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November 21, 2019

Leon Smith

Neal Skupski

Jamie Murray

Paris, France

GREAT BRITAIN 2, Kazakhstan 1

EDMUND/Kukushkin 6-3 6-3

BUBLIK/Evans 5-7, 6-4, 6-1

MURRAY-SKUPSKI/Bublik-Kukushkin 6-1, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Who would like the first question?

Q. Leon, after two days of up-and-down, being on a roller coaster, what's your assessment of the physical and mental state that you're in going into the quarterfinals?
LEON SMITH: Me or the players?

Q. Both if you want.
LEON SMITH: I think, look, yesterday was difficult for a number of reasons: Length of the matches, by the time -- we finished obviously on a real high with what Jamie and Neal did last night.

And I think today, as I said to you guys yesterday, I had every confidence in Kyle, saw firsthand what he was playing like indoors in Paris and what he's been doing in practice. I thought he was going to play well, and he did play well, he played really well.

Then Evo again was totally in the match, a bit like yesterday, bar a couple of points. And then Bublik, who's very difficult to work out, started playing well in all areas, not just the obvious thing about his serve, first and second, but he started returning, he passed well.

And then Jamie and Neal got into a great head space again. And the doubles players expressed themselves. And I think that's where, you know, it is an advantage for us in these situations. We have Jamie, Neal, they play -- Louis works with them, a really good system that can counter what great singles players can do and gives them a great shot in matches. And again it happened today, they were excellent.

Q. Can you talk us through what your selection process was today and the thought behind it? And when did you kind of decide on the singles line-up?
LEON SMITH: Well, last night, I think -- we had obviously our presser with you guys pretty late on last night, I hadn't had a chance to talk to anyone. But I think it was obvious that Andy, you know, he wasn't at his best on the court. And it's tough to recover from that as well.

And when you've got someone like Kyle as an option, for me it was obvious to go and use Kyle in that situation. It gives, for two reasons: One, Kyle is absolutely right to play. I said to you guys yesterday, he was playing with high quality and he showed it. He was really, really good. And Andy, it would have been difficult for him to go again today after the exertions of yesterday to the level that a fresh Kyle can do.

That's what we did. And then we'll go -- obviously, I'd love to be able to tell you what we'll do tomorrow evening. I don't know yet, because, again, I've been in the chair all day. It's not the time to have the conversations. The time is when we get back and talk to everyone, the players, obviously I need to talk to medical team, you check on everyone again. Because the physical exertions, as you asked, is tough, it's tough going for them. So we need to check it out.

And again, that's the benefit of having five players is that we can maybe maneuver the squad when we need to.

Q. Andy said to us in a colorful turn of phrase, it was like carrying a medicine ball around because he's not as lean as he normally is. That's going to be something that's not going to be completely different than 48 hours after the first match.

Q. How do you see where he could be at by tomorrow night?
LEON SMITH: I don't have an easy answer to that one, because you're right, it's not going to change huge amounts. But like I said yesterday, it's important after five weeks of not playing any competitive tennis that you play a match. It wasn't his ideal match at all, but it was a match nonetheless, and that gets you going again, it gets you going. And Andy is not going to be difficult to get recalling on what needs to be done.

If he recovers well today, he's obviously rested today. It's probably quite a good thing it's a later start tomorrow. It means we can have conversations over the next period of time; he doesn't have to decide tonight. We can talk about it tomorrow, see how things are going, obviously do some practice, see how things feel, and then we can make a decision.

Don't like leaving it that late. It's not like leaving it to an hour before the match, which is not ideal for somebody you are going to throw out and play. But it does give us time to look at that.

Q. It's official that you are playing Germany in the next round, in the quarterfinal. I want to hear about your opinion about the upcoming matchup against two very tough players, Kohlschreiber and Struff.
LEON SMITH: Jamie, I'll let you take that one.

JAMIE MURRAY: I think it's an evenly-matched match. 'Evenly-matched match,' yeah (smiling). I think the guys are pretty similar ranked in the singles. And the doubles guys had a great year winning the French Open and a couple of other tournaments in qualifying through to the Tour Finals for the first time. So I'm sure they're feeling good about themselves.

I think everyone, at the start of the week every country wanted to get out of the group. So I'm sure they'll be feeling good. I think we're really excited to be playing them in the quarterfinals. I don't think our guys will hold any fear to play them, and likewise, I think it's going to be a very evenly-matched tie and really excited to get the chance to go out there and compete again.

Q. Leon, Dan's obviously disappointed that he's had two defeats. It's clearly quite a difficult court for him against these big-hitting guys. Would you have any concerns about playing him tomorrow?
LEON SMITH: No. I mean, he was a service game away from shaking hands at 3 and 4, and we'd have said, Wow, what a great performance, the court suits him, you know. Serving good, coming in, coming forwards, the slice was shooting through. If you shake hands, 3 and 4 would have been against Robin, we'd have gone, This is fine.

So, no, it's -- he has to find a way. He's beaten big guys before, beaten guys like John Isner, et cetera, and found a way.

So yeah, it's something that we can discuss, isn't it? That's what we're saying, we've got options. Now we know who we're playing. Once we know how everyone is, then we can go, Okay, with all the various factors in play, what is the best thing that gives the team, always the team, the best chance of trying to reach the semifinals, which is now the goal.

Q. A question for Neal, Germany now. You've been a star performer the last couple of days. What's your thoughts on the prospects of potentially having a decisive match once again in the doubles? And as a proud Englishman, a football fan, any memories of Germany and England in the World Cups at a football level?
NEAL SKUPSKI: Well, okay. I think the only match I remember is the 5-1 victory in Germany, growing up I remember watching that.

Yeah, it's been another good day for us. Very proud to get the win today with Jamie. I thought we fought hard. I think we're playing well. I mean, we've played these guys -- if we play Krawietz-Mies -- a couple of weeks ago in Paris. They got the better of us in straight sets. But obviously you learn from that match and you try and take the positives from that match. So we'll look forward to tomorrow.

And then, obviously, the singles guys, Struff and Kohlschreiber, they're going to be tough opposition for us. But we've got a squad that can rotate and we'll be ready to go.

Q. Jamie, obviously you and Neal have further developed your partnership here and become a reliable team for Leon to pick. Do you think looking ahead it's a shame and a bit of a flaw of the ATP Cup that you guys can't play together in that?
JAMIE MURRAY: I mean, maybe. I think that the doubles game is stronger when there's more established teams competing together. I think it's easier to sell that as a product.

But I think for the ATP Cup to be successful they kind of have to have it based on rankings. And it was just, it's just unfortunate this year that we were kind of -- we only played half a year together. Next year it wouldn't happen because we'd probably would have the same ranking obviously.

But it's just one of those things. Obviously I'd rather play with Neal because he's my partner, and it's preparation for Australian Open. But yeah, it's just that's just the way it is.

Q. Would you say you're a better team now than when you won the title in 2015?
JAMIE MURRAY: Yes. (Laughing.)

LEON SMITH: You're saying 'yes'?


LEON SMITH: Yeah, our overall rankings of singles, doubles, where Andy is at, he is not compared to where he was, we've got stronger depth, which helps a lot, obviously.

And look, we said to you yesterday that that's including someone like Cam Norrie, Joe Salisbury not in the team. If in the future we have to use them as well, you've got quality players we can bring in. From that end, yeah, it's significantly better in terms of strength and depth.

Q. Any comments on the 4:04 a.m. finish?
LEON SMITH: Just glad it wasn't us.


LEON SMITH: That's tough. I saw Galo Blanco outside and said, 'Tough one last night'. It is tough.

Like I said, it's the first year, and there's going to be some things like that. It happens at even more established events. I can't remember where the Konta-Muguruza one was. That was at the Australian. Even it happens then. It's sometimes bad luck, isn't it? Although that was an hour later than that.

It's something that they'll look at next year, for sure, and look at the scheduling and how to mitigate against something like that happening.

JAMIE MURRAY: I think if they have a second venue in Madrid somewhere, that will solve a lot of problems. And they've obviously got the finances to do that. So I think that would -- because I don't think they can really -- they can't add days to the event, I don't think. I think they probably -- I'm sure they probably will look at having a second venue.

It doesn't matter to the fans, because they're turning up to watch one team anyway. So for me, that's something they should look at.

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