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March 29, 2000

Alex O'Brien


ATP: Questions for Alex and Jared.

Q. Were y'all pretty sure you were going to get picked?

JARED PALMER: John called both of us a few days ago and told us he was most likely going to go that way. We knew a little bit before the announcement.

ALEX O'BRIEN: He called us on Monday after the Indian Wells tournament.

JARED PALMER: We didn't know anything until the end of that tournament.

Q. You were pretty sure at that point?

ALEX O'BRIEN: Well, we're never sure. All we can do is go out there and play, just try to put some results. We're No. 1 and No. 2 in the world right now. We've done our job with putting up the results. Hopefully we can do the job for the next week. I think we have a preview in the next round.

JARED PALMER: We play those guys next round.

Q. Pretty exciting to have a chance to play them?

JARED PALMER: Absolutely.


Q. What can you take away from that?

JARED PALMER: We need to fly John in to do some screaming so we can get used to it.

ALEX O'BRIEN: We need to fly John in to get some energy out there and psych them out a little bit because he's good at psyching people out. I think that will give us a good edge. I think we'll just go out there and try to play it like any other match, use some good strategies, just try to get the job done, not worry about who we're playing too much really.

Q. A victory, would that put something in their head, "We have to play them again"? How important is this match compared to if you met them at any other time?

JARED PALMER: I think Davis Cup matches are always intense, they're always closely fought.

ALEX O'BRIEN: On the other hand, if you put your opponent down 2 to zip, also we would be thinking in the back of our heads, "These guys have beaten us twice."


ALEX O'BRIEN: You put a little something in their mind, it does help. It gives you a little bit of an edge. Like Jared was saying, it's Davis Cup and it's a battle.

JARED PALMER: Put it this way, we could beat them zero and zero tomorrow, and the match in LA wouldn't be a cake walk.

ALEX O'BRIEN: Exactly.

Q. Normally the teams have been three singles players and a doubles player. How much of an advantage is it to have you together?

JARED PALMER: I think it's a big advantage. It's something that Alex has experienced more than I have. When I played, I played with Richey most of my ties, who obviously is an incredible doubles player, and also who I had experience playing with. I think Alex could answer that better.

ALEX O'BRIEN: All I can say is that there will be no more excuses. We're a team now. We're going to have to step up there and show that we can get the job done. Hopefully we will. It's a great opportunity for us. I'm really excited. I think it's going to be great. It is a big difference playing with someone who you played with before. It will be a lot of fun.

Q. When you look at the American team, the doubles teams haven't done that well recently. Almost seems like a bad luck thing. Is there any way to explain it?

ALEX O'BRIEN: I've been a part of that, a few of those bad luck situations (laughter).

Q. It really is inexplicable.

JARED PALMER: I guess that's sport. I guess Gully just tried to field the best team he thought he could. He didn't get the results in the doubles that he wanted to. I don't think he made any bad decisions. I think it's just it didn't work out in the US's favor. Hopefully now Alex and I are playing well as a team. As he said, there's no excuses. We've been playing a while together now. We've had some good results. This is what you hope for, is to have a good partner that you trust and you like playing with, to take some momentum in and play Davis Cup. We're excited.

Q. If there wasn't a team like yourself right now that was the obvious choice for us, do you think it would be feasible for John to play?

JARED PALMER: I haven't seen him play. It wouldn't surprise me.

Q. Would that be okay?

JARED PALMER: It would have to be an interesting situation. I don't know how it would work. Just in terms of ability, I haven't seen him play. I'm sure that he's still a hell of a player.

ALEX O'BRIEN: He is, yeah. He practiced against us in Harare. It was altitude. The guy is, like you said, half the court.

JARED PALMER: I don't think you could just step in from being a coach and not practicing or anything and play. I think it's feasible if he were to actually know he could do it and practice a while.

ALEX O'BRIEN: Play with one guy.

JARED PALMER: Against guys at this level. Because if not, he wouldn't be used to the pace of the ball.

Q. After Naples, he was sharp.

ALEX O'BRIEN: He already sees the ball like this in the first place. Coming in probably like that (indicating).

Q. If that ever happened, doesn't sound like you guys think that would be an outrageous proposition?

ALEX O'BRIEN: Yeah. Who knows? Crazier things have happened. I'd say with him at the helm, crazier things will happen. That's the great thing about him. He's a mad scientist. He's fun to be around. He's a great competitor, got great energy. He's just one of those guys that has that edge. You can't really put a finger on it. It's a lot of fun to be around him.

Q. What makes you two good together? Tell me how you complement each other?

ALEX O'BRIEN: I'd say I have pretty much all the talent.

JARED PALMER: I'm just along for the ride.

ALEX O'BRIEN: Jared is a work horse. He works really hard. Jared and I complement each other because I'm pretty much a solid guy, make a lot of returns. I serve pretty solidly, volley pretty solidly. Jared adds to the flare or the panache to the game. He has a lot of panache. When he's on his game, when he's moving, cutting off balls, he can do some amazing things. I think that really makes us a good team. His hands, my ability to out-think myself (laughter). It's been interesting because we started off playing together and we weren't really comfortable. We're starting to get more and more comfortable as we've played more and more together. It's been fun. It's been a learning process, but it's been fun.

Q. How long has it taken for you two to get comfortable?

ALEX O'BRIEN: We're still learning.

JARED PALMER: Even from the start, we played well together. I think we always felt like in some of the matches we won, we felt like there was room, definitely room for improvement. I think we're the classic kind of doubles combination where he has a great return and makes a lot of balls, and I'm comfortable around the net, like to make things happen at the net.

ALEX O'BRIEN: I whipped an overhead at the net the other day. This is after he made four volleys. I hit maybe one volley, then whipped an overhead. He volleyed to the wrong guy in the back court. I informed him that it wasn't my job to put balls away or to volley.

Q. Did y'all play together in college? Both at Stanford.

JARED PALMER: We never did.

Q. On the team at the same time?

JARED PALMER: Yes. He was still kind of learning to play doubles back then.

ALEX O'BRIEN: He played with Jonathan Stark, and I played with Jason Yee (phonetic).

Q. What kind of rivalry did you have back at Stanford?

ALEX O'BRIEN: We still have a pretty good one going right now.

JARED PALMER: We didn't have any rivalry in college.

ALEX O'BRIEN: We're pretty competitive. I'll play him in squash a lot off the court. He really has no chance of beating me in squash.

JARED PALMER: For the amount of squash he plays, he should be a lot better. He has a whole library of squash books at home.

Q. I know it's been a long road back, surgery on both knees.

JARED PALMER: Both done at the same time. Then I had a shoulder surgery and a hamstring problem.

Q. Can you bring us up-to-date?

JARED PALMER: I started playing again beginning of '98. I had my first surgeries at the end of '95.

Q. What was your injury?

ALEX O'BRIEN: Torn meniscus cartilage, medial side of both my knees.

Q. How tough was that?

JARED PALMER: It was just frustrating. I actually had one procedure on each knee, the same procedure in college. It was just frustrating because it was something obviously with anatomically the way I'm put together, puts a lot of stress on the knee. That was not bad. It was kind of the succession of injuries that kind of got hard because I was coming back from that and then I did my shoulder, then I was coming back from the shoulder, then I pulled my hamstring. For some reason that took a long time to heal.

ALEX O'BRIEN: So we glued him back together and here he is on the top of the world.

JARED PALMER: For the last two years, I've been pretty healthy. I've had quite a few nagging injuries, but nothing really serious. I have a little better sense now with the injuries. Like with my hamstring, I played on it for like three, four weeks which was a huge mistake. I didn't really understand the gravity of it initially. I think that's why it ended up taking so long to heal. Now when I feel something, I take care of it right away. That's helped.

End of FastScripts…

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