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December 7, 2000

Patrick Rafter


MODERATOR: Could we have questions, please.

Q. Did you really expect that Alex Corretja wouldn't place the first day?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: We thought Corretja would play the first day.

Q. What do you think their thinking is on that?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: Well, I guess Alex must be resting up for Lleyton on day three.

Q. Does that throw your plans off in any way?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: No. We prepare and we go out and bring out whoever we want.

Q. To what extent does Davis Cup experience count in a final or is it still very much up to the nerves and pressures on the day?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: You would think that it counts to have been there before. That usually adds something. But then again, once you get into the battle, all that can be torn up. Strange things happen in Davis Cup. We've just got to be prepared for anything. We're certainly not counting on that being an advantage to us. However, we do feel that there's probably a little more pressure on the Spanish team than on us.

Q. Lleyton, your comments about being first one up?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, I've always seemed to go well first up. You know, I've been in that situation a few times in the past now. You know, I feel confident that, you know, hopefully I can get 1-Nill up. It's going to put a lot of pressure on Juan Carlos coming out 1-Love down, never having played in a Davis Cup final before.

Q. Pat, what is your state of mind right now? How much does this mean to you?

PATRICK RAFTER: Oh, very excited. I've done the work and I'm looking now forward to tomorrow. The work's been done. I just want to get out there and play.

Q. How much does it mean to you compared to other big tournaments and big events in your career?

PATRICK RAFTER: Davis Cup has always been one of the highest in my pecking order of tournaments. Sorry, mate, did you get that (laughter)? (Referring to translator).

Q. John, how is it to defend the title versus different people but on the same surface?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: I'm not sure I understand.

Q. Last year you won Davis Cup on clay to France, and this year it's to Spain, on the same surface, clay. How is it to train after all this year and all this season on hard court? How is it to come back on clay and play Spain?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: Well, first Spain is a very difficult nation to beat on clay, especially when they're playing at home. But for us, Pat especially wanted to prepare longer for the clay, so he did what he needed to do, which was to go to Marbella for a couple of weeks before coming here. When he enters the match, he'll have had three weeks' practice on clay, and that's what we judge to be sufficient. With Lleyton, he doesn't need so much. However, he did go to Marbella for eight days and spend some time practicing on clay, as well. The clay is not a problem. We're prepared. We have no excuses. We're just ready for the battle.

Q. Did Santana give to you the right of special suggestion in Marbella when he was there?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: No. I think I should correct something. It was actually through a friend of mine, Cino Marchese, who I asked to find a place to go. Cino asked Emilio Sanchez. It was Emilio who arranged for us to go to Marbella. Of course, I talked with Monolo in Marbella because he's a friend for many years, but we didn't discuss the Spanish players or tactics, of course not.

Q. Mark, with everything kind of winding down now, talk briefly about your feelings. Then, Sandon, is there any additional pressure playing this final match that Mark is going to play?

MARK WOODFORDE: Well, for me, it's just a great opportunity to finish my career hopefully with another victory for Australia. I mean, it's damn exciting in the last two years of my career to participate in two finals where I've played over 15 years, and maybe in those 15 years played maybe one or two Davis Cup finals, the last two years to play two. I've always believed that we had the goods. Finally it gelled together. It's just a great time for me. It's just like each day I've been here with the guys, just trying to sit back, breathe it all in, just let it, you know, sit with me, the fact that it's not going to happen anymore for me. There's no better way to go out with a victory. I'd prefer to have a victory, but it's just a great pleasure to be amongst a champion team.

Q. Sandon, for you, any additional pressures in playing this final match with Mark?

SANDON STOLLE: No, I don't look at it like that. You know, I think part of the team last year for the final, I learned a lot. I think, you know, we go out to play our match. Mark and I have played enough to get that one point for the team and win it for Australia. Obviously, it's going to be a lot of pressure on the day of the match. You know, I feel I've played a lot of big matches over the last few years in my career and I think that's important going into this match.

Q. Lleyton, Alex Corretja has sort of presented you as sort of a Ned Kelly figure of the Australian team. Can you understand why he's doing it? Do you think maybe it will have the effect of maybe pumping more adrenaline into you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know, maybe it's something to be proud of. I'm not really worried about it. I've had to deal with a lot of things in such a short career already. I think I've dealt with most of the pressures and stuff that's been put on my pretty well so far. You know, I'm just taking it like another Davis Cup match. You know, I've had to work very hard to get here. I learned a lot from my loss to Pioline last year in the Davis Cup final. I think I'm going to be a better player come tomorrow because of it.

Q. You lost to Costa in Roland Garros. Will it be on your mind?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It will be in the back of my mind, I suppose. But tomorrow is a different day. You know, it's Davis Cup. You know, the crowd is going to be a lot worse. It's going to be a lot more vocal than, you know, ten people sitting there at 8:30 at night playing in rain at Roland Garros. I think for me it couldn't have been a much worse court for me than I had to go out that night. I got a set and a break down before they actually called it off. I think there's a lot of positives to come out of that, that I was that close. You know, the next day I came out and played pretty good tennis and felt like I had him on the ropes. I feel like if I go out there and play my game, I have a very good chance.

Q. John, the court itself here, how slow is it or how fast is it? What are your feelings about that?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: I think the court in Nice last year was a little bit slower. We've found the court okay. We're quite happy with it.

Q. What do you feel about this being your last time, John?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: That was a decision that Tony and I made 12 months ago. We're well-adjusted to that. I was sitting there today at the draw just thinking, you know, take it all in and observe it, put it in the memory bank. Now we'll put the next three days in the memory bank. Hopefully they're good memories to have.

Q. Presumably going out on a triumph would be extra special, wouldn't it?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: Exactly. It would be a little bit more. Yeah, it would be a stronger party than the losing party - or maybe the other way around (laughter).

Q. Pat, you were expecting to play Corretja tomorrow. Is it a big difference to play Ferrero, considering that you lost to him last time you played?

PATRICK RAFTER: I was probably expecting to play Alex. It doesn't change the way I'm going to play, the way I'm hitting the ball and the way I feel. I'm ready for whoever they want to play. My game plan does not change from Alex to Juan Carlos at all.

Q. Even though your game plan hasn't changed, as a team do you see it as a bonus that you're playing Juan Carlos rather than Corretja?

PATRICK RAFTER: I put both those guys on the same sort of par. It's just a matter of who can respond on the day. Alex is someone that you would have thought maybe he would have played because of the more experience, but they're both very accomplished players. It doesn't really change the format of the whole draw.

Q. Just as dangerous?

PATRICK RAFTER: Just as dangerous, yeah.

Q. There's been talk in Spain that Alex will be playing on Sunday. Are you expecting that? How are you approaching that?

CAPTAIN NEWCOMBE: Yes, you would imagine that Alex has to play in the singles at some time. Perhaps the thinking is that he comes in fresh in the doubles and then he'll play the first or second on Sunday, depending on who's won or lost on the Friday. So maybe what we have to do is to make it so that it doesn't matter by Sunday.

Q. Patrick, do you feel you're in your best ever moment in your career on clay surface?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think '97 was hard to beat. But I feel like I'm hitting the ball as well as I am now as I was then. Match day is always different. Hopefully I can say that '97 and this year are two great clay court years for me.

Q. Pat, can you talk about the moustaches?

PATRICK RAFTER: This is a tribute to John, all the players. Lleyton, unfortunately, he's a little bare (laughter). Sandon said he'll shave the hair on his bum to put on his face (laughter).

End of FastScripts….

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