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September 21, 2018

Frances Tiafoe

Patrick McEnroe

Chicago, Illinois


6-1, 6-4

Team Europe - 1

Team World - 0

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Team World.

Q. That was a tough opponent and probably tough to go first, but it seemed like you had some real good supporting coaching from your teammates. What did that mean to have the consult and the high-fives along the way?
FRANCES TIAFOE: Yeah, I mean, it was tough. Me and Grigor played once before. Tight match. I knew it was going to be tough. He played well today. From the beginning he didn't give me much. Yeah, made me really earn it.

Second set could have gone either way. Second set really was a high level. I mean, he had unbelievable lob at 4-All, 30-All. Missed that lob. Probably could have got even deeper in the second. Never know what happens. I had fun out there.

Q. Talk to me about the second set and the first set. You really fought back hard in the second. In between those sets, though, what kind of words of encouragement or support did you get as you went back out?
FRANCES TIAFOE: Yeah, I mean, all the guys were pretty cool. A lot of different voices. It's funny.

But, no, I mean, it was cool. I mean, Nick had some great things to say. So did Jack, and obviously John. John is obviously very animated out there and that's fun.

I mean, great atmosphere out there. Yeah, I mean, what a great group of guys. Hopefully keep our heads down and keep going.

Q. As a player, tournament tennis and this kind of a situation where you've got a team and you have the support on the bench and all that, is there a preference for one or the other? Do you wish there were more team events?
FRANCES TIAFOE: I mean, I just came from Davis Cup. So, yeah, I'm definitely in a team mood right now.

Yeah, I mean, I like the events. Way more fun. Easier to get up for it. Easier to give high-level effort.

But, I mean, yeah, I think the crowd likes it even more. Yeah, it is what it is. Tennis is tennis.

Q. You probably have the freshest perspective on Laver Cup team tennis versus Davis Cup. Can you compare and contrast the camaraderie, the preparation? Can you talk about those different events?
FRANCES TIAFOE: My preparation was ideal coming in here, coming from Croatia, but, I mean, it's the same but it is different. Obviously when you're playing for your country, you know, you feel even a little more wanting to win, because obviously you're playing for the red, white, and blue.

Here, with a group of guys, it's not just you losing. It's everybody losing. You know, it's definitely -- you feel like you have to really leave it all out there. There is times where you say you leave it all out there, but when it's just you, singles, you're all right with it. Knowing that I lost, and actually Pat lost it, damn it, that kind of hurt.

Q. Behind the scenes, is it chummier?
FRANCES TIAFOE: It's fun. All jokes. I'm pretty easygoing guy. Same with all the guys. Everyone is getting out of their element and just having a good time and enjoying each other.

Q. You were understandably very upset on Sunday in Zadar.
FRANCES TIAFOE: Thanks for bringing that up (smiling).

Q. No, what I'm getting at is are you over it? And something like this and this sort of environment here and with the other guys, how much of a help has that been to help get over it?
FRANCES TIAFOE: Yeah, again, I get over things decently quick. I mean, obviously it still hurts. Hurts even more that you just brought that up.

No, I'm joking. But, yeah, I mean, again, losing any match is tough, but obviously with the team it's even tougher, as I was just saying. Obviously you have the guys' encouragement to lift you up and tell you the sun's still out and sky's still blue. Yeah, parents are still alive. Everything is all right.

Q. Frances, you've got such a great smile.
FRANCES TIAFOE: Thank you. Appreciate it.

Q. Just talk about that. Where does that come from? Does that help you in this sort of tough world of tennis? Do you think your teammates and your rivals like it on the tour? Just talk about that.
FRANCES TIAFOE: I mean, you have to ask them. I have no idea.

VICE-CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Yes, they like it. They like it a lot. (Laughter.)

A. Yeah, I'm always a happy guy. I grew up with a twin brother. We joke around with each other all the time. My dad is a jokester, as well. Probably get it from him. Always grew up class clown. You know, I love to spice things up. I hate a quiet room. Always gotta be center of attention.

But yeah. That's pretty much where I come from.

Don't be afraid to ask Pat a question.

VICE-CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Don't worry. I'm okay.

Q. When did you find out that you were going to be on the team? And how did that change your preparations for, say, moving to Asia? Because coming back here and going over there, it's a bit of a transition. And, Patrick, was there any sort of strategy involved in the fact that Frances played and lost in that Davis Cup match and get him back on court early to try and get him going in this match today?
FRANCES TIAFOE: You can go first.

VICE-CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Well, we like having Frances go out there first, because he brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm. He was a little bit jet-lagged for a couple of days, so we thought having him play first would be good because he's been waking up early.

But you have to give Grigor a lot of credit. He played unbelievable for the first set, and I thought Frances did a great job to adjust his game a little bit to really have a chance in the second set.

But having him around and having him on the team is awesome. He's got a great team energy and spirit. As you can see, he's a lot of fun to be around. We love having him on the team.

Q. Tagging onto that, one thing Roger talks about a lot is his positivity, and that's a big factor, and his ability and the success that he has, obviously physical skills, too. You exude positivity with that smile. Do you feel that's something you bring for yourself but also to this team?
FRANCES TIAFOE: Yeah, I mean, yeah. I get Kevin to smile a little more. He's a little serious guy (smiling).

Yeah, no, I mean, that's just who I am. It's not a front. I'm not doing it for you guys. It is what it is. I mean, you're going to compete hard and leave it all out there. A ton of matches I'm going to play. I will be playing for the next 15, 16 years. I have to put it in perspective.

Yeah, just understand that everything is a learning process, especially for me. Obviously, again, all you know the story, so me just being here, doing anything I'm doing is a massive privilege and honor. I always have that in the back of the mind, as well.

Q. Can you talk about playing on the black courts? What's the ball look like? Is it unusual or did you like it?
FRANCES TIAFOE: Yeah, I played on it last year so I knew -- it was weird last year, but, yeah, now, it's nice. I mean, the crowd is blacked out. It's just -- it's fun. It's different. I'm always, you know, down for change. I really enjoy it.

Q. The crowd was really loud. It was pretty full, which is maybe a little bit surprising on a Friday afternoon of a workday.
FRANCES TIAFOE: I was shocked, as well.

Q. I'm sure you enjoyed the crowd. What was it like? How loud was it? Compare it maybe to some other tournaments you have been in.
FRANCES TIAFOE: Yeah, I mean, it was extremely loud. Had some crazy rallies in the second set and they really got behind me. It was fun.

Yeah, I thrive off that. Makes me want to keep going and keep competing. I live for it. If you get a big crowd in front of me, I'm going to play some good tennis.

Q. Patrick, you obviously devoted a lot of your life to Davis Cup coaching, and I'm wondering, I know this is quite new, but is it possible to compare/contrast the reality of coaching Davis Cup and your role here? And then is it clear to you how Laver Cup going forward might complement the Davis Cup?
VICE-CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Well, they are similar, obviously, but as Frances said, it's a little bit different, I think, as a player, for sure, playing for your country. But being a coach and captain, each environment is pretty similar.

Our job is to try to support the players as best we can, you know, give them the best chance. Obviously it's about them and they're the ones out there.

But I think they're both awesome. As Frances said, you know, tennis is obviously an individual sport. That's what it's built on. But the more team events I think that we see, the better for the game and the better for growing the game, especially with kids.

I'll only tell you one quick story, because you have all mentioned Frances' smile. The first time I ever saw him play in a tournament, he was probably 15 at the Easter Bowl in California, and he had the exact same smile and he was looking around a lot, even though there wasn't a big crowd.

He was looking, saying hello to everybody and chatting with everybody. You can see he still has a little bit of that personality, but he's getting more and more focused. But we want to keep that smile, and as his focus gets better point and point out, you're going to see him continue to rise.

But he's always had that great spirit about playing. When I first saw him, I said, Wow, this guy has some game and he's got some personality. That's certainly what tennis needs.

Q. Frances, just talk about your year. For a young player, pretty interesting, first title, some big moments, a couple of setbacks, but talk about the year and the takeaways of this year.
FRANCES TIAFOE: Well, it's not done yet (smiling). But, yeah, no, it's been great. I had a pretty slow start in Australia. Had an unbelievable, you know, midpart of the year, winning a title, being in a final. I had a ton of good wins this year against some good guys, which, I had a lot of success in the challengers. You know, didn't really win too many matches in the tour. This year I think I'm close to 30 wins.

So I took a lot of positives from this year and hopefully I can keep building on it. I feel comfortable in the locker room. I feel not afraid to play anyone. I respect all these guys but not afraid to step on the court against anyone.

If I play good, I know I have a chance against anyone. But, yeah, I mean, that's pretty much it. Hopefully I can keep my head down and keep doing the process.

Q. There were quite a few controversies at the US Open about officiating. I'm canvassing some opinions from players, how content they are with the state of officiating and if you think anything needs to be done or addressed the way officiating is done and handled at tournaments. Are you satisfied with the officiating?
FRANCES TIAFOE: I think officiating is unbelievable. They do an outstanding job.

Q. You have had a taste of this event last year, and you obviously had your taste of Davis Cup. If these two events were in the same week in a tennis calendar or very close, if you were healthy, which do you think you would choose to play?
FRANCES TIAFOE: I mean, since a former captain is here, I'm going to say Davis Cup.

I mean, again, I like playing both. It's hard to pick. I love these team events, you know, but playing for Davis Cup, obviously I had my debut and that's a feeling that you can't explain. I mean, playing that fifth rubber was unbelievable. I left it all out there. I still think about it now.

I think I have to put Davis Cup over anything. I'm always going to play Davis Cup I think for the rest of my career.

Q. Yesterday John made an analogy or comparison of Rod Laver to Babe Ruth, and we are in an amazing baseball city. You come from New York, another amazing baseball city. Do you see the parallels of the pitcher is the server and batter is the returner? Do you use any of that strategy from baseball?
VICE-CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Oh, sure. It's similar in that way, the pitcher to the hitter. Tennis is, you know, you have to size up your opponent and you have to make quick decisions. So tennis is very similar. Probably even more similar to boxing, you know, without really getting your head bashed in, at least physically.

Tennis is you get a lot of mental scars from tennis. That's what makes you a better player.

So, yeah, and I think what's fun about being around these guys is they are really analyzing everything and they have very high tennis IQs, which is fun to be around. It's fun to see the young guys, and they are really noticing everything that's happening out there.

Obviously then the next step for them is how to figure out how to combat great players on the other side and how to improve. We have some great examples on our team with John and Kevin, you know, being the older guys. You know, I'm just so impressed with their work ethic and the way they have improved over the years, and they are looking to learn, you know, the way they take care of themselves. I think that's why they are playing their best tennis in their early 30s.

So I think it's really great for the young guys to be around them, too, to see what they do to try to maximize what they have.

Q. We are in the home of Michael Jordan. Roger is here. For the fun of it, can you talk about the two greatest-of-all-times in their sports? The professional will, movement? Any thoughts about Michael Jordan and Roger?
VICE-CAPTAIN PATRICK McENROE: Well, I mean, I don't know Michael Jordan personally, and obviously we all know Roger a little bit better.

But what's impressed me the most about him over the years is just his joy of the game, you know, and just being out there and playing. Obviously his movement is still remarkable, which I think was the one thing you would expect at some point would slow down.

Michael Jordan was known for his work ethic off the court, especially as he got older. Even Wayne Gretzky talked about that. And I think Roger has learned to adapt his body and learned to train a little bit differently and smarter so that he can continue to play at an extremely high level.

When it comes to being a spokesperson for the game, I don't know if there is anybody that's been better than Roger Federer in any sport, to be honest.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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