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February 5, 2000

Alex O'Brien


Q. Rick, did it just get away from you?

RICK LEACH: Yeah. I mean, I think we should have won that last game. We were up 40-15, and it was a tough situation, you know. Every time I was about ready to serve, people were whistling, a lot of pressure. I just went for it and missed a little bit long.

Q. In a match like that was there a turning point?

RICK LEACH: You know, it was a match that could have gone either way. We had a lot of chances, and the fourth set we had Love-30, a good return, we had a little momentum after winning the third so easily. At the end, it was just a frenzy out there. We were just, you know, it was kind of a blur. It was so loud, we couldn't even really hear each other talk. But it could have gone either way. It was a tough one to lose. We played a hard set.

Q. You've seen a lot of Wayne Black over the last seven days, haven't you?

RICK LEACH: Yeah, I'll say. You know, the match in Australia was the same thing; it could have gone either way. I don't know what the point total was here today, but it was probably pretty close. I have to take my hat off to him. He played very well. He deserves to win.

Q. John, apart from the obvious needing the two wins tomorrow, what are your thoughts?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: It's very simplistic at this point, just try to get ready to play. There's not a whole lot else to think about. Obviously, tomorrow Andre's going to come out and he's going to be ready to go, and the expectations are he's going to do well. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to make sure he's there and Brad as well and the whole team. And then figure out a way to try to bring out the best in Chris. I can't -- I mean, I know that Wayne's played a couple tough days. He's not going to be as fresh as he was. We're not going to bank on him playing badly, but he's definitely -- he's been out there a long time. He's got to be a little bit stiff, and hopefully Chris can take advantage of that.

Q. In a match like this one call either way is going to be so crucial. Did you feel you didn't have the rub of the green today?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Well, yeah. I think I know -- well, I'm not 100 percent sure what that means. (Laughter.) I think that I still can answer it yes. I definitely -- but I'm not going to say that's why we lost. But these type of things can change momentum. Even the first set, we got a bad -- a tough call at 2-3 and, you know, Alex hits a great return, hits the line and the guy says it's way out. Then he shakes his head. How could you pretend that we saw it in and you're just like... I apologized. I feel bad for these guys. Once again, they have to overcome the fact that these guys are making up for lost time with me. That's how I feel. I mean, I feel bad that my teammates have to deal with that. That ball was -- and there were some other calls like that. But at the end of the day it was a heck of a match. Like Ricky said, they played a hard set. They have nothing to hang their heads about.

Q. Wayne was saying that you were allowed to argue too long on that second set point, and that that cost him his serve. He said it was unfair. Any thoughts on that?

RICK LEACH: What about when we had to wait to serve every time? You know?

Q. Alex, were you stunned by those two returns in the last game? Were you starting to move the other way?

ALEX O'BRIEN: No, I actually knew they were going up the line but I decided to let them go. Thought he was going to hit a winner on both of them. Yeah, I was stunned. Didn't even react to it. He hit two great returns.

RICK LEACH: The point we should have won was 30-40, it was a floater.

Q. John, you know, modern technology has been used in a lot of other sports now, slow-mo replays and stuff like that. Do you think it's worthwhile using things like that at the highest level, you know, the Magic Eyes have been used, Cyclops, to call a line. So why don't they use it?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I agree with you. If they could come up with a technology that could get the call right, that would save a lot of problems. That would eliminate, like, mainly all the people that are out there, for starters. There's no reason for umpires. So I agree with you, but these people want to be part of it, just like this umpire. He's always -- he had a reputation since I played that he wants to be part of the match. You know, what better way to do that than get involved and make some calls and then have it, you know, people like Wayne Black say that I was arguing too long? I love that reverse psychology. How about getting -- if we got it right the first time, we'd never have the problem. Same as when I played. I feel like I had my -- I have to say, that was -- I'm in a different position as a captain and player. If he thinks that that was me arguing too long, you know what I wish? That he had played me in my prime. He should picture that on the computer and see what would happen. He's got to be kidding himself if he thinks that this is like -- this is, you know, giving your absolute best. I think that's a bunch of baloney, to put it mildly.

Q. John, you said yesterday that you felt kind of responsible for the loss of Chris. Do you feel the same way now?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: I feel like I did better. This is tough. We always knew it was going to be a tough match. I feel responsible. I still feel responsible. But, I mean, these guys played their hearts out. You know, we were this close to winning. (Indicating.)

RICK LEACH: Let's get something straight right here. John did an unbelievable job coaching us.

ALEX O'BRIEN: Yeah, he did a great job. Very positive.

RICK LEACH: They were playing so well, the intensity was there. I think I played a really good match, and I owe a lot of it to John, and his coaching was amazing. It's not his fault.

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Whenever you lose, to

me --

ALEX O'BRIEN: We lost, Rick and I lost.

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: To me, we all lost. You believe somehow, some way you could have done better. How that is, is hard to say. It was tough. We had some tough breaks and those guys played well. You got to hand it to them.


CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: They played -- considering the circumstances, you got to -- I take my hat off to them.

Q. Rick, what's the Mac factor? What's it like to come over at the changeover and have the best doubles player of all time talking to you?

RICK LEACH: You have the respect right away. Anything he says, you know, you take to heart. And, you know, also I think he has the intensity that you need to be a great player, and I think the level of my game was, you know, pretty high at times and I owe all that to John. So it's nice to have somebody that knows what they're talking about to help you.

Q. Alex, can you answer the same question? What's it like for you?

ALEX O'BRIEN: Yeah, I completely agree. It's an inspiration coming to the side of the court and you know that you have the best coach in the world on your side. And he also did a great job of getting us motivated, get some energy going. We were a little flat at the start and he did a good job of, like, really getting out there and saying, "Come on, guys, get some energy going." That's very valuable to have someone like that on your side. I wish we would have won the match, but, you know, we gave it our best shots and hats off to those guys. They did an excellent job there at the end.

Q. John, in terms of trying to motivate or psych up Chris for tomorrow, do you try to do what you did, let's say with Pete in the doubles match, you know, when you last played? Or was this more of a gentler situation, did you try to be --

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: That's a really good question, Harvey. I don't know. I'm not sure of the answer. It's the first time I've coached. I played. I was part of the team there, so I was involved in hitting balls. Now I'm not. So it's difficult to know exactly what to do. But I certainly would try to put my thinking cap on a bit and try to figure out a way to bring out the best in him. Because I believe he can win. I do believe he can win this match. I don't think Black is going to feel 100 percent. He's obviously pumped up and the crowd's going to be going crazy. You know, he's a big, strong kid. He wants to do well. He's going to give it his best shot. All of us are, you know, this hasn't -- when they said it wasn't going to be easy, I didn't realize what they were talking about. (Laughter.) This has been -- it's been incredible. Win or lose, it's been incredible. I feel like it's definitely been what Davis Cup is all about in a sense. I mean you definitely -- you don't feel this in other -- I'm not sure you feel it almost in any event, really. The noise that was, you know, generated, maybe -- probably because of the stadium or whatever, because whatever the acoustics are, but four or 5,000, whatever amount of people it was, it was pretty amazing.

Q. Rick and Alex, this may be silly, but would you ever go back and think about that last game and what you could do differently and just go --

RICK LEACH: I've been thinking about it ever since we got off the court. I'll be thinking about it all night tonight. It's not easy. Put it on the line out there and you do your best; sometimes it's not good enough.

Q. Serve and volley, did you just stumble with that?

RICK LEACH: Yeah, I stumbled and it was a missed hit shot, and I didn't pick it up right away. It was kind of in the middle of the court and I wasn't ready for it.

Q. On your serve 40-15, there's no sense of just taking a breath, saying, "Well, we got this one"?

ALEX O'BRIEN: He actually hit a good serve on that 40-15 point. He had a great return. He hit a hard serve and he hit a backhand up my line, which is lowest percentage you can get. I think actually he hit a great serve on that. The next point I should have crossed, but I've been passed at my line so many times I got a little -- I was frozen a little bit. I thought maybe they were going up my line again. He probably -- that's part of the reason I think he stumbled. I was standing there picking my nose.

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: Don't rub it in now. (Laughter.)

RICK LEACH: I mean --

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: It's tough enough as it is.

RICK LEACH: You always think, Maybe I could have served a little harder or whatever, I could have gone for more, I don't know. But in the heat of the battle, instincts take over.

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: We did a great job, no question about it. You think about things that happened 20 years ago, much less what happened five minutes ago, what you should have done at a certain point. I have actually sort of tried to just, like, deliberately forget things because I -- I don't feel I would sleep more than an hour a night if I thought about all the things that I had blown or could have done better as a coach or a player. So to me, it's like we went out there and gave it our best shot. But, I mean, please don't ask us questions like that anymore. (Laughter.) Something better. That's pouring some major salt in the wound.

Q. (Inaudible.) You're making your debut as Captain in Africa here.

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: You're just saying that because you knew my name when I was young. (Laughter.) So far, they've had a nice present, but it would be very sweet to come out -- coming out of this with a victory. Then everyone -- the whole thing would be even more memorable but positive for us. It's actually exciting to see the interest level, and it's disappointing, obviously, to see that, you know, we're down 2-1. But we're fighting to the last drop, you know. That's it. And if, by some chance, we don't pull it off, maybe then we will be the reason why there will be a lot of great African players in ten years. So we'll look at the bright side. We'll be an inspiration to all of Africa and suddenly, it will be all -- we'll really be letting the cat out of the bag.

Q. John McEnroe, the Father of African Tennis?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: That would be certainly nice. I'd rather prefer to come back on some excursions. Win this tomorrow and then I'll commit to coming back a few times a year.

Q. Last question. John, after two days on the chair, what would you point out as the most difficult thing of your job?

CAPTAIN JOHN McENROE: The most difficult for me personally is just that I'm so used to, you know, breaking a sweat, you know, in a sense. The commentary, you're sort of removed. That's the closest thing I had so far. To be out there, I can just taste it. But it's just -- you appreciate - which I've always appreciated - and I know that the players appreciate and they may appreciate it more when they do it themselves, but the people that are around you, family and friends that have to sit and watch it all the time, you're so close and it's so personal to a lot of people. There's a great group of guys here, they're all pulling for the same thing. But at the end of the day, you know, you can't -- I'm sitting there and coaching. You just -- it's all building up. Like a bomb waiting to explode. (Laughter.)

End of FastScripts…

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