January 30, 2021
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Mischa, how has the experience of captaining this team been?
MISCHA ZVEREV: Incredible. I've seen the guys for the first time I think 20 minutes ago, so I had no idea how they're hitting the ball. I have no idea if they're feeling great or not.
Overall it's a unique experience. For the first time you're on the other end of the team. I hope we can first of all have a good time together as a team and win some matches.
Q. Mischa, what is the biggest challenge for you as captain?
MISCHA ZVEREV: For me? To not upset the players (smiling). Whatever I do or say on the court, off the court...
No, I think the biggest challenge for every captain is to create a team spirit so that every member of the team is really feeling like they're an important part of the whole ensemble. We go out there, we win together, we lose together, but at the end of the day we still have dinner as a team and we can still smile and laugh and get ready for the next days.
Q. Alexander, how have you found preparation in terms of being in hotel quarantine? Have you been able to maintain your fitness? Do you feel like you've lost over two weeks?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: I don't think I lost much. Of course, we got the five hours out every single day, which was nice. We were the lucky ones that could still practice. Some of the players didn't.
Yeah, I mean, you have to understand the situation. You have to be understandable. You have to accept it. Yeah, did our practice as much as I usually do in the off-season.
But still all in all, Tennis Australia did a great job for us tennis players to still be able to feel like we can practice, we can prepare for a Grand Slam.
Yeah, hopefully we can show our best tennis.
Q. The criticism of the tournament that it's not fair because of the different players' preparation. Given the circumstances, do you think they've made the best of the situation?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: I think maybe the only real mistake there was was maybe the Adelaide thing for the top players. They did get more practice time on court. They did have more freedom in a way.
But other than that, the quarantine and the flights, we have to accept that, we have to respect that. If there wouldn't have been the 14-day quarantine for the people that were inside of the planes, there was positive cases afterwards, as well. Maybe there would have been more people involved. We would have had to quarantine more players.
But, yeah, it's going to be more difficult for those players, that's for sure. But I think we need to understand Australia has been in lockdown for six months, as well. Australia doesn't have any COVID cases except us tennis players right now at all. I think Australia has been dealing with coronavirus the best that any country has in the world.
For us being able to play in front of a crowd, not living in a bubble now during the tournament, I think a lot of players really appreciate that. We shouldn't really complain too much about the circumstances.
Q. There's been a lot written about you recently. Do you think being here represents sort of new beginnings? Are you excited to be here?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: Well, I don't think new beginnings, to be honest. I think I performed well last year. I made it to the semifinals here. I was two points away from winning my first Grand Slam. I hope to continue that.
I've been working extremely hard in the off-season. I'd like to think that I did everything I could to be as well-prepared as I can be. But first there's the ATP Cup. I think I definitely want to perform better for my team, for myself, yeah, as I said, my teammates, give ourselves the best chance that we can to go deep here.
Q. To play Novak sort of straight up, is that a good opportunity for a bit of a statement?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: Denis and Novak. We'll know exactly where I'm at, know exactly how my level is, know exactly what I need to improve still. Yeah, there's no easy matches. I think that just shows at the ATP Cup.
Q. Struffy, how are you feeling coming out?
JAN-LENNARD STRUFF: Yeah, I'm really excited. It was last year a very good event. It was beautiful to start the year off with such a nice event that ATP put up. I'm very happy to be able to participate this year again. I'm very happy that Sascha qualified us. It's like a smaller field. It's a very privilege to be here. It's an honor to play for my country again.
It's going to be very challenging matches. We have a tough group. But I think we guys stay very good together and, yeah, we like each other everyone. We're going to put up a fight. Let's hope for the best.
Q. Andreas and Kevin, you're the most experienced doubles combination in the group. So often when it comes down to a team event, doubles is crucial. Does that put more pressure on you? How do you feel about that?
ANDREAS MIES: No, I don't think it's extra pressure, to be honest. We've been in the situation before. We played Davis Cup in Madrid. It also came down to the doubles point after the singles. We prepared for that. I think we had a good pre-season. We're ready to play. We know the situation. We know if it's 1-All, it comes down to us.
We feel confident. We roved it in the past. I think we're a great team. We hope for the best. I think we underperformed a little bit last year as a team, as a whole group. I thought Struffy played extremely well. I think Sascha and me and Kevin, we can do a bit better this year. Yeah, let's see what happens.
Q. Your comment about Adelaide, do you think it's going to make it tough for anyone to beat the players that had extra preparation in Adelaide?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: I think it's tough to beat Novak, Rafa and Dominic anyways. That doesn't change.
Look, I mean, as I said, Tennis Australia is doing the best job that they can. The only thing that players can complain about, in my opinion, is maybe the Adelaide preparation. Apart from that, I don't think anybody should really say anything.
I know there's been complaints about the quarantine food, the strict rules that they are with the 14-day quarantine that we had. But as I said, we need to understand in what situation we live in right now. We need to understand what country we're in.
We're in Australia, where, as I said, there's no COVID cases apart from us tennis players. We need to respect the people. We need to respect the government in a way that they've done a fantastic job of keeping COVID out.
I don't think anybody in the country, the spectators, wants the Australian Open to happen and be in lockdown for six months again. That's not something the people want. That's not something I want for the Australian people either. We need to respect the rules. That's just as simple as that.
Q. Sascha, after your ending with Ferrer, will you look for a new coach or will you stay with your father and Mischa?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: I mean, the reason that we ended with David is also because of COVID. At the moment I was very surprised with the decision in a way, but I need to respect the reasons. The reasons were that he just wants to spend time with his family, as well. He wants to spend time with his son, with his wife.
Right now if he travels to tournaments with me for three, four weeks, if he goes back home, he needs to stay in two-week quarantine. He can't be with his family as well during that time. After a few weeks, he needs to travel with me again. That's just something he couldn't do during this time.
I don't think it makes sense for me to look for anyone new during COVID-19 either. I think we left everything open with David. I think with my dad and with my brother more involved now, as well, with Mischa, who was with me during the US Open, I have a great coaching team. I think I can win big tournaments with that coaching staff that I have.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports