February 18, 2021
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
D. ALCOTT/S. Schroder
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Firstly, congratulations. Seven-time Australian Open champion. Had to wait a bit for it tonight. Had to change courts. Lost that first game but then rattled off 12 in a row. How did you get it going?
DYLAN ALCOTT: Look, I was in a bit of a mood when I got out there. You know, my real purpose in life is not winning Grand Slams. It's actually changing the perception of people with disabilities so they can get out there and live the lives they want to live. One thing that inspires me is broadcast and all this kind of stuff.
Because it went so late and we got a court change, I was a bit flat, you know what I mean? That's one thing that really drives me. I lost that first game and I was, like, Oh, no, I'm in trouble here. Then I actually channeled that into the tennis ball.
Look, I've been, working with a guy called Ben Crowe, who works with Grigor and Ash Barty and Dusty Martin, if you're from Australia, Steph Gilmore, a bunch of people. You know, I really went back to the things we have been talking about and I said to my colleagues, my manager, and Ben, friends, Mark and Ben before the match, I would play on the car park at 3 a.m. as long as I got an opportunity to play the Australian Open, you know?
Then I realized at 1-Love, I was like, stop being a sook. Let's play tennis. Not everyone is getting to their jobs at the moment, and I do. I had an opportunity to win a Grand Slam.
I tell you what would have been worse than waiting all day: Waiting all day and losing. I was glad I could pull myself out of there. I actually played awesome in the end. I didn't expect to play that well. And I think Sam played well as well, I just had a bit of a day out there.
It's strange when you're waiting all day. I was pretty sure Rafa was going to win that tiebreak. He lost one point on serve the whole third set. I was ready. To then wait and then wait again. It was different for us because, you know, wheelchair tennis normally leads off the day on the Court 7 when no one is there, not prime time.
It's a new experience. One that I was proud to get through.
Q. Was there any suggestion or want from you to maybe have the match held over to tomorrow?
DYLAN ALCOTT: 100%, yeah. There was a few ticks flying around and things. The choice wasn't mine, but it was talked about and, you know, my preference was just to play.
I was probably thinking a bit too much about it in my head, and then yesterday I was, like, you know what? Let's just play whenever. When the crowds got announced this morning, had a chat with my opponent and TA and all that, but because of broadcast, you know, if Rafa pulls out of the first game or it's quick or whatever, you know, you need tennis to be played.
I mean, I talked to the other wheelchair tennis players. They were, like, Are you following Rafa and Stefanos prime time? That's the sickest thing I ever heard. And I was like, here's me being a bit of, do I want crowds, do I want to follow Rafa? If you ask me that five years ago, I'd be, like, Are you serious? Then I realized, I'll play whenever. Then I realized at 1-Love when I lost the first game to Love, I put a smile on my face, and brought an intensity in me actually to really want to win.
It was obviously different and stuff, but I'm glad I got the job done.
Q. You said many times you don't play to win titles. It's about a much bigger purpose. You are obviously very competitive. The fact you got US Open, does it drive you at all? Do you find new ways, in that sort of sense?
DYLAN ALCOTT: Yeah, I didn't even think about it. I tell you when I thought about it, is the court announcer, amazing, the voice of the G, help me out here. James. Legend. Amazing. He goes, He beat Dylan Alcott, and Dylan is going to try and avenge his loss. I was like, Am I? I didn't even think of that.
I actually don't get competitive with people. I get competitive with the moment, if that makes sense. So I want to win the moment to give me the platform to do what I'm passionate about. That's what drives me.
I really don't dislike anyone I play. I don't have that -- I know some people make it personal and then you can get pumped. I just don't have that in me. But I want to win for that reason, to give me opportunity to do things I'm passionate about and stuff like that.
You know, what's the difference between 1 a.m. on Margaret Court or 11 a.m. tomorrow on Rod Laver? Not much. Seven Australian Opens is still seven Australian Opens.
So, glad I could get my head together and get the job done.
Q. How does your year look? Does that prospect of winning the calendar Grand Slam motivate you at the moment? Is that your main goal?
DYLAN ALCOTT: I think what really, if you take money out of sport, what's the biggest prize in sport? To me, it's the Paralympic and Olympic Games, always has been for a paralympic athlete because we weren't always at the Grand Slams, obviously don't get paid the $4 million or whatever it is to win and stuff like that.
So I think when Tokyo got postponed last year I was gutted, proper, and I acted cool and I wasn't cool. And then I started talking about how flat I was and I felt better.
So we will see what happens with that. I think they are going to make a decision in the next few weeks about that. Obviously hopefully French Open, Wimbledon. I would love to be able to do French Open, Wimbledon. Be able to come home and hopefully not quarantine or quarantine and be able to train or something, and then go to Tokyo and then recess.
But I used to have expectations on myself to win, and that is the reason why I lost the US Open when I was going for the calendar Grand Slam. I choked and had a shocker. Now I have expectation on myself to be Dylan, to be myself, to be talkative, to have fun, and to enjoy the moment. Win, lose, draw. Then the results seem to happen.
That's all I can ask of myself. I really wanted to win the calendar Grand Slam to then get platform to maybe have a chance of Australian of the Year, to have all these things to be able to help people with disabilities. That put way too much pressure on myself.
So now, who cares about all that stuff? Who cares about the calendar Grand Slam? You can still live out your purpose, win, lose, draw of a Grand Slam. You can still be you. So that's what I think about now.
I think you can see I'm a bit of a relaxed different guy who played really well tonight. Proud of myself for that. Because maybe a year ago I would have been pissed off and played not as well of the moment.
But today I was in the moment, and that's all you can ask.
Q. Obviously this has been a Grand Slam like no other. Has it required extra levels of resilience?
DYLAN ALCOTT: Yeah, for sure. For all of us. I think it's not more resilience than someone who has lost their job, though. Someone who is in lockdown right now.
I spoke to my man in London who's been in lockdown since December 1, and we've had five days of lockdown here in Australia, and it's been a bit gnarly. December 1, and I was like, Wow. So it's all about perspective for me.
A tennis tournament is just a tennis tournament. Having an accreditation at the moment, it's kind of like a police pass where you can do whatever you want -- not whatever you want but get around where no one else can. I was like, I feel really lucky to be a part of that. Do you know what I mean? I felt grateful.
So I tried to channel that into my whole week. You know what I mean? I really did. I think that's why I played so well and was able to get it done.
You know, I get FOMO. So I think I had FOMO at 9 p.m. when I was like, Maybe tomorrow could have had crowds, would have been awesome. And then I got that FOMO out of my head and was able to concentrate on what I was doing.
You know, I'm not more resilient than someone that's been sick this year, lost their job, whatever it is, lining up at Centrelink. That takes more resilience than playing tennis at 12:30 a.m. for an opportunity.
Yeah, I'm proud of myself but then proud of the way that I -- the perspective I had.
Q. Congratulations. You spoke briefly about the Paralympics there. Can you elaborate how important it is as games, what it means to you, and how great it would be if it does go ahead?
DYLAN ALCOTT: Yeah, well, I call the Olympic Games the crappy warmups for the Paralympic Games, right? Once every four years people with disability are the stars. People say, Why not have the Paralympics and Olympics combined? I'm like, When Usain Bolt was running, I fully appreciate everyone will watch him and not me. But guess what? When I'm on, we're the stars, right? I used to say that.
Now what we've done here at the Australian Open, I feel like I'm on par with Stefanos and Rafa and Serena. Like, the way that I'm treated, I feel like a tennis player, not a wheelchair tennis player. So maybe there is but, you know, that's why I love the Paralympics. It's like for two weeks it's the big show.
Outside of maybe tennis, you know, when I play basketball, I won a gold medal. I never met LeBron James or played with him. Now I play tennis, Rafa Nadal's locker is next to me. He's like, G'day, Dyl. G'day Rafa. Like, it's just -- you know what I mean?
I feel like tennis is the lucky Paralympic sport to have that, but for everything else the Paralympics is like the Holy Grail. Do you know what I mean? I really hope we get the opportunity to play.
And I would love to play Wimbledon again. I've only played it once. Played really well. I think I look good in white. Hopefully we get another opportunity to play there, as well.
Q. You mentioned on court you're not sure how long you got to go. Knowing what the Paralympics mean to you, is there a chance we don't see you back here next year?
DYLAN ALCOTT: For sure potentially. You know, I'm always honest, to be honest. I was just saying get yourself to the 2020 Paralympics, right, mentally. That got postponed. That's why I struggled and played so poorly at the US Open because that's when the Paralympics should have been. I was like, this sucks, right? I just want to get to the Paralympics Games.
I think no crowds, bit of a weird day. I was like, I think I have to do one more AO. You know what I mean? But I might hit that last ball at the Paralympics Games and be like, I'm done. It's cliché but you know when you know. I know I'm getting close.
It's not because I've lost the passion to play tennis but, you know, I do TV, radio, I've got my foundation, couple of companies, Able Foods and Get Skilled Access. I do so many things, right? It adds up and there's only so long you can spin all the plates for.
I want to do some acting, I want to write a script. I want to do all kinds of stuff. And it's hard to do it all at once.
At the moment I've still got the passion to play tennis. We'll see what happens. You know, one John Farnham style, "this is my last day-o," might be cool. So we'll see what happens. And then come back and back. No, I'm just kidding.
Q. Magnificent 7. This time last year we sat in that room and you told me, or you said that you were drinking slightly less because of the Paralympics. Have you decided to do that again, or is it global plague, stuff it?
DYLAN ALCOTT: I haven't had a beer since Christmas Day. I've actually been pretty good. Yeah, I've actually, like, been training hard. I'm going to spank down some Young Henrys beers though because they're my favorite, and I would be lying to say if I didn't have two before this press conference. I think I have been going pretty well.
I think I had two and then I had the third and I thought, I haven't eaten. Feeling a bit pissed. I then toned it back.
But I'll keep it together till the Paralympics for you so I'm not a fat mess out there.
Q. With your game, with all the potholes, what are some of the keys to your success? Like is it your decision-making, your variety, or is it a combination of all these things? What's the key to some of the keys to Dylan's domination?
DYLAN ALCOTT: I think today was a good signal in that my mental game is really strong. I didn't play as well in the semifinal against Niels because I was being really loud and proactive and positive and talkative and almost commentate my own match.
I felt like, pardon my French, a bit of a dick head when no one was there, because I was so loud, right? When the crowd is there, it kind of numbs it.
I felt a bit awkward. Then I was 4-2 down in the semifinal and I thought if some guy or girl writes on Twitter, This guy is an idiot, look at him talking, who cares? Because that guy doesn't know me, right? They don't know me personally.
They might think I'm being arrogant or not but I'm not. I'm just being me. That is a way for me to play well.
So I think me, I think being really assured of who you are is an important trait that when push comes to shove, if you know who you are, and I think I also shy away from how bloody hard I work. You might know me as the radio guy goes to festivals and me, this happy guy, but I also bust my ass five hours a day every single day when no one is watching.
When push comes to shove, that rises to the top. One of my favorite quotes is "You don't rise to the occasion. You actually sink back to your habits."
No one rises to the occasion. Everyone goes back to what they know? If what you know is better than the opposition, well, then you win.
I think my mental game and how hard I work is probably the two things that I trust the most, and it leaves me in good stead.
Yeah, it lets you down sometimes, but I have had a pretty good career so far. I'm proud of what's going on. Good question. I like that one. Got a nice backhand too. There you go.
Q. Congrats on No. 7. How much does having the likes of Niels and Sam in the game now, how much does having the young guns like that make you work harder for what you want to see for the future?
DYLAN ALCOTT: For sure. I have been working for years all draw sizes, quads, men's, women's should increase. Back in the day there was only eight, eight, or four people who could win it. But now there is way more, you know what I mean?
I think we saw that, Channel 9, Wild World of Sport out here, they were like calling Niels the heir apparent. It's so true. He almost beat me the other day, and he's 18 years old.
I think the sport is in such an incredible place where there is so many great players all around the world who have opportunity to win Grand Slams. More people, they shouldn't just know my name. They need to know more names, like Niels, like Sam, like Gordon, like anybody in any division. They need to know more people.
And I think that is amazing because they are coming through and it's not about -- I want the success and the publicity and the tickets that are sold to permeate to the next generation of young wheelchair athletes and tennis players to come. I feel confident that's going to happen now, which is awesome.
That's my goal. You know what I mean? It's not about me. Don't think about me really. I think about that a lot more. And I think it's, you know, left in good stead for the future.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports