February 1, 2021
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Max, tell us about your experience as a captain for Team Japan and some updates on Ben's travel schedule.
MAX MIRNYI: Well, first of all, it's a great pleasure and honor for me to be part of this team, to try to help the guys and be part of this event. It's a very exciting event.
I had great fun viewing it on the television last year. It's great to be part of it this year. We're excited to be here with this lineup. Unfortunately we still have one of our team members, Ben McLachlan is stuck due to the travel restrictions from New Zealand. The good news is he's confirmed he's on the flight tomorrow during the day. Hopefully no changes are from now until tomorrow and he makes it here on team and we're able to be in the full lineup.
Q. Max, how is your Japanese going?
MAX MIRNYI: Well, I like languages in general, but Japanese is very tough (laughter). I've picked up on a few phrases but still got a long way to go.
Q. Kei, what are your thoughts? How are you feeling about this year's ATP Cup? How are you feeling generally physically and mentally?
KEI NISHIKORI: Yes, I am new for to play this tournament, so I'm a little bit leery. I don't know how it's going to be. I just try to play my best tennis. At least I have two matches, singles, maybe doubles, I don't know.
But I feel okay after being two weeks in a room. It is obviously not easy. My body is reacting very tough. Very sore everything. But I have still two more days, so I should be okay.
Q. I think you couldn't see Kei for the last two weeks because of quarantine. I was wondering how often and what kind of things are you communicating during that two weeks? After the quarantine, what is your biggest concern or what kind of aspect are you focusing on in terms of preparation for ATP Cup and Australian Open?
MAX MIRNYI: Well, thanks for the question.
The toughest thing in regards to this is that none of us that were faced to be in that situation had anything to sort of reflect on. Nobody's been in a similar kind of a situation in our lives, as far as the athletic careers are concerned.
We've all taken some time off, and sometimes more than two weeks off. But being in the room and not being able to be outside doing exercise and breathing fresh air, we don't know how the body will react. Obviously it's a big challenge.
We did I think the maximum we could do being in a room environment, which Tennis Australia provided pretty much anything the players have asked for. There was a lot of physical activity going on. My room was next to Kei's room. I could see there was a lot of medicine ball activity, weights, running and jumping. Again, there is only so much you can do in a room.
It's challenging now that we've been out of the room. First couple practices outside have been quite difficult with just having to breathe in all the air and move, looking at the bright sun of Melbourne.
But, listen, we do what we can. There's few more other players in a similar situation. I think after all, we're all going to be just happy and glad that the tournaments are here for us to play. Hopefully by the time the tournament starts, everybody's going to be the best possible ready for the event.
Q. Yoshihito, can you talk to us about your first match against Andrey Rublev in the ATP Cup.
YOSHOHITO NISHIOKA: I think this is second time against him. We're almost same age, so we know each other from when we was a junior. He had a great year last year. I know it's going to be very tough for me.
Last year I had a great time in this tournament, so hopefully this year our team is Kei coming back, and also the new captain is here, so we got more power.
I just try my best. I had a good two weeks for practice, so I'm ready for play against Rublev. I mean, if I doing well, I think I can give the good way to Kei in the second match. I need to be ready. He's going to be very aggressive, so I need to be ready for that, just figure out how to beat him.
Yeah, that's going to be very important I think.
Q. Max, can you make quick comments on every player on your team, including Ben.
MAX MIRNYI: Well, luckily it hasn't been too long since I played on the tour myself. I know most of these guys, actually all of them, very well.
Toshi is the closest to me in age. I have a lot of respect for him for being out here and still doing his best and being so physical. He was not part of the hard quarantine, so he was able to practice. I could see in the last couple days I was around him he's very forward-looking, very athletic. That's not a surprise. This is how Toshi always appeared to me while I was a player. So it's great to have him on the team. Always sending us positive vibes.
I've known Ben for also a long time. He's a good, athletic player. We've been in close contact in the last couple days. Ben said he's been training in New Zealand with Michael Venus, who is also in a similar situation with the flight restriction. He's assured us he's looking forward to coming tomorrow and jumping on the first practice court available. We already have everything lined up. With just couple practices in hand, we're going to try to get him best ready for the event as well.
Well, Yoshi and I have known each other for a very long time as well because of our background practice in Florida. I've seen Yoshi coming up to the academy as a young boy. I was still active as a player. He always stood out as a very hard worker. Not being in the biggest of size, he appears very big at heart on the court. He always tries to do the best he can. I'm sure we'll see his best performance this week, as well.
With Kei, also we have a long history. Kei also comes through the academy roots where we trained together at IMG Academy in Bradenton. I've had tremendous respect for him, what he's achieved in his career. Seeing and working with him on the practice courts for many years, it's a great pleasure to see him develop into the player and person he is today.
To be part of this team and have a chance to captain a team like this is a very special feeling for me. I'm very excited about the opportunity to have these guys together and be part of the ATP Cup.
Q. Max, on Ben, Michael Venus as well, are they a casualty of the one-way air bubble that was between Australia and New Zealand that was suspended? Is that the reason they're still over there?
MAX MIRNYI: You know what, I'm not so sure of the exact details why they were held up. In the last probably four days we had so many technical issues that we have to follow here with our exit with our quarantine that I did not really get into details why the New Zealand flights were restricted.
But from what I understand, there was a few cases that showed positive cases on the flights coming from New Zealand. That's why the measures were taken to stop the flights.
For a while Ben was telling us he had few options, that they were going to reschedule his route, itinerary. Only yesterday he confirmed they put him on a flight coming in tomorrow during the day.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports