far as what I think, you know, I will answer what I think was the question. To me, the Laver Cup was the most innovative and exciting thing that happened in ten years in tennis.
Now, maybe if it helps in other ways, that will be a good thing. But the last thing that should be done is sort of stifle what can be -- Rod Laver is our Babe Ruth of tennis. No question about it. Roger Federer is the greatest player that ever lived. These two people are behind this.
I think that anyone that saw this or watched it saw how incredible it was last year, and we're hoping for even better, but it was a great event. I have been around this sport for 40 years, and I'd be tough to come up with something that was better than what they did.
I'm hopeful that, you know, what they won't do in tennis is end up with sort of all these different factions, and then it ends up, instead of helping the sport, they hurt the sport ultimately because they are separate and no one can come together and do what's best for the sport.
So I'm hopeful. I'm on the ATP advisory board committee. I try to, you know, for what it's worth, give advice what I think. Hopefully I've gotten a better relationship over the years with the majors and they see that, you know, I love this sport and I'm here for the rest of my life trying to, you know, do things and be part of something that would be beneficial.
Listen, I'm the coach. Like Patrick, I'm happy to be here. My idol was Rod Laver. I'm around the greatest players in the world. I'd like to see this succeed, but it's not like I'm part owner of it. I don't have any ownership stake in this. I really believe this would be something tremendous for the sport.
Q. Just going back a couple of questions that have been talked about when you were speaking about being captain and vice-captain, have you made decisions that the other one has totally disagreed with?
CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Only at our tennis academy where he's my right-hand man at the tennis academy (smiling). But, you know, this is not even just us. We also include the players. Sometimes we both have gut feelings.
I'll let Patrick finish it up, but the short answer is generally we agree. The nuance of a certain couple calls, you know, whether we should play Nick and Jack the first day or whether Kevin should play and the timing of certain things, you know, slight differences, I would say. But for the most part, we are on the same page.
VICE-CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: He's the captain and I'm the vice-captain. That tells you who gets the final say (laughter). Just like in our household growing up. He's the older brother; I'm the younger brother.
As he said, we really do involve the players a lot. That's part of the fun for them is to predict who's going to play against whom and what we predict the other team is going to do. I think that's what makes this event unique in addition to the teams, you know, going at it on the court. There is a lot of strategy, which makes it a lot more fun.
I think the organizers of the Laver Cup can even take advantage of that even more by getting the fans and people more involved in how that's being played out, the selections.
TODD WOODBRIDGE: Thank you very much, John and Pat. We will let you get back to the team.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports