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November 25, 2021

Alex De Minaur

John Peers

Lleyton Hewitt

Team Australia

Press Conference

MEKTIC-PAVIC/de Minaur-Peers

6-3, 6-1

Croatia - 3

Australia - 0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Obviously not the result you wanted, but what positives can you take out of the three performances you had today and having an extra day off before you come back here?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it's obviously disappointing. Not the way we would have liked to have started the campaign, but Croatia played extremely well in all three matches, to be honest.

Their No. 2 guy played well above his ranking. We had seen him play quite a bit. We knew when he's on he's extremely tough. He obviously has a big serve. He hit a high percentage of first serves in against Alexei.

Yeah, could have been a different story if Alexei took some of those chances early in the first set, but then Borna got confident as the match went on, especially after he won the first set, which put a little bit more pressure on Alexei.

Then Marin played incredible first set and a half, didn't put a foot wrong. Alex did extremely well to hang in there, tried to find a way to get back in the match. In the end he turned it into his favor. Marin got a little bit tight towards the end of the second set trying to close it out.

Then, yeah, we just couldn't quite consolidate the break early in the third set. Yeah, Alex left it all out there yet again, which we are accustomed to. I'm extremely proud of the effort he put in. Marin played some incredible tennis though.

Then the doubles, well, they are the World No. 1 team for a reason. It just felt like everything they touched tonight went their way.

Q. Alex, your thoughts on the singles? It was a bit of a roller coaster and it was an intriguing match, but your comments on the three sets.

ALEX de MINAUR: Yeah, as Rusty said, I came out with Marin playing some incredible tennis for probably a set and a half. I managed to dig in, dig deep, find something out there to try to fight my way and claw my way back into the match.

I managed to somehow sneak that second set, and I'm just disappointed I wasn't able to consolidate the break and get a point for Australia.

That's what really hurts me. If I go out there and I finish the job in that sense and can come away with the win, then maybe this doubles is completely different. There is a lot to play for, and so it is disappointing.

I left it all out there, but sometimes it's not enough. A win today would have definitely made the doubles very interesting.

Q. I'd like to ask to Lleyton if he has heard about the chance that Abu Dhabi could host the Davis Cup for the next five years? What is your reaction about it? Because we have seen football going to Qatar, tennis going maybe to Abu Dhabi with maybe not so many spectators and not so much atmosphere but probably a lot of money. What do you think about? Should follow the money or we should follow something else?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I had only heard a rumor about it, so I don't know if it's confirmed or not. Yeah, I think it's ridiculous. It's not what Davis Cup is about. I have been pretty vocal about the whole thing for the last three or four years now.

Yeah, even for us here tonight, yeah, this is a wonderful stadium, but yeah, it's not a massive crowd. That's not what Davis Cup is about.

Yeah, for me, and I just feel some of my greatest memories are playing in Davis Cup, semis and finals in front of packed houses. Didn't matter if it was in Australia or if it was Hawaii. The atmosphere was incredible. Sometimes the away ties were nearly as special because you had to find a way to be able to gel together as a team.

We sit back, me and Tony Roche, and tell these young guys stories about when we had the opportunity to play in some of those situations, and I'm just really disappointed, especially a guy like Alex who would do anything to be in that situation of playing in big matches.

Yeah, Davis Cup was held in the highest regard because it was up there with the pinnacle of our sport in men's tennis, which was five sets. Grand Slams and Davis Cup, they are the only ones that played five sets.

We threw that out the door, and now we are throwing the home and away out the door, as well. Playing a qualifying tie here or there, best-of-three sets, is not the same as having home-and-away main draw matches throughout the year.

So if they are going and selling the soul of the Davis Cup to the Middle East for another five years, I think it's ridiculous, and they are really killing the competition.

Q. What could have been done differently from coming here, let's say, or apart from Abu Dhabi, forget about Abu Dhabi right now, but it's true that before the Davis Cup was in troubles because most top players were not playing anymore. So what would you have done to save the atmosphere?

LLEYTON HEWITT: All the young guys were playing Davis Cup. It was only Roger, you know, and he pretty much did everything to get his name on the Davis Cup trophy. That's how much it meant for a guy like Roger who at the time was the greatest player of all time.

So it certainly meant a lot for those top guys. Novak was playing whenever it counted for Serbia. Andy Murray, we saw what he went through for Great Britain to get them to win Davis Cup.

I felt the other side of that, the pain of losing to them in a semifinal. So I know what it means for those top guys. Zverev was playing Davis Cup, we played him in Australia, meant the world for him to come and play in Brisbane. I don't buy into that. Yeah, as I said, there was something really special about this competition.

Now we have the ATP Cup, as well, thrown in there. Yeah, I can be biased now, I have been part of the ATP Cup the last two years, but the first year that it came in, the crowds that we had in Australia for the ATP Cup, with all the top guys playing, was incredible and the atmosphere was incredible. That wasn't just for Australia. That was for every country.

Q. How much is Nick missing for your team?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, obviously we'd love to have Nick in the team. He adds a lot of fire power, whether it's singles or doubles potentially at his best, but he hasn't played a full schedule this year either.

You know, I think mentally he's been a little bit down at times throughout this year, as well, which has been really tough for him. Then you throw in the quarantine situation that we had back in Australia and when he had to go back home as well after the Laver Cup.

There is a lot of things you throw in the mix for that. He's had a knee issue, as well, for most of this year. So Nick at his best is certainly someone we want to have a part of our team, but that wasn't an option for this event.

Q. Could I just ask, obviously this is a bit of a calamitous start, but do you still think you can make it in this format that you could possibly a 3-nil win over Hungary might still get you into the quarters?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yes, it's mathematically possible. So for us, we get the opportunity to play another match for Australia and wear the green and gold. It doesn't matter if it's, yeah, if we can make it or not, we're going to go out and leave absolutely everything on the court in those three matches. What will be will be. But the boys will certainly be going out there and doing absolutely everything in their power to get the result that we want.

Q. One final question on Abu Dhabi. It was Kosmos' proposal they want to go to Abu Dhabi. It's not yet been signed off by the ITF board. Do you feel you, other captains, leading players have input into the final decision? Do you think you can still bring your influence to bear?

LLEYTON HEWITT: We didn't have input four years ago, Mate. I'm not sure it's going to matter much now.

Yeah, it's been run by a soccer player and his company. So, you know, it's totally different to anything that tennis has been through in the past and such a big event.

No, yeah, the ITF certainly didn't come to me and ask my thoughts or pretty much any Australian who has had pretty much the richest tradition in this competition along with two or three other countries for over a hundred years.

Q. I guess this is the hot topic for the moment.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Seems like it.

Q. If apparently the board is possibly going to pass this in the next week, if it does get passed, and knowing full well what all of you feel about Davis Cup, if it does happen, would you all sit out, for want of another word, and boycott it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I haven't ever thought about boycotting Davis Cup or matches for our country. That's what I said when the competition changed.

Yes, we don't agree with it. Yes, we think it's changed for the worse for the boys, and it's lost something really special about it, but we get an opportunity and these guys get an opportunity to wear the green and gold and play for Australia.

To be honest, having someone like Rochey around at the ties is such a special part, because it's still -- you keep some of those traditions burning for the young Australian players coming up like Alex and Alexei, in particular.

So for us and our team culture and the rich history that we have for this competition, yeah, we try to keep it going in a really positive way, at least.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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