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March 11, 2002

Alex Corretja


MODERATOR: Questions for Alex.

Q. I'm doing a story on ATP. I wanted to talk to you about when you were president, things around that.

ALEX CORRETJA: Yeah. You're not going to keep me too much.

Q. When were you president of the ATP?

ALEX CORRETJA: I don't know. I don't remember. I remember I was president, but I don't know which year. '96, '97. I honestly don't know. I promise, I don't know.

Q. Why did you get into it?

ALEX CORRETJA: Well, because I was trying to get involved with the ATP to see if we can help the players. I was a player council member. Once you're there as a council member, you can become a president.

Q. How long were you a council member?

ALEX CORRETJA: Two years. It was a enough. It's too much. I mean, players, we are terrible. It's difficult to defend all positions. You got to be there a little bit like a politician. It's not easy because everybody defends his own personality, his own game. If you talk to the Spanish guys, they like to have some more clay court guys. If you talk to the American guys, they would like to see everything on hard courts. You got to try to find a good balance for everybody, which is never easy because somebody's always going to complain. But it was a good time. Gave me some good experience. I know better the tour probably after that. But at least at that time it took a lot from my time. It was already too much for me and I wanted to stop. Now I just help whenever I can, but not as much before. I don't remember exactly when it was. Probably '96 or '97.

Q. You wouldn't consider going back and doing it again if you had an opportunity?

ALEX CORRETJA: They asked me for, but I'm not really sure. I need to see that it's really important for the players that I will try to help them or to see whenever I stay there I do something worth it. But if I stay there for many hours, just leave, I would say an example like we would like to have some more tournaments on clay because we feel like we play six tournaments out of Masters Series on fast courts, three on clay, four of the Slams are on hard court, one on clay. I feel like the balance pretty much for them. So I tried to work and fight for the clay court position. After a while, you realize you have nothing to do because they wanted to take away Monte-Carlo a few years ago. They wanted to just move some clay court tournaments and make it on hard courts because it's better. They can get some hard court players, good American guys. So you feel like you spend a lot of time like on the council, and then afterwards it doesn't too much sense.

Q. When you became president, did you have specific goals, things you wanted to accomplish?

ALEX CORRETJA: Yeah. My main goal was to consider clay as a nice surface, not feeling like, "Oh, clay." On clay you've got to work your fitness game, your mental game. It's nice to see that the guys have to work, to win their own game, not just serve, serve, that's all. In these days, when you go out there on the tour, it seems like the guy who has a better serve is the guy who is going to win. Sometimes it's kind of boring. It's good here, for example, they slow down a little bit the surface. It gives a better chance to everyone. Otherwise it's just serve, just serve. I don't know if it's too nice to watch.

Q. When you finished up, did you feel you had at least created some attention?

ALEX CORRETJA: Yeah, I felt pretty well whatever I did. It was good for me. I think I helped some guys, especially next year if you watch the calendar, finally we don't have I would say Kitzbuhel, and the week after we have to go to Toronto. We only have like four Championship Series throughout the whole year on clay. One of them, it's the week before Toronto in the other part of the world on another surface. It didn't make any sense. We wanted to have Kitzbuhel, one week off to recover, get to Toronto or Montreal. We never got that. Finally we get it for next year. It was one of my main goal to consider clay as a good surface and give the chance to everybody to play anywhere.

Q. Do the players really feel that the council can bring about change or would they need somebody elite or like you?

ALEX CORRETJA: That's the main thing. We didn't really feel like we helped being on the council. We felt like we spend lot of time, but afterwards it wasn't worth it because maybe you ask for something, some changes, but then they go and come up with the tournament directors, and they feel like that's not possible to do it. They've got like TV contracts or something, they have Penn contract, they have to play in that week, I don't know, whatever. You change, yes, yes, yes, and after two months they come and you say yes, yes, yes, it's no, no, no. I spend so many hours there. Right now I think it change a little bit. It's kind of good to be there, to know how it is. But it's tough. It's tough because players, they go like singles. They don't care. They feel like it's good enough for them, they don't care if it's bad for the other one next to them.

Q. Do you think it could have been better if there had been a stronger attitude like you just said for everyone rather than, "I play better on hard courts or you play better on clay"?

ALEX CORRETJA: When we create the system right now that we have to play all Masters Series, clay, hard courts, indoors, all Grand Slams, it's because we don't want to hear more about, "This guy is good, but he just play well on clay." Now if you're on top of the game, you play well everywhere, otherwise you wouldn't be there. You have to play on all surfaces. If you are No. 1 in the world, it's because you are the best player in the world. Not like before, "He's No. 1. Guga, he's No. 1, but that way." He has to play Australia. He has to play Cincinnati. He has to play here. He has to play Key Biscayne. If it's No. 1, it's because he deserve it. The only thing is because he's Brazilian. If you American, Australian, British, it's okay, because your name sounds different. If it sounds like Spanish, it's not good for the tour. Not for the tour, for the general public I would say in North America or something because they don't know him enough.

Q. Players talk about changes, changing the schedule, changing Masters Series, race versus ranking, all sorts of things like that. If you had the power, is there any one thing you'd want to change, other than trying to get more equal ground for clay?

ALEX CORRETJA: I like to see all surface a little bit more, like more balance. Sometimes you play tournaments, they are way fast, then you go to a clay court tournament, it's way slow. It's bad for everybody. I think it's good to find a balance. I would say like you give the shot to everyone to be able to win. It's bad if we said, "We play in Barcelona, balls like this big, all clay on the court because we want a Spanish guy to win." That's terrible. Or if we said, "The US Open has to be so fast, because like this we will have American guy win it. For the broadcast, it will be unbelievable." What about the others? We are 128 guys playing Grand Slam. All those guys, at least they should have the chance to win, at least be able to win, no matter if you play from the baseline or you play serve and volley or your name is Corretja or it's another one. Give the chance. But you feel like, "No, let's make it faster like this, Sampras, it would be easier for him." If we went to Australia, Rafter, serve and volley, "Let's make it so fast for him." Doesn't make sense. Difference is in Davis Cup where you can choose. Now we play America, USA, okay. It's good, they choose to play on grass, choose to play on clay, it's the same.

Q. When you won here, how different is the surface this year?

ALEX CORRETJA: It was faster than now, much faster than now, even if it sounds funny. But it was faster. I think the ball was flying pretty much. It wasn't as rough as it is right now. It was a little bit more flat.

Q. Do you prefer the surface currently?

ALEX CORRETJA: I liked that one because I won. If I would win this year, I will tell you I like this one, too. Once I won on that surface. I think this tournament -- this tournament is tremendous. Conditions we have here, hard to find another one like this one. Right now it's just glorious to play here. It's wonderful.

Q. What is your feeling about the other Masters Series events? Do you like the concept?

ALEX CORRETJA: I like the concept, yeah. We all have to play. I like to see, even if it's unbelievable, but you have Moya and Hewitt playing first round, Enqvist, Johansson, nearly 8:00 first round. Johansson just won a Grand Slam, Enqvist, you know what a player he is. They're playing first round, it's amazing. It's really difficult for us, for players, to win these kind of tournaments right now because you have to win six matches out of seven days. It's pretty difficult. I think I would like to see them more like Key Biscayne, you have like ten days' period because you will have more time to rest or recover yourself the next day. That would be great. But then you will lose some other tournaments because you will take nearly two weeks to play all these tournaments. But at the end, that's what it's all about, to win Masters Series and Grand Slams. The other tournaments, they are great, they are beautiful if you win them, it's unbelievable, nice feeling. But generally for the public, they only count like big tournaments.

Q. Do you think there should be fewer tournaments?

ALEX CORRETJA: I think we should be more home, yeah.

End of FastScripts….

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