October 26, 1999
ATP: Questions for Jim.
Q. Just because all those matches went to three sets yesterday, no need to maintain that today.
JIM COURIER: After Marc's start, I was hoping for three sets. He started quickly. It wasn't by choice, that's for sure. I'll take it any way I can get it.
Q. How do you feel you're playing?
JIM COURIER: Well. I like the way I'm hitting the ball. I think I've been hitting it well since I've been in Europe on this trip. Quite happy with that.
Q. Can you actually put into words what makes you still want to go out there for two hours to win a first-round match?
JIM COURIER: Nothing else to do (laughter). I'll just leave it at that. That's a good little quote for you. I'm in Stuttgart. I mean, what else am I going to do?
Q. That's why we've been sitting there.
JIM COURIER: Exactly. That's why you're talking to me. Tired of drinking coffee.
Q. You took more than a few weeks off after the US Open. Was that because you had to or because you wanted to?
JIM COURIER: I really was trying to heal up. I injured my ankle, kind of a strange injury, against Ferreira in Montreal. It never got better over the course of the summer. I just wanted to give it a chance to heal. I took a month basically to let it totally heal up; and it has, which is great. I don't have to play in a brace or with it taped anymore. Also, you know, after the US Open, you kind -- I need a chance to kind of rest, mentally as well as physically. I had a wonderful month. Went to the Ryder Cup, stayed home, visited friends. It was something that as long as I've been on the Tour, I think I have to take time like that more often now because I can't just keep grinding and grinding and grinding. I've done it for too long. I have to step back and enjoy life a little bit more along the way.
Q. Did you know Payne Stewart?
JIM COURIER: I know Payne, not very well, but I would say I was an acquaintance of his, yeah. That's a shame.
Q. Someone who has experienced most if not all the big occasions on the tennis circuit, how did you find going to the Ryder Cup?
JIM COURIER: I loved it.
Q. Do you like going to big occasions in other sports?
JIM COURIER: Yeah. I've been to The Masters the last two years; went to the Ryder Cup this year. It's a blast to be there as just one of the spectators, to be able to enjoy everything that's going on. As players, you don't get to enjoy everything because you have to focus on what you have to do, you know, kind of do your task. I do quite enjoy going to see other sporting events. I'm a fan as much as everybody.
Q. Us as Europeans --?
JIM COURIER: We as Europeans, right.
Q. -- Didn't think too much of the crowd.
JIM COURIER: I think justifiably. I think there was a premature celebration by the American team. I suppose you're speaking of the celebration on the 17th green?
Q. And the abuse that Montgomerie took and that sort of thing.
JIM COURIER: Right. You know, I was there. I certainly, if I had enough beer, may have been doing the same thing. No, I'm kidding. I know better than to do that (laughter). I think there's always a few apples that spoil it for the rest of the tree, so to speak.
Q. If tennis got like that --?
JIM COURIER: Oh, it has. Go play Davis Cup in Brazil.
JIM COURIER: Sure. There's always going to be some people that will spoil it for the rest of the people. In general, you know, I was there, and I didn't find a whole lot of abusive behavior going on in the crowds. I actually just thought our crowd was very subdued the first few days because we were getting our butts stomped. Then the last day, when there was something to cheer for, our crowd got really into it. I didn't particularly see it as very combative, although I wasn't Montie. I wasn't standing on the middle of the fairway listening to it. He played very well. Maybe he should have people yell at him more often.
Q. Which matches did you follow in particular?
JIM COURIER: I was all over the course. I was following a lot of the players that I know personally, watching them.
Q. Who are they?
JIM COURIER: Basically half the team. I'd say I know half the team. I probably know all the guys, but know half the team more than others. I actually fancied watching Sergio Garcia. He's pretty exciting as well.
Q. Certainly my paper has to do a page, a tribute today.
JIM COURIER: I don't think I'm the guy to be giving you quotes on that honestly. Todd Woodbridge lives where Payne and his wife Tracy live. Todd and Natasha are quite close to them. I think maybe Todd is a better quote for you. Obviously, I'm very saddened. If you want a quote, I'll give you a quote. I'm very saddened for the loss, not only for Payne's family, but also for his agents and the pilots. I mean, it's a tragedy when something like that happens. No one likes to see it. It just touches us all a little bit more when it's someone that we know or know of.
Q. Did it at all dampen the memory of the Ryder Cup, knowing that one of the American heroes is no longer with us?
JIM COURIER: You know, none of us ever know. To be poignant, none of us ever know when we're going. I guess Payne went out on one of his highest years ever. But none of that would be worth missing the time he's going to miss with his family.
Q. Are you the sort of guy that perhaps, when your tennis career in 20 years' time is over, will you actually go back to, say, a US Open or a Wimbledon or a Davis Cup final as a spectator to try and enjoy it in a way you haven't been able to so far?
JIM COURIER: Presumably. I'm a tennis fan, as well. I'm sure at some point I will want to. Hopefully, I'll have a family to take and say, "Look, this is what your old man used to do."
Q. Can you watch something like The Ryder Cup as a member of the public, or do you find people saying, "Oh, there's Jim Courier"?
JIM COURIER: That's what wearing a nice floppy hat and sunglasses are for.
Q. They work?
JIM COURIER: Not all the time. But people are -- golf is my demographic, as well. Tennis and golf fans are very similar in what they watch. Yeah, you get recognized. But everyone is very polite and friendly. They're kind of happy to see you out there supporting somebody else besides yourself, because they all think we're all selfish and self-absorbed. I think they enjoy seeing our more human side.
Q. Are they more respective of your space over in America than they are here in Europe?
JIM COURIER: Uh-huh.
Q. Have you seen much of Pete?
JIM COURIER: I haven't seen or spoken to Pete since The Open, no.
Q. We were just wondering how he was, if he is going to play again this year.
JIM COURIER: Your guess is as good as mine. There are a few players that have been in Los Angeles and have spoken to him. Presumably he's aiming to play in Paris. That would mean he'd be on his way over very shortly. We'll see. I mean, a back injury is not really something you want to mess with. I think we're all familiar with that.
Q. I saw your quote last week about acting as a water carrier. Have you spoken to your new captain very much?
JIM COURIER: Yeah, I spoke to John before I came over. I think everyone knows that I want to be a part of the Davis Cup team. I certainly let John know that. Hopefully, if I play well enough, I'll earn my spot on the team.
Q. Do you think John's captaincy can save the Davis Cup team in the American perception anywhere near like The Ryder Cup team did?
JIM COURIER: It's already gotten a lot more recognition just having John as the captain. Certainly announcing him during the US Open, when he was on television every night kind of trumpeting it, from what I gather, doesn't hurt. A lot of the average sports fans would tune in and watch the US Open because it's on in the evening and it's sports and there's no other sports competing against it during the week. There's exposure there that Davis Cup hasn't seen since the '70s when John was playing on the team when it used to regularly make the front pages. You know, John is a story. He always will be because of his ability to say the least expected thing.
Q. What do you think about the ranking system for next year, the race?
JIM COURIER: I'm all for it. I think the ranking system as it is now is very, very difficult for the hyper-tennis fan to understand, let alone the casual tennis fan. I think eliminating bonus points and making it very easy for one to say, If this player reaches the quarterfinal, he has this many points, same as the other guy who made the quarterfinals. It will make it very easy for you, the media, to translate it to the public. We're counting on you to do that so the public will be able to understand that this is a straight race. This is not the No. 1 player in the world; this is the player who is leading in the chase to No. 1, which is the person who finishes the end of the year No. 1, much like if Manchester United is leading the league, it doesn't mean they've won the league, it means they're leading on the way to the final. That will be very, very easy for everyone to understand, as it should be. We should make something simple. It's not going to change a whole lot. If you win, your ranking is up. If you lose, your ranking goes down. That's pretty easy for everyone to follow. I think that's the way it should have been a long time ago.
Q. Has to be better than what we have now.
JIM COURIER: Has to be. I mean, any ranking system where you can play the four Grand Slams and they don't count on your ranking, if you lose early, is an archaic system.
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