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July 13, 1999

Patrick Rafter


Q. Lleyton, are you nervous about this? This is your first Davis Cup.

LLEYTON HEWITT: At the moment, it's a bit of daydream, I suppose, for me to be lining up against the States for the Centennial Match, and it's a big opportunity for me playing alongside Pat and Sandon and Woody and having Newk on the side of the court and working with Rochey the whole time. I'm looking forward to it at the moment. The nerves aren't setting in yet.

Q. Do you think you'll get more nervous as we get closer to the weekend?

LLEYTON HEWITT: For sure. Coming out Friday and playing, I'm going to be nervous for sure. It doesn't matter who I'm going to be playing against. It's my first Davis Cup match. I'm going to be nervous, I think, going out there.

PATRICK RAFTER: You can't keep saying that.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Anyway, once I get into the match, I think I'll be all right.

Q. Maybe your grammar will improve, too. (Laughing)

LLEYTON HEWITT: Maybe. You never know. I'll keep having Pat help me over here.

Q. Pat, does this tie feel different, special, because it's the Centennial Tie?

PATRICK RAFTER: Not really. Obviously, we're all feeling a bit of pressure, and we're concentrating more on the job that we have to do. I know I am, and I'm pretty sure Lleyton is and the boys are. We're just trying to focus on our matches, and the Centennial is just something that is obviously big. Maybe we can reflect on that after the tie's finished.

Q. Do you feel more pressure with the changes in the Australian line-up?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, not really at all. I'm very happy playing alongside Lleyton. He's had great performances and he has kicked my butt plenty of times this year. Obviously, without Flip and Todd here, it might make the team look a little bit disorganized, but I think we have enough good players to compensate for that. So we're all very happy with the team we have got.

Q. Are you disappointed that you possibly will not be facing Sampras in a singles?

PATRICK RAFTER: It's not really a disappointment. You know the team, he will be on the team. I think we are thinking that he still might play. But, first of all, I've got Jim in the first match and I'm concentrating all my attention on that. And I guess we'll check on Thursday to see who plays, if he does play. I think Thursday we'll know.

Q. So you don't necessarily believe that he's just going to play doubles?

PATRICK RAFTER: No, not at all.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Do you? (Laughing.)

Q. Would you expect him to play singles?

PATRICK RAFTER: I think you could say that. I don't think he's come all this way to sit on the sideline and watch.

Q. Lleyton, when you were 16 and playing matches, you said that at that time you weren't nervous; you were just excited to be there. At what point did you start getting nervous in matches?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Probably it started when I had to go back into Adelaide. Up to then, I really had nothing to lose and everything to gain. And sort of I started getting a little bit nervous, sort of defending that title, and I had higher expectations on me going into Adelaide. But I think I'm handling it pretty well. (Laughter.) Can you shut up? (Laughter.) I think I'm handling it pretty well at the moment, apart from the media side. (Laughter.)

Q. Pat, I'm just wondering how you feel coming off of Wimbledon. You had a real great Wimbledon. Mark was playing really well. It was a disappointing loss. Where is your mindset now?

PATRICK RAFTER: I didn't look at the match as a real disappointment. I thought Andre played a very good match. So... I had a few days off. I was just really happy to finally crack through at Wimbledon. I'd been on a break there for a few years, now I feel like I can be a real part of that tournament now and in the future as well. I've come off that tournament with a lot of confidence. I had a few days off. I got here, trained with the boys, I'm back on a familiar surface, I like this hard court. It feels good to be on this hard court.

Q. Do you have any preference about you playing doubles?

PATRICK RAFTER: No. Not really. I'm very confident in them doing the job, and then I'm also ready to play if Newk and Rochey want to change things up or whatever. I feel fit enough to do that.

Q. (Inaudible)... What was going through your mind at the time when you went from the 700s to where you are?

LLEYTON HEWITT: No. I was 700 in the world. Just luckily, I was playing a Perth challenger one week. Next thing I knew, I was playing Agassi in the Semifinal. And, really, I suppose it all happened too quick for me to realize that I've jumped 600 spots. But I suppose the biggest part is being the second year, I haven't really fallen down yet. I had a great start for the year and hopefully it continues in the second half of the year.

Q. Lleyton, you went back to Adelaide after Wimbledon. What was your reaction? What was your feeling when you heard you had to get back here quick and you were going to be playing Davis Cup?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I suppose it's a dream for me to play Davis Cup. Once I have that opportunity, I'm going to take it with both hands now. And I only spent three days at home, I came back and played, started training with Rochey here this morning. And, you know, I think it's a big step for me. It's a big step for me. I'm just glad sort of Newk and Rochey put me in the right stead. They've made me work over the years, being the orange boy and that. I know what I have to do to get into the Davis Cup. I feel a part of it now as well.

Q. We might have seen a little bit right there. Is there any kind of hazing that goes on when an 18-year-old kid comes on and is playing his first Davis Cup match? Does he have to carry everyone's bags or anything like that?

ANDREW ILIE: We have to carry the bags out of the car at the hotels.

JOHN NEWCOMBE: Does Lleyton have to?

Q. Yeah.

JOHN NEWCOMBE: He's been part of the Davis Cup Sports since he's been 15. We've had him at nearly every match since then. So he's really been blooded for this occasion, whenever it came. And I think he thought and we thought it would be maybe some time next year, so it's come a little bit early. But he's been totally prepared, and he's seen a lot and observed a lot and he's a great observer, as people who become champions are. So I think to go back to your question, he's going to be nervous, but it will be a good type of nervous. It will be match nervous and settle down after a couple of games. But he'll probably have to play Pete first up, which is a pretty big thing when you're coming in here for the Davis Cup match.

Q. Do you think Pete will play singles?

JOHN NEWCOMBE: I would be very surprised if he didn't.

Q. He's got until Thursday, doesn't he, to really make that announcement -- for them to make that announcement?

JOHN NEWCOMBE: From what the boys are saying, it's a team decision. So if you're on a team and you want to win the match -- I think Jim said it in the paper this morning -- the objective is to beat the Australians and win three matches before they do. Why would you have Pete sitting on the bench? I'm not trying to force him to play, I hope he stays on the bench for three days. (Laughter.)

Q. Could I ask a question of Mark. Does it feel strange to not have Todd here for this one?

MARK WOODFORDE: Yeah, of course it feels a little strange. Todd and I have had a partnership that's extended over many years. The Davis Cup has been an important part of that partnership. It does feel a little bit weird, but then again there's great support with the other guys that are here, and, you know, it's business as usual. Todd's not here, so I've got to play with someone else. Hopefully, I'll be playing with someone else and get the job done.

JOHN NEWCOMBE: Todd was there in '96, was injured against Croatia and Mark played with Pat.

Q. Why isn't he here? Why isn't Todd here?

JOHN NEWCOMBE: He's had a slight arm problem the last couple of months, but that's not the main reason. They're having a little bit of a rough trot in the doubles. His singles ranking has gone way down; he lost the first round in the French and at Wimbledon had a really tight match. Todd had a couple of points there where he -- very important points -- where he had the opportunity to win the point, and he felt that he really tightened up, and he just didn't feel he was up to this. And it's not him as an individual here; it's him as a team and he's playing for his country. He made the decision that he'd rather not put that at risk. So it was his call. He made the call.

Q. Because he's not confident enough?

JOHN NEWCOMBE: He just doesn't feel that he's got enough confidence to weather the storm that will be here.

Q. Mark, was that discussed with you? I assume he talked to you about this as well, about his decision making?

MARK WOODFORDE: Yeah, I guess I had a little bit of an idea, and, I mean, it's not up to me whether he comes and plays or not. It was his decision, as Newk pointed out. He probably had a more in-depth conversation with Newk about where he stands than he did with me. But that's all I can say.

Q. John, how do you feel about this? What are your thoughts right now? How do you feel? Nervous, edgy-wise or confidence-wise with the injuries?

JOHN NEWCOMBE: Well, obviously, Philippoussis was starting to play pretty well there at Wimbledon. It looked like he was heading into his best run. So things were looking very good. Then he went out. And then a couple of days later, Todd made his decision. So most teams wouldn't be able to come up with anything from there, but we've got one of the best doubles players in the world in Sandon, and Pat played with Mark in doubles against Croatia and they teamed up terrific there and won in three straight sets and were an obvious combination, as Sandon and Mark are an obvious combination. So we're very lucky to have that. And then we're lucky to have someone with Lleyton's ability, as yet unproven in Davis Cup, but you never know with a young bloke like that if he's -- he can sort of just go up like that.

Q. He's probably entering with no pressure, especially if he's playing Pete in the first round. If he loses, it's expected.

JOHN NEWCOMBE: He's got nothing to lose. He's not expected to win that one. His big test is if it comes down to the wire on the third day and he plays Jim in the deciding match. That should be fun.

Q. Sandon, your thoughts, your views, the fact that you're likely to play doubles over here? Where would you put this with some of the other results like winning the U.S. Open, et cetera?

SANDON STOLLE: Well, for me, it's a good opportunity. The year's gone well up until this point. I've played with Pat in Dusseldorf when we won that event. That was a great experience. Then coming in and me having a chance to play, it's obviously a dream to play for the country. I'm looking forward to it. So if it happens, I just want to go out and put my guts out on the court and hopefully have a win in the first match.

Q. John, I was just wondering, do you have mixed feelings about this site? I know this was supposed to be in Australia then got changed. Also, this place holds special memories for you. What are your thoughts about coming back here to Longwood to play this match?

JOHN NEWCOMBE: Yeah. It's like coming back 35 years, isn't it? Nothing's changed. (Laughing) No, this was a place where we played some great matches over the years. I think the last time I had the doubles here was in '67, Rochey and I won it. Next year, '68, we played a pro tournament here with the ones that were contract pros there, and I think Tony and I played a really long five setter, I think he won the next two 12-10, 13-11, something like 6-4. And Rocco (phonetic spelling?) beat me in the Final. I think Tony won the tournament here in 70 or '71. We've got a lot of memories in Boston, which are all good ones. Hopefully, we'll leave at the end of this weekend with some good memories that we want to remember.

Q. Has a lot changed since then?


Q. You said Todd made his decision a couple of days after Mark was injured in Wimbledon. You've been sitting on that a couple of days. Did you think you could you change his mind or --

JOHN NEWCOMBE: I wanted him to think about it for a couple of days and see how he felt. But if Todd's been there 97 percent of the time since Tony and I have been there and we haven't lost a doubles in five and a half years, since the first tie we had against Russia, and that's with -- mainly with Todd and Mark playing, so we wanted him here. But he had to make the call. And you've got to respect him for making that call. It's a big, big decision. If someone else does really well, it may cost him his spot. So it's a big opportunity for someone else to step up to the plate. It's a big call for Todd, and I respect him for making it and you've got to go with it.

Q. How are you doing up there, Andrew?

ANDREW ILIE: Are you talking to me? (Laughter.) All right. Here we go. (Laughter.)

Q. It must be good for you to be part of this, the whole team and the whole atmosphere, even if you don't get a gig? How many shirts have you ripped in practice, mate?

ANDREW ILIE: I just want to say that, you know, God forbid I get a chance to play... (Laughter.) I really would feel sorry for the fellow that plays me. That's all I have to say. So they better be praying that I don't make the court, because there will be hell to pay for everybody, so... But, no, answering your question, it's an honor, although it's pretty sad that there are a couple of injuries on the team, I'm really glad to be part of the team, and, you know, just practicing with the boys and being on the team. Hopefully, I hope I'm not going to get to play because that means we're going to have other injuries there. So I just hope that this weekend will go well, and we'll see how it goes.

JOHN NEWCOMBE: Andrew and I have been talking about if something happens and he does have to play, I'm wondering how I'm going to talk to him to change his image. He goes through the days like this -- (Laughter.)

ANDREW ILIE: It's all the drugs that I take. (Laughter.)

JOHN NEWCOMBE: He closes his eyes and goes back like that. I don't know how I'm going to get inside his head.

ANDREW ILIE: It's pretty difficult. (Laughter.) I don't know how I get inside my head sometimes. Thanks. I'd like to thank you for putting a question to me. I really appreciate it. You made my day. Thank you. (Laughter.)

End of FastScripts....

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