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November 23, 2019

Jamie Murray

Neal Skupski

Leon Smith

Paris, France

SPAIN 2, Great Britain 1

EDMUND/Lopez 6-3, 7-6

NADAL/Evans 6-4, 6-0

NADAL-LOPEZ/Murray-Skupski 7-6, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Good evening, everyone. Who would like the first question?

Q. Leon, can you just describe your emotions after that match and assessment of the performances this evening, please?
LEON SMITH: It's obviously, everyone's pretty low after losing, it's normal to where it should be. But I think, you know, in the doubles match itself, that was a really high-level match. The serve stats were both teams serving over 80 percent on a quick court. And it's a couple of points in it, isn't it? And that's the difference.

Yet again, Jamie and Neal played just some incredible tennis against obviously a very, very good pair, and in an amazing atmosphere. You know, it was a partisan crowd, proper Davis Cup, but also a big advantage for them having that as well, clearly.

But I thought our players did really well today. Kyle put in another really, really good performance, especially what happened with the change literally minutes before going on the court, you know, for whatever reason that was so late. But he dealt with it brilliantly.

And then, you know, it was going to be a big ask for Evo against Rafa, but he obviously played a very good first set. And that's it.

THE MODERATOR: Next question.

Q. Jamie, clearly, you know, not the result you wanted and an amazing match. But what was the experience like playing out there in that atmosphere, playing against Rafa in Spain?
JAMIE MURRAY: I mean, it was a great match. I think, I think it was, you know, very close. I think both teams took care of their serves very well.

I think, yeah, it was a great atmosphere. It was exciting to be a part of it. I think it kind of showcased how exciting doubles is and how good a sport it is. And you know, I think everyone that would have been there in the stadium tonight and people that watched at home would have enjoyed that match for everything that it had.

You know, I'm obviously really disappointed that we -- not that we lost the match, but even that we didn't find a way to get one of the sets. But, you know, that's just the way it goes. And, you know, that one will hurt for a little while, I think.

But, you know, you've got to give credit to them. I think they -- especially on serve, they served, especially like Rafa, I couldn't touch his serve. Like, everything was 195 on the lines. Feli was serving, he seemed to serve more spots as the match went on.

But, you know, we had our chances at the end. We didn't quite find a way to get through. But, yeah, I mean, it's a match that I'm sure I'll remember, you know, when I finish my career for sure, yeah.

Q. Leon, would it be fair to say you're quite unhappy with the change in nomination five minutes before the tie started? And do you think Spain took advantage of a rule that perhaps needs looked at?
LEON SMITH: Yeah. I thought it was really late. You know, that was literally five minutes before.

And, yeah, it's not ideal preparation to go into what is a huge match. And you know, the whole point when you practice and you go through things and you hand your nominations in an hour before the match, that's pretty much it, isn't it?

And then, you know, he was on the bike warming up beside us at the same time, got off the bike, then the next thing, Wayne runs up and says they're changing the team. Look, it might be genuine, I don't know. But it might be a freak injury that's happened.

But, yeah, it's not ideal.

Q. Can I ask Neal what was it like facing a Rafael Nadal forehand at the net? And can you sum up your first Davis Cup experience?
NEAL SKUPSKI: Yeah, first time I've ever played Rafa. It took me a few games to get used to the pace of his shots, but then once I settled down, I got used to it.

But I thought me and Jamie played a good match today. The guys served really well. We did have our chances, but they came up with big shots at the right time.

But then, but overall, loved the experience of playing Davis Cup. Proud of how I've performed this week and also the whole group, we've bonded really well. Everyone's worked hard. They've put every effort into this week.

We've done really well to make the semis. It's unfortunate we couldn't go a step further, but we'll be back here next year and try and go a bit further.

Q. Leon, just looking ahead with what's been achieved this week and looking ahead to 2020, how do you see, you know, our guys going forward for the next sort of 12 months and the sort of foundation they've got, including Andy?
LEON SMITH: Well, I mean, everyone's got their different journey to go on, but I think, you know, we should be excited by what we have in the British tennis. Obviously, I'm talking about the men's side, what we're in.

And I think, you know, we've got a whole raft of great doubles players, these two and obviously what Joe Salisbury's doing, and they can move forward, especially Jamie and Neal as a team as well. I look forward to a really positive 2020.

Andy will go on his journey of coming back and keep building momentum, which is going to be exciting to see. And then the others.

You think of Kyle, he'll be disappointed with how his year's went obviously, and then you look at the player he's been in Paris and the player he's been here. He should be extremely motivated what's possible for him to move back up the rankings. Because there's so much in his game and he looks like he's in a good place, got a new coaching team. So I expect to see good, some really good progress from him.

Evo had a great year coming back and getting his ranking around the 40 mark, wasn't that far away from being seeded at slams, which is a great effort. That's what he'll be looking to do is to stabilize what he's doing and try to move in hopefully towards nearer the 30 mark.

Then obviously Cam Norrie, I look forward to seeing what he can do. He's had a great couple of years obviously since turning pro.

We've got so many different things going. I think it's great. I think it's great, it's positive. And hopefully everyone can just keep on that path and we come back here next year with - we have a really strong team - but hopefully even stronger.

Q. As you say, Leon, you know you will be back here next year. At the end of this kind of first event, what do you think have been the big successes, what are the things you want to see different next year?
LEON SMITH: The big success, I think we should be very proud -- look, it's obvious that people will be a bit low just now -- they should be very proud of what our team has done. I think they've played really, really well. We've had some great moments.

It's been extremely intense obviously playing back-to-back days, which has been a challenge, and that's maybe something, I think to answer your question, one of the things that could be looked at is it's an advantage to have a day's grace somewhere.

I think we've enjoyed the experience. I think in terms of facilities, it's excellent. We've been very, very well looked after.

I think the most important -- the most important thing about Davis Cup is obviously trying to maintain the atmosphere. That's what everyone will talk about. And I'm sure there's going to be a huge amount of feedback, strategy sessions, brainstorming about how to, you know, mitigate the likelihood again of having crowds that are 30 percent, 40 percent. I think there are other ways to be creative about how we help each federation to get -- like, I think what the LTA have done today is exceptional. I think it's absolutely exceptional what the LTA has done.

Whether there are ways at looking at that to say, Well, why doesn't that become the norm that there's X amount of investment given to each federation to get a core group of fans? Because we saw even with -- I don't know what we had today, over 1,000 people come here today, it was amazing. But even Kazakhstan, I think they brought over 100 of their own, and it sounded like a proper Davis Cup tie when they do. If every nation was able to do that and have a core group, I think the atmosphere would be really good.

THE MODERATOR: Last couple of questions.

Q. This question to the captain as well as the players. We saw today like probably more to the advantage of doubles, what it can do. We had some great exchanges at the net, some great passing shots and some wonderful lobs.
So this fast exchange, and specifically the fact that we had singles players also playing doubles. So how would you rate the fact the crowd atmosphere like with singles players playing? And second is, specifically in terms of how do you rate Rafa? We've all known Rafa, the great singles player. Is it time to actually say Rafa is a great doubles player as well? Because he's won Olympic gold. He's got Grand Slams. And he's not had much opportunity to play doubles. Would you like the fact you would like to see more singles players play doubles?

JAMIE MURRAY: Well, the singles guys are playing. Maybe not Rafa, Novak, and Federer every week. But all the other guys are playing in the Masters tournaments, not the Grand Slams.

But nowadays, the game's too physical and the money these guys can earn playing singles outweighs the reason for them to play, compete in the doubles as well.

Obviously, for doubles, you know, tennis is, for the last ten years, has been about the big four and it's been about stars. But actually, there's a hell of a lot of amazing talent on the ATP Tour. I think, you know, doubles has a huge part to play in that.

I think when you get, you know, a lot of those guys competing in the doubles, you know, the level is incredibly high. I think nowadays, with the way that the sport is, there's different ways to play doubles, different ways to win at doubles.

And, you know, when more traditional players who like to serve and volley and come to the net and use those sort of skills, you know, Rafa, he plays a more, let's say, unorthodox way, which is a lot more common now in the game because these guys can, you know, they serve big and then they have great groundstrokes that make it difficult to volley against.

But that's what makes it, you know, fun to see those sort of different styles on the court together. And, you know, I think you saw tonight, like, you know, that's doubles at its best, really.

I mean, you've got one of the greatest players ever on the court competing for his country in a make-or-break match. You know, it was an exciting match, it was a really close match, there were a lot of good exchanges. You know, everyone was playing well and, you know, unfortunately for us we lost.

But I think overall, you know, it was definitely a positive thing to kind of see these guys fighting so hard on the doubles court to win a point for their country.

THE MODERATOR: Last two questions.

Q. This is for Jamie also. If they keep the 18 teams for next time around, they want to avoid the 4:00 a.m. finishes obviously. One of the things that's been suggested is cutting the third set of doubles to a super tiebreak. I was wondering what you thought about that and how important you think it is to keep the full three sets as a doubles player?
JAMIE MURRAY: I don't think it's that important to keep the full three sets. I think for fans, everyone loves watching the match tiebreaks. One of the most exciting things in the sport, and it happens so often on the tour, you know, a lot of these big events are won on these tiebreaks, and every single point that you play counts.

Obviously, Davis Cup is a longer format. And you know, ultimately that's not going to be the reason that they stop playing at 4:00 in the morning is if they cut one set of the doubles, because it's the last set that you'll play of the whole tie. So, you know, you've already played a lot of tennis till 3:00 a.m. to then play one more tiebreak, you know. (Smiling.) We'll see.

I mean, for me, personally, I don't know, it would have been fun to play another set. But it also would have been bloody exciting to play a ten-point tiebreak to get to the final of the Davis Cup.

Q. Leon, there's a lot of unknowns about this tournament going forward. It could even move in the calendar. Do you think post-2021 Britain could host this venue? Are there other venues in the country which could host these finals? Do you think the LTA should make a bid for hosting it in 2021?
LEON SMITH: That's a big question for me to answer in my low position in the ranks (smiling).

I don't know. It depends. I think the calendar date is obviously going to be looked at. September being the one that's touted. Whether that's possible or not, I don't know. But obviously we'd be better to have it at that time of year. But you obviously need a lot of space.

One of the things, obviously, to try and help with the scheduling is having more match courts. So clearly if it was an outdoor event, that would obviously help, you know. Indian Wells has been spoken about, et cetera. So obviously having something like that where we can get through the matches a different way.

In terms of in Britain, clearly you're looking at indoor. So I'm not sure how many potential venues we'd have for something like that. I'm looking at Steven again -- I don't know. I don't know what the answer is.

Would it be great to have an event like that? Of course, we're always looking at ways to try and get and showcase our sport. And by hosting the world's best team event in tennis would be one of them, wouldn't it? So, I guess hopefully we could look at it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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